Friday, July 07, 2006

Creativity and Community in Mississippi

...Continuing with the things I learned in Mississippi...

My sense from the folks we were working with and from the folks that Susan Anand works with on a regular basis, is that we would all benefit from ongoing creativity support groups. One thing that became really clear while doing these workshops is that the creative process is key in regenerating hope, strength, and imagination. And that hope, strength, and imagination contribute to resilience. And of course getting together with other folks who also want to work creatively and perhaps even playfully is extremely beneficial. Community feeling develops, folks support each other.

One of the folks I met in Mississippi was Doc, a woman who is part of Susan Anand's Cancer Support Art Group. She had quite a lot to say about how this group and the projects they've been working on together have added so much to her life.

She showed me two of the projects that were begun in Susan's art group; a prayer stick and a wisdom book. The prayer stick had yarn, cloth and ribbons with beads and feathers and various other embellishments on it. Each bit of cloth or yarn had a story and a prayer attached to it. It started off that Doc was wrapping these herself but then others asked her if they might not add to her stick with their prayers and trinkets. Now the stick is full and people who visit Doc bring the stick gifts, leaving them near the stick in Doc's foyer.

Doc also had a wisdom book she had created with photos of her friends, collaged with get well cards and each friend's favorite quote, all inspiring, all very generous. I met some of the other participants in this group and they were all very enthusiastic about the benefit of the creative process but the benefit of creating a feeling of community as well.

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