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Weaving YOUR VISION for YOUR CITY into the fabric of its LIFE. What can we realize when citizens & artists collaborate?

After collecting the words from people who live in Durham, we turned them over to two dozen local artists who stepped up to a general call of interest: Can you make original pieces inspired by these words? We'll pre-sell them through a Kickstarter, as sort of a limited-time online gallery.

WHAT THIS IS...

STITCH makes space for artists and citizens in the places they live to collaborate on what they'd like to see their towns and cities become

We're kicking off with Durham, NC, after gathering "one word for Durham" from 500 people, and are now bringing 20 artists into the conversation. We're working with the local chapter of Build a Better Block for a Neighbor Day event on April 27, and the Durham Storefront Project, which has curates exhibitions for storefronts in downtown. People who live here will be able to see their own words interpreted into art and living on. A solid intent, inspired by many voices, can shape the future of an evolving community. 

We became very interested in the kinds of conversations you can make happen when in 2012 we hosted a Year of Dialogue, and gathered more than 1,000 people who'd never met in places like New York, Boston, Portland, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., to connect with people from a wide cross-section of backgrounds, and ideas. The result? Conversations. We think of these as stitches in a fabric. The stitches do the work to hold a cohesive piece together. Like concepts for brand designers, the stronger these stitches, the better the hold. 

Updates:

WHY DURHAM... 

Durham, NC, is changing. Has been for a decade, in ways that surprise us and everyone else who's local, too.

But what will it become

No one's sure yet. 

That's why STITCH DURHAM is our first of a series of word-driven, intention-setting projects. 

A 9 year old resident picks her favorite words. Photo by Alex Maness [www.alexmaness.com]
A 9 year old resident picks her favorite words. Photo by Alex Maness [www.alexmaness.com]

THE STORY

Words are powerful. Since the beginning of time, people have believed words can transform us, and our world. The magic of words is immortalized in myths like the ones Joseph Campbell enlightens us about, in legends and of course all sorts of rituals, too.

We see words around us all the time. Unfortunately, most of them are designed to warn us against potential harm ("STOP"), to tell you that you're causing harm ("Warning: Trespassers will be prosecuted"), or to sell you something (you know those).

In simpler times, just a few images among a group would signify its shared identity, vision, and history. Now, we're bombarded by images we never chose for ourselves---we let brands and labels do the work to define and express who we are.

It doesn't have to be that way.

What if we could choose what we see? 

In simple, uplifting, people-nominated and people-chosen words and images? 

Would we, as a community, behave differently? 

Would we know who we are?

all 276 words given to us, in a word-cloud indicating frequency/popularity
all 276 words given to us, in a word-cloud indicating frequency/popularity

This is community art, and an exercise in word-driven intention-setting at the same time. It has to come from the heart. It has to mean something to the people who it's about. Authentically. Of the people, by the people and for the people.

You can't come up with that from the top, down. You have to ask the people who care most about where they live why they do, and what they want to see next. People need boundaries, so that's why we said, "In ONE word."

Durhamites: STITCH is about the community—that's you!—supporting local artists and the arts scene without having to go shopping online. It's about artists (many of whom aren't sure they'd call themselves that), who are sharing their process and making themselves vulnerable by committing to something *nobody has any idea about having any value*. But it does. Intention-setting is the most valuable thing there is. This is about you, Durham, our shared love for the place we live, and how we can make it better tomorrow. It's about inspiring the artists, and getting a tangible reward in the form of an art piece born of the process, too.

HOW WE GOT THE WORDS

From January to February, we talked to 500 people in our hometown of Durham, NC, and asked them a simple question:

What would you like to see Durham become, in one word?

Then, people all over town voted with sticky neon dots for their favorite words during February, both online and at popup voting events like those pictured above at The Carrack Modern Art and an Inter-Neighborhood Council meeting. Conversation, community, and getting offline to see each other's eyes--that's what we care about. A lot.

THE ARTISTS

When you pledge, you are not only supporting the artist who is creating the reward you pick, and the project, but are participating in re-imagination of the community, with us.

After collecting the words from people who live in Durham, we turned them over to two dozen local artists who stepped up to a general call of interest: Can you make original pieces inspired by these words? We'll pre-sell them through a Kickstarter, as sort of a limited-time online gallery.

The things we're showing here are only going to be made if you pledge your support for STITCH.

The sharing of something original, local, and most importantly, inspired by a shared love of place is what the gallery wants to make happen.

