So as stated in an earlier post, I grew up making things – projects for art class or gifts for my mom. I spent hours and hours sitting and concentrating, just me, my hands, and some tools and materials. I only sometimes found the end product to be what I had expected but that didn’t really concern me. I immensely enjoyed and thrived upon the act of making as if it were my own form of meditation. It was not until after my college years that I really started to pin-point how this drive and love for making things was going to direct or clarify my purpose in life. To this day these facts are still being revealed to me in new and surprising ways.
About a week ago I received an email from a woman who worked with me as a volunteer in a youth radio program I was running in Baltimore City. I had not heard from her since the program ended now almost 4 years ago. It was a short note just to thank me for the experience she had working with me and also to update me on what she was currently doing. She told me that time working with me was very helpful to her and that she is now teaching theater in non-profits and working toward becoming a youth advocate. WOW! All that time we spent together in the back room of the neighborhood church trying to keep the 9-12 yr olds from killing each other or burning the place down actually did some good (and still is?) Just that quick note from her really made my day. It was really fantastic to hear what she was doing now and that she was still interested in advocating for youth.
It’s not often that we hear or understand what our actions mean to others. I mean in this case, SHE was helping me, all I did was create a space and role for her to engage with the kids in the program. I didn’t know she would pull from the experience years later. Not only did her reaching out make my day, but it she got me thinking again. Why do I love the act of making so much and what is it that I have been making all these years?
After college I started moving away from making only objects and images, I realized that I enjoyed the space and time of sharing the process of making. Showing others how to make and creating spaces to encourage others to create, or share something. Some people may call this “teaching” or “community art” I like to call it spending quality time with people for creative purposes.
This simple email from my former volunteer reminded me that it has been a while since I spent time making with others and creating spaces for people to make. It reminded me that not only does this process bring me joy and energy but it can also make a difference in other people’s lives in ways I may not ever know. So in response to her email I decided to start the “Make a Difference Project” as a part of my October making month.
In the “Making a Difference Project”, I filled up a suitcase with a load of the craft supplies (that I pulled out of my never-ending collection in the storage unit) and went back to the streets of Annapolis to find people to make stuff with. I took my things to the busiest place I could find downtown and camped out. I asked people to “MAKE or TAKE” a free card. “Make a card or an object for someone you know that has made a difference in your life and send it to them!” was the directive (echoing Emily’s chapter requests). It was simple and it worked! Really nice people came over and sat down on the ground with me and made amazing things! One boy picked up 2 pencils and started knitting with embroidery thread, one guy painted a landscape for his friend, someone else made “interesting” name tags for her friends to wear, many cards were made and poems were written. For the first day of this – I think it went really well. AND I had a great time and made some new friends! SCORE my task of making something for today was completed.
I challenge you. Who means a lot in your life? Who has made a difference? What would happen if you told them? What would your positive reinforcement help them do? I dare you to do it and promise…. It will make a difference.
Just finding this blog today? Read more about the Living Chapters project here.