WBI – ‘Clutch Holds More Than Bricks Together’
The LEGO fan community is diverse – or is it? According to LEGO, only about 14% of all adult fans of LEGO (AFOLs) are women. If you go to a LEGO User Group (LUG) , odds are it’s mostly men. If you go to a LEGO convention, you find that men outnumber women greatly. To a woman new to the hobby, it can be intimidating walking into a convention or a LUG meeting on their own.
Skaerbaek Fan Weekend is an international AFOL networking event that takes place in a small town about an hour south of LEGO headquarters in Denmark. It attracts AFOLs from all over the world. At SFW in 2017, Alice Finch (of Hogwarts and Rivendell fame) and noted toy photographer Shelly Corbett met, and upon learning that they shared the view that there should be more women involved in the LEGO hobby, decided to do something about it. As a result, the Women’s Brick Initiative (WBI) was born!
What’s notable about that fateful first meeting between Shelly and Alice is that they both live in the Seattle area, but needed to travel several thousand miles in order to meet.
Using the phrase “Clutch Holds More Than Bricks Together” as a motto, WBI has specialized in conducting workshops at several LEGO conventions worldwide, geared toward women and aimed toward teaching skills in all aspects of the LEGO hobby – photography, building, lighting, jewelry making, among others. WBI has also hosted collaborative builds, such as the duck build shown at Bricks Cascade in 2020.
As the pandemic has shifted conventions online, WBI has continued their workshops and hosted collaborative builds virtually. Notable among the builds has been the original WBI Quilt, that included contributions from over 35 women and allies from four continents. The WBI Quilt has proved so popular that several other LUGs have copied the idea and created their own. We’ve since had a Yule quilt that had over 40 contributors!
Now run by Alice Finch and director Megan Lum, WBI has continued to focus on bringing equity and diversity to the LEGO hobby. In 2020, WBI started its groundbreaking intern program, made possible through a partnership with Smith College. WBI interns conducted research around gender and equality issues in the LEGO ecosystem. Results of this research is posted on our website and shared during presentations at LEGO conventions.
WBI has been getting more visibility – Alice and Megan were interviewed in an episode of For The Love of Brick; WBI will be featured in an upcoming issue of Brick Journal (Alice is guest editing), and WBI has authored an Instagram guide of Inspiring Women Creators. We’re also looking forward to the second year of the intern program and continuing our research.
Check our recently released guide at Brick Inspired and if you’re interested, come join us!
Megan and Alice – Seattle