Posted on

Generosity All Around: Mint gives back in Detroit during a tough pandemic year

Mint summer worker Tommy DuBose leads a free arts and crafts in Palmer Park in September. (Photo: Vickie Elmer for Mint)

“Not being able to do everything is no excuse for not doing everything you can.” – artist, cartoonist and author Ashleigh Brilliant

This year, as the world shut down, slowed down and took stock, Mint Artists Guild embraced the strength and beauty of generosity.

We knew it would be a tough year for children and youth in Detroit, with covid-19 raging, schools closed or figuring out how to go online and families stressed about health, money and more.  We knew we had to dig deep and go big and give as if we had deep pockets and plenty of resources. (That seems like Mint making stone soup, a tale of hunger and coming together to benefit everyone.)

Quite simply, we wanted to do everything we could to support, encourage and engage children and youth through art and entrepreneurship.

Mint has always given back through our programs with and for youth artists and our Paint Detroit with Generosity initiative. Yet during a pandemic we knew we needed to add more – many more ways to support creative children and youth and our community.

So in this season of giving, we want to share some of the ways Mint Artists Guild has given this year – as we ask you to complete the circle and give to us.  We are celebrating Generosity All Around us, and that serves as our theme for the next few weeks.

Here are five of the ways Mint is creating generosity all around Detroit:

Our fifth Paint Detroit with Generosity show is up at Durfee Innovation Society on the first and second floors main hallway. (Photo: Vickie Elmer for Mint)

Inspiration in challenging times. Our fifth annual Paint Detroit with Generosity exhibit is up and free to see at Durfee Innovation Society in Detroit. This exhibit in Detroit gives you a place to go, safely, to walk around and be inspired before Dec. 27.  Please call ahead – 313-437-1549 for an appointment – and wear your mask.

Creativity at home for children.   Early in the pandemic, an artist-friend suggested the need for creativity kits for Detroit children. Mint immediately saw the value and connected with our stellar partners Arts & Scraps and Brilliant Detroit.  We found a sponsor MCCI to help us pay for 10,000 coloring pages – an astounding number for us to print! And thanks to the generosity of foundations and individuals and amazing work of our partners, since late March, we have given away 4,500 of them to families with children and teachers.   

Beautify Detroit. Two of our youth workers chose as their personal paid project for the summer to paint the Little Free Library in Palmer Park. Mint encouraged this as a project because our executive director always fills this Little Free Library with books. Hear about how and why they did it in this wonderful volunteer-created video.

Inspire and share:  Mint launched the first Metro Detroit Youth Arts Competition to engage, inspire and connect creative youth, with lots of support from Mint board member Will “The Poet” Langford. Our prompts encouraged them to share art based on resilience, Detroit’s beauty and art as a unifying force. And with support of our community and the W.K.Kellogg Foundation, we were able to give our 11 winners some $2,400 in cash plus many prizes to young artists and poets and more.  Please listen to Ife Martins’ beautiful winning poem Silence in this post.  These artists and poets created so much beautiful art that we hope to share all of it here over the winter.

Children loved creating with Mint and some came back week after week. (Photo: Vickie Elmer for Mint)

Joy and creativity for children: Mint produced seven youth led arts and crafts in Palmer Park this summer and early fall, thanks to the Detroit Pistons and two foundations. We sent home almost 100 art supply kits and books and more.

This Generosity All Around list sounds ambitious, yet it represents less than half of the projects we have completed since mid-March.  We will share more in a couple of weeks – and we hope you will share some dollars  in a year-end gift. Please give generously.

Posted on

Three ways Mint practices generosity in Detroit

 

Children really enjoy Mint’s free arts and crafts in Palmer Park in the summer. (Photo: Vickie Elmer)

 

“Every minute of every hour of every day you are making the world, just as you are making yourself, and you might as well do it with generosity and kindness and style,” said Rebecca Solnit, writer and activist and author of The Mother of All Questions and many other books.

 

Mint Artists Guild is striving to make the world a little more generous and kind. We want generosity to shine, beautifully, in Detroit and we want generosity to be part of our DNA.

It’s not always easy to do this, with a tiny budget and staff of one (plus teen artists and various interns). Yet we practice generosity often, with each other and in our community.

Here’s three big generosity moves by Mint:

Arts and crafts for all.  Through the summer, children and families flock to our free arts and crafts activities, held outside our studio in Palmer Park. They show up in swimming suits or leave picnics to get creative with our emerging artists. This year, we ran seven of them, and next year with your support, we will stage many more. (Hint: We’d love to develop the funds and buy a van so we could take these arts and crafts to more Detroit parks. Yes, we will use it to visit art spaces around the state too.)

Paint Detroit with Generosity.  For each of four years, Mint has donated 20 or more original paintings  to a wide variety of local nonprofits from Art Roads to Mosaic Youth Theatre to YMCA of Metro Detroit.  These paintings hang in nonprofit offices, homeless shelters, classrooms and more and are our gift to honor the work and missions of local nonprofits.

Community projects.  Mint volunteers at community projects several times a year, such as the big build of a playground in Palmer Park or free coloring pages and rafts for children and youth at Eastern Market during our pop ups. Next year, we plan to lead children in homeless shelters in creating cards and gifts for moms and grandmas.

And all our programs to develop business, entrepreneurship and career skills in talented teen artists are offered free of charge or on a modest sliding scale. We cover the application fees for events and we provide snacks to our artists, and sometimes meals too. 

If you believe in generosity, we invite you to give to Mint, whether you donate $1 a week all next year or give a $1,000 yearend gift or somewhere in between. We rely on generous individuals for some 55 percent of our budget and we know that individual giving and connections create opportunities for youth, beautiful paintings and so much more.

