What are you going to do with my task list?
I'm not a shady person. I want you to be informed about what I plan on doing with your task list.
The short answer:
Collect them. Store them. Scan them. Study them. Make something big and neato with them. That should keep me busy for a decade or two.
The longer answer (if you’re a details kinda person):
Below are the 3 major phases of the project as I see them now. Because of the massive scope of the project and the number of years it may take, I want to share pieces of this vision with you. It's hard to know what opportunities and challenges may present themselves and how their impact may be felt. Yet, I didn't want all of those unknowns to stop me from taking action.
Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. -Martin Luther King, Jr.
Phase 1: Collect + Store
Collecting 33,000 handwritten task lists from women is quite an undertaking - both in terms of time and effort. As a lover of people, good conversation and ephemera, this is really fun for me. In this marathon, I’m warming up my asking & receiving muscles by asking friends, family, and really any female strangers who happen to strike up conversation with me. The reality is: If I have to ask 33,000 women one-by-one, I’ll do it. This is a labor of love. Behind the scenes, I’m percolating on ways to incorporate my favorite aspects of social media, creative reuse, and public speaking to get the word out.
Phase 2: Scan + Explore
As task lists roll in, I snap photos of some of them to anonymously share with the other sister task listers and supporters of this project. Then, the lists will live in a storage bin and likely get scanned at some point down the road.
Here's a sampling of what's rolling in so far:
Having been a CPA and an undeclared sociology minor, I have a head for facts, figures, and analysis. Being insatiably curious, I keep thinking up questions like:
- What insights can we learn from the lists or the tasks themselves?
- Will cursive be extinct by the time I collect 33,000 lists?
- How many lists are written on paper vs. napkins? Pen vs. pencil?
- What can the lists tell us about how women are juggling obligation vs. desire?
Down the road, I hope to figure out a way to study them more. There's a small part of me that wonders if this wouldn't be an awesome opportunity to learn how to code. Because I'd love to share more factoids with the women contributing their lists and the folks supporting this art and social impact project.
Phase 3: Make Some Art
This is the scary part, but also inspires me to keep going. This is where the Itty Bitty Shitty Committee in my head starts going bananas. (Picture the riotous British House of Parliament.) Who do you think you are? What the hell do you know about creating art? You don’t have the skill, pedigree or training to create an art exhibit. I could go on, but I think you catch my drift. I’m not sharing this because I want a pep talk. I’m sharing this to say what I’ve learned so far: Don’t stop just because you feel some fear. Make a move - any move. People, especially other women, will surprise and amaze you in some totally rad ways.
Now, you’re probably wondering what the actual installation will be like, right? I have a vision, but some parts are still somewhat out of focus. What is certain is that I'll be using the physical lists.
The beauty of (and my personal challenge for) this project is to stay flexible during Phases 1 and 2. They will take years. Why box myself in or stunt the creative process so early on? Very much out of character for me, I’m going to see what ideas reveal themselves and what I learn as I collect, connect the dots, and learn. As I go, I’ll share updates through my newsletter and social media. I invite you to join me and help where you can.