Sunday, June 8, 2014

It's Over??

With the conclusion of TEDxGrossePointeSouthHS, 20 Time is over! A few responses to Mr. Provenzano's questions:
1. Overall, what is your opinion of 20 Time based on YOUR experience in class?
I have EXTREMELY mixed reviews about 20 Time. I loved it and I hated it. It simultaneously impacted my life in positive and negative ways. I began the year loving 20 Time. I was excited and ready to really create and accomplish things. I became impacted by a lack of motivation and drive, and essentially gave up on my project. At this point, 20 Time became more of a stress-inducing chore. On the other hand, speaking at TEDx was simultaneously the coolest/most emotional/amazing/life changing experience that I've ever had in school. 
2. What are some aspects of 20 Time that you think should be adjusted for students next year? A few flaws in 20 Time caused me to strongly dislike it as the process continued. Those being (in no particular order) THE BLOG. I hated the blog. I would like to personally apologize to all 2000 people who have clicked the link to and continued to scroll and read through the posts because not only are they poorly written, they're incredibly boring. Most of them say things like, "haven't done anything this week, busy, will next week. I'm bored. I'm uninspired, I don't have any ideas". Which was probably painfully awful to read. To be completely honest, there is only one blog post I've written this entire year that I actually don't mind people reading. (here). I thought it was insightful and I came to a lot of realizations to writing it. Which brings me to the positives of the blog: it was a good place to become self-aware. Every week I had to be held accountable to the fact that I hadn't made any progress, and that really whipped me into shape a couple times. Which brings me to my second flaw, MOTIVATION. Our 20% class time was virtually ineffective. I wish Mr. Provenzano had spent that class time really talking to us about our projects. I felt like the majority of that hour was the students sitting and talking while he was at his desk working on other aspects of 20 Time. Having someone help you out of the slumps of boredom and a lack of motivation would have helped the success rate of this project A LOT. This brings me to favoritism. I really wish we weren't compared to other students throughout the course of this project. As it got to around January, I really felt like both myself and my project were virtually unimportant because I wasn't the one kid running a marathon. (DON'T GET ME WRONG. RUNNING A MARATHON IS AWESOME AND THAT PROJECT IS INSANE AND THAT IS REALLY COOL). I just wish that we were all treated the same. I strongly believe that as humans we all have different abilities and strengths and our projects really reflected that because they were tied very personally to each one of us. This project grew with us throughout the year, and as some grew and others failed, not all people were treated the same in the classroom environment. I just wish someone was there to tell me that even though I wasn't running a marathon or climbing a mountain that I was just as important. 

3. What are some aspects of 20 Time that should NOT be changed for students next year?
Freedom to choose projects and the talks at the end of the year. I think you should try your hardest to keep the kids from talking about the projects and their ideas before bringing them to you because I think that will help the kids that are afraid what others will think of their project. Doing something you're passionate about is what makes 20 Time so great, and everyone should be focused on something they love. The talks, though the most stressful thing ever, really helped me step out of my comfort zone. I'm kind of shy, and the talks allowed me to experience and play with public speaking in a way I hadn't experienced before. That was the coolest part of 20 Time for me. 
4. Is 20 Time something that more students should do in school? Please explain why or why not.
I think 20 Time should be implemented in more places IF AND ONLY IF it is not impacting the quality of their education in that class. Though I think I received a good education in HAL, I think a couple aspects of high school English were thrown to the way-side because of 20 Time. (Namely, writing skills and text analysis.) I feel like I have good reason to be more nervous about taking AP Lang than my peers in other sections of HAL.  
5. What advice would you give to students who are doing 20 Time next year?
6. (Only if you spoke at TEDxGPSHS) What did you take away from speaking at a TEDx event? Was it as scary and you thought? Did you learn anything?
Speaking at TEDx was the coolest thing ever. That sounds lame, but I really can't think of another way to phrase it. I walked in to TEDx thinking I wasn't a public speaker and was going to forget my speech (which I did... oops), and walked out feeling much different. I've been really shy my whole life, and always struggled to be myself in front of large groups of people. The fact that I stood up in front of a ton of people yesterday and forgot my speech and made people laugh by just saying random things that came into my head WAS THE COOLEST THING EVER. I WAS BEING MYSELF THE ENTIRE TIME AND THAT IS SOMETHING I AM DEFINITELY NOT USED TO AND REALLY ENJOYED. Without a doubt my most positive experience in school this year. The camaraderie between the students in our grade was amazing, and the entire day was one I will never forget. 

Below is a rough outline of my speech (including the parts I forgot so it actually makes sense now!!) 
Slide 1:
Hi, my name is Emily Fleming, and before we get started I just want to take a minute to say that I’m really excited to be speaking in front of all of you today. More so, however, you all should be really excited that I’m here speaking in front of you today. I don’t know if you know, but I was recently interviewed by CNN about 20 Time, so I like to consider myself kind of a local A-list celebrity…yaknow.
Slide 2:
Just jumping right in, I want to start off by talking a little bit about creativity. What makes people so great is a desire and a passion and a creativity that drives them to achieve greatness. I strongly believe that greatness doesn’t come from sheer greatness. There has to be something there. Be it as I said, a desire, a passion or an idea that serves as the driving force behind success, that truly is the main source of success. Take Steve Jobs for example. Steve Jobs didn’t just suddenly decide to come up with Apple and the next day walked around with the single most prominent computer and smart phone manufacturer in arguably, the world. It was the stuff in between that made his success possible. It was the late nights, the trial and error, the high  highs and the lowest of lows. Those kinds of things made him poised for success. And that’s the important part.
Slide 3:
20 Time is a passion project, but it’s also kind of a social experiment. You see, you tell a bunch of 15 year olds to come up with a project that they’re passionate about and have them come in once a week to work on when they pick the project and final goal, you’re gonna have a few different reactions. You’re gonna have the two extremes:  the kids that pick a project with a clear process and a clear goal and then the kids that decide within the first two minutes of the project being assigned that it just isn’t worth their time. But then you’re gonna have the kids that are a little hesitant, that over plan and over think and begin to become hesitant and afraid of messing up, of failing. Even in a project with failure as a legitimate option.
You see, we are so fixated on the destination and the greatness that comes as a result of that passion, creativity and drive that we become afraid. And a fear of failure is a direct cause of failure.
Novelist Ray Bradbury once said, “Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You must simply do things.”
That fear of failure comes as a direct result of classic over thinking. It makes you afraid. In order to get the ball rolling and to be able to begin the process to achieving greatness, you must, as Ray Bradbury said, simply do things.
Slide 4:
You see, our lives are measured in opportunities. Essentially in the ones we take and the ones we pass up. More so, our lives are measured by the lessons we learn from those opportunities. In order to find success and achieve greatness, the process involved is constantly changing. Lessons we learn from opportunities change our thinking and our mindset as we move forward toward our goal. It’s the little things, and the lessons that we learn from them that guide and change our destination. A fixation on the destination creates that fear of failure, and that’s I guess the precise approach I took to my 20 time project.
Slide 5:
So my AHA! Moment with that came the other day when I was scrolling through my instagram feed. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Humans of New York, but I saw a post on their account that had a picture of a woman with a caption that read essentially “I used to be really afraid of saying something awkward and uninteresting so I stood on the outside of conversations and didn’t really say anything, which ironically came across as awkward and uninteresting.”
Slide 6:
With a little shift in understanding, this is precisely the approach I took to 20 time. I sat around and watched and admired as people accomplished, finding that three, six, then nine months down the line I hadn’t really accomplished anything regarding my initial goal. I began with a really good idea that I was really passionate about… but that was precisely the problem. I got caught up in the end result, the greatness that comes after all the trial and error, and I became afraid to fail. I literally sat there and watched as kids ran marathons or did something scary everyday or learned new languages because I was afraid that if I entered in the circle and really tried toward my goal, that I would fail. I worried that failing would label me as a failure, when it was this exact labeling that did such a thing.
Slide 7:
So I’m going to tell you a little bit about myself. As many people are, I’m a middle child. I’m stuck between my younger brother, who is probably the best singer, dancer, and actor that I’ve ever met… and my older sister. A little bit about her, she’s a senior, and we are involved in all the same activities. And she’s good. At every. Single. One. She’s all state field hockey, all state journalism, academic all state softball and field hockey, and one of the Detroit news best and brightest for the class of 2014. To top it all off, I’m the 6th of 12 cousins that have accomplished all of that and more in their own right. You wanna talk about middle child syndrome, honey I got it. But what I really want to say, is that living in their shadow made me afraid of failure. I became afraid of not being good enough. I was afraid of going to church on Sunday and hearing one of my many aunts and uncles asking when I was going to become that great. But what if I did become that great?
Slide 8:
 The thing is, had I stayed with that mindset I would still walk into church every Sunday afraid of being a disappointment. AFRAID OF FAILING AT SOMETHING I WOULDN’T TRY AT BECAUSE OF AN IRRATIONAL FEAR OF FAILING. It’s a vicious cycle that begins and ends with fear.

