Creation of the Week #4 "The Value Project" by Glass Canvas

"We Believe"

You know it's a Glass Canvas production when those are the words that kick off every social post, video project, and about page. Glass Canvas has tapped into something really special with this approach. It runs through every project they take on and is amazingly present in team member's outlook & perspective.

If you've ever had a convo with anyone on the Glass Canvas team, you know that you are going to hear a few phrases over and over again until you find that you're using them yourself: "start with why," "speak the unspoken," and "invest for the root cause, everything less is just makeup." (Ok, that last one is just one metaphor among many, but you get the idea). 

It's not their video production ability, their development chops, or their design skills that make Glass Canvas excellent at what they do. It's their philosophy. This philosophy is encapsulated in their tagline: "Work that Matters." They want to do work that is going to make a lasting difference and not just look pretty, which is quite the challenge in a highly commoditized industry where clients often times just aren't willing to invest for the long game. It's not just how great their work is, but that they get their clients to actually invest in doing it right that blows me away (more on that when we get those guys on the podcast). The project we're talking about here is The Value Project, a movement in conjunction with Signal Hill seeking to promote The Culture of Life in Canadian high schools. Here's the video covering what they did:

There are so many things about this project that are super encouraging, but since GC already wrote about their approach on their website, I'll let them speak about it themselves. They started by asking the right kind of question: 

How do you do connect with a culture that tends to have aversion to words like “abortion” and “Pro-Life”? We needed a clever way to intertwine language and visual media to intentionally convey a life-affirming message without using conventional language associated with the cause. The result is a poignant video that clearly communicates Signal Hill’s vision and mission without creating barriers that prevent certain audiences from embracing the message.
— Glass Canvas: Signal Hill

This project is unlike any other Prolife media that I've seen. You wouldn't even know that it was Prolife until 6 min into it, and even then, the message was so clearly non political and value driven that even social justice warriors could get on board.

Moreover, as a recent High School Youth Minister that is annoyed to no end by the Catholic bubble culture that can only talk to itself, it amazed me thatthis project spoke a language that high school kids could understand. They are passionate about social change, they believe they are more powerful than they are given credit for, and they LOVE multimedia with a cause. As I was watching this, I thought, "Finally, a Catholic media effort that focuses on reaching the cynical instead of only talking to those who've bought in already." This entire approach is documented in the Signal Hill Case Study where GC talks about helping to articulate Signal Hill's core values.

Every single core value runs 100% in contradiction to what most Catholic organizations are doing these days. We need a lot more Signal Hill's around that are willing to invest in this kind of work.

The other thing that struck me was how simple the concept was. They had a 5 day retreat for 12 kids and instead of beating them over the head with tired tropes and cheesy presentations, they said "We believe in you. We want to help you to transform your schools." Then they gave these kids the tools they needed and the guidance to DO IT THEMSELVES. 

None of us have to be amazing film makers or designers to do this in our own parishes/schools/organizations. Here's a question: what if instead of having retreats for high school kids where we tried to convert them, we told them: "We believe that you have the power to transform the culture at this school/parish and we'd like to help you do it." What if we took this kind of approach with young adults and just said: "Hey, instead of trying to reconvert/reeducate you and keep you Catholic, we'd like to empower you to help your peers know how valuable they are." 

What a freaking paradigm shift! 

The biggest takeaway for those of us that want to do work that really matters? Let's digest a little bit of Glass Canvas' philosophy. "Feed the roots instead of watering the leaves," as they say. I know that I for one an going to use the Signal Hill case study for a step by step for what that looks like:

 Signal Hill Case Study