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January 24, 2013

Factory Week 2013

January 24, 2013

I have a distinct memory from my childhood that took place on a field trip. (Stay with me here.) As a kid, leaving the school building in the middle of the morning felt like a rare gift, feeling the 10 a.m. breeze on your face instead of the buzz-glow of fluorescent light bays, and the metallic-whirr of the school clocks.



On this particular trip, being from a Factory-town; we visited the Factory. Probably the largest building we’d ever been in, it was all matte grays and artificial light; conveyor belts and hulking machinery. A permed woman in a red shirt explained her job, cigarette in hand, “I press this button here to advance the part to my station. This lever lowers the part, and these buttons rotate the part so I can attach the right piece. Then, I send ‘er down the line.

Buttons, robots, machines–it seemed I was inside a video game. Everything seemed weighty, and all the people around wore hardhats and glasses. When we went back outside in the Noon sun, I was glad to feel the breeze again on my face. I'd begun to feel like I was being sent down the line.



SpeakEasyFast-forward a couple decades, and I’m nervously walking through a frozen parking lot towards an imposing, slate-gray warehouse. I’m supposed to meet with volunteer Musical Family Tree writers, and expect a table full of beard-stroking, coffee-drinking dudes, and laptop-bound developers sweating over pieces of code more confusing than a Twinkie ingredient list.

Instead, I walk into a warehouse retrofitted with upcycled industrial motifs, revolving door meeting rooms, imposingly comfortable chairs, and skylights. I also walked right into my first Factory Week experience.

People, ideas, and energy were flowing freely through the wide-open space–and it was the energy level that struck me the most. Pulled aside to learn about SmallBox, I was immersed in their passionately creative world. But I was also confused; who let these people with laptops have so much fun while at work?



By this point, you’ve heard of, read about, or learned about creating your version of one of SmallBox’s longest running institutions: Factory Week. This Factory Week, however, is a bit different. Instead of turning our skills inward on a laundry list of projects, we’re calling on the varied skillsets of our entire team to focus on a single, ur-Project: revamping, repopulating, and relaunching the new SmallBox website and brand.

Factory Week isn’t:

  • a group of individuals working on their day-to-day projects and responsibilities.

  • a place where ideas should be swept under the tablecloth.

  • an excuse for team-building that doesn’t result in any real-world products.


Factory Week is:

  • a border-removing, tasty stew of unique team pairings that produce new ideas.

  • a context for crucial conversation, constructive criticism, and creative catalysts.

  • a dish best served with one or more end-goals, projects, or magnum opuses.

  • an essential, form-equal-to-function cog of SmallBox.


Our Factory Week (2013, v.1) begins Monday, January 28th. At 9 a.m., the doors come off the school, and we’ll round-up eager-eyed in the illicit breeze of internal rejuvenation. It’s more than a field trip–the chaperones have been left at home. Keep up with all the action online at the Factory Week blog, and via Twitter (@factoryweek or @SmallBox).

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