Whether it is clothing, body art, electronics, or food you are looking for, South Street is the place to go. But for 21 days, this busy shopping area had something no shopper expects to ever see-a woman locked in an incubator.
Prior to being let out of the incubator yesterday, it was not an actual incubator that 35-year-old Addye Joy Durant was living in. The unused cubicle at 254 South St. was the spot Verizon chose to keep Durant, while they tried to help her achieve her dream. At this location, every person who passed by was able to look in on the graphic artist and designer through the large, uncovered window.
To succeed in Dream254: the Verizon Incubator, Durant needed to remain in the closed storefront for a full 21 days straight. The room she was put in started with nothing but a laptop computer wired with Verizon DSL, a credit card to use for necessary purchases, a high-tech Verizon phone and her clothing. There was a small room in the back that included her bed and bathroom, which was not visible to the outsiders. There was also a Webcam setup so that anyone could watch Durant at www.realizephilly.com.
Verizon wanted the world to see that all Durant needed to make it through these 21 days was Verizon products. But Durant came to recognize she had much more than these material things – she had motivation.
She was also influenced by those visiting South Street, as well as the “oracle” and “task master” Verizon arranged to speak and work with Durant. People stopped in front of the window at all times of the day, watching in wonder as the woman on the other side of the window went about her business. Kids waved to this mysterious woman, and even though Durant said she is a shy person, she usually waved back to them. At times she even sat next to the door making motions to the crowd. It was like a scene from the zoo.
But unlike a zoo animal, Durant was given the motivation to stay inside this cage. In fact, Durant was also able to open the cage as needed – mainly for deliveries. She could not step out, nor have any guests other than pre-arranged media if she wanted to win the challenge, though.
“Some people don’t really give a crap, some people are rooting for me, some people have no idea what’s going on…but a little bit of everybody that goes by stays with me. It’s really interesting to sit in here and watch people and their reactions,” Durant said while in the incubator.
Durant left signs in the window trying to explain to those passing by what was going on. On one sign, Durant wrote, “So maybe I am crazy but you would do it 2.”
There is no doubt most anyone would try to last as Durant did, even if merely for the $10,000 reward, but this is an unthinkable situation.
This scenario worked as a way to motivate Durant to get her business going and as a method to promote it. But the setting also showed her and anyone who followed on the Web how much work is involved in starting a business and how difficult the process is. She was given timelines to finish her projects, which would then be checked for approval by the taskmaster. After day 21, Durant had to have her business plan complete.
The Dream254 Verizon Incubator started with nothing. Nothing but dreams that is.
Durant entered into a competition to be put into this unimaginable situation. When she beat out the other contestants, Durant continued to prove to herself and to the world that through determination and hard-work, it is possible to achieve your goals. She has accomplished her initial objective after 21 days in the incubator. Now Durant just wants her product to be as successful as she was while living on South Street.
Jeff Appelblatt can be reached at The.Jeff@Temple.edu.