Tim the Wish Doll
One inspiration for my Intervention was the Barbie Liberation Organization, which were a group of artists that performed shopgiving on barbie and G.I. Joe dolls. They would change the voice boxes of the Barbies to say violent phrases and change the G.I. Joe dolls to say peaceful phrases. I wanted to run with the idea of a toy intervention, and to use either action figures or a Raggedy Ann doll. Eventually I decided to go with the Raggedy Ann.
The plan was to take a Raggedy Ann doll and place her in a location with a container, paper, and a pencil. She would also be placed with a note that read “My name is _____. Write me a letter and I’ll try to make it come true!”. The hope was that people would notice her and write a little letter. I was interested to see if people would really take the time to write a letter, and if they would be a serious or silly one. While I liked my plan, my growing concern was that she would be constantly ignored.
When I went to the store to find a doll to use, I couldn’t find a Raggedy Ann doll. Instead I found a sheep doll, which I named Tim. I thought Tim was the perfect choice because he was a good size and was very soft and cute. I was hoping his gentle appearance would be welcoming and encourage people to write open and honestly. I went shopping with my roommate, but she didn’t like Tim very much. She said that he seemed too bland and boring, and probably would get ignored. Because of this, I decided to give Tim a bright red bandana to make him stand out more.
I decided to pick my dorm as the location to perform my intervention in. It was a place I knew very well, and I believed it had a higher chance that people would participate. I also trusted the people in my dorm to not steal Tim. I first performed my Intervention on a Friday night and got terrible results. After leaving Tim in a common space for about three hours, I returned to find that he had received no notes. This was poor planning on my part. I forgot that on Fridays, most people in the dorm go out at night, or participate in several school clubs. The common room I had placed Tim in was completely deserted.
I tried again on a Thursday and received amazing results. Most people in my dorm are Computer Science majors and all take the same class: Fundamentals of Computer Science. The deadline for the weekly homework is always 6:00pm on Fridays. Because of this, a lot of people work in groups on the homework in the common rooms on Wednesdays and Thursdays. I placed Tim in one of the common rooms filled with people and left him there for another three hours. When I returned to pick him up, he had many letters written to him.
My roommate and I wrote three “seed” letters and left them with Tim to entice other people to write letters as well. I made sure the container I had to contain the letters was clear so people could see the letters inside. Other than this, I wanted to influence the responses as little as possible. This is also why I decided to not hover around Tim the entire time, in case I discouraged people from coming over. Minus the seed letters, Tim received eight other messages. All the messages were really nice. Some of the letters were funnier, and others were more genuine. A couple were written by stressed students complaining about the difficult homework assignment. Every letter was a really interesting read.
Tim’s setup in the common room:
The Seed Letters:
The Real Letters: