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The big, beautiful value of our volunteers – and volunteering

Volunteering makes the nonprofit world go around. Its value and impact may be measured in dollars, creative activities – and lives changed.

Mint Artists Guild relies on volunteers to allow our small but mighty nonprofit grow many many opportunities for creative youth and children.

During National Volunteer Week, we sing the praise of our volunteers. Two volunteers helped us create and maintain this website.  Many Mint volunteers drove thousands of creative activity kits across I-94 – from partner Arts & Scraps to partner Brilliant Detroit so Detroit children could play creatively during the pandemic.  Educator and poet Will Langford helped us launch the Metro Detroit Youth Arts Competition last year as a volunteer and is returning to help this year. Board member and marketing lead Kelly O’Neill created many Mint videos, including those about our volunteering to create two huge street murals. Her videos share our story on our YouTube channel and far beyond it.

Our newest video, created by Mint marketing intern Erin Theroux, highlights a few of the many volunteers who have supported Mint during the pandemic.  Volunteers from New York to San Diego and many places in between gave their time and talents to Mint Artists Guild:

Virtual volunteering grew during the pandemic as people sought ways to give back safely. Yet Mint has worked with volunteers from several states for at least three years, leveraging talents and connecting with creatives in Boston and beyond.

Volunteering in the United States contributed an estimated $167 billion in 2017, based on 77 million Americans giving their time to a good cause. That figure is more than the combined revenue of General Motors and Rocket Cos., parent of Quicken Loans.

Many nonprofits are run entirely by volunteers; Mint operated that way for more than two years; since then Mint has a paid executive director who still volunteers at least 12 hours a week of her time.

Volunteer time is valuable to nonprofits – and the communities and individuals helped. Volunteer time was worth $27.20 an hour last year, according to Independent Sector.  And volunteering can be helpful for the people volunteering: It is linked to longer life, more optimism and so much more.  And when a volunteer takes time to help a child paint or create something, she may open the door to a lifetime of beauty and art.

“At the end of the day it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished… it’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back,” actor Denzel Washington once said.

If you’d like to give back through Mint, please read about our current volunteer needs on VolunteerMatch or Share Detroit or elsewhere and raise your hand today.

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Henrietta Lacks’ story becomes important part of Mint’s Hero journey

 

Some stories last and last and grow, and Henrietta Lack’s life and contributions to science is one of them.

Yet for many years, despite her significance to health researchers, her story was ignored or untold or masked. Lack, a mother who grew up on a Virginia tobacco farm, suffered cervical cancer. She sought treatment at Johns Hopkins Medical Center and in 1951, a researcher took two tissue samples from her cervix, one cancerous and one healthy, without her consent or knowledge. Known as the HeLa cells, they became invaluable to understand and solve many diseases, yet Henrietta Lack for decades received no recognition.

Lack’s is one of 15 portraits in Mint’s Heroes: Now & Then show, on display at the Grand Rapids Art Museum through May 22. The exhibit, the first traveling exhibit organized by Mint, debuted in September at the Scarab Club in Detroit. We knew the show, like Lack’s story, needed to be seen.  So ot moved to the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center in late fall, and opened at Grand Rapids Art Museum Feb. 20.  Read more of about Heroes: Now & Then back story in this wonderful Model D feature article

Mint’s Heroes: Now & Then show at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. (Photo: Grand Rapids Art Museum)

Despite aggressive treatment for cancer, Henrietta Lack’s died eight months after she was first seen at Johns Hopkins Hospital at age 31. It was 1951 and no one had told Lacks or her family that her cells were harvested during her treatment and would become the backbone of medical treatments for decades to come.  Lacks children suffered after their mother died; one daughter developed childhood epilepsy and died unvisited in a state hospital.  

