Friday, March 27, 2009

dog shit update

Turns out the bollards disappeared a day after their painstaking install, but it looks like the dog toilet is actually working! Just got this message from Tracy:

I've been emptying the sand pit regularly...people are throwing their 'doggy bags' in there.

The front page of our local paper ran a headline about young offenders having to clear up the dog shit off the pavements.We've set something in motion here.(excuse the pun)...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

dogs mess

Tracy, a tenant in Tenantspin, complained that "the dogs use the pavements as a toilet, and it has gotten worse lately." Mexico suggested that she "make sandboxes for the dogs with the right odor in them, put a sign up that says 'go here, not there' and go by every morning to collect the shit."

So, we did.

This was the most humiliating moment so far in the Ghana Think Tank. There was a group of guys in the park with a pitbull, and when they saw what we were building, immediately starting taunting us "Hey, you want my dog to shit on that?" When we responded that, "yes, please, that would be great," they softened up a bit, and started asking more questions, "Why are you doing this?"

And that's when it got really embarassing:

"You mean, you came all the way from America to build a bloody dog toilet!? What a waste of fucking


Saw this painted on the pavement nearby:

making an instrument

Kenny wanted to make an African instrument. Specifically, he wanted to teach drug addicted peole in Liverpool how to make African instruments from materials they could find on the street, so they could play on the street and make a few quid while gouching , "you know, instead a robbin' people."

Serbia recommended we get some Ghanaian people to teach how to make their instruments. So, in our search for Ghanaian people in Liverpool, we first met with Chief Angus, a Nigerian man who is well-connected to the West African Diaspora in Liverpool.

He had his own ideas about what kind of African instruments to make, and how to use them:

But Kenny was steadfast, he wanted a Kora, and drew a sketch of a version he thought we could make:

So, we walked Liverpool for a few hours with him, collecting some wooden fruit crates and other material, and Kenny even talked a local music store into selling some guitar strings for cheap. He did some Internet research, spoke with some local instrument-makers, and had a go.

In the end, he said the instrument didn't do what he had hoped, so now we need to look a litter deeper, find some African people living in Liverpool (or abroad) to specify the materials and techniques necessary to build a proper Kora.

The one we made together, he said "works as art, you know, but not really as an instrument." He thought it could work to show that the drug addicted people were at least putting in the effort, and so might get some sympathy donations that way. He told us the story of an old addict who used to pretend to play on a guitar he drew with marker on cardboard.

"He was an entertainer," and left us with this analogy for playing music while gouching, "well, you might not be able to make high art, but you can put out a reasonable facsimile of a Pollock or Rothko, can't ya?"

sunny umbrellas

J had complained that the weather in Liverpool is miserable:

"All the fun things I want to do involve it being sunny and nice outside, and its not, its miserable all the time here in England. Can you think of anything you'd like to do if it were rainy and cold. Maybe some inventive ideas..."

Serbia responded with what has become their trademark boot-strap approach: "if it's raining you can do pretty much the same things when it is not raining but with umbrella. You can also make big sun... painting it in yellow..."

So, Tenantspin helped us collect umbrellas to paint sunshine onto, and, amazingly enough, it did not rain the entire time we were in Liverpool, so the action part of that action will be done in our absence, once the promised rain finally falls.

Monday, March 16, 2009


All photos in this post by Jennifer Welch

Tim, a lecturer in Popular Music at JMU, had
complained about cars always parking on the pavement (sidewalk) by his work. When we met with him, he said that when the nursery is letting out, tons of pedestrians (including parents with their tots in pushchairs [strollers]) have to walk around the cars and into the street.

Serbia recommended we build blocks to stop cars from parking on the sidewalk ("bollards" in UK), like they have in Vranje, so we set out to make it so. We built a plywood form, mixed our cement, poured ourselves some Bollards, and painted them with bright yellow high vis stripes.

And then, this afternoon, we delivered them to their desired location, in very official high-vis FACT vests and helmets (John got the dorky one).

We'll check in with Tim to see how Serbia's solution is working out in a few weeks. Thanks, Serbia! (and Ed and Brian and Jen and Tracy, of course).

All photos in this post by Jennifer Welch

Saturday, March 07, 2009

First solutions for Liverpool

The Thinktank in Serbia at work in the Generator NGO, Vranje, Serbia.

The first batch of solutions came in for the first batch of Liverpool problems:

  • Paint the undersides of people's umbrellas with sunny scapes, then organize activities in the rain, holding these umbrellas, that would normally only be done in the sun. For example, soccer, sun bathing, etc. (with Jay)
  • make some plywood forms, fill with concrete, and set these out along sidewalks on places where cars are often parking (with Tracy)
  • find some Ghanaian people in Liverpool, and get them to run instrument making worshops. It doesn't have to be traditional: it could be a sort of DIY/hack with what you have workshop (with Kenny)
  • promote the Royal Liver Building, the Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building. (with Rachie B)

  • make sandboxes for the dogs with the right odor in them, put a sign up that says "go here, not there" and you go by every morning to collect the shit.
  • ¬†getting to know liverpool through kids who show us the least known places in liverpool then we publish it on the internet

John and I fly to Liverpool tomorrow, to begin the action!