You Try

Adapting the Redwood Violin Project

The idea

At its core the Redwood Violin Project was about promoting community awareness, pride and engagement. I believe that the methods I used are easily adapted and transferrable to other crafts and locations. The results would be endlessly various and engaging.


  • Make something out of local materials.
  • Get help from as much of the local community as possible.
  • Report to the larger local community about the making process, the people involved in the project, and the history of your location.

Step by step plan

  1. Plan to make something out of local materials (a musical instrument, clothing, furniture, a candle, a pair of shoes, a bar of soap, a loaf of bread…)
  2. Set up an online account to help convey your idea to potential participants
    • I think that a simple website works best but Facebook, Instagram or just a detailed email would work.
  3. Sell your project idea to other local businesses and skilled artisans, community based organizations and charities who could be involved in the project
  4. Once you have interest and verbal commitments, take your story to the local press, radio, TV: “I’m going to be doing this with these people / organizations. Would you be interested in covering it?”
  5. Start making your product. Record the process and report frequently online and through a project newsletter
    • Video is the most powerful reporting medium and the most time consuming. I have tips on how to do it with minimal equipment (a cellphone and an Instagram account)
    • Relate the materials and businesses to the land and to the history of the community.
    • Interview participants about their skills, business, organization….. Promote their work.
  6. Donating the finished item to a local cause or organization is a great way to generate more stories and goodwill.


  • Costs are relatively low in money but high in time.
  • Expect to spend most of your time reporting rather than actually making.
  • Be cautious about applying for grants, It is time consuming organizations have their own agendas to promote and you may find yourself bending your story to their needs. On the other hand, endorsement by a foundation gives your project credibility.
  • Do the reporting yourself, amateur video and writing is more personal and engaging. The sprit of do it yourself is empowering to the audience who will be able to imagine doing something similar themselves.
  • Put the focus on the help that you get as much as on the making process. An underlying theme is that we all depend on others to do anything. Show what those connections are.
  • If you work with larger organizations accept that they move slowly and may not get as personally engaged with your project as you might like.
  • Possibly ask for donations through your website / social media. You may only get a few but they are a hugh moral booster, a clear demonstration that people think that you are onto something interesting and worthwhile.

Benefits of doing this

  • Engage and with your community, learn about its history. Help to make your town unique.
  • If you are a local based business, the exposure and goodwill generated is huge and well worth the time spent.
  • Learn more about your craft by making substitutes for familiar materials.


Feel free to contact me to help develop your idea