The 100 Notebook Project

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As most of you may have seen over the last several weeks, we had been posting quite a bit about the 100 Notebook Project. For those of you who are't familiar, the 100 Notebook Project is our initiative to explore the role of notebooks as tools for explorative learning and artistic expression. Its aim is to engage the broader community in the tradition of notebook-keeping and demonstrate the role of analog thinking tools in the digital age. Each run of the 100 Notebook Project invites 100 participants from a partnering community group to each fill up a notebook that is later collected for inclusion in a public exhibition and growing archive.

We first began this project in 2014-2015, when we partnered with Leuchtturm1917 to donate 100 notebooks to people within our local community in Cambridge. Fifty were given out to the students from the Waterloo School of Architecture and fifty to anybody who wanted to participate in the project. Everyone had 4 months to fill up their notebook - through drawings, sketches, poetry, and prose - before returning them back to us. That year, members of BRIDGE Architecture, a student group from the school put together and curated the resulting exhibition, which allowed other members of our community to catch a glimpse inside the minds of our participants. The notebooks from that first run of the 100 Notebook Project and subsequent exhibition have remained in the hands of Phidon since, forming the first part of what we hoped would become a growing and on-going archive of notebooks from local creatives and thinkers.

A poster from the first run of the 100 Notebook Project.

A poster from the first run of the 100 Notebook Project.

An interim meet=up during the first 100 Notebook Project, where participants got together for a creative group session.

An interim meet=up during the first 100 Notebook Project, where participants got together for a creative group session.

Opening night for the exhibition of the first 100 Notebook Project.

Opening night for the exhibition of the first 100 Notebook Project.

Phidon's mission has always been to encourage people to write; to reach out to as many people as possible within the larger community, and perhaps even create a global community brought together through writing. The 100 Notebook Project presents an opportunity for us to bring tangibility to that philosophy and experience the fragility of human spirit right in our own hands. At the end of the project, it's heartbreaking to see the sadness in peoples' eyes as they hand over their notebooks to us, knowing that they're giving up something very personal to themselves. But we also share a mutual understanding with our participants that their notebooks are part of something larger than themselves.

Volume 2 of the 100 Notebook Project brought us together with the McEwen School of Architecture from Sudbury's Laurentian University. Last week, we took a road-trip and headed up north to take part in the opening of their 100 Notebook Project exhibition. We had such a wonderful time there and felt so privilege have been able to partner with them to revive the 100 Notebook Project. The McEwen School of Architecture, similar the Waterloo School of Architecture here in Cambridge, is situated in the heart of the Sudbury's downtown core and establishes within itself a strong sense of community. The school building itself is a beautifully designed space and the perfect setting to host the second run of our project. Similarly, the exhibition was curated by the students from the school, this time in the school's library. Our team had the wonderful chance to see, touch and flip-through so many notebooks. The short amount of time we got to spend with each notebook did not even begin to do them justice, but it truly was such an honour to have spent even the briefest of time with each of them. Luckily, these notebooks will be returning to Phidon soon and on quieter days, we hope we will have a bit of time to look at them more closely.

A talk given by Baldeep and Mano, along with Dr. Tammy Gaber, during the opening reception for Vol. 2 of the 100 Notebook Project.

A talk given by Baldeep and Mano, along with Dr. Tammy Gaber, during the opening reception for Vol. 2 of the 100 Notebook Project.

One of the submissions from the McEwen School of Architeture’s 100 Notebook Project.

One of the submissions from the McEwen School of Architeture’s 100 Notebook Project.

The 2nd project invited the participation of students, faculty members as well as members of the wider creative community in Sudbury.

The 2nd project invited the participation of students, faculty members as well as members of the wider creative community in Sudbury.

As the keepers of the artifacts from each 100 Notebook Project, we at Phidon Pens would like to envision and create a permanent space in the future for these notebooks. We believe they deserve to be put on display and made accessible to more people so that we can continue to share with others the culture of notebooks and voices of their creators. Each notebook offers a different perspective on life, whether it is capturing a certain view or reflecting on a specific event. It is an absolute joy to see how these notebooks spark so many wonderful conversations between participants and viewers. The notebook is an invaluable thinking tool and a form of art, and we are proud to help preserve it for generations present and future. We invite you to stay tuned as we will soon announce Volume 3 of the 100 Notebook Project in the coming weeks. To stay up-to-date on the latest news regarding the initiative, you can follow us on Facebook at our project homepage. As always, we welcome you to reach out to us if you have any questions about the project.

A big thank you to Leuchtturm1917 for their continued support of this project, as well as to Sarah Gunawan who first initiated this project at Phidon Pens.