Inspiration. It's a good thing. And this TED talk from Dave Eggers has it by the bucket load.
McSweeney's is based in San Francisco, and they found themselves needing to rent some office space. They discovered a great place, and decided that they could use part of the space as a tutoring centre to help local kids with their writing skills.
Part of the rental deal was that the building had to be used partly for retail. Since the interior of the space had stripped floorboards and wooden beams, and reminded them of the inside of a boat, they opened up a Pirate Supply Store, kind of as a joke, though they now find that it's making good money. You can pick up eye patches for day and evening wear, peg legs, and supplies to combat scurvy.
The tutoring centre, 826 Valencia, is doing fantastically well, allowing kids to hang out with professional writers, and even to publish books together. And other similar centres have been set up across the US, including a Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store where you can get fitted for a cape and buy a complete secret identity.
The TED Conference gives out grants each year for its TED Prize - created as a way of taking the great ideas from the conferences, and making them bigger and better. The winners of the prize are granted a wish, and this year Eggers was granted one:
"I wish that you - you personally and every creative individual and organization you know - will find a way to directly engage with a public school in your area and that you'll then tell the story of how you got involved, so that within a year we have 1,000 examples of innovative public - private partnerships."
Which is pretty damn brilliant.
On the back of that, he's set up the Once Upon A School website to coordinate the project.
Eggers' TED talk lasts twenty-five minutes, but heck, it's Friday - take a bit of time, and get inspired. And if anyone in London fancies doing something on the back of this, or is already doing something, drop us a line. We'd love to be involved.