As we go barreling, feet-first towards the holidays, I find it helpful to set some intensions. Holiday shopping, travel, friends and family pull us in different directions against a backdrop of dark goings-on in the world. I find it easy to get carried away with my fear right now if I loose my focus. The nights are long, and the newspapers are filled with dark events that either report on something dark that took place yesterday or something dark we can expect to come. It is easy to forget about all the beautiful, creative, light-filled actions taking place in the world, because they don’t get much coverage.
But a few creative pieces have me reflecting on intensions for 2017 that could really impact our world. The first is a student rap “Grow Food” by Appetite for Change in North Minneapolis–a mostly African American area with poor access to healthy food. The rap is about growing food and eating it instead of fast food and the low quality food the corner store sells. And it was so moving, partly because these young people were sharing true creative talent for rapping and composing lyrics, and using it to communicate a powerful message in a way that inspired hope and love versus fear and negativity. A couple of messages stood out – #1: Vital messages about health can come in loud and clear in playful, creative and sometimes even humorous ways. #2- Creativity exists everywhere. Our popular media puts so much attention on the struggles in “black neighborhoods” that we overlook how much creative talent there is and how enormously powerful that is. Serious creative talent is all around us. And because it is virtually everywhere, there are infinite opportunities to connect and communicate the complex and varied experience that is being a human in this world.
Another area of light and progress that I sometimes forget about is in the area of film where we come as close to sharing in someone else’s experience as possible. Attending the movie–Moonlight–about a young African American boy growing up and struggling with his sexuality got me all excited for the potential to share our unique and varied stories with each other, and not just the story of the dominant culture. This story was so much more humanly complex than the one we would normally see about a young black man – the one-dimensional stereotype of a gang member, rapper or athlete. Rather it was a story of struggle and adaptation, love, friendship and family, and sexuality in a difficult world. Revealing the truth in our shared complexity and humanity lifts off the blankets of indifference we experience when we remain ignorant of each other. And that is so powerful. When we take our unique experience and truths and use our creativity to share it, it is very powerful for our world.
And the holidays on the cusp of the New Year is a great time to ready ourselves to share our light with the world, if we haven’t done this to the best of our potential so far or we want to start. For me this means learning how to use my Grandma’s sewing machine (yes –confession: I am a designer that so far does not know how to really sew). Everyday I bike the streets of Durham, experience the beauty, frustration, danger and exhilaration of being a bike commuter in this era of U.S. history. I ride with the knowledge that carbon fueled climate change will no longer go overlooked – announcing itself through big and small weather events that we cannot ignore. Clean air is scarcer than it was even 10 years ago. Our population is facing the first shortening of our life expectancy due to obesity. And yet bike commuting is still largely fringe, dangerous, and unsupported by infrastructure and the larger community of citizens. I want to sew to communicate my vision from this unique little day-to-day experience. I imagine a world where bike commuting becomes normal and takes on the beauty and complexity of look and approach that we see when something is no longer fringe. Where we would see a woman biking around town, wielding her unique creative powers in timeless and stylish clothing. My big goal is to be able play around with my own prototypes, test them out and share them, while working on current production lines that slowly march toward this vision.
So if you are like me and need something to hold steady to – to remain in touch with yourself and what matters as we head into 2017 – join me in setting the table, clearing off a work space, or signing up for that class, to spark a little fire of creativity and sharing in your corner of the world.
Happy holidays. Thank you very much for all your supporting during 2016.
P.S. – There will be no Weekly Letter next week over the holidays. The Weekly Letter will resume January 2nd.