What’s in a name… How “BarnRaise” came to be!

People have been asking us… why the name “BarnRaise”?! Fair enough. Let’s head over to Wikipedia for a quick description of what a barn raise was originally.

Does this picture look old? That's because it is. People were raising barns since before the 1700's.. 

Does this picture look old? That’s because it is. People were raising barns since before the 1700’s.. 

A barn raising, also historically called a “raising bee” or “rearing” in the U.K., describes a collective action of a community, in which a barn for one of the members is built or rebuilt collectively by members of the community. Barn raising was particularly common in 18th- and 19th-century rural North America. A barn was a necessary structure for any farmer, for example for storage of cereals and hay and keeping of animals. Yet a barn was also a large and costly structure, the assembly of which required more labor than a typical family could provide. Barn raising addressed the need by enlisting members of the community, unpaid, to assist in the building of their neighbors’ barns.

Fun fact: It still happens today in some Amish and Old Order Mennonite communities, particularly in Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and some rural parts of Canada!

Just for fun, here’s some people raising a barn, courtesy of YouTube.

So what does this have to do with our event? Everything. When building a barn with your neighbors, it didn’t matter who you are or what you were good at. There was a place for you. Maybe you were carrying heavy items around or perhaps you were hammering nails. You could even have been preparing the plans for the group. The same holds true at BarnRaise. At our event, it doesn’t matter what you do for a living or what your degree is in! We want your expertise! You can see this carried through with our speakers: they’re not all designers. We have a lawyer, entrepreneurs, and more coming in to speak (and we’ve invited more!). 

Furthermore, we’re not just going to sit around all day and listen to important people, we’re going to do something about it: we’re going to build our “barns” as well… prototypes to suggest solutions to real organizations and companies in Chicago! Our ideas at BarnRaise will impact the city, and hopefully carry beyond Chicago and carry over to start other conversations in other cities. We want to have deep conversations and dream up solutions to issues sounding open-source data. 

What does this mean for your companies? Well, it means you’re going to come back with new frameworks, methods, and approaches to tackle sticky issues. It means you can learn tricks on how to better communicate within multidisciplinary teams. It means you’re going to walk away with a deeper understanding of the power of prototyping and more experience in design for social good. And you get to feel great knowing your ideas will be built upon within the organizations hosting the problem spaces.

Come build cool stuff with us. Seriously, it’s going to be a ton of fun.