Backers get art pieces shaped by a collection that loosely suggests a future vision for Durham. No one could have imagined what some of the most popular words might have been, and only through STITCH can we take the dialogue to the next level.

In simple terms, we want to show the people that we heard them. That we are listening. That, even more than that, the artists are responding. By expressing back what we heard in a way that says, "Yes, what you tell me matters. In fact, you're making me see this in a whole new way."

Everyone wants to know that they're being heard.

Now, we are sharing the ideas and prototypes here, and as backers, you have another opportunity to contribute: when you pledge, you will get a real, tangible piece of the story. Because it is that. A story. Durham's.

Each reward is an artist's vision for Durham that's inspired by what people have said they want this city to become. You will receive the sweet reward once the campaign is fully backed and the artists produce the work.

Want to know more about them, and why they are participating? Each artist is featured in our blog, here: http://orangutanswing.com/

Can't decide? Get the "love letter" bundle ($500), or the "art" bundle ($2500)
Can't decide? Get the "love letter" bundle ($500), or the "art" bundle ($2500)

WHAT'S THE GOAL? THE BIG PICTURE

Where does your contribution go? 

Of course, it will pay the artists of your choosing, for their work. But the artists are donating part of their proceeds to the Stitch campaign itself, too.

Why? 

Beyond just the boring, ordinary cost of producing this art project as a whole (things like promotion, events, time and materials), we have a Big Plan which will become possible ONLY through your help.

The big, exciting picture, that you will help make happen, is this: Stitch will travel to other communities in the world, connecting disparate communities with a common thread of art and collective visions. 

Kangchenjunga mountain range view from Gangtok, Sikkim, India. Photo by Alex Maness
Kangchenjunga mountain range view from Gangtok, Sikkim, India. Photo by Alex Maness

Gangtok. Hoi An. Seattle. Kumamoto. Cork.

The list could continue. Imagine getting something from Gangtok, in the mountains of India, that is of its people, from their vision, and created by its artists. 

The more we raise here, the more places STITCH can happen in. And the more places STITCH can go, the more interesting and impactful the whole project becomes.

Do you want your town to be the next STITCH location, in 2014? We have a special reward for that, too. 

Akira & Dipika

P.S. The soundtrack for the video is "Be Famous" by Toon. He's crafting a new song JUST for STITCH DURHAM, which everyone who backs this project will get.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Stitch continuously evolves as more artists and volunteers join the project. As such, we'll be rolling more rewards as we go, and some rewards can change in numbers as well as the exact format, size, etc. Please be open and allow for some play!

FAQ

  • We put out a word through our personal network first, then asked around for others to recommend artists who'd be interested. We didn't do much "curation" or judging—all they needed was their commitment to their art, and interest in the project. We are extremely happy with our group, but if you know someone who we missed and is interested in participating, please get in touch!

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  • Of course! Please donate the amount more than the sum of all rewards you'd like, select one of them at checkout, then contact us via Kickstarter message. We can arrange for you to get the other rewards delivered to you once the campaign is funded.

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  • We will contact you once the alloted rewards are filled, or the campaign is successfully funded, whatever comes first, and ask for your word choice, mailing address, etc. In the meantime, please share this campaign liberally and widely! The more rewards are filled, the more likely we will reach the goal. In many cases, the artwork can't be produced UNLESS we reach the goal!

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  • Yes, in some cases, the work has been completed and you can see it in person when we have "popup" art shows around town, starting this weekend, April 13-14, coinciding the Durham Art Walk.

    In other cases, the work is being "proposed" so we have sketches and prototypes in various stages of development. These, too, will be on display at our events, so you can get a feel for what your rewards will look like.

    Please follow us on Facebook or sign up with our email list at http://orangutanswing.com/ to receive regular updates about these events.

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    4 backers

    ------------------------------------------------- RAP SONG FOR STITCH DURHAM BY TOON ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Get Durham rapper Toon's to-be-made song, one that'll use all 276 words citizens said they want to see Durham become. A download link goes to EVERYONE who backs STITCH.

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    ------------------------------------------------- ARTIST: AARON MANDEL -------------------------------------------------------------- A DURHAM STORY (E-BOOK Edition) | Our town through its own fifty words. A flash-fiction-length story for Durham, by local wordsmith and man-about-town Aaron Mandel of Clarion Content. Illustration by Dipika Kohli.

