In October, The Women’s Brick Initiative hosted a workshop at Brickcon, an annual convention for Lego fans and hobbyists, in Seattle, WA.
It’s no secret, that Lego as a hobby, has been traditionally perceived to be primarily for boys and men. This is reflected in their products, branding, company culture, and diversity within their fan community. Most folks who show up to Lego fan events, are certainly humans of the male variety!
It’s no wonder then, that folks who show up in this community, and don’t feel like they fit in, sometimes struggle to find their place. Enter The Women’s Brick Initiative!
Our intention, as board members of WBI, is to create a safe space to surface our community’s stories, and understand what challenges we all face as we navigate our hobby. Ultimately, how do we co-create a community, that honors, supports, and advances folks who have traditionally felt left on the outside? This workshop was the first step.
The workshop used a method called Lego Serious Play, which is a communication and problem solving method where a trained facilitator leads a group through a series of build challenges that allows folks to explore an issue through a visual storytelling medium. You can learn more about it here.
The stories that were shared in the room that day, were profound, personal, and deeply moving. There was the story where a homeless man found meaning and recovery, with the help of relationships and playfulness. We heard about the woman who went through a major life transition and found solace and peace through building. Also, there was a mother who found herself a lonely empty nester, and found a renewed sense of purpose and power through playful expression. A common thread of transformation connected the stories of how Lego bricks helped folks navigate tumultuous life moments.
When we asked the folks in the room to share stories of how they struggled to thrive in the Lego community, there was no holding back of some deeply disturbing, and frankly sad accounts, of how alienating and exclusive the fan community can be for folks who don’t fit in. People built models that showed literal barriers and walls between them and their sense of belonging. One model showed the lego community as grey and homogenous, while the outside world was colorful and diverse. There was a widespread disappointment in the products that are marketed to women (think Lego friends) as they don’t promote the integration of women and the diversity of thought in the women fan community. A trans woman shared how she had to set up her own LUG (Lego User Group), to create a safe space for creation, away from judgmental and unwelcoming eyes.
We are committed to changing the narrative and creating a safe space for women and those who feel like they’re on the outside, to be welcomed and supported.
Jyoti Patel – board member Women’s brick Initiative
To keep up to date on the happenings of the Women’s Brick Initiative please join our Forum or sign up for our mailing list. If you’re interested in Lego Serious Play workshops for your team or workplace, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.