Back from vacation, thinking about creative organizing

Ashe and I got home from our vacation to North Carolina yesterday. It was a lovely trip and we visited all sorts of places and ate lots of interesting food. We even managed to get all of the way to Folly Beach one day and Ashe and I got to meet a bunch of possums at a possum rehab place before we left. It’s good to be back home though. I’m definitely exhausted and ready to continue working on our personal projects here at home.

Disclaimer: I know that traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic is a risk, especially to an area of the country that has low vaccination rates and a deep resistance to doing simple tasks that help put others less at risk. However, Ashe and I are vaccinated and decided that this was a risk that we were willing to take so that we could get a break from our daily responsibilities for a little while. If you decide to travel, I encourage you to get vaccinated first and talk with your loved ones about the amount of risk involved.

Since we’ve been back, it’s been a constant cycle of high heat and humidity that causes me to sweat unbearably if I dare exert myself the slightest amount and really heavy thunderstorms. At least the garden doesn’t seem to really mind too much. Our plants are thriving a lot better than I expected after neglecting them for an entire week and I was able to do a small berry harvest that Ashe is talking about mixing with some leftover strawberries from our vacation to make a berry crumble tomorrow. I’m pretty excited.

We’ve also got some tomatoes and peppers that are starting to fruit even though a few of our tomato plants are looking a bit rough for wear. I’ll take a closer look at them tomorrow and do a bit of pruning to help clean them up. The pepper plants seem to be thriving, however. They’ve taken so much abuse from us this year and look better than any pepper plants I’ve ever grown in the past.

Thinking about an Artisan/Creator Guild

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking again about setting up a local guild for artisans and creators of all types. It’s hard to make a living as a creator. It’s a life in constant experimentation and transition with very little stability, especially when one is just starting out. It can feel lonely and impossible at times but it’s also the only way that many of us can truly feel free.

I spent a couple of years on the board of the Champaign Urbana Design Organization and saw the power that a professional organization could have for a creative community. Through CUDO, creatives were able to put on events to express themselves, share their creations, and connect with other creators. It provided a framework for special programs like CUDO Plays which brought board game design to the masses. They also had a job board for designers that was honestly more neglected than it should have been.

I’ve also been a part of Support Driven almost from its founding and got to see how an online community for customer support professionals could organize and demand better employment conditions, elevating the industry beyond the call center life where it started. By sharing knowledge freely, discussing working conditions openly, and supporting each other when they needed to find new employment, members were able to change the power dynamic between employee and employer. I feel like that sort of organizing is something that’s also needed within the independent artisan industry.

I haven’t been a part of CUDO for a long time as I’ve become largely disconnected from the local community over the last few years, so it’s possible that we don’t actually need something new. Back before I was on the CUDO board, it felt very much like they were building up to an organization for creatives that was a lot like Support Driven. However, by the time I joined the board, most of us were already fairly burnt out and didn’t have the energy to really drive the projects that we wanted to see created. That’s one of the problems with having an organization that’s completely volunteer-led. If the people creating programming are busy all of the time trying to make a living, how are they supposed to have the time and energy to provide these sort of services to other creatives?

So maybe I’ll see what the current iteration of CUDO has to offer. Maybe I’ll also try to connect with other local creatives and see where they find gaps in their professional support networks.

If you’re an artisan or creator (local or not), do you have a professional network that you get support from? Could you use additional support? If so, what sort of things would you like to see in a professional organization?

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