GOOD

A Plug and Play T-Shirt Designed to Boost Creativity in Kids

A few years ago, I sat down to make a birthday gift for my little friend Charlie who was turning four. As the boss of my own graphic design business, I spend not only entire days sitting in front of a computer, but also too much time worrying about serious grown-up things like strategic planning, budgets, and making the right decision. So sitting down to play with something—whether it's fabric or vegetables—is something I really love and crave in my life. I try to not only have a bit of fun and take my mind off all the things I get worked up about each day, but also remind myself that in those moments of play, when it doesn't matter what the outcome is—real magic happens. Magic that impacts the course of all that "serious" business.


So when this sweet little idea emerged during my afternoon crafting session—a button holding a stack of felt shapes on the front of a baby T-shirt—it seemed a little bit silly, but mostly really great. That little stack could be a sandwich, a flower, sushi, a dump truck, a monster, ice cream, ANYTHING! And it turned out to be a hit. Charlie loved taking this first prototype apart and putting it back together—and whatever combination she made, she got to wear it around all day too. So I made another one, and another, and another until I had a whole bunch of different designs.

The Itty Bitty Project was born.

At my studio and other kids' birthday parties, I loved watching what kids would do with all the pieces. I saw two little friends putting their tees together side-by-side, swapping bits and coming up with their own ingenious combinations. They were certain that eyeballs belonged in outer space. An aspiring chef even asked his mom, “Can I have bacon and egg on my pizza?”

When a friend's three-year-old got her Itty Bitty Monster T-shirt, she instantly named it Shiny and had an extensive conversation with it, as it hung on the towel rack during her bath time.

This clothing concept was brimming with creative potential in all of its possible permutations, and also empowering little ones to make their own very important decisions, to experiment with convention, and to find an arrangement that could be satisfying one day, then changed the next. In this way, the Itty Bitty project is for all big people who want to nurture the innovative spirit in their little ones.

There is no "finished," no "done." Creativity doesn’t have to have a fixed goal. It’s important to have freedom to explore, reinvent and reimagine, without the fear of failure.

And if the little ones can do that much with just a T-shirt, imagine what they could do with everything else in the world around them?

We are starting out with a collection of eight T-shirt designs, each with a kit of six to eight bits that either snap or button onto a little T-shirt. We’re constantly working on sketches to expand our themes into new designs so more and more bits can be rearranged in more and more interesting combinations. And because grown-ups have been asking for it, we are also making selected designs available in adult sizes. Birthday party sets, DIY kits and educational gift boxes—with additional items, including a little book full of interesting facts about the theme of the given shirt are also in the works.

And while the Itty Bitty project is meant for little ones, it's also a reminder for all of us to take ourselves a little bit less seriously. To indulge in creativity that triggers the magic from life's "serious" business. And if you do things one way one day, that doesn't mean you can't do them differently another day.

Support the Itty Bitty Project on Kickstarter now until Wednesday, August 7.

This project is part of GOOD's series Push for Good—our guide to crowdsourcing creative progress.

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The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

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"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

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The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.





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The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

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