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    ------------------------------------------------- YOU ARE A FRIEND OF THE ARTS ---------------------------------------------------- A heartfelt thank-you! Your name on our web site, and hand-written on a butcher paper roll, which we will display anywhere we go with the art.

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    ------------------------------------------------- ARTIST: CLAUDIA CORLETTO ---------------------------------------------------------- CUSTOMIZED BRACELET | Women's wire bracelet with a scripted word from the list. Choose your word at the time of pledge, please!

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    NEW!! STITCH WORD-CLOUD POSTER ------------------------------------------------- Due to popular demands, we are printing 100 11" x 17" off-set color posters of the black-background word-cloud image you see to the left, with all the 276 words given to us in 2012-13 "Give Us a Word" campaign.

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    ------------------------------------ "DURHAM IN VECTORS" BY DIPIKA KOHLI ------------------ A pack of 12 line art vector drawings, formatted to use as desktop wallpapers. Inspired by urban landscapes. Everyone who pledges $15 or more for STITCH will get this reward.

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    ------------------------------------------------- "ODE TO DURHAM" POLAROID BY CATHERINE J. HOWARD ----------------------------------------------------------------- 10-word-or-less love poem, including one of our Durham words, on a polaroid photograph of a fitting Durham setting. Word and setting selected by the artist.

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    ------------------------------------------------- "EVOLVING LETTERS" BY TAMARA BAGNELL ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Mixed media, limited-edition prints using the words "Durham" and "evolving." String, nails, wood and plexiglass for a web of threads to weave the words. Limited edition giclee reproduction (edition of 20). And if you pledge $150, you can have the original piece.

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    ------------------------------------------------- "BEAVER QUEEN" BY KIMBERLY WHEATON ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- "The word that most inspired me about Durham was "quirky." What is quirkier and more Durham than the Beaver Queen Pageant? I am offering 50 limited edition prints of an 8"x10" mixed-media painting (pledge $150 and the original painting can be yours!) of a beaver beauty queen. She will be surrounded by pinks, oranges, aquas, and florals in a mix of paint, paper, textiles, and found objects."

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    ------------------------------------------------- STITCH TEE BY JOHN STERN ---------------------------------------------------------- A special t-shirt, designed exclusively for Stitch

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    ------------------------------------------------- PHOTO FLOWER PAINTINGS BY LEE MOORE CRAWFORD -------------------------------------------------------------------- Made to order, collaged with an accompanying word hand printed. All photos are Durham scenes from the artist's garden or at Ellerbee Creek trail at the Pearl Mill Reserve. Limited edition prints, mounted on wood, ready to hang, 5"x5" WORDS: authentic, bicyclicious, quirky, funky, queer, thriving, resilient, verdant, vibrant. You will be able to choose the word once the campaign is finished.

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    ------------------------------------------------- "DURHABLE" and other LETTERPRESSED POSTERS BY BRIAN ALLEN ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- If you are ever at Golden Belt, pop into this artist's studio to see a floor-to-ceiling collection of books on design, technique, typography, Japanese "wabi sabi," and a lot more. Brian's worked in digital typesetting, too, and really appreciates the particularities of the particular. Get one of Brian's beautiful wood-block letter-press posters (18" x 24"). You'll get to pick one of three designs, including the handsome "Durhable."

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    ------------------------------------------------- "BULLTASTIC" BY FRANCO & LEE MOORE CRAWFORD --------------------------------------------------------------------------------Get a stitched and ready to hang limited edition 6" x 14" textile banner. This one's a collaboration of the yan and yin energies of Franco and Lee Moore Crawford.

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    ------------------------------------------------- STITCH SKETCHES BY ERIN OLIVER -------------------------------------------------- Get an 8x16" ink drawing on transparent paper that shows a scene from Durham. For a $100 pledge, you will get to pick the word and the location, and Erin will put pen to page.

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    ------------------------------------------------- <<CUSTOM>> "STITCH TAKES DURHAM" DRAWINGS BY TIM SWEZY --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Pick your favorite Durham landmark and your favorite STITCH word from our top 50 and artist Tim Swezy will combine them into a preparatory drawing for a fictional (for now?) installation art project rendered in ink & marker on watercolor paper. Virtually deface your favorite building, comment on an aspect of local culture, explore a slice of Durham's psychogeography, or simply replace an ugly outdoor advertisement.

