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Knit, sew, sing: Creativity in Complicated Times, pt 3

Learn to knit or crochet during this time. Photo Imani / Unsplash

 

We all deserve a boost after being at home for anywhere from nine to 15 days.  So here’s some recipes for boosting yourself – by trying some new artsy activities or preparing yourself to land a summer job.

These activities may seem frivolous in these challenging times, but they are not.  They give you something valuable:   Joy and a sense of accomplishment. And they take your mind off the things we cannot control and put them squarely on things we can control – and create.

So let’s get creative!

Learn to knit or crochet.  Once you learn the basics, knitting can be relaxing, almost like meditation.  My friend Wendy Shepherd, executive director of Mittens For Detroit, shared two YouTube channels  – this and that one and also Tin Can Knits for getting started.  “It’s also a great opportunity for the kids to video connect with their elders who knit, to sit and knit alone together,” said Shepherd.  If you need to de-stress as you learn, read these wonderful pointers from Interweave, which develops magazines, information and events for crafters.

Sing along to the ’60s.  Yes, that will bring on The Beatles hits such as “Here Comes the Sun” and “Love Me Do.”  But also sing beautiful songs along  with Irma Thomas belting “Time Is on My Side” or Aretha Franklin singing “Do Right Woman” and The Temptations “Get Ready.”  Select a couple every day from Pitchfork’s list of 200 great ’60s songs.  Singing releases endorphins and raises our mood, strengthens our immune system – and calms the brain, researchers have found.

Create a scrap art project.   Start saving items from your recycling container and scanning the ground when you take your dog or kid brother out for a walk.  Stash egg cartons and cardboard boxes; dry orange peels or scraps of wood. Flatten old cans. Snare mostly empty paint cans from your garage. Then look for inspiration. Or look to the sun or nature for an image. If you are lucky enough to land a free creative learning supplies kit from Arts & Scraps, Mint and Brilliant Detroit, you will have plenty of materials. (These will be distributed free to Detroit families through Brilliant Detroit.)

Create or update your resume.   Download a sample resume, especially one for a young person, and use it as a guide. Or follow the excellent advice outlined in The Balance Careers post, starting by writing down all the types of work and awards. Make sure you sell yourself and state why you’ll be an excellent person to hire. You may want to enlist someone to assist you with this and remind you of some of your accomplishments. After you finish your first resume, definitely ask three adults to edit and review it and suggest improvements.  

Some people will want to take it a step further: That could look like a LinkedIn profile. Or it could mean a work program, such as Americorps that is hiring soon. If you live in Detroit and are ages 14 to 24, register with Grow Detroit’s Young Talent now to help land a job this summer, including those with Mint for creative youth.  If you live elsewhere, see if your city is running a youth employment program and connect to it.   

We are sharing some virtual activities on our Facebook page so follow us for those. And we will share some more ideas next week, including some from our creative community. So send us yours today!

 

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More creative ways to learn and grow amid a pandemic

 

In times like these, we all need something beautiful, something that blooms – and something that makes us or the world a little bit better.

If you are out of school or out of a job because of coronavirus, it’s time to get past the basics of hand washing and social distancing. It’s time to grow.  In times like these, we need to create something that will last or give joy – and learn something new.

“I try to take every conflict, every experience and learn from it. Life is never dull,” said Oprah Winfrey, the entrepreneur and media mogul. “I consider the world, this Earth, to be like a school, and our life the classrooms.”

So today, start learning and growing and making beauty in one or two of these ways:

Start a garden. Sow seeds to grow beans, kale and peppers, though you will need to start them indoors until the last frost sometime in April. “Such a hopeful and revolutionary act…to grow food,” wrote my friend Kelli Carpenter-Crawford.  Need help with this? Check in with Keep Growing Detroit or ask a neighbor who is an experienced gardener for some advice.

Write poetry or create a journal. Document these unusual  days, suggested artist Rose Lewandowski, using photos, sketches, snippets of overheard comments and more. Or play with words and write a poem, suggested Nick Rowley, who offers this online guide to the wide variety of poems.  If you’ve never written a poem before, read some poetry first or check out the tips from the Young Poets Network.

Volunteer.  Choose a safe way to give back in your community. Search VolunteerMatch or the United Way of Southeast Michigan for opportunities. (Check for minimum age requirements on some volunteer roles.) Or look for virtual volunteer opportunities on social media or through friends. Create a half dozen handmade cards that are encouraging and upbeat;  then mail them to a nearby senior citizens home.  “Those that know shut-ins/ people quarantined call them up and tell or read stories over the phone. Also they could sent videos they’ve created to shut-ins,” suggests my friend Kim Kensler, a travel agent and active volunteer.  If you want to volunteer with Mint Artists Guild – help us with a fundraiser or other cool, creative projects – please drop us a line and tell us about yourself.

Research your family history.  Start by interviewing your mom or dad or Aunt Helen and record the interview. Then review resources compiled for young people by the New England Historic Geneological Society.  Or create a digital family tree and use other apps recommended by Scholastic.

Make a movie. Create “a short films. Doc, zombie apocalypse, public art video, nature video, whatever,” said Pam Murray.  The world put so much on hold now, creating room for storytelling or short videos that are humorous, helpful or encouraging.  Mint may share some prompts on this and other creative projects fairly soon.

Make some joy.  Create a self portrait as if you were your most dreamed-about zoo animal, or a favorite fruit.   “Empty a closet and make up silly stories about the contents. Turn the contents into actors in the story,” writes artist Dolores Slowinski.  Make seven paper crowns, wrap each one carefully in a bag with a note declaring the finder a king or queen for a day.  Then leave them on benches, tables or other public places.  Or bake cookies and eat half and donate half. (Leave a plate for your mail carrier or the package delivery person; take some to a local supermarket for the staff who are working hard – or contact us at Mint!) 

Check out our first post for more ideas and share this with a friend who is bored or worried all the time.  Then share your best and most creative activities for these trying times in a comment and we may use them in our third post!

 

Photos: Markus Spiske (plants growing) and Noah Buscher (lemon girl)  on Unsplash;  Oprah Winfrey quotes from BrainyQute.