by Clara Ngo, Hillbrook Hub Maker and Design Teacher, Annie Makela, Scott Center Director, and Fiona Maloney-McCrystle, Scott Center Program Associate
On the afternoon of Friday, October 29, the edge of the first- and second-grade playground was abuzz with activity. Over the sounds of the Fall Family Festival music coming from the amphitheater in the center of campus floated words from conversations about laser cutting, meeting the needs of food insecure Silicon Valley residents, and how quickly products had sold out. In other words, the Social Impact Marketplace was in full swing, as threads of agency, advocacy, making, and design all wove together to produce an event where middle school students got to take their creations to market and raise $1234 for local organizations working for people, animals, and the planet.
In the weeks leading up to the event, middle school students in Ms. Ngo’s Digital Fabrication and Made to Sell course had moved through a thoughtful design process, thinking about what their customers (in this case, Hillbrook community members) might want, making a prototype, surveying their audience to assess demand and feedback, adjusting products, carrying out quality control, and researching pricing and sales numbers. The resulting products–ranging from stickers to keychains and bookmarks to paracord bracelets–were arranged carefully on the marketplace tables and met an enthusiastic response, as nearly all makers ended up selling out.
But buying something at the Social Impact Marketplace didn’t just mean handing over cash, picking up your goods, and walking away. Each item purchased came with a Hillbuck, Hillbrook’s own currency designed in 2019 during the Scott Center “Money Matters” elective as a way to assign value within our community. Buyers could then take their Hillbuck to a table on the far side of the market and place it in a jar representing one of three organizations selected by sixth graders in the Identity and Impact RBB: Second Harvest, the World Wildlife Fund, or the Santa Cruz County SPCA. Students from the course were present to talk with buyers about the work of all three organizations, and the table was surrounded by the posters and graphics they had created to advocate for donations through data points, art, and stories.
In short, the Marketplace was an afternoon of many moving pieces–and also the result of weeks of partnership and planning between the Hub and the Scott Center. Often united by the common principle of Design, a driving tenet of Hub activities and one of the Center’s Lenses of Social Entrepreneurship Education, these two Hillbrook entities continue to expand their collaboration, finding common ground, purpose, and increased impact through creativity harnessed with others in mind. Scroll on to see and read more about the stories behind this event!