Talking Creativity – ICA News Pick of the Week

Advice five cents

SEATTLE – One local architect has figured out a simple but unorthodox way to weather this turbulent economy – he’s doing it 5 cents at a time.

John Morefield has set up a small wooden stand and a white painted sign at a local farmers’ market, amid the flowers and fresh fruit.

It looks like a typical lemonade stand on suburban corners in summer – but Morefield isn’t selling lemonade. He’s using this stand to fight back against an economy that’s taken him down, more than once.

“I was laid off twice this year, and I decided to open my own design firm, and I needed a way to meet people,” he says.

Armed with a degree in architecture, a ruler and a sharp No. 2 pencil, he put his office on wheels and set up shop between the organic apples and hand-made soaps at the Ballard Market.

“Any questions about your home, your kitchen doesn’t work – drop a nickel, fire away,” Morefield says.

For 5 cents he’ll answer any question or dole out any advice on architecture.

“It’s as simple as that, just starting conversations with people about their homes and what they want them to be,” he says.

On Sunday he made 35 cents. But for Morefield, it’s not about the nickels in his tin can. It’s about meeting potential clients and contracts in a time when work is hard to come by.

“One nickel turns into one conversation, turns into one design job, turns into a local contractor who hires a local painter who buys from a local supplier,” he says, summing it all up.

It’s as simple as it looks – a stand, a sign and a man – drafting plans for his future, one nickel at a time.

Word has spread so far and so fast, he says he’s gotten e-mails and calls from across the country.

And others, inspired by his booth, are wanting to set up their own to handle these hard economic times.

As for all those nickels he makes from his advice, Morefield doesn’t keep them. Instead, he donates them to the Ballard food bank.