Slide 9:
This failure essentially has two pillars. A fear of failure prevents you from success and causes you to fail, spurring from the idea that lives are measured in successes and failures, as opposed to the things we learn from them.
Author of Harry Potter JK Rowling really summed it up for me in saying “it is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might has well have not lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.
This profound idea that the only way to succeed is to find accomplishment in an initial goal prevents us from even trying at all, at which point we are remembered not for what we wanted to do, but what we chose not to. Trying and failing does not make you a failure. Ben Franklin didn’t invent electricity without failing a couple times first.
Slide 11:
Essentially, sometimes you learn more from failure than from success. Focusing on the process to achieving greatness as opposed to finding immediate results prevents a fear of failure from causing you to fail.
Slide 12:
To sum the whole thing up, Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”
--To me, this is really saying that you can’t just sit idly by and watch as people accomplish things. If you really want something, you have to chase it. You can’t focus on the end result or be afraid to fail because those are the things that cause you to fail in the end. You must, as Ray Bradbury said, SIMPLY DO THINGS. Jump right in and don’t be afraid. No matter what way it goes, YOU WILL LEARN SOMETHING. 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

I've been really busy with ap tests coming up, but my speech is coming along pretty well. I've been struggling with how to start it and end it, but aside from that I have the basic structure down. Exciting news! I'm almost finished with a dress that will hopefully go up on Etsy next weekend. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Aha! Moments and continuing with 20 time.

Coming to realizations is very difficult. And while reading the other day, I came across a comment on a random article that basically said "I've always been the kind of person that stood on the outside of conversations and never said anything because of a fear of being awkward and uninteresting, which inherently came off as awkward and uninteresting." I was a little disturbed with how much I related to this. I've always been a shy person who was too afraid to jump in and share ideas from an irrational fear of embarrassing myself. This is definitely not something I'm proud of, as it holds me back in ways that make me incredibly unhappy. My aha! moment came along with the realization that this is precisely the approach I have taken to 20 time. When we were assigned 20 time, I sat in my desk with an unreal excitement and an overambitious drive and the idea that I was going to create something really, really wonderful. However when 20 time really got rolling, I found myself sitting on the outside watching people create and accomplish really wonderful and ambitious things. I had so many ideas and ways I knew I could succeed. But I was too afraid of failing and embarrassing myself to jump into the circle and join these wonderful ambitions. EVEN THOUGH FAILURE HAS BEEN A LEGITIMATE OPTION IN THIS PROJECT FROM DAY 1. Looking back, I have no idea why I always do this. Here I sit, the end of 20 time in sight, with absolutely nothing besides one skirt and a blog to show for it. I had this amazing opportunity to create and explore and I didn't take full advantage because of an irrational fear of failure and embarrassment. I like to think of myself as a go-getter. And I think I am, within the comfortable and safe confinement of my own head. I have so many ideas and things that I want to do and let them fall before my feet for probably the single most pathetic and sad reason ever to exist. Looking forward, I want to take the final stages of 20 time and reach my full potential. I want to be able to go out for my presentation and say that I conquered this irrational fear, and created something without a worry that someone wouldn't like it as much as I do. 20 time is changing for me and I am ready and excited to take this as far as I can. 

Monday, March 10, 2014


This weekend, I planned to spend all of Sunday on 20 Time, as my mom would be home for two days and could therefore take me to get fabric. To accommodate this, I set out to rewrite (my first draft was horrible) my entire essay beginning Friday night right after school. I continued to work though late Saturday night, and finally finished my essay right on schedule. HOWEVER. My trusty PC failed me and deleted my entire essay, which claimed my 20 Time time for the weekend. I'm very upset about this, as my mom is going out of town again and I won't be able to purchase fabric or make progress for a little while longer. I'm getting a little anxious, and I want to move forward with my project. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

20 Time Update

20 time is simultaneously the best and worst thing to happen to me all year. It is teaching me to push boundaries of creativity in ways I haven't experienced since elementary school. Once I got into middle school, I really felt like creativity took the back burner in my education. Everything was focused on research/non-fiction/the real world, and I think part of me forgot how to be creative. 20 Time has challenged that, forcing me to reconnect with passions for design and fashion that I all but completely ignored for years. I'm learning a lot about myself and my limits, as well as the limits I can push with design. 
My one criticism of 20 time, however, is the lack of ability for effective class time use. I can't exactly figure out how to word this properly, but essentially I wish we were forced to do something like make mini-presentations on our projects to present the class to ensure productivity and motivation. I've had difficulty with motivation, and I think that would be helped through sharing my project and updates with my classmates publically, in addition to my weekly blog posts. I feel like a lot of times our 20 time days are spent unguided as we scroll aimlessly through other blogs. Aside from a lack of classroom motivation, I enjoy 20 time. It's the first opportunity I've had in years to express creativity in my education, and has made me a more independent, creative, and present human being. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Midwinter break is over, and I have made lots of progress with 20 time!! My mom was out of town throughout the entirety of the week, so I wasn't able to purchase any fabric to make clothes, but I did just about everything short of that for all the remaining garments. That doesn't seem like much, but for all the remaining garments my only task will be sewing pieces together. Hopefully, this will be simple and as soon as my mom gets back from her work trip I will be able to piece together the garments and move on to the next phase of the project: photographing and selling the clothes!

