Ryan Moran by Ryan Moran on December 6, 2012
This festive season, we at factor[e] design initiative have launched a charitable holiday project focused on both the Hamilton holiday experience, and with the goal of improving the experience of a child in Hamilton during both the holidays, and throughout the rest of the year.
In partnership with City Kidz, and utilizing our in-house talents, we have published a Hamilton focused holiday story book, entitled A Child’s Christmas in Hamilton. This story, illustrated by Chelsea Robinson, written by myself, and with special thanks to Adrian Duyzer, Tyler Cowie, Michelle Hayward, and Parker Martin, is a contemporary, Hamilton focused take on the classic Dylan Thomas prose A Child’s Christmas in Wales. Featuring whimsical, descriptive storytelling, and playful, stylized depictions, this book, to be enjoyed by children and adults alike, details the experience of a child in Hamilton on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the late 1980s.
A “first and foremost” type question might be “why did we do this?”
Well, “first and foremost,” because we can, and because we wanted to. As stated, this book was produced utilizing in-house talents, anything from illustration, writing, and design, to formatting and layout. The project first arose from a discussion of what to do for our holiday cards, and how we preferred to do something creative – as we had done in the past. Eventually the idea of an illustrated story was proposed, with the realization that it could be a unified holiday project, essentially, an idea that branches across gift books, and illustrated, captioned prints and greeting cards. It was our feeling that such a project would be a great method to showcase all that we are capable of as a full-service marketing, creative, and design studio. Prizing creativity over simply making do, we to let our ideas snowball.
However, beyond this “first and foremost” point, and far more importantly, we did this because we, as dedicated citizens of Hamilton, are dedicated to contributing to the Hamilton community.
In this sense, there is obviously the financial, social responsibility contribution that will be made, as proceeds from all books and cards sold will go directly to City Kidz. Yet in a far less immediately tangible sense, there was also the great interest in our contributing to the culture and stories of Hamilton.
Personally, having always loved the Dylan Thomas prose A Child’s Christmas in Wales, I have always been interested in the way that it characterizes the Welsh town that it takes place in. The way it reinforces the Welsh identity, and illuminates an understanding of that identity, even through being a relatively light-hearted, holiday focused piece. There is an undoubted melancholy to it, but there is also strength, a sense of unity, and a prominent sense of continuance. This tends to be achieved through its easy familiarity, and the ability for readers to identify with it, no matter the year, nor being of Welsh descent. It is a romanticized vision of the past, through the typically exaggerated eyes of an excited child.
There exists in Hamilton, a similarly strong sense of unity. There is a great deal of pride for this city, an undoubted sense of pleasure for its past, and a great deal of hope for its future, moreover, we can all generally understand, and be nostalgic about childish joys. Given this, the desire to record a similar sort of simple, romanticized vision of holidays of Hamilton’s past was only natural. As such, pen was put to paper, and that paper was sent to the printer.
The role of stories in contributing to shared culture and developing a sense of shared identity is, obviously, ancient and crucial. The UK, and London specifically, is an amazing example of this sort of cultural enhancement through stories, whether you are considering the real (Jack the Ripper and White Chapel), the fictional (Sherlock Holmes and Baker Street), or the fantastical (Harry Potter and the constructed Platform 9 and 3/4s at Kings Cross Station). All these stories, beloved and otherwise, lend themselves to an enjoyment of the city for those who visit it, an identification with the city for those who are a part of it, and an identity of the city as it persists throughout history.
Of course, London, and those stories, are all very big examples. It is important to note that the story need not be big, nor the location be renowned, rather, it is simply the relationship between the two that counts.
Buildings build a city, and people populate it, but cities are truly made by stories. Our identities, and indeed Hamilton’s identity, is shaped by shared experiences in a shared geography. There are many tales of Hamilton, many factual and many fictional, many small and many big, many short and many long. The more we write them down and share them with each other, contributing to our mutual culture, the more we can understand each other, where we have been, and where, as a city, we are going together.