Creating Change: Thoughts on Art, Connections & Community

After reading this piece “Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not be Tweeted” I have been thinking about social connections and how important it is to create connections.

My Connections

Through my work in developing SpeakArtLoud I have been fortunate to connect with wonderful people. I find myself routinely amazed each time someone reaches out to me – from short email messages sharing how art made a difference during a difficult time, to ideas or suggestions of resources, and even a few meetings over coffee filled with laughter and stories. I have been honored and humbled by these connections.

“Creative has helped me immensely and I think that I why your organization has stuck with me…  I have reached a point in my life where I want to give back ….”
~excerpt of an email sent to me

Each time someone offers a word of encouragement or shares a personal experience I feel more excited, more passionate and more driven to continue to develop SpeakArtLoud.

Why Connecting is Important

Human as social creatures, even the introverts, myself among them, need to connect with others.  There is all kinds of research on the importance of social connections – social connections and good health, social connections and career and social connections and life span .  In short, having social connections is good for us as individuals.

Having connections, or what those in the community development world call social capital,  is also an important element in healthy communities.  Social capital can be understood as the connections we have with others in our communities, that network is important as it allows individuals to collaborate, cooperate and create community change.

Using Art to Create Connections

SpeakArtLoud recognizes that art is more than an object or a product; Art is also a dynamic interaction. We believe that art can help us to connect with one another on a personal and/or emotional level. Both our art class and our art show are intended to stimulate dialogue, foster cooperation and build social connections.

“The arts can nurture social capital by strengthening friendships, helping communities to understand and celebrate their heritage, and providing a safe way to discuss and solve difficult social problems.”
From – Bettertogether:
The Arts and Social Capital

Our art class, offered to small groups of women with a shared experience, provides a medium for the women to begin to explore their thoughts and feelings about their future.  Using art to explore complex emotions, the participants share their ideas, building a sense of trust among one another and creating a network of supportive social connections.

The community art show also works to create social connections.  By providing members of the community with a reason and a place to gather we create opportunity for both friends and strangers to come together to share in a common experience, a starting place for creating new connections or building upon existing ones.  Beyond this, art can raise issues or stir emotions, allowing for community members to engage in dialogue of some depth or simply to look and listen, gaining insight on such matter.

Connections Are Powerful

As I mentioned earlier, those folks who reached out to me with a kind word or an offer to help have inspired me more than you can imagine. Thank you. That kind of inspiration is powerful, it helps fuel me and it is a force behind social change.

More Reading on Social Connections

The Arts and Social Capital

Happiness is Being Socially Connected

NY City Street Art Trying to Build Social Capital

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