My FIRST Community Built Conference 2014 Davis, CA

What exactly IS this “Community Built” thing you ask? Well…I hope I can describe it in fewer words than the board members did- LOL. I describe it as: Community building and engagement through creative projects.

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Mosaic mural detail- Mark Rivera, artist Davis, CA

It all began with a bunch of playground designers and muralists “back in the day” (the 1970’s), and it’s not only still going strong, but is growing as a group and as a movement. All over the world folks like the 100 or so that gathered in Davis, California two weeks ago are yearning for connection. I am one of those folks and I didn’t really know it until I got there!

I had a hint these were my people when they said in the invite to “wear your messy clothes”, but I didn’t realize until I saw the projects these folks had pulled off, met the folks who fearlessly created and engaged with communities around the world, and heard the amazing speakers who are more concerned with bringing folks together than in a fat paycheck -how much I resonated with what was happening there at the conference.

Let me wow you with some photos from the weekend:

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Cottonwood bench, created by the artists of CBA Conference 2014

 

This is a Cottonwood leaf bench- created in under 4 days by volunteers from CBA with mosaic artist Donna Billick at the helm (almost done – and look- Amanda has on overalls!) 🙂 Those of you who know me know I LIVE in mine. 🙂

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City Repair project led by Mark Rivera, Davis, CA

Here I am painting the intersection/street with neighbors and CBA conference goers led by Mark Rivera- at 4th and K St. in Davis, CA – a one day project that took less than half a day due to so many participants!

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“Compassion is…” Earthbench with Mosaic Ceramic Inlays by Mark Rivera, Brennan Bird, and the community of Davis, CA

 

The Compassion Bench, created out of recycled materials, cob, and love. Here’s a peek at what’s “inside”:Compassion bench 2  Old soda bottles filled with plastic bags, compacted together to create a wall of waste that then gets turned into a useful place of community gathering – SO much cooler than throwing it all in the landfill, and cheaper than any other material.

What you don’t see about what’s going on here is that by creating tangible projects together as a community folks are: meeting their neighbors, learning more about themselves and those around them, and then continuing to interact with each other AFTER the initial projects are finished to keep creating community in their towns, neighborhoods, and what have you. Folks are being empowered to make change happen themselves, and are less whiny, less apt to blame things on the “powers that be” and more engaged in life! They are taking ownership of where they live and creating what they want to see in the world.

Awesome huh? Are you excited by the possibilities yet?? If so, check out the website of this amazing organization at http://www.communitybuiltassociation.org or LIKE them on Facebook at Community Built Association. I learned so much in the 4 days I was there my head was exploding with it all!

Also check out the wonderful work of the Pomegranate Center at http://pomegranatecenter.org – and watch the Ted talk by Milenko Matanovic at TedX. He’s an amazing man, great speaker, and you won’t be sorry you watched it. He was an inspiring lecturer at the Davis conference. One of those people you want to “follow”.

Now I am forging ahead to write my own grant to do a community mosaic mural project for Talent, OR (my home) this summer. I plan to mount the panels onto the side of The Grotto pizzeria near the intersection of Main St. and Talent Ave. in the fall if all goes as planned. I will be engaging with my neighbors and friends to make some handmade tile elements, rounding up off-cuts and extras from tile setters in the area to create the background (and save the tile from the landfill), and hopefully having a ton of fun in the process.

Wish me luck- and if you know any tile contractors in the Rogue Valley let me know!!

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“Daylight-saving-me” Time

daffodilsSpring has sprung!

I can hardly believe the daffodils are up and blooming, the almond and plum trees are blossoming and the pears are starting to bud. Ahh, Spring, how I’ve missed you!

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Though we’ve hardly had a winter, with little to no snow (we’re now preparing for a major drought this summer), I am always happy to see the sun returning to my life a little more everyday.

I suffer from SAD (seasonal affective disorder) which means in short, no sun no fun. I don’t function at normal capacity at best, I don’t function at all at worst. This year hasn’t been as overwhelming as some, but I do still struggle with trying to do anything useful when the clouds have rolled in… so though it’s spring, I still struggle. Just sayin’. It’s almost like someone waking me in the middle of the night and saying “okay-time to be productive now”.

It ain’t happnin’.

So if I seem less than cheery on a cloudy day, now you know why (or at least part of why). I don’t just love sun. I NEED sun. I cannot function at more than 50% without sun.

This is what keeps me from moving to Portland or the Bay Area, not enough sun! Before moving out here to Southern Oregon I consulted weather records and discovered Seattle has far more sunny days than my former home of St. Louis, in a year. What a shocker to me! And yet it explained so much about why I struggled so hard there. Southern Oregon is a much better environment for me, but really I still think I’d do better with a winter home in a sunnier local like Costa Rica or Santa Fe. In my dreams… So here I am. Trying to make the best of things while waiting for daylight savings to really kick in. Soon I can get on with my life and rev it up a notch.

