Program Page - Handcrafted: Business and Community Building

HANDCRAFTED: Business and community building

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A workshop series fostering cross-cultural exchange and social connections between immigrant / minority communities and long-term residents of Nebraska.

Handcrafted: Business and Community Building Overview

“Handcrafted: Business and Community Building” also known as “Crafting Culture in the Middle of Everywhere” is a workshop series and related research project about fostering cross-cultural exchange and social connections between immigrant communities and long-term residents of Nebraska. It is also concerned with developing skills related to entrepreneurship and business acumen and sparking relationships and ideas that will ultimately contribute to the “micro-ecology” of entrepreneurship for immigrants and minority communities in Nebraska. 

The facilitator guide of the Handcrafted program provides opportunities to create craft-based entrepreneurship workshops utilizing rich textile traditions and collaborative projects for local multicultural audiences to build healthy, inclusive communities and businesses.

The program consists of two phases:

  1. Phase 1
    A series of 3 collaborative craft workshops during which participants will work together to create simple but expressive textile projects about home and community. These works will later be exhibited in a public gallery space in Lincoln and accompanied by a reception.
  2. Phase 2
    The participants will have the opportunity to further develop the skills, ideas, and relationships developed in the previous workshops in a series of 3 entrepreneurship training sessions oriented in particular to creating viable businesses using the framework of empathy and design thinking. Participants will together practice using empathy to solve challenges within communities and explore marketplace options where they can potentially position their products as solutions.

The basic logic of this project is that bridges across cultural, religious, ethnic, and social differences will form organically through participation in a collective endeavor, in this case, the collaborative creation of textiles. As participants orient towards these textile projects, they are also sharing experiences, engaging in problem-solving (with respect to crafted works), and likely telling stories about their lives and families. Shared experiences and familiarity with people from different backgrounds is the first step in disrupting stereotypes, combatting ignorance, and forging real community.

We employ Design Thinking, a concept that centers around applying creativity and innovation to our actions, decision making, and problem-solving as human beings. In this framework, we use empathy as an entrepreneurial tool for participants to understand diverse audiences and their experiences within the context of their design challenges, and to create solutions to address the challenges of those audiences. We connect collaborative making culture and empathy-building as a part of building sustainable communities in Nebraska. The workshops also intend to establish micro-ecosystems for communities that were often not involved in a bigger entrepreneurship ecosystem, such as immigrants, women, and other minority groups.

This outreach project has been initiated by Claire Nicholas and Surin Kim, Assistant Professors at the Textiles, Merchandising & Fashion Design department, and sponsored by the Pearle Francis Finigan Foundation. 

The project has been supported by various partners: The Asian Community and Cultural Center, the International Quilt Museum, the Lincoln Modern Quilt Guild, the Nebraska Business Development Center - Lincoln, College of Education and Human Sciences Research and Design Studio, Nebraska Innovation Studio, and the Quilted Conscience.

Recent Highlights: 

Crafting Culture project connecting immigrants and Nebraskans

Crafting Culture project celebrates diverse women entrepreneurs in textiles

Textiles department to showcase female entrepreneurship Nebraska history


Get in touch. We'd love to find the perfect program for your community.