Sunday, February 9, 2014


New York fashion week is this week!!! This means LOTS of inspiration has been coming my way. I found a lot of inspiration in a few of the pieces from Christian Siriano's collection. He's a designer that I've watched from his public beginning on project runway a few years ago. I've watched him grow as a designer and I am SO inspired and awed by the garments he comes up with. (This is a personal favorite of mine)
I've been thinking a lot about my own designs as I watch a lot of the NYFW shows, and think that I want to branch out a little bit structurally. Since I have zero formal training when it comes to sewing (everything I do when it comes to fashion is self-taught. Pattern making, sketching, production) and I've been thinking about signing up for some classes to improve those skills. I really want to get my clothes up on etsy ASAP, which is why mid-winter break is going to be crucial. I want to take some classes and learn to make pants. From what I've read, that's one of the most difficult garments to produce to fit well, and feel like I am up to the challenge and ready to branch out and get better as a designer. Thank you, NYFW, for restoring my inspiration and motivation for 20 time!! I can't wait to get to work. 
ALSO SOME EXCITING NEWS: a new high-quality fabric store is moving in about three blocks from my house! I'm so excited, hopefully that will be a good opportunity to find nice textiles for my collection. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014


These past few weeks have been very busy with midterms, break and choir competition this past weekend. I've been finding myself with very little free time, most of which has been filled by studying for/ working on the mock trial, with absolutely no motivation to spend my spare few minutes working on 20 time. I've been trying to get back into it, but I've felt very uninspired and bored with my project recently, with no desire to spend my time on it. I'm hoping that I will begin to regain interest in my project very soon, as it is vital that I begin to produce more garments as we head into second semester. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Midterms are over!!

As I said in my most recent blog post, the majority of this past week was dedicated to midterms and studying, so 20 time unfortunately was not a high priority this week. I look forward to continuing my project this week!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Not much has occurred this week!! Looking forward, have been thinking about the topic of my presentation and have thought of some good ideas that I think summarize everything that 20 time has taught me so far. I am hoping that m productivity will increase after midterm exams, as they will be my primary focus for the next two weeks, however I am continuing to sketch and plan for the upcoming months hoping to get a concrete plan for the second half of 20 time!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

so I made some clothes...

It's been quite a while since I've posted... But I've been very busy moving forward with my collection! Over the past two weeks, I've been working on producing some of the clothes in my line, with both success and failure. I began by heading over to our local fabric store with a very specific idea about the textile that I planned to purchase, and ended up wandering around the store for nearly an hour with no potential options that fit the perfect fabric that I envisioned. With this, I went back to the drawing board to reassess where I would go from there, and ended up deciding on a very nice fabric that was completely different from what I thought I wanted. I then ventured over to get other essentials (zippers, thread, lining, and of course... leather trim). My total came out to about $30, which was not bad. Since I had already made the patterns, all I had to do was cut and sew the fabric (harder than it sounds with my expectations for what I was going to be making...). I began by lining all of the pieces for the dress with a vinyl-blend to ensure it would hang properly and not end up sticking to tights (my pet peeve... Had to make sure it wouldn't happen with my collection!). This took longer than I expected, and then began the REALLY tumultuous part of the dress from hell (this, evidently, was one of my failures). I began assembling the dress, sewing the hems, and insetting the sleeves. When all was said and done after repairing my unreliable sewing machine twice, the dress was just ugly. I couldn't stand the way it looked.. My sister really liked it and wanted me to continue to finish the garment, but I knew I just couldn't go forward with the look and had to begin with something else.  So I decided to go out on a limb and create a skirt.. Without making a pattern first. I don't know why I decided to do this, but once I got the idea in my head I was just on a roll. In one day, I made and (almost) finished a high-waisted leather-trimmed skirt with a cute (if I do say so myself) pleat detail. Though my sewing machine had some SERIOUS issues with the thick leather, I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. (I have still yet to finish the bottom hem or decide whether or not to add a waistband. What do you think?).

Here are some shots of the process and the final skirt that I ended up with.