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Monday, July 7, 2014

What's behind the Tiny Door Project in Durham?

Posted by on Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 8:14 AM

I've passed this tree in Forest Hills Park in Durham hundreds of times, but only yesterday did I notice this quaint, little house lodged in its base.
click to enlarge tiny_doors_house_copy.jpg


The tree is on the south side of East Forest Hills Boulevard, between Forestwood and Beverly drives and, according to Reuters, was installed in August 2013. So much for my powers of observation.)

I opened the house to find a pine cone and a tennis ball inside, and the inscription #tinydoors . 
click to enlarge tinydoorsopen.jpg


The idea started with Tony Powell of San Francisco, who built one little house and placed it at the base of a tree in Golden Gate Park. "I just thought maybe someone might come along now and then and say, 'Well, cool — a little door.' That's all," Powell told the San Francisco Chronicle.

But the concept was then commandeered by Keebler, and the company of elves and cookies fame commercialized Powell's creative impishness. The nationwide Tiny Door Project, which started last year, is brought to you by not-at-all-tiny Leo Burnett, the ninth largest ad agency in the world. Its client list includes Kellogg's, the parent company of Keebler, plus McDonald's, Delta, Coca-Cola and the NCAA.

I don't mean to sound cranky about this, but I was really hoping the Tiny Door project was a homegrown expression of social engagement, like Christopher Gollmar's deep listening project  (Yet I have to admit, growing up in the 1970s, I put away a lot of Keebler Fudge Stripes. And what was my initial reaction when I saw the house? Elves. Yep, I've been programmed.)

There is an up side, in that Keebler commissions artists to make the little houses and place the at the base of trees. So presumably someone in Durham earned a little money off Keebler to make this house, and that's (dare I say it?) uncommonly good.
 

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