Three Nobel prizes

Her impact continues today as thousands of scientists use her HeLa cells – the first immortal or ever growing cells –  to investigate drugs and seek cures for many diseases. Among the successful discoveries based on her HeLa cells are cures or treatment or for polio, hemophilia, Parkinson’s and to develop gene mapping, understand the effect of cells in space, infectivity of HIV and fight several kinds of cancer. More than 110,000 publications from 1953 to 2018 cited her HeLa cells and scientists received at least three Nobel Prizes based on their research using her cells, the National Institutes of Health reported.  

“For researchers, HeLa cells were experimental workhorses, wonderfully easy to grow and transport. But for the Lacks family, those cells were the essence of their lost mother, whom scientists had infected with viruses, shot into space, crossed with mice, and generally condemned to everlasting torment,” wrote The Lancet, a medical publication.

At first, scientists used a pseudonym – Helen Lane – on the cells. It took 20 years for Henrietta Lack’s name to come forward and almost 30 more years for her story to be well told by journalist Rebecca Skloot. This reminds us a bit of how some Black artists and painters were treated by many museums and galleries for too long.

STEAM stories and art

Mint’s portrait of Henrietta Lacks shows how art and science dance beautifully together, what some call STEAM.  Oluwaseyi Akintoroye chose Lacks as her hero and carefully researched her HeLa cell structure before she painted in the portrait’s background.  (Her beautiful painting of lavender flowers recently was turned into  a Mint greeting card  and Mint is considering a Heroes series of postcards.)

If you wish to learn more about Henrietta Lack’s life and impact, check out the best-selling book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Read an excerpt from Skloot’s book here.  (The author helped launch the Henrietta Lacks Foundation, which provides support for others who have contributed to scientific research with no benefit or knowledge.) Or watch the documentary based on that book, which stars Oprah Winfrey and is available on HBO Max or for rent on Amazon Prime.

If you wish to support Mint’s arts, science, youth development and creative summer jobs program, be a Hero and please donate a few dollars today

© Vickie Elmer, 2021 for Mint Artists Guild

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Three tools for a successful summer job hunt

If springtime has you dreaming of a summer job that brings money and joy, it’s time to get serious about your resume and your storytelling skills.

Jobs will be available and in some beautiful places exploring National Forests or welcoming guests to  Mackinac Island . Yet they may be more competitive or less plentiful. Tourism and hospitality employment remains the worst affected of any sector: 39 percent below February 2020.

While not all employers will be hiring this year, those that will are seeking someone who will contribute to their organization – and often someone who will return the next summer or as a full-time staffer.

With that in mind, it’s time to start preparing for your summer job search.  Here are three essential tools anyone – ages 12 to 102 – needs to land a job for the summer or for longer:

Resume.  This is both a summary of your experience and skills and a sales document designed to impress a potential boss.  Read this step by step on creating a teen resume from USNews or follow this guide for creating a high school resume by job search expert Alison Doyle. Here’s a resume guide for college students. Then ask two adults to edit, proof and propose improvements to your resume.

Not all young people create resumes so those who have them stand out and seem more prepared and polished and professional.

If you have worked a few jobs or internships, you also may want to develop a LinkedIn profile  – and when you do, please follow Mint!

References.  These people who know you well may make the difference between a job offer and a polite thank you. They also are Exhibit A about why you want to impress and assist your teachers, especially those who educate in fields where you may want to work. References also may be leaders in your faith community, someone you volunteered with consistently, a family friend who you helped with tasks such as babysitting or painting a house and a former coach or club leader.

Check in with them now and update them on your plans and progress.  Find out how they prefer to be contacted and if there are any times when they are not available to give references. If you really want to be proactive, create short videos of your reference talking about you and your work ethic and share that after your interview.

Stories of your success.   Some job search experts offer tips for a great job interview. Others suggest you prepare for the most common interview questions. Those both certainly are worthwhile but the most valuable is getting comfortable with telling your story and highlighting your talents and successes.  Think up a story or three where you saved the day or solved a problem or created something beautiful or magical or impactful.

“A perfectly placed, impeccably delivered story can transport a person to a place beyond interested, straight past paying attention, and into a state of complete captivation,” said Kindra Hall, a speaker, consultant author of the book Stories That Stick. 