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    ------------------------------------------------- "REAL" BY RENEE LEVERTY ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Get the original welded metal sculpture, "Real." It's 18" x 9" x 2". "Real is how I often fondly describe Durham," says Renee. "The R is made of brass: shiny, whimsical, creative, golden, abundant. The E is made from bolts: steady, strong, the threads that connect, infrastructure. The A is made with nails: gritty, industrial, creates shelter, fosters development. The L is a welded bike chain, for the environment, community, new ideas, movement. Durham=REAL."

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    ------------------------------------------------- "BICYCLICIOUS HOT RODS" BY FOCSI ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Get a hand-drawn, original piece made from your choice of words by this fascinating and energetic duo. 16" x 20" (graphite) or 18" x 24" (color, acrylic: please add $50). Only 2 of each available!

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    ------------------------------------------------- "DURHABLE/COMPLICATED/VERDANT" POSTER BY DAVE ALSOBROOKS -------------------------------------------------- Locals might know about the New Neighbors project Dave headed up a little while back here in Durham, and now he's making posters for STITCH. You get to pick one of three designs inspired by the words "Durhable," "complicated," and "verdant," for a high-quality, 16" x 20" giclée print. Signed and numbered.

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    ------------------------------------------------- "DIVERSITY" BY FRANCO --------------------------------------------------------------- Durham's prolific artist Franco says, "This work pays tribute to the city I love and deals with the words community, diversity, integration, love, hopeful, respect, different, collaboration, equal, unified, colorblind, local, harmonious and culture." Get a digital art 16" x 20" metallic print. Limited edition of 25, signed and numbered.

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    ------------------------------------------------- "FAMOUS GRAFFITI" BY FRANK MYERS ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Get a framed 20" x 30" custom metallic print. Choose one of five orginal works to be created for STITCH of Durham walls, graffiti'ed. They'll be photos of prominent and recognizable walls in downtown Durham, layered with fake graffiti playbills featuring local Durham musical acts.

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    ------------------------------------------------- PEN-AND-WATERCOLOR DRAWING BY SARAH GOETZ --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Get a custom drawing or painting inspired by YOUR words for Durham. They don't even have to be on the list! Go crazy, and give Sarah a word so she can spin it into something we're sure will be delightful (and colorful). (And yes, Sarah is the person who makes those amazing large paper sculptures that hang from many ceilings around town.)

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    ------------------------------------------------- NEW! -----"LOVE LETTERS FROM DURHAM" BUNDLE --------------------------------------------------------------------- Each month for the next 8 months, you will receive something from a STITCH artist: a story by Aaron/Dipika, a polaroid poem from Catherine Howard, a print by Tamara Bagnell, a print by Lee Moore Crawford, a poster by Brian Allen, Erin Oliver's transparency drawing, a custom drawing by Tim Swezy, and a print by Dave Alsobrooks

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    ------------------------------------------------- OIL PAINTING BY CHRISTOPHER GERGEN ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Get a vibrant, one-of-a-kind oil painting—capturing "a bit of Durham's gritty, entrepreneurial, creative, we-can-do-anything, magic"—inspired by the words for Durham.

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    ------------------------------------------------- YOUR OWN BLACKBOARD SIGN BY CHRISTINA WILSON ---------------------------------------------------- Get a custom-designed, one-of-a-kind, hand-lettered A-frame chalk board with beautiful lettering by one of Durham's yet-undiscovered but brilliant typographical art talents. Double-sided, perfect for an event, shop, studio, wedding, or a restaurant. Chris will weave in a word of your choice. Use the board for the time you need it, then return it for reuse. No waste! Triangle residents, only.

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    ------------------------------------------------- NEW! -----"STITCH COLLECTION" BUNDLE --------------------------------------------------------------------- Orangutan Swing will curate a collection of 5 participating STITCH artists, who'll make prints of their works to deliver to you personally.

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    ------------------------------------------------- "LETS PLAY" BY ORANGUTAN SWING --------------------------------------------------------------------- Akira and Dipika are ready to talk with you about what you think you might like to see happen in YOUR city. We can even come to meet you in real life, for an added travel fee. Six Skype consultation sessions will be enough to launch you towards running a similar project where YOU live.

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    ------------------------------------------------- "GIVE US THE FABRIC" BY ORANGUTAN SWING --------------------------------------------------------------------- Akira and Dipika will come to wherever you are in real life and personally lead your STITCH project with you. We'll do for YOUR city what we're doing here in Durham, adapting and adjusting to fit the project to where you live and what's most needed. Travel expense not included, but we will bring our boss-man, a charming 4 years old, for no additional fee.

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