I have the pleasure of collaborating with amazing people from all over the world. We all share the desire to understand our communities in ways that will enrich our lives and the lives of our neighbors. Today I’d like to introduce you to Joy Boe, someone I don’t travel far to collaborate with. Joy and I work together in San Diego on a day to day basis. Joy recently came up with her version of the suggestion box. Joy hand-made a few boxes, and left them with different businesses in her local community. She asked different questions about what people love in their community, what people would like to learn, what they would do to contribute, etc. I love the idea, the design and the feedback, so I decided to do a little interview with Joy.
Me: “How did you come up with this idea?”
Joy: “I thought it would be great to give people an avenue to share their thoughts anonymously. I like the idea of being able to say what I think with no repercussions. It just evolved over time.”
Me: “What’s the story behind the design of the box itself?”
Joy: “I shop at a lot of thrift stores, and my original idea was to use materials from whatever shop or business I was going to leave a suggestion box. I wanted the design of the box to be representative of the neighborhood it was in. This became difficult time-wise for the original project, though moving forward, I still want to design them this way.
Me: “So why the yard and fence?”
Joy: “I feel like the yard sort of unifies where we all live. We all share the same environment, the same earth. It bridges the gap between all of us and becomes much less about the structure of our homes, and more about the fact that we all live together.”
Me: “Why did you form the design around tissue boxes?”
Joy: “I feel like a tissue box represents a certain vulnerability. When you offer someone a tissue, you are welcoming their emotions. You are offering a space for them to be vulnerable and share their story.”
Me: “Can you share a story from the early stages of this project?”
Joy: “One of the places I approached with a suggestion box was a 99 Cent store. The owner of the store first chided me for ‘spending too much money’ on the box. He agreed to have it there, but said ‘it’ll probably get stolen’. I left it, and came back a week later. This time he changed from being skeptical, to offering his thoughts on the project. He talked about the customer reaction to the box and how they were glad to participate. He gave his take on the community and what we should be doing. I came back another week later to collect the box and suggestions, and he had moved it to a ‘better location’ and it seemed as though he had been really taking care of it. I found this man’s evolution to be inspiring and heart warming.”
Joy put these boxes in a few locations and the responses she is getting are wonderful. Now she has to figure out how to connect these “suggestions” together in a way that will benefit these anonymous people. It is a challenge that I know she is up to. Perhaps the shop owner’s ‘inspiring and heart warming’ response to this is because the box itself is inspiring and heart warming? They come from someone rooted in her community, in her neighborhood, as a citizen who cares. Thank you Joy for your creative and relevant suggestions!