“You know stories will make you stand out,” she said in a video about making an exceptional first impression.  So prepare your stories and practice them so that even if you are nervous you will tell it well.

Videotape yourself telling the story so you can see how you look and sound.  Check out some of our Mint Artists videos on our YouTube channel .

Duct tape flower pens © De’Shaia Ventour

Among them is De’Shaia Ventour, who launched her duct tape accessories and art business with Mint.  She shares how much she has learned and developed – and her favorite day with Mint – in this short video.

Or imagine former Mint marketing intern Sydney Catton sharing stories from working in a coffee shop – or of chasing goats.   Sydney recently landed a full-time job and so we will soon introduce our new marketing intern here on the Mint blog.

Artists, of course, will need to create a portfolio of their work, and should create one that includes recent work and their very best pieces.  Yet these do not take the place of stories in an interview.

If you aren’t sure where to look for a summer job, follow Mint on Twitter and watch for some ideas and tips, offered every week. Or look up your city’s summer youth employment program or the parks and recreation department hiring plans. In Detroit, look at GDYT and the jobs will be virtual again this year.

If you want to apply for a summer job with Mint, read our frequently asked questions and then drop us a line!

© Vickie Elmer, 2021

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TaNiah McQueen: Mint Alumni combines creative artist and caring nurse

TaNiah McQueen has always been a care-giver since she was a girl. She remembers taking care of family pets and always being interested in medical equipment.  

More recently, as a second-year nursing student, her care extended to larger groups; she gave about 50 covid-19 vaccines to individuals at TCF Center in downtown Detroit and on another day, in a nursing home.

She’s always loves to create art, and especially art that feels natural and beautiful such as trees or flowers. TaNiah joined Mint Artists Guild’s first Learn and Earn program while attending Cass Technical High School. She was in the same initial cohort as alumni Ackeem Salmon.

She created many florals, including a large painting overflowing with roses. It became Roses roses, one of our best-selling greeting cards.  Then TaNiah donated the original painting to Mint in appreciation for all she gained and learned with us.  She participated in several art fairs, selling paintings, jewelry and more. And as a Mint Alumni, her work appeared in the Secret Garden at the Belle Isle Art Fair and in some holiday pop ups.

This huge floral painting briefly appeared at the Belle Isle Art Fair Secret Garden. © Taniah McQueen

Yet her career path headed straight toward nursing, and her caring for others through sickness. She pursued it with dedication at Wayne State University. She has worked at local hospitals and volunteered last fall to give flu shots at the Wayne State’s Campus Medical Clinic.

At TCF, she joined a group of nursing students who helped out for two days. Some people came in and were frightened to take the vaccine. “Don’t worry. I’m a pro at this,” TaNiah told them. 

Getting into nursing school wasn’t easy but TaNiah persevered. And as she did, the art she created started to reflect her study of human anatomy and the body. She painted beautiful human hearts and lungs after an anatomy class helped her draw them more precisely.

“The human body really is art too,” TaNiah told us. “The body, nature and life itself is where a lot of my inspiration comes from.”

She sees science and art as “very much connected” as art imitates life and reflects its nuances.

TaNiah McQueen’s painting shows lungs growing. © TaNiah McQueen

This summer, she will work in a pediatric clinic, travel and spend more time on art making. (She recently started experimenting in resins.) After graduation, expects to work in a hospital as an intensive care unit nurse, or perhaps in a hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit. She plans to go back for her doctoral degree, focused on the Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice. And yes, she expects to continue making art.

Some day, her work may hang in a hospital’s halls and help a visitor de-stress, as TaNiah McQueen scrubs in to save a patient.

Advice: “Stay focused. … Don’t be afraid try out new techniques … so you can determine what you like/don’t like, and never undervalue your artwork. Also, it’s imperative to join groups such as Mint to gain experience selling your art while also making meaningful connections.”

