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COG Spotlight: Sydney Origami Inc.
Sydney Origami Inc. is an origami community group based in Sydney, Australia. It was formed in late 2009 by four Sydneysiders (as we call ourselves) who found each other at a Folding Australia convention in Melbourne.
Our motto is "Origami for WORK, REST and PLAY." We fold for fun, and we also actively promote the use of origami in arts, science, engineering, education, mental and physical health.
In the first couple of years, things were pretty quiet, since we were more a hobby group than a formal community association. We met once a month at a local food court and didn't actively advertise ourselves, because we didn't really know how to.
But then came the call from the local technology and design museum to participate in Sydney's very first mini Makers' Faire in 2013. We ran a workshop doing giant sonobe units, which of course many kids loved (particularly since two of them got to keep the giant sonobes after their names were drawn!). That workshop gave us a bit of free publicity, which in turn gave us a couple more members, one of whom was a small business owner who was pretty cluey (Australian shorthand for 'clued into') about marketing.
With his help, we got in touch with the local press, who did a couple of stories on us, and gave us a few more regular members. We continued to participate in the mini Makers Faire each year, as well as various local art festivals.
Then in 2015, after a few of us attended another convention in Melbourne, we decided it was time to host our own convention despite our small numbers, and see what happened. Happily, after nine months of grant writing, venue searches, guest planning, timetabling, marketing, ticket selling and goodies bag packing, we hosted our very first convention in October 2016, with over 40 attendees coming from all over Australia. The key to this successful event was definitely the dedication of the volunteers who spent numerous hours planning, organizing and doing everything they can to make sure the event happened. We are also grateful for the advice, tips and other contribution given to us by other more experienced organizers in the worldwide origami community.
Our regular members still hover at around 10, and haven't really grown too much – yet. Australia has a very strong sports culture but not as much of a crafting-making-design culture. Sydney is also quite spread out geographically, and with a fairly small population by world standards (4.3 million people in an area of 4800 square miles), it's hard to get people to spend time travelling to a group meeting when they are more likely to be playing sports locally. However, we see ourselves as a group that can offer shared fun and learning around all aspects of origami. Even if people can't make it to the meetings, we always stay in touch online via our Facebook group.
We will continue to organize and participate in various events in 2017, to spread our love of origami to the rest of Sydney. So if you ever come to Australia, do drop us a note!