Wow. Work. It’s been eating time and thought and attention in a big way. I am tired, but grateful. This gig has potential: it’s really pushing me in ways that fuel my growth. I am building patience, calm, attention, humility. I am learning new-to-me culture, language, traditions. I am again supporting what feels like good in the world by supporting those doing the feet-on-the-ground work of building community, of supporting the less-fortunate, of finding their greater callings. I still feel new and outsider-y, but less so each and every day. The intensity of activity at work makes it easy for me to sustain activity or collapse well when I am not at work, which is serving me as I start into web design tools and basic programming classes (as well as intro to computing *gigglesnort*). Anyhow, I do want to see you all, and will whenever time, energy, and in-the-moment inclination allow it, but I may also have my head in a book, or a project, or (who knows…) for a while.
How I Helped Start a Job Club
Having recently joined the ranks of the unemployed, a daunting position at my age (and, let’s be real, any age when it comes so suddenly upon us), I found myself at unexpected loose ends. Fortunately, I was somewhat prepared, as I had already been considering a shift in employment in the nearer-rather-than-distant future. I had the rudiments of a decent resume in place. I had been making contacts with other companies. I had (a framework of) a plan. Unfortunately, I was now working from a position of unemployment, rather than employment. It doesn’t look great and it doesn’t feel good, either.
Not one to wallow, (not for long, anyway), I started figuring out what to do next. I immediately applied for unemployment benefits, started polishing the resume, and mentioned my availability to a number of friends, cohorts, and former employers. I had gotten the news of my new status on a Friday at 3:00 pm (who does that to a person!?) and by Tuesday afternoon benefits were approved, retirement was reinvested, my car was paid off, and I was ready for The Next Big Thing.
I started doing what I needed to do to find employment, but am glad it wasn’t immediate; I wanted it to be good. I didn’t want to settle (at least not immediately) for anything less than a place where I would be fairly compensated for making a difference, for doing what I loved, and for feeling like I was both supporting and supported. In addition, I knew I had an event to produce (my volunteer gig!) in a few weeks, after which I had already planned a search.
That said, maintaining unemployment benefits requires a number of “job search activities” a week. Some weeks, especially since I am hoping to change career paths, it is hard to find a decent number of jobs that I want, that I am qualified for, and that offer a sustainable level of compensation. However, there are a number of activities that count, including job fairs, job search classes at the workforce commission offices, attending a “Job Club” and others. The concept of a Job Club fascinated me, so I looked around and didn’t find much on offer locally, at least not with that search term.
I was already associated with a group of “Burning Professionals” (started by friend M7, if I recall) that has periodic, though irregular, happy hour meet ups. We also have a Facebook group that has served as a means for everything from recommendations for car repairs to networking, from professional head shots to helping each other with our resumes. However, in person, it has been mainly a happy hour meet up.
At the most recent one, a number of us who attended were looking for work, (coming off sabbatical, looking for a change in direction, moving from freelance or looking for more freelance gigs, or laid off like me). While there, a number of us brainstormed the idea of meeting specifically to enhance our job search. When one of my friends called a couple of weeks later, wanting to get together to brainstorm and hold each other accountable, the idea of forming a job club for ourselves and those others from the happy hour/ the larger Facebook group took hold.
We held our first meeting on June 26th, welcoming about 10 people, and a tiny meet up on July 3. We’re still in the nascent phase, and working on where this is going, but I hereby announce the formation of the Central Texas Burning Professionals Job Club. We may store info here, I may start another website for it, or we may just form a google group or Facebook group for document management, announcements, etc. The next meeting is slated to be held on July 10th, location dependent on RSVPs.
Hope to see you there.
Together We Roar (in tribute to Larry Harvey)
It’s been a little over 2 weeks now since the world lost Larry Harvey.
Until now, I haven’t felt the push to add to the eloquent opines and waxed philosophies: as always, I assume someone else probably covered or will cover most of what I might say, and in all likelihood, they have done or will do so with more elegance, grace, and refinement than I am likely ever to muster.
And still, I must raise my voice to join those others, I must make this acknowledgement, however humble my small addition might be: My life would not be what it is today were it not for the unplanned leadership of an accidental visionary; if not for the mere existence of and coincidental collision with someone I consider an artistic and philosophical ally, a kindred.