See her art: Follow her on Instagram for occasional art pieces. View her earlier work on this website. Or perhaps she may join Mint at an alumni art event later in 2021.

What’s next: TaNiah plans to open an Etsy shop to sell resin work, bookmarks and other items. Also her final year Wayne State’s nursing program.

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Heroes earn low wages and high praise – and ours show up in Grand Rapids

The heroes of the covid-19 pandemic wear scrubs and stethoscopes or care for frail seniors. They carry a megaphone, cook eggs and work overnight to refill grocery shelves.

And they show up in the paintings Mint Artists summer workers created last year, which formed our first traveling exhibit Heroes; Now & Then. That exhibit will be on display at the Grand Rapids Art Museum through May 22, with timed ticket entry.  The Heroes show debuted last year in Detroit.

Like many of our Heroes who come from around the globe, America’s heroes are everyday workers who earn a median wage of $10.93 an hour as grocery cashiers or $13.48 an hour for health care jobs including orderlies, health aides and housekeepers. They are considered “essential workers” and lauded by politicians and people who rely on their labor.

Health care workers protest low wages last year. (Photo: Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona / Unsplash)

And yet these heroes and essential workers face common issues: 55 percent of them live paycheck to paycheck and some 60 percent are taking steps or see others speaking up to improve health conditions at work, a Harris Poll found.  Almost one in four health care workers report reduced income during the pandemic, especially for doctors, paramedics, health technicians and others.

Heroes face distress, stress and fears for themselves and their loved ones as they do their jobs. Many in health care do not believe the hero label will last long.

Yet Mint prefers to believe that heroes – and our hero paintings – will inspire and endure. We hope they encourage valor and thoughtful consideration of who is a hero as well as greater appreciation of the heroes who live among us.

“If enough people hear about their actions, they can inspire others to do something heroic too,” philanthropist Bill Gates wrote in a blog post about seven unsung heroes of the pandemic. One of them is Laxmi Rayamajhi, health care worker in Nepal who hikes for hours to provide contraceptives to women in remote villages.

So take time to read some books about everyday heroes. And please visit our heroes in Grand Rapids or on our website in a booklet Mint prepared.

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How Frederick Douglass resonates today

Mint alumni Breonna Collins is an artist, filmmaker, student and creative entrepreneur who launched Gospel Beauty, which sells soap, accessories and other beauty items. She attends Wayne State University, where she is majoring in biochemistry with a minor in animation.

She has an active, curious mind and is always coming up with ideas and insights. So we asked her about Black heroes and historical figures.

Breonna Collins, Mint alumni

Who is your favorite person from Black history? Why does he / she resonate with you?

I have many favorite people from black history so it is too hard to say who is my single favorite. But I’ll select one for what’s going on in the world. And that person would be Fredrick Douglass.

1856 photograph of activist and orator Frederick Douglas from National Portrait Gallery

How does Frederick Douglass speak to and connect with the Black Lives Matter and other black campaigns and movements going on today?

I personally feel like organizations today would benefit from him because he could break down the meaning of what America is about. Not to mention he was a slave who freed himself and rebuilt himself. He went from being a slave to statesman. So, I believe he could teach these organizations how to get progress done. I believe he would have kicked any corrupt person out of the group. People like anarchists, extremists etc.

How do you interpret Black history in the context of today’s situation, good and bad?

I believe that Black History Month is a good month to celebrate how far Black people have gotten in America and around the world.

I think of Black History Month as a sacred month, like a sacred shrine that holds our tears, smiles, blood, pain, sorrow, laughter, our entire culture! A time where we can pay homage to the great ancestors before us who had to do the hard work to get us here. Not just black but, whites too. Black History Month isn’t just an African American thing but it’s an American thing. Because the lives we mourn, celebrate and respect this month bled to build this nation. And it’s a horrible memory that America has but, one that must never be forgotten so that it doesn’t happen again!

Learn more about Frederick Douglass in this PBS short written biography, in The Guardian interview with his biographer or watch this 7-minute FreeSchool video on Douglass’ life and journey to freedom. Follow Breonna Collins on Instagram.