Or we invite you to host a Mint Tea  and invite a half dozen generous friends to learn more about us and support us.

For Giving Tuesday, we are hosting a Generosity Tea at the Fisher Bakery, and we will buy tea for the first 12 people who show up from 2 to 5 pm. Maybe that counts as another generous act by Mint, unless some very kind individual underwrites the tea!  Please join us and join the conversation about generosity in Detroit.

If you need more generosity or inspiration, we offer these 20 generosity quotes, gathered by writer Toni Bernhard for Psychology Today. Now please give generously to help Mint grow and be more generous in 2020.

 

Give generously, whether it’s art supplies, time or money. (Photo: Amaury Salas, Unsplash)

Posted on

Children are our future, our beautiful inspiration for 2020

Girl with a heart painting by Alexis Bagley

 

Children flock to Mint’s free arts and crafts, led by Mint Summer Workers. (Photo: Vickie Elmer)

 

Mint Artists Guild sees the future and it is our children.

Mint just announced that its 2020 Paint Detroit with Generosity  initiative will give paintings to nonprofits that serve children and youth, and families in need in Detroit. For the fifth year of this program, Mint will focus all our generosity on youth, instead of donating to a wider variety of nonprofits.

“Children create joy by living in the moment;  yet they face real hardships in Detroit. They deserve our love and support,” said Vickie Elmer, Mint co-founder and executive director.

Mint already has honored the work of a variety of youth-serving nonprofits through the Paint Detroit with Generosity initiative, including Brilliant Detroit,  Crescendo Detroit, Downtown Boxing Gym and Ruth Ellis Center  among others.  (Please visit our exhibit at the Fisher Bakery, in the Fisher Building through Dec. 30 to see these beautiful images)

Mint chose children as the theme for the fifth Paint Detroit with Generosity  because most of our work focuses on youth and children, from the free arts and crafts to the youth-created art on our greeting cards to the entrepreneurial training for high school age artists.  And we know children and youth today face many challenges and deserve inspiration and support.  

Almost one in six children in the United States live in poverty, according to 2018 U.S. Census Bureau estimates. That means 7.5 million families living in poverty, with one-fourth of them led by a mother or grandmother or other female relative. The numbers are far higher in Detroit.

More than half of U.S. parents worry that their children will be victims of violence, of bullying, of depression or anxiety, according to Pew research.  Seven in 10 teens say anxiety and depression is a major issue for youth, and a more serious one than bullying, drug addiction or poverty.

In Detroit, more babies are born prematurely than in any other area.  Children go to sub-standard schools and struggle with learning to read. Only 10 percent of third grade students read at their grade level.

Yet all is not bleak. Community groups, individuals, foundations and nonprofits are developing after school programs, summer jobs, sports and other services to lift up Detroit’s children. Youth themselves create opportunities to learn and grow.

Nonprofits serving children and youth in or near Detroit may request to be considered for Mint’s 2020 Paint Detroit with Generosity initiative. Please contact Mint  by Feb. 15, 2020 and include details on the number of youth served each year (and where they live).  Nonprofits will be asked to sign a standard memorandum of understanding, or MOU, and share some details about their programs.

Mint welcomes individuals and businesses to support Detroit youth and this initiative, so we may hire more youth in 2020 and donate more paintings. So please give today.

We will paint our children’s future, beautifully.

Girl with a heart painting by Alexis Bagley

This Paint Detroit with Generosity painting was created in 2019 by Mint worker Alexis Bagley. © Mint Artists Guild, 2019

Posted on

Art for all: Make more Mint crafts and coloring pages

Free arts and crafts in Palmer Park, summer 2018. (Photo © Vickie Elmer)

Mint Artists Guild believes in crafts – and we offer them to children in Detroit regularly.

Seven times this summer, we hosted a free arts and crafts activities for families and individuals in Palmer Park, with support from the Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency and individual donors. We set up right outside the Mint Studios and children showed up in swimming suits from the Splash Park or after a family outing.

We will offer it at Eastern Market three times – Dec. 1, 8 and 22 – and with the People for Palmer Park at future events. We showed up at Youth Design Day and welcome other opportunities to get creative in the community.

Often these events include coloring pages created by Mint Artists.  One of our newest beauties is called “Rabbit feast” and it was created by Mint Summer worker Jessica:

We create these to engage children in art and creativity and to show off ours.  We know that creativity and art inspires altruism, creative problem solving – and youth to stay in school.

You can help us create more free art opportunities. Here’s three ways:

  1. Invite us to your event. We will bring coloring pages and /or crafts, for children or adults. Cost starts at $37 an hour, three hour minimum, to bring  in two emerging artists.  Please be in touch at least two weeks before the event or conference.

2. Download a coloring page You may use our Rabbit feast coloring page or else our Ladybug Coloring page. Please print seven copies or fewer for free, our gift to you. If you need more than that, please donate $25 or more to Mint first!

3. Underwrite a new coloring page by Mint Artists. This support gives youth work – and gives your company visibility. Imagine your company name at creative events and arts and crafts throughout 2020. This sponsorship starts at $375 for an independent business with one location. Please contact us if you are interested. (We have other business sponsorship opportunities too.)

We love getting creative with our emerging artists and children as young as 2, and hope you will come along as we give more coloring and craft opportunities throughout Detroit next year!

If you want to talk to us about any of these, please stop by and see us on Friday at the TechTown Detroit pop up from 11-3. Or drop us a line and we will schedule a conversation. We will even bring along a coloring page and crayons!

Posted on

I don’t believe that children are our future. I believe that children are our right now.

Shaka Sengor, writer and college lecturer at the Ford Freedom Awards in Detroit. He had his young son right there on the stage with him.