It has taken me some time to actually put pen to paper to share the learnings from this project, during which time it has come up in many discussions and been shared in other ways, but I present to you here some thoughts.
During UmbrellACT eight workshops were held around the country, and the format of the ones I held was just to put the umbrellas in the middle of the room, tell people to take them apart to the smallest pieces possible and make something. Every person who came made something different, most were surprised!
What I realised during the process is that, in our society we are used to consuming objects from centralised sources, through the hierarchical domination of the ‘expert’, similarly to how we consume information and rules from centralised sources. We are mostly not involved in making those objects from resources (i.e. raw materials), we receive them with an already fixed identity given from the authoritative source (i.e. this is a water bottle, this is an umbrella). We are not accustomed to challenge the authority of that identity, therefore when that object breaks it no longer fulfils the identify and becomes useless, becomes waste. We cannot see past that fixed identity to the raw resources which are still there, now waiting to be transformed and reused.
You can also see this underlying paradigm reflected in how we treat buildings and people, and the desolation it causes. I am not sure if by simply giving people the experience of transforming an umbrella to another object you can give a catalyst for them to start transforming other objects or even their lives. But finding ways to give people permission to challenge the authority of given identities and the authority to be creators themselves is important, and experimenting in ways to do that I think is a valuable exercise.