Portraits used with permission.  Frederick Douglass painting © Joel Tesch.

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Mint Alumni Ackeem Salmon, artist, art teacher and so much more

Mint kicks off a series of Mint Alumni feature profiles. Look for one a month for at least nine months this year.

Ackeem Salmon has already achieved a lot – with awards, art activities and accolades in Detroit and internationally. He has much more in store this year and next.  Yet he acknowledges he’s never won a “proper photography competition” and he still needs to complete his teaching credentials.

Salmon joined Mint’s first cohort of Learn and Earn artists at the Palmer Park Art Fair in 2015 and participated in our first Scarab Club exhibit. He shared his art-directed photos such as Soul of the Arts, a creative grouping of classmates at Detroit School of Arts, and other striking images.

Ackeem Salmon’s momentous photo Soul of the Arts, from 2015.

In May 2020, he graduated from College for Creative Studies with a degree in photography and minor in fine art.  After gig work through the summer, he landed a job teaching art to elementary and middle students at Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences, a private charter school.

Even before graduating from CCS, he had returned to Detroit School of Arts to mentor students and teach, and to work with them again on the Midtown Arts and Auto Festival.

“I come from a family of educators and people who are in academia,” Ackeem  said.  “So it kind of comes intuitively. I enjoy being a part of someone’s journey, to pay my experiences forward.”

“It’s sharing the excitement” of students succeeding, he said.

His photographs and mixed media pieces already are in many private collections – and likely to be in even more after his show at the gallery Collected Detroit in 2022.  This follows his one-artist show at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in 2016  and his 2018 project in Paris highlighting fashion, art and youth aspirations.

Yet Ackeem points out that he’s been turned down many times for artists calls, shows and awards. “I do feel the rejection and hurt” when that happens, he said.  And he also has seen the serendipity several times of judges or people involved recommending him to different projects. That’s how he came to join Mint, by submitting a poster to the Palmer Park Art Fair. When the judges realized he was in high school, they connected him with Mint.

He is a visual artist and art director – and a musician who plays violin and flute. He has performed music at a number of events, including some he organized. Ackeem has won the Pierians Foundation’s Jessie M. Colson Award is given to a deserving artist who exhibits high potential in their future practices. And he has collected art awards from the NAACP, Microsoft, Scholastic among others.

In coming months and years, he hopes to develop funding to return to Jamaica, to take more photographs and interview creative elders.  Several of his senior thesis photographs Remembering Yellow taken in his native Jamaica are on display in a window in Midtown Detroit.

Mint Alumni Ackeem Salmon at a collector’s private show, with Mint board member Margaret Wilson and others. (Photo: Vickie Elmer)

“I thought it a really cool opportunity for a kind of public art,” he said. Much of his work is autobiographical or looks deeply at what it means to be human and Black. He often serves as the art director for his photography and mixed media work.

Last year, Ackeem worked for DesignCore‘s Design in the City through a grant funded by Gucci Changemakers. His LinkedIn profile already shows many roles.

“I want to find a happy medium in making my own art work,” said Ackeem.  “I’m the little fish trying to find the island.”

Ackeem’s advice: Keep going after what you want, even if it takes a few attempts. “With Young Arts, I tried so many times. And that last time I got selected” as a finalist, he said.  So seek feedback and apply again.

His work: See some of it on his art Instagram Ackeem Salmon Art, or his artist website, which he created himself.

What’s next:  He is working on teaching credentials for art and French, and also still needs to get his driver’s license.  He also is painting and making new pieces for his next exhibits.

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Get ahead: Create more art that seems more timely, ahead of time

Last week’s Inauguration celebration of the United States’ first female and first Black Vice President seemed like a remarkable event, and it brought an array of images of Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden to our Instagram feeds.

