This interview is a part of a new series that highlights the story of the Traveling Umbrella. Each project participant is mailed the Traveling Umbrella and asked to keep it for about a week. They use it as a photography prop before they mail it on to the next person on the waiting list. Learn more at:
Participant: Matt Treiber
Location: Minneapolis, MN, USA
Find Him on Instagram: matt_trieber
Interviewed by: Rachel Fergus
Almost every person I have spoken to about the ‘brella has been in agreement on one thing: The umbrella helps build community. To Matt, the Traveling Umbrella is “a delightfully whimsical connection to disparate people across the globe. The world needs to be more connected and less isolated”. The first picture Matt took with the ‘brella is a perfect example of how the Traveling Umbrella builds community and friendship.
My first picture I posted with the umbrella, which happened to be the first time I met Jill[Emmer] in person. Have you heard of the hashtag #anythingforthegram? Jill had no problems getting soaked under a waterfall for my shot and we had only met each other online up until this point and it was wonderful to see others go to the same length for a shot as I have for others and this was well before there was even the #shineonyoucrayumbrella tag.
Even those that are not involved in the Instagramcommunity can partake in the community building the ‘brella inspires. Matt wrote, “My favorite part about the umbrella is when you’re out with it, it makes people smile I especially like the odd looks when I’m using it indoors”. You don’t have to be posing with the umbrella or taking a photo of the umbrella to be part of the Traveling Umbrella community.
Having a strong community means that there is grace when people mess-up. Even LOSING the umbrella can be forgiven. Matt wrote:
I am an awful person… I went out shooting in the Minneapolis Skyway system the weekend after the Empty MIA and I LOST THE UMBRELLA. I was supposed to give it to WaqarAhmad the next day and I left it in the Skyway system. It wasn't out of my hands for more than 20 minutes, but when I went back is was gone. I was mortified! I found many, many similar rainbow umbrellas online and begged Jill to let me please replace it repeatedly asking "is this one it?" but my online skills failed me and of course Jill is too kind.
No matter if you are posing with the umbrella, setting up a shot, walking by and wondering why people are playing with an umbrella while it’s sunny, or having new friends walk under waterfalls, the Traveling Umbrella helps to build community.