Arts & Culture

A ‘Care Package’ to Augsburg


The simple phrase that has become a cliché, yet its meaning is controversial; “see something, say something.”

According to Janaki Ranpura, it has the potential to breed an environment in which public spaces become centers to spy and tattle on our fellow Americans, often based on racial biases. However, she also believes that these words can be construed in a different, positive light. As artists, we use the events and issues we witness to inspire work that will affect change. Thus was the inspiration behind Janaki’s workshop, “Take Care,” which had its showcase on Sept. 27. I was lucky enough to work with Janaki on this project.

The concept was simple: We would explore the idea of the “suspicious package” by leaving boxes around campus and observe how many people passed by and reacted to them, and we took note of the reactions. However, the point of the project was not to create worry in the campus community; quite the opposite actually. Our boxes had a twist to them.

Instead of the stereotypical “suspicious package,” Janaki had us each brainstorm and create a “care package,” hence the title of the project.

We all came up with concepts that we passionately cared about, and we created our boxes to be physical manifestations of those concepts. The idea was to make a box that would make those who encountered it think critically about what mattered to them. We would then take notes, along with pictures and videos, and use them to create a theatrical production: a puppet show with our boxes as the puppets.

We ran into one major problem, however. Most of us had issues getting people to interact with our boxes, either because they never noticed them in the first place or because they were afraid of messing with someone else’s stuff without permission.

I personally recorded 112 people passing by my box, 46 people seeing it, and only two who touched it. Still, we managed to make do, and we used our notes over the course of three days to improvise a scripted show. The whole workshop lasted only two weeks, but it was astonishing what we were able to accomplish.

This article first appeared in the Friday, October 6, 2017, Edition of The Echo.