Some digital, drawn or painted images were created weeks earlier in anticipation of their move to the top of American politics and others were created on the fly.  We recommended to Mint alumni Trinity Brown that she create a wire wrapped necklace similar to the one Vice President Harris wore to her swearing-in.  We suspect fabric fashion designers are recreating  the beautiful Maison Schiaparelli gold dove brooch Lady Gaga wore, signifying her hope for peace in the United States.

Then we realized that creating art that feels like it jumped from the headlines or captures the essence of our cultural experiences is a valuable trait for emerging artists to develop.  Offer art that is fresh, timely and relevant, even if you created it months or years earlier.

How do you do that? First look ahead to memorable or significant moments that resonate with you and your work. Perhaps it’s the reopening of schools after covid-19 vaccinations are widespread, or the the birthday of Rosa Parks, which we mark because of her ties to Detroit and because of our beautiful Mint print based on Mint worker / artist Bryan Wilson’s painting.

Second, set a Google Alert to be notified of news and information about your favorite subjects, those that show up in your art and imagery often. Ask for just the best results; some may provide inspiration or a reason to share your work.

Next create a calendar for yourself of events and dates that suit your

Martin Luther King Jr. collage by artist Isadora Gacel (used with permission)

creative style and interests – or buy our 2021 calendar to inspire and write them in.

If you photograph or paint beautiful buildings, note the birthdays and other significant dates of architects Albert Kahn, Norma Merrick Sklarek and Maya Lin.  If flowers and plants show up often in your images, perhaps key moments for botanist George Washington Carver or Arber or artists Georgia O’Keeffe or Claude Monet belong there. If your art springs from the fight for equality and civil rights, track important dates from Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and work to the anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s death.

Whatever your subject, pour over media timelines and museum retrospectives for dates and events that resonate with you and your art. Look for lesser known events or people or ones that seem newly relevant.

Detail of Arise Rock’s winning triptych painting © Arise Rock

Document the Black Lives Matter movement and the demonstrations after the cruel killing of George Floyd, as Mint Youth Arts Competition winner Arise Rock did.  May 25 will be one year after Floyd died after pleading with police. Or create photos or mixed media slamming the growing gap between rich and poor, known as income or economic inequality.  Unfortunately, these images will be timely again and again.

Keep making more work that suits your cultural moments and themes. That way, when one piece sells, you may share a second and a third.  Consider which one may be powerful enough to be made into a print.

And if you think you’ve missed your moment with Vice President Harris, consider that she will have a very busy first year in office with many moments to shine. Plus she was born on Oct. 20, (1964), so that gives you plenty of time – and a clear deadline – for  creating a portrait or series of pieces about her.

© Vickie Elmer, 2021, for Mint Artists Guild

Watch for our guide to intriguing events in 2021 that may inspire your creative work. Coming up in February in the Mint blog.

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Good places to find wisdom and answers during these dark uncertain days

 

Despite the New Year and the change in presidents coming, the world may feel dark and uncharted and full of questions right now.  It’s unclear when covid-19 will disappear or when a good job will appear. It’s questionable when we will be able to get together in person again safely.

We know you likely have some questions you’re pondering.  (If you don’t have any at the moment, you may want to read our beautiful questions post or our start-the-year-right questions post to rev up your creativity and curiosity.)

Good questions are important. Yet they must be paired with the right people or resources to answer them. And as wonderful and generous as Mint Artists Guild is, we are a small nonprofit and are not equipped to answer all of yours. We try to answer some in this blog  and in our FAQs section; others at our workshops and in our Creative Summer jobs.

Now,  we will give you places where answers are found – many places and people. We would be foolish if we didn’t mention family members and close friends as important sources of insight and information.  Grandma Judy or Uncle John are wise and care about you.

But they may not always feel right, or have the capacity to answer. Sometimes starting with an independent, anonymous source is easier. A general internet search may offer reasonable answers, especially if your question is factual or fairly simple. Sometimes a trip to the public library to select some books works well and librarians may guide you.  Or head to your favorite blogs or podcasts and search for insights. 

