Now I’m sure I mentioned this before: my innovation project. If you’re unsure what exactly it is I’ll do an overview and share what the whole experience was like. First of all, this project was thought up at the beginning of the school year. I don’t know how I thought of it; it just came to me one day in the shower. I think I was listening to the Taylor Swift song “Mine” and the music video of her underneath a tree with pictures hanging off the branches got my mind working. My partner (and friend) Lindsay and I knew we wanted to do something for other people. Something to make other people happy. Something someone hadn’t really done before. Something like the Giving Tree. *sorry for the low quality images of the tree they’re better on Instagram and Twitter, I promise*
So I had the image of hanging pictures and I had the idea of putting quotes on a tree and I thought “Hey, why not put the quotes in envelopes and hang them on a tree?” And thus, the idea was born. I wasn’t that confident in my idea at first and I almost didn’t say anything about having come up with it. When it came time to choose a project so we could present in front of the class about it, I told Lindsay thinking it would just be another bad idea. But she actually loved the idea. We thought of adding blank cards so that people could write whatever they wanted, whether it be quotes of their own or maybe a problem they have. This way, they would be leaving something behind for the next person and they’d be more involved in the whole thing. The more we talked about it the more I came to love it, and pretty soon we were telling our whole class our plans. Everyone thought it was sweet and everything, but I wasn’t sure if we would be able to pull this off. I definitely had my doubts.
For the first few months of school, we didn’t do anything for the project. We had set up a schedule, but we weren’t sticking to it at all. We’re both huge procrastinators (her more than me) and we found it was difficult to get motivated. Our schedules also conflicted; when I was free, she wasn’t and vice versa. When some time had passed and we realized we needed to get a move on things, we met up at my house. The plan was to map out everything we were planning on doing and to set up social media accounts. From a fort I had built the night before, we worked for a few hours getting things done and finding quotes we liked and wanted to share with others. The hardest step was out of the way: getting started.
As time quickly passed we planned to do an event. I had thought of Central Park in Huntington Beach right by Park Bench Cafe because I knew tons of people would be around and that we’d have at least a few people participate. When we got there, we realized we had no idea how we were going to get the envelopes up in to the tree. I tried tying the string to a stick and throwing the stick around the branches, but it was a complete disaster. We found that once the envelopes were up, the wind would violently blow them around so that is was impossible to grab them. The seasons also threw us off. The trees at the time lacked leaves so the whole image of envelopes dangling around a person as they approached the tree was ruined. We gave up and got gelato instead (which was delicious and made our failure seem insignificant). The next time we met, we decided we were going to use the Help Mob, another innovation group in our class. Their name is pretty self-explanatory and they came along to assist us in setting the tree up. This time, however, we failed to bring a ladder so one of the guys climbed the tree and proceeded to try and hang the envelopes up from there. We were unable to get very many hung up, but we decided to leave it and see how it went. From a table about 100 yards away, we watched the tree intently. Every time someone would walk past it and look over, we would start squealing with excitement. People were curious about it, but they weren’t interested enough to approach it. We left pretty disappointed and agreed to return the following day with a ladder.
To our surprise, a group of about 3 people had stopped by the tree. They wrote their own little quotes and when we searched the tags on Instagram and Twitter, they had posted about it. For our first time ever doing this, it was extremely encouraging. We set up a different tree this time; one that was closer to the path and in sight of Park Bench. It was a lot easier since we now had a ladder and the tree looked ten times better than the previous time. Since that first successful time, I believe we’ve done 2 or 3 other events and each time they’re more successful than the last. People seem to really enjoy what we’re doing and it brings us so much happiness to have people appreciate our hard work.
This project is something that has become important to me. I look forward to doing events because once you see a person light up as they open an envelope, it makes everything worth it. Nobody has written anything negative; it’s all positive. What we do is we create experiences. Someone who has participated can take pictures and tell their friends. They can write something to a stranger and it doesn’t cost anything. Maybe these people will remember what we do and if they’re having a bad day, they can remember one of the quotes from the Giving Tree. We just want to make people happy and for them to pass on the positivity. Although the school year is over and done with, I hope to continue this project and hopefully, it’ll spread and people from other states will get word of it. We want to inspire others to do something for their communities and show them how you can help people.
*The best way to know what the Giving Tree is like would be to visit it, and if you’re unable then check out our social media sites!*