The Tiny Enterprise Project

It all started for me when I was just a tiny person. Games in the sandbox, snowbank, or hedges with Star Trek: The Next Generation action figures. There was no limit to what games I could play, because the rules of Star Trek were such that I could do anything I imagined.

Add I get more involved in the lives of Natalie Joy‘s girls, I find myself reflecting on a lot of the play I did as a kid. And for the first time in my life I’m getting pretty nostalgic.

It came to a head when Natalie Joy’s friends Thea and Jody hosted a Retro Sale at the local community centre. Collectors and shopkeepers and artisans flocked to it to hawk and trade, and I knew that, with my meagre income, it would require something pretty special to make me make a purchase for myself.

“I might — might — get some Next Gen action figures if I see them,” I said in the car. “Finish the old set. I’m sure most if not all of my crew are still at my folks’ place.”

And of course, there were not only Next Gen figures there, but there was a bag in a pile of bags that had five figures for five dollars. Not only that, but one of the figures I lost to a puppy’s teething — Captain Picard — was there, and even in my favourite variant uniform, the utterly rad velvet ambassadorial jacket and bloomed trousers.

Not only did the find taken something in me, but it captured the girls’ imagination too. They couldn’t hear enough about the Borg, about Gowron, about Data and his friend Geordie, about Captain Picard and the Ferengi. And it only got stronger once we brought home some more figures and a shuttlecraft from my parents’ house.

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It became apparent pretty quickly that the shuttle was not enough ship for the crew and the little nerds who were playing with them. And so, I decided to share with the girls a project I had once begun.

In Still Untitled: the Adam Savage Project, Adam Savage frequently discusses “making” with Tested.com’s Will Smith and Norman Chan. At one point he talks about how he got started himself, with corrugated cardboard and simple hardware, making stuff with his dad. I had a similar experience growing up, and the notion that that kind of start could turn a young Adam Savage into an ILM model maker for Star Wars and star of the Myth Busters was a powerful one.

And so, I recalled my attempts as a kid to build myself an Enterprise playset for my action figures. To this day, my dad still remembers this attempt. It wasn’t much to write home about. Bristol board, markers, and more than a little hope and imagination. There wasn’t much in the way of actual skill involved, as I hadn’t developed any real technique yet.

But I still played with it, still enjoyed it, until it sagged and fell to pieces. I wanted the girls to have something a little sturdier, something more permanent, that they could enjoy for a long time. Something that they could look back on and be proud of, and something that they could remember as learning certain skills from.

We move slowly, but we enjoy every second of it. And each time we make, the girls get more and more comfortable with things they were worried about when we started. Scissors, hot glue, making mistakes–all of these things are par for the course.

And I’m learning right along with them. I’m seeing again, reflected back to me, all the hours spent at Dad’s workbench, gluing together corks and odds and ends into spaceships and machines and planes and cars. I’m seeing the plywood Batcave he made me and let me decorate, the playhouse in the backyard he built and invited me to help paint, the sandbox he built and made me a part of getting sand at the quarry.

As we embark upon this tiny enterprise, it’ll be documented, photographed and blogged. My experience, as well as the girls’. And how this Starfleet Corps of Tiny Engineers fare will be forever preserved in the annals of the Tiny Enterprise Project.

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These posts are going to be somewhat in arrears of where we are in the project, but you can follow along on Instagram and Twitter at the hashtag #tinyenterpriseproject.

Paddle your own canoe, folks. And make it so.

Trevor

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