As you can imagine, their puzzle collection is massive. It literally spans decades – some of the oldest I’ve seen date back to the 1950s. They’re a record of intergenerational connection, a time capsule. When working on one, I can imagine aunts and uncles as children, touching those same pieces, while their parents (our grandparents) worked beside them.
If the word success begins to sound weird after reading the sentences above three times, well you’re not alone. Each person who answers will likely have different responses. It’s also likely that they’ll each interpret the questions differently, as well. Even with consensus on the definition of success, the range of experiences between people may prevent us from defining the group experience as successful.
As NEW always has, we’re placing our values directly at the center of this process of expansion. Our values were central as we reflected on our needs to thrive and grow. They were central in our community engagement and design processes, and now in the first architectural drawings. And they are central in our fundraising practice, too. We’re “walking the walk” as we enter into a fifteen million dollar ($15M) campaign to expand our programs and evolve our physical space. As we do, we invite you all into the process with us.
Thirty (30) years ago, philanthropists in Washtenaw County envisioned an arts incubator in Ann Arbor. Their aim was to help drive economic stimulus in the downtown area. The building they landed on was in an old warehouse district heading out of town. They wanted to offer rent below market rate and spur the economic activity in the nearby community. And in the thirty (30) years of NEW’s practice, we’ve been successful in doing just that.
With the start of NEW’s fiscal year on July 1st, I’m reflecting on “adaptation” as a word to carry us in this transition. As a team, we’ve come together to learn from our community and grow in myriad ways. By sharing our journey, we hope you find a spark that proves useful in your own work. Or perhaps it will inspire you to share the ways you’re adapting and welcoming new opportunities.
Few things have the power to inspire visions of a just and thriving society like the arts. And the NEW team has a special fondness for poetry. Since April is National Poetry Month, we decided to share some of the poems that are resonating with us in this moment. We hope you find something worthwhile in them yourself. Enjoy!
At NEW, we’ve been trying to understand and unpack the harms rooted in our sector. This includes the ways marginalized peoples are ignored, exploited, or discounted. In doing so, I’ve had the chance to think about how I have contributed to these harms. I’ve been asking, “In what ways have I, as a facilitator and practitioner, reinforced white supremacy culture at NEW? In my relationships with clients?” I’ve been especially interested in our evaluation and feedback practices.
Making change in the world requires people to both take action and be willing to sacrifice. These are only a few examples of many instances. Creating a better world doesn’t happen by accident. It takes years of long work, by generation after generation, moving the needle towards the promise of something wonderful. It takes everyday people willing to stand up and say we want better. We deserve better.
Today, February 1, 2022, marks the first day of the Lunar New Year. The timing this year coincides with the start of Black History Month here in the US. This year, I’ve been reflecting on my journey to unlearn my own internalized white supremacy. In many ways, this is healing me and changing my approach to celebrating my culture and identity.
Transformation has been an up and down journey this year. Losses of loved ones, personal connections, and the ability to stay in touch created some truly difficult times. Zoom fatigue was part of that as my community circles lost patience with themselves, the technology (or lack of access), and sometimes each other….