I was recently asked by Meet Me At the Albany to find an object or series of objects that convey the multitude of stories held within their weekly creative arts program for older people. Meet Me At, at its heart, is a way of re-envisioning creative arts and the idea of care for people 65+. Given constrained budgets and social care cuts, it is a fantastic alternative to the more traditional day centre for older people. For many who come, this is the only time they really talk with anyone, or leave their home. Sessions are held every Tuesday at the Albany in Deptford (and it has become so successful that it is being extended across Lewisham -- hooray!).
When I met with the folks at the Albany and Entelechy (the two organisations that conceived of Meet Me At), it became clear what they viewed as an evaluation tool I saw as an opportunity to tell stories, and that this was a cumulative tale, much like The House that Jack Built. The stories here embrace individuals as well as groups. It is as much about the volunteers and staff as it is about the participants. Together all of these people hold a collective sense of community and trust.
This led me to riff on the idea of the Eames House of Cards, a magnificent collection of images that are placed on notched cards so they can be interlocked to create a very robust structure. But why cards, you ask?
- Because cards offer both the ability to be linear as well as open-ended. Each card holds a story that becomes a story cluster when placed in juxtaposition with others.
- Because cards are an easily understood interface.
- Because cards are 2-D, but can be combined to create a 3-D object.
- Because with cards you can play and build.
These cards needed to be image rich, and the few words included needed to work as pivots or drivers that helped frame or propel the story. The result was cards printed on two-sides (referencing our inner self and the one we present to others) that can be passed around, shared, or interlocked. They can be viewed individually or in a larger context. You can peer through the gaps in between them to see inside to new images. Because ultimately, through both action and image it is important for people to intuitively understand that Meet Me At provides a structure and a shelter that embraces individuals and builds a lively sense of community among those in society who are normally isolated.