Give & Take

Give & Take is a simple participatory or social practice art experience that we use with some regularity at Madison Public Library in Madison, WI. The project originated in Minneapolis, by social practice group Works Progress.

Give & Take is a set of activities based around two easy to answer questions:

What do you know?

What do you want to know?

Participants are asked these questions right off the bat as they fill out their name tags at a Give & Take event, and the answers to these questions offer the basis for much of the connections formed during the Give & Take activities.

What I love about Give & Take is that the activities are designed to bring out “every day” knowledge that anyone in the room might have, or know who to ask. It’s not limited to the work that people do professionally, or skill sets that require access to a particular educational or academic framework. The skills and know-how that people share can be anything from “how to fold a fitted sheet” to “how to dress for a funeral” to “how bowl a strike.” Neighbors, co-workers, cross-agency colleagues, classmates; everyone has something to share, something to learn, and connections to make.

The Give & Take activities are written up on a collection of cards and can be shuffled, re-ordered, and trimmed to fit with pretty much any given timeframe, from fifteen minutes to an hour.

Community Engagement Librarians Laura Damon-Moore and Mary Fahndrich facilitate Give & Take for library staff in 2017. Photo by Trent Miller.

Whiteboard results of a Give & Take collaborative activity. 2017. Photo by Trent Miller.

How have we used Give & Take?

  • As a social practice art experience at the library, geared mostly to art-makers and people who are interested in the Bubbler (MPL’s hands-on creativity platform).
  • As an activity to facilitate for organizations and groups looking for professional development or team-building activities. Give & Take is usually part of a morning of activities that also include a library tour and visual or digital art-making workshops.
  • As an experience to share with community partners, for example, as a way to demonstrate know-how connections across a very large group during a sustainability and social change conference.

Interested in learning more? I’d love to connect and hear from you. Please check in via the Contact page and let me know you’d like to try out Give & Take in your community.

Relevant links: