During this past week, I have been carving out time each evening to sort through folders of digital images from a variety of long-lost external hard drives as well as trying to scan images that were literally lost due to technical traumatic casualties. Although it’s been a long process and has taken many late evenings, I am really glad I’ve been asked to do this. Not only am I archiving this buried data in a visible and accessible way but I am also enjoying bringing back to life the people places and stories that have emerged in my life this past ten years. After writing and reflecting on each of these projects/jobs, I realize that there is not one but a few similar threads that have run through both my life and work choices.
As the Wild Card Anita requested, I examined and sought out the patterns that appeared in my decision-making. Many people find that patterns or cycles of behavior tend to hold them back from progression or keep them stuck in a rut. This may be true, but In my case, I have found that my patterns have mostly propelled me forward. I can happily say that I would not have ever wanted to make any other choices than the ones I have thus far.
I am sure these specific patterns I have formed have prevented me from reaching particular desired outcomes that others seek in life (like owning a home, starting a family or bringing in a six figure income) but, looking over the images from my past decade has only reminded me of all the great fortune I have gained and built.
My flexibility and goal of following a path of personal freedom has given me the privilege and ability to explore new environments, create unique individualized job experiences and build new relationships. The one thing that stands out from all of those experiences is the interaction with people and the witnessing of their stories.
In each and every job that I have held in my life the core of the work always had to deal with interacting and engaging with individuals. Whether it has been listening to someone share their life story, assisting them express ideas through art making or helping someone find what they want or need through customer service; I thrive off of the interaction and communication with people.
I look forward to the opportunity of forming a new connection or relationship and the chance to learn something new through that person. This process has been consistent most everything that I have done. What has kept it fresh for me, is the cycle of engaging with new people, new cultures and places. Working with people is a great reminder that I will never stop learning, if I stay open to collecting and accepting new perspectives.
Everywhere I go, (whether it be Baltimore City, Cambodia, or rural Japan) I encounter a new amazing person and new incredible story.
Anita also asked me to pin point one of my past experiences that would be the hardest for me to let go of. As I said before, I have been happy with most of my choices and would not want to give any of them up. There are many experiences that have been good for me in many ways, but there is one project in particular which I feel was invaluable to me and accomplished much more than benefiting only my personal learning. I also did not have to travel further than my front porch to experience this adventure.
— In the fall of 2006, I moved to Huntingdon Ave in the Remington neighborhood of Baltimore MD. The following summer, I started spending every Tuesday evening on my porch engaging a small group of 5 – 8 neighborhood kids with the art supplies I had stored in my basement. For me, this was a great way to get to know the kids in my neighborhood, do something that I loved, and provide a space for youth to socialize and engage in something positive. We started calling Tuesday nights “Porch Art” night.
In Porch Art’s second summer, the attendance doubled, I recruited neighborhood helpers and had a few parents attending and donating supplies. By my final and fourth year doing Porch Art, we had groups of up to 30 people of all ages attending. Guest artist instructors led activities, local musicians entertained and I organized a rotating roster of community volunteers to help set up, run and clean up each Tuesday. – (end of official online portfolio description)
Creating Porch Art made me realize that there is a simple logic in combining the desire to do something I love with the simple desire of doing something positive for the immediate environment around me. This, I found, is the key to doing what I strive to do and call “good work”. By using a small amount of my personal time and the materials I had at my fingertips, I was able to create a life-changing, invaluable experience for myself while also setting a structure and example for positive change in my community. I didn’t need to travel to do it. I didn’t spend money to do this. I didn’t need to advertise for people to come or promote the project. It filled a need for both myself and the neighborhood and taught me how important working with my present situation, the materials I had and the people around me, could be. If I can keep following that model for developing work in my future endeavors and become creative enough to make a living off of it, I am sure I will be successful and happy doing it.
Voice of America covered Porch Art – This piece aired in a few foreign countries in a few different languages.
See more images from Porch Art here.
Just finding this blog today? Read the prologue for more details on what Living Chapters is all about.