Community as container.
Last night at Room Project, I received feedback on a short story that I had written for the fiction workshop I’m participating in. I came away from the session feeling deeply grateful for the community container that allowed my piece to come into being.
Without the deadlines, supportive expectations of my peers, and my own desire to present something worth reading, I might not have produced my short story at all. It was humbling to be reminded of the importance of having a community container in which to create.
Writing, making art, or creating anything from nothing can be extremely isolating experiences. Sometimes this is because they have to be. Because there can be only one person writing that story, playing that music, singing that note, dancing that choreography, weaving that tapestry or designing that graphic.
So when there is an opportunity to connect, we must take it. Ideally this is an ongoing process so that our work—and in turn ourselves—are cared for every step of the way. This way of being as a creative involves sharing each iteration as it is completed as opposed to waiting for a big reveal once the work is finished.
The challenge here—as some of you have reached out to share with me—is finding the right community. It is imperative that the work we’re creating is handled skillfully by the people we share it with. Otherwise, we risk doing damage to ourselves and our work.
My advice is to keep looking for the communities you’re hungry to be a part of. Tell anyone who will listen what you’re searching for. Be open to the unexpected, including being the one who creates a place for people to gather.
I feel lucky to have stumbled across Room Project. I was on the lookout for a local space where I could get to know the creative community of Detroit. Miriam Pranschke at Boro happened to mention her friend Christin Lee’s shared workspace one day when I was shopping for some new second-hand clothes.
A month later, I had become a member. Now almost three months into my membership, I am at Room Project at least three or four times a week for workshops, events or to get writing done. People introduce themselves in passing and I have never felt a greater sense of belonging in my entire life.
My work has flourished since joining the space as well. Despite still being in the thick of figuring out who I’m trying to be creatively, knowing I’m not alone in that process makes carrying on that much easier.
Having a community container matters. It matters when it comes to you doing your best work and it matters to your overall wellbeing as a creative.
So, what kind of community container do you need to be well?