“Opportunity,” said Brandon without hesitation (here is the audio of our conversation).

I was grinding on a grant application at Fox Point Library yesterday afternoon and pondering the question, “What is your best practice?” Why not ask one of our intelligent student leaders, Brandon, who just happened to be on the other side of the magazine rack working on a video?

“When people are looking from the outside in,” Brandon continued, “they see the tools and equipment (vinyl cutters, heat presses, laser cutters, sewing machines) and they think that’s where the true power lies. I believe it comes from students learning how to use the equipment to be able to change the environments in their communities with the equipment and tools. The opportunity comes from not only learning the specific technicality and being able to think in the technical sense, but it also comes in the creative sense…Confidence is a big part of it too. Once you are able to take charge of your learning, take charge of the environment you are more likely to take charge in different environments and of different opportunities.”

Opportunity is a powerful. And I would argue a well-lived life is a collection of well-utilized opportunities. Not all of them work out, but we make our plays and let the chips fall where they may.

Many of FabNewport’s first experiences with children are simple prompts which engage kids to connect with their creativity and imagination. Prior to seeing Brandon at Fox Point yesterday I brought the prototyping cart (wood scraps, pipe cleaners, tape, scissors, rubber bands, scrap paper) to a 4th grade English Language Learner class at the Reservoir Public School in Providence. I explained to the kids they will have the opportunity to make anything they want to in response to the prompt, “What is your super power?” They lit up and fashioned tickle machines, automatic tree decorators, super wagons, magic birds and more. It was a joyful hour. With a simple prompt the barrier of entry is low while the opportunity for exploration is high. My time with the kids cut into the art teachers time but she hung out and noticed a young woman who was engaged. “Kudos to you,” she said, “I have a hard time getting her to do anything.” Sometimes less is more.

Brandon at Fox Point