Why does it take a crazy person to change the world? That’s the question that we have been trying to answer for the past few weeks in class. In early December, our class went on a four day trip to Seattle, Washington. Even after living in a suburb of Seattle for more than half of my life, I have spent very little time downtown. It felt like a completely new world to me. The focus of this project as to learn about and really understand how influential people change the world. In this blog post, I’m going to talk about most of the stops that we went that showed examples of this.
Our class got a chance to visit the Microsoft visitor center on the first day of our trip. This was interesting because we were able to see the history of Microsoft and how it’s first computers were created. We also had the chance to get a tour of the
Microsoft Garage, an interactive maker space for Microsoft employees to use to create whatever they want. This is proven to lead to more innovative thinkers and more active employees. The idea of letting employees use this space, for free, 24/7, is just one of the crazy ideas that is pushing Microsoft out of the box and into undiscovered territories.
The first Amazon stop that we saw was the Amazon Understory. The Understory is an office workspace in giant glass spheres filled with plants. The concept is proven to increase workflow by emulating an outdoor environment. We also took the Amazon headquarters audio walking tour, where we listened to a prerecorded tour guide explain the history and features of the Amazon campus, which is spread out across much of downtown. This tour ended up taking us about 3 hours to complete, and by the end we were all exhausted. It did teach us a lot about Amazon’s connection to their community. One example of this was the Amazon banana stand. This stand, created in 2015, is a way for Amazon to give back to the community through free bananas. The employees of the banana stand are full time employees and their only job is to give anyone who approaches a free banana. This idea seems crazy, but it shows the community that amazon is people-oriented and cares about every individual.
For breakfast on the second day of our trip, we visited the Seattle Starbucks Reserve. The Starbucks Reserve is basically an upscale Starbucks, with real menus, professionally made pastries, and fancy $8 coffees. The revolutionary part of Starbucks is the way that it was one of the first coffee shops to really lean into a social crowd. The founders were impressed by how Italian coffee shops were a place to spend time with friends and loved ones, instead of being a grab and go place like in America. At the time, most people thought this was crazy, but now Starbucks is one of the most well known and loved coffee chains in the world.
Our class got the opportunity to have a full tour of Centurylink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders football and soccer teams respectively. Although much of the discussion was based around football (which I couldn’t care less about), the fascinating part to me was being able to see the behind the scenes part. One of the highlights for me was the media rooms, where broadcast media can watch games and write articles. This interested me because I have always been fascinated by how media companies produce stories. Another fun part was that the view from the top of the stadium was incredible.
A favorite stop of mine was the Living Computers museum. This museum was an incredible interactive museum filled with every kind of robotic or digital machine you could imagine. The entire upstairs of the 2 floor museum was devoted to the history of the first computers, and the downstairs was filled with different machines. A class favourite part of this museum was the 80’s themed game room, complete with a Game Boy setup and a record player. No part of this room, other than us and our phones, looked as if it was from 2018. We had a lot of fun battling each other in Pac-Man and Super Mario.
The Chihuly Gardens was by far the most beautiful place we visited. Dale Chihuly, one of the worlds greatest glass artists, has created some beautiful pieces that are on display at this museum. Part indoor and part outdoor, it is all parts beautiful. We visited after dark, so it was quiet and peaceful and we were able to look up at the space needle from the garden. Chihuly was one of the first people to use glass as an art form, instead of being used strictly for practical uses. This caused many people to believe that fine arts using glass was crazy, but he proved them wrong.
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a nonprofit foundation founded by Microsoft creator Bill Gates and his wife Melinda to help actively change the world. I found it really interesting that they were using their billions of dollars to help change the world right now to really make a difference. Many people have found the controversial idea of donating almost all of their money to the greater good to be crazy, but Melinda and Bill just want to help the world and don’t have the obstacle of money to climb over. We has the opportunity to have a tour of the foundation’s visitor center, which really inspired many of us to help change the world in little ways, such as recycling plastic or helping others.
A class favourite stop was the Museum of Pop Culture, or MoPOP for short. The MoPOP is an interactive museum showing off mostly music, film, and digital design in the modern era through exhibits. One of my favourite exhibits was an indie games exhibit, which allowed us to explore and play different indie games that were changing the game world. Some of them were mindless fun, where others such as Little Nightmares (a game which I played for at least an hour) were more based on adventure. The MoPOP’s sky church, a giant imax sized screen that played music videos, was a great place that many of us ended up congregating in towards the end of our visit.
The Boeing factory, located a little ways away from most of our other activities was a very interesting spot to visit. We took the factory tour, which I took a couple of years ago with some of my family. I remember walking along the underground tunnels for what felt like hours, but on our visit the walking only took about 10 minutes. As this was one of the last stops in our trip, we all felt absolutely exhausted and had a hard time focusing on the tour. Nevertheless, it was fascinating to see how the crazy idea of flight started and turned into something as major as it is today.
My Overall Thoughts
I thought that this trip was one of the best that we’ve been on, because I really saw what we were learning in almost everywhere we went. This was of learning was very effective because being able to learn in a hands on environment lets me understand and retain information way better than I would have otherwise. Overall, I have learned a ton from this trip and I will be able to apply many of the concepts into my everyday life.
Our Seattle Video
We also created videos of influential people related to our trip in groups of three. I worked with Isy and Kai to film and edit our video. We talked about Jeff Bezos, Dale Chihuly, and Melinda Gates. They all are changing the world in their own exceptional ways. You can hear all about this right here in our video!
We focused on these three individuals because they all show the quality of “crazy” well. Through our initial research, on location learning, and interviews, we captured the stories of Melinda, Chihuly, and Bezos in this video. The biggest challenge in this video, though, was connecting all of the learning and footage through back to our original thesis. Our thesis was, “Crazy people make the world fit their ideas, altering what is normal in the eyes of society.” If I were to do this video again, I would add more description of our thesis and why it is important. For example, I believe that this thesis is important because it proves the lengthes that people are willing to go to acheive success. This was made apparent to me in Seattle, especially in the Chihuly Museum and the Amazon headquarters. Both of these places showed me just how far these two individuals went to acheive their goals. Chihuly has accomplished a lot in the glass art field, especially considering he has lost an eye. Bezos has forged ahead to be on top of the online marketplace, even when people believed he was crazy. This video is a piece that I am quite proud of, and I learned a lot from making.