Because of Larry Harvey (and subsequent interventions, via the wings of so many butterflies) I have the great privilege of finding myself among a whole community (local) and Community (global) of like(enough)- minded artists, makers, doers, humans who want, in our own weird way(s) to make this place better, or at the very least, less dull.
And because of this grand effect on my life and on the larger world, I owe the addition of one more voice to the collaborative cacophony, shouting out, planning out, burning out our deep gratitude. Together we roar.
A Box of Moths
Our natural minds are brilliant sorting boxes, making connections between things and labeling them accordingly as a way to understand our world. We do this as a way of gaining knowledge, but default to the practice as a shortcut, a way to assume we know more than we do about a thing, about a person, about a neighborhood, about ourselves than we do.
If we are, as Buddhist monk, philosopher, teacher (oh! there are some labels for you!), Thich Nhat Hanh “…here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness,” then our labels become an impediment, become disabling. Our work, then, is to see beyond labels, and beyond the walls we build around categories, and to see even beyond our self-labels.
Pondering my long-held identity as an artist, it occurred to me that it is a way to view myself as “special” – or at least more special than “not-artists.” It is like we are all moths in a box, each certain we are the rarest butterfly. And in this certainty, we overlook the subtle beauty of moths, intricate in pattern and color and shape.
Given this context, I explored rejecting the label, and found myself comfortable in doing so. I do not intend giving up living creatively, imagining things, bringing them into existence. However, I may lose the label itself as non-useful, or use it as a way to explore whether I have let the label “artist”and its opposite get in the way of true connection and understanding of myself and of others.
Inspirations and Other Half Considered Ideas
(aka: fodder for future posts)
Backdate post of Inktober gallery
Connection to the world through drawing it (or writing detailed descriptions or…)
Art as the activity rather than artist as the identity, Art-making, not Artist
The beauty of the lamps hanging in the coffee shop across the street as viewed from my kitchen window
The concept of creative inspiration as a stranger we meet on the road, with whom we choose to engage or not
“Artist” as a way of seeing and being as much as actively creating
Mailboxes for the port0lets
The idea that the desire for validation, for me, as a poor substitute for what I really want: collaborative, creative communication.
It is said that it takes 30 days to make a habit.
Four years ago today, with members of my creative community, I started a little project: Art Everyday Creative Challenge. The project and facebook group originated as a sister project to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), in which we join our literary brothers and sisters by dedicating ourselves to making art daily for the month of November in lieu of writing a novel.
Since then, we have had deaths, births, and lots and lots of creating. Members have participated in Inktober twice, been challenged to take black and white photos, started other groups (some of which meet in person). We keep on sharing, and making, and encouraging each other along the way.
Some of us show and sell; some of us create for fun or joy or expression or therapy, but we all keep making, or wanting to make. And here I am again, relaunching for the month.
Unlike most other challenges, this one is open, it is broad. You can sketch, paint, write, play music, anything artistic.
If you want me to share your stuff on this blog, let me know. If you want to join us over on facebook, send a request: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1420482231502651/
To spur those who aren’t sure what to do, today I offer this random prompt generator: https://www.magatsu.net/generators/art/
If you have suggestions to share with each other, we can offer each other individual challenges and prompts as well.
Why We Burn
Burn culture (all of that messy, glorious, big-C Community of people who attend, organize, create art and otherwise pour their energy into Burning Man and Regional Burns [official or otherwise]), has been defined by many people before, more eloquently than I could hope to. I am not interested in the singular, overarching definition. What interests me is the fabric of all of those stories woven together to make that which is greater than the single piece of cloth. This is my thread.
What draws me to this culture, why I give my time, thought, and creative output, is the very thing that will define Izzi Burns (the person, the idea, the website): creativity, collaboration, and community, each influencing the other, interlocked, inseparable.
Events and communities built around Burn culture provide environments where we are more together than our mere sum. Our art is more and there is more of it because we do it together, and because we are surrounded by a community of people doing the same.
For some, the community is what spurs the creativity; for some the creativity, collaboratively produced, is what creates community. For me, it is a beautiful loop, and it doesn’t matter where it begins.