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FS23: Making Spaces Conference

Loca­tion: New Orleans, LA

This year’s confer­ence looked at how the work of a maker can impact the spaces we inhabit: our homes, our communities.

Community Partners:

MakeGood NOLA

Make­Good is a collec­tive of makers, design­ers, care­tak­ers, inno­va­tors, and more, dedi­cated to pushing the bounds of design in the field of adap­tive tech­nol­ogy. By harness­ing the creative power of every­one, we create amazing new inno­va­tions and expe­ri­ences for all people.

YAYA Youth Arts

YAYA empow­ers creative young people through visual arts educa­tion combined with entre­pre­neur­ial and life skills train­ing, equip­ping them with the skills they need to thrive as leaders. Our programs train youth to think creatively, solve prob­lems, manage complex projects, and give back to their commu­nity. Since 1988, YAYA has served as an incu­ba­tor for young talent, giving youth the freedom, oppor­tu­ni­ties, and resources to discover their passions and artistic voices.

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Local Resident Fellow:

FS23 Rontherin Ratliff Headshot 34ebf10b12

This year we are lucky to be working with Rontherin Ratliff, a mixed media sculp­tor based in New Orleans. His work focuses on ideas of balance and the human condi­tion. He blends func­tion­al­ity, aesthetic, context, and asso­ci­a­tions to address subjects of lone­li­ness, loss, home­sick­ness, memory, and the burdens we carry. For Ratliff, it’s steps of a journey in search of the equi­lib­rium exist­ing or nonex­is­tent amidst life and art. Ratliff exam­ines the metaphor of the body as a house where the mind dwells. Feeling at home or in harmony within includ­ing home as one’s origin or domes­tic place. The work ques­tions the socio­cul­tural constructed concepts of self. With it, he contem­plates reser­va­tions regard­ing home as a safe-haven where one expe­ri­ences posi­tive qual­i­ties such as secu­rity and comfort. Using archi­tec­tural mate­ri­als and domes­tic objects, his work explores the notion of inter­nal versus external balance.

The Project: Part I

Begin­ning in 2023, we part­nered with YAYA, an orga­ni­za­tion serving New Orleans area chil­dren and youth through educa­tional expe­ri­ences and entre­pre­neur­ship oppor­tu­ni­ties in the arts. YAYA’s programs are designed to nurture the creative talents of students in ways that also strengthen their acad­e­mic success, life skills, and profes­sional prepared­ness, turning their creative talents into career pathways.

In this first project of Craft for a Greater Good: NOLA, under the lead­er­ship of our Local Resi­dent Fellow, Rontherin Ratliff, we are teach­ing furni­ture making skills to partic­i­pants during our annual confer­ence. YAYA’s orig­i­nal program involved working with young people to paint story­telling chairs.” Over the last thirty-two years, YAYA has expanded their facil­i­ties, mediums, and reach. Our part­ner­ship with YAYA will allow them to return to their roots, the story­telling chair;” only this time — three decades later — the partic­i­pants will go beyond surface design and learn to build chairs of their own design, deep­en­ing their skills and enrich­ing the experience.

Activ­i­ties to-date have included:

  • Story­telling Chairs Work­shop Local Resi­dent Fellow facil­i­tated in the design and making of a series of unique story telling chairs that were made through collab­o­ra­tion of Furni­ture Society Members and YAYA Students. 

  • Make­Good NOLA Toddler Mobil­ity Train­ers Brainstorming Session

  • Present­ing about CGG: Confer­ence presen­ta­tion outlin­ing the history of CGG and the connec­tions between each local partner.

This chapter of CGG embod­ies the kinds of possi­bil­i­ties we see for this program. Contribut­ing to some­thing as profound as creat­ing furni­ture for u

For complex projects with mean­ing­ful results, we have learned that multi-year engage­ment is crit­i­cal. Extend­ing support will enable us to forge deeper, longer-term rela­tion­ships in commu­ni­ties and engage our member­ship in the process result­ing in big payoffs.


Press Release for Funding Award!

The Furni­ture Society is pleased to announce renewed support from the John & Robyn Horn Foun­da­tion and the Sara Little Turn­bull Foun­da­tion for our commu­nity-based initia­tive, Craft For a Greater Good. 

With the 2021 – 2022 funding the Sara Little Turn­bull and the John & Robyn Horn Foun­da­tions have so gener­ously provided, CGG has been able to grow from a modest pilot program into a robust, nation­ally recog­nized program that is making a quan­ti­ta­tive differ­ence, even inspir­ing a college course as well as national volunteer participation.

In addi­tion to the contin­ued, gener­ous support from these foun­da­tions, we are honored to have been recog­nized by the Maxwell Hanra­han Foun­da­tion in support of our efforts as we look to the future and our next project in New Orleans. We are 

These multi-year grants are mission-crit­i­cal to the contin­u­a­tion of CGG in allow­ing us to set a program­matic foun­da­tion in place to sustain and continue build­ing the program.

The Furni­ture society is grate­ful to our funders for recog­niz­ing the crit­i­cal and impact­ful nature of this program and we look forward to begin­ning our efforts, in earnest, in a new city over the course of the next year. 

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