If you want to pose the question, here’s a few options:

Seek the caring elders.  Go to ElderWisdomCircle, which provides intergenerational advice to all kinds of questions about covid, career, relationships, finances and more. ElderWisdomCircle.org brings youth together with older adults – almost virtual grandparents – to “provide empathetic, caring, and supportive advice based on their own life experiences.” Advice is emailed back, and youth may choose to have their question shared on the site or kept confidential. It is a nonprofit organization based near San Francisco that has a clear privacy policy.

Questions upon questions. Search Quora, the question and answer site, and you’ll find thousands of questions from serious to silly to sexy. Quora has lots of questions about how the world works and what’s changing, and plenty about sex and relationships. It also has a section specifically for teens, called TeenTalk and a few sections on covid-19 including one on the human impact. It also has a robust section for visual artists. Quora is a company based in Mountain View, CA, and the site does have more ads that in the past.

Chose another answer site.  You may find your question works well on Reddit, which has many SubReddit areas including ArtistLounge and other creative spaces. Or head to Snippets if your question and answers are short and easy to answer,  which is another of the question and answer sites in this LifeWife post.   Yahoo. Answers and may other sites are available with everyday people and well-known experts sharing insights and nonsense. Choose one that seems right for you and the questions you’re bringing. Or you may even find it interesting to post on two or three sites simultaneously and see which one yields the most valuable answers.

Where do you go to search for answers and insights? How do you find wise people to help you? Please share your ideas and resources in a comments!

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More beautiful ways Mint practices ‘Generosity All Around’

“Sometime when we are generous in small, barely detectable ways, it can change someone else’s life forever.” – Margaret Cho, a stand-up comedian and singer-songwriter

Generosity may not keep covid-19 at bay but it can open the doors to new jobs and new perspectives on the world. It also can surprise and delight individuals in a difficult or challenging time.

Mint Artists Guild believes in the power of creativity and generosity and we are sharing some more of the ways we practiced that in 2020 here.

Inspiration in challenging times.   In challenging times, the world needs more heroes. We created them over the summer. Then in the fall, Mint shared our new exhibit Heroes: Now and Then  at the Scarab Club and then onto the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center.  Before long, they may be available on our website and we expect to install them at other galleries or museums in 2021.

These Heroes paintings were created by summer workers Michael Johnson and Jessica Fligger.

Youth development and youth jobs. Mint gave 15 young people this year paid work experience this year, in our Creative Summer Jobs program and in our marketing internships. This is almost 40 percent more than in 2019. Among them was Seyi Akintoroye, who led Team Rocket one of our two workers teams this summer and created two Heroes paintings. Hear her interview in this video:

Art gifts.  Mint gave away sidewalk chalk in the spring to encourage participation in our Cheerful Chalk Challenge. We gave away art in Free Art Fridays in Palmer Park and several other places in Detroit.  Mint and Mint Artists’ Oluwaseyi Akintoroye organized our youth artists, who created and donated art to The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History online fundraiser. And Mint has a few pieces of art set aside to donate to 2021 nonprofit fundraisers.

Inspiration in challenging times. Mint assisted with with two murals this year, assisting Mint co-founder artist Hubert Massey. The first one was Power to the People in downtown Detroit and second mural was Revolutionary Love in Southwest Detroit.  Watch this six-minute volunteer-created video about the second mural now:

Beautify Detroit.  Mint shared our art gladly in the community to beautify Detroit neighborhoods.  Two examples of that showed up in the October Mint Showcase on Livernois and Metro Detroit Youth Arts Competition winners’ art in local businesses in November and December. We hope to expand this in 2021, and with your generosity, we will.

Mint youth art in the window at Motor City Brewing Works on Livernois.

We know that Detroit and the Midwest are full of nonprofits who do good work. And we know that you may already have given to some of them. But we ask you to help make Generosity All Around part of your approach to 2021 and give generously to Mint Artists Guild. Our online donation portal is fast, easy and secure. And that circle of generosity will look beautiful as it grows and grows.