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Body Health:

So, an update on the getting healthier front: I have been going to the gym between 5-6 days a week for the last 8 weeks. I do weight machines for 30-45 minutes, and 45 minutes of cardio every time. So about 1.5 hrs a day,  or an average of 7.5-9 hrs. a week. So far I have lost a whopping…. wait for it…

…1.6 pounds.

That’s like, maybe three apples. Geez…I mean I know my metabolism has slowed down, but WTF? If I keep this up I may get to my target of 30 pounds in 3 years figuring in that I’ll lose less each year and be able to do less… not very motivating.

But I’m going to keep going at least for the next 3 and half months, because I’ve paid for it and can’t stand wasting money. And I’m sure something good will come from it, I just wish it was a little more obvious and a little quicker.

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Vision:

One positive thing I am trying to do right now is work on creating a “vision” for myself and my life, a place of focus and purpose that keeps me on track and brings me back when I fall off the track. I’m reading a book (recommended to me) as a stepping off point, discussing and getting support with some artist friends, and working through some of my hurdles, one of the major ones being general wrong-headed thinking (see most of the above), the other being my bad relationship with money.

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Money:

I don’t know about you, but I have developed a deep sense of feeling I don’t deserve to have money, because somewhere along the way I was taught to believe that having money made you a bad person. Ungenerous, uncaring, unconnected to what really matters in the world- that’s what having money seems to mean to me. And having money means not having a job that makes you feel fulfilled, not having time to spend with friends, and not spending time doing what you love in general.

On some level that means I think people that do have money are bad people, though I KNOW this to be untrue. Some of my best friends have money, but I’ve never felt like I’m “on their level” as a result. They are good, caring, generous people, but I can’t seem to convince myself that we are equals. So that’s my work for the next while here, and maybe a long while, as it’s a deep seated belief that I desperately need to get rid of in order to move forward in my life.

As my old boss (an Italian grandmother) used to tell me, “it’s just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as it is to fall in love with a poor one”. Oh if only this were so for me! I am put off by men who make money but then expect to find stability and security with men who don’t?! Something is wrong with this equation! Any help in unsticking these screwed up perceptions is welcome. I am seriously going to have to undo my whole belief system to get past this, but it has to happen! It’s like being reverse prejudiced. So ignorant.

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Time:

I am also working on my focus and vision by setting simple goals for myself. Just by creating a calendar of “work tasks” for myself in advance (I’ve laid out the next 4 months) has significantly helped keep me on a positive trajectory.

Knowing what task I’m working on for any given day takes the pressure off somehow. I don’t have to create a new plan every morning. I just get up, look at the calendar, and get going. Amazing how simple yet how effective this is for a self-employed person. It’s so easy to get off track or flop around in the unknowing.

Now I go to bed every night feeling like I’ve accomplished something, and knowing I’m “earning my keep” somehow. Even writing blog posts is now part of my schedule. Once a month, whether I have a plan for one or not, I will be coming at you with a new post, a new musing, a new update on the state of the arts in my neck of the woods.

I hope you’ll stick with me and give me some feedback. I often feel like I’m just doing this alone, yet I know we are all struggling to keep it together and it’s good to acknowledge that and keep encouraging each other in our journeys.

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Positive forward motion:

For the last few weeks I’ve been trying to get back to my wheel work and creating new bowls and such. I had to relearn how to throw- even struggling to center a piece of clay. It’s amazing how I can manage to “forget” how to do something I did less than 3 months ago. I mean, I must be the only person I know who actually forgot how to ride a bike, who forgot how to swim, and regularly forgets what I just did a few months ago. I think there’s a disconnect of synapses in my brain. How else to account for this weird behavioral defect? But it’s finally starting to feel better again, it’s just frustrating to have to constantly have to relearn.

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New fun stuff:

I am also working on a newer endeavor in mosaics, wearable art! I bought two bezels as an experiment and sold them both in a week, so I decided there must be a market for these tiny works. They’re fun to do, low pressure, and a nice break from some of the larger more time consuming tasks I often get involved with. Keep your eyes peeled for some of these in the next two weeks!

And I will be traveling to Davis, California in early April for my first Community Built Association conference! I think this will be a great way to meet some like minded folks doing what I love to do and learn some new skills to bring home and put into action. I’ve always loved public art and the way it can affect our communities not just in their existence, but in their creation. I hope to contribute some more in the future and also get paid while doing it!

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Upcoming workshop:

I’m also teaching another class over at the Ashland Art Center on Mosaic Cutting and Laying Techniques. April 19th from 10-3 with an hour for lunch. More information and registration at this link: Ashland Art Center.

Hope to see you all out and about this Spring (once it stops raining!) Keep in touch!