Q: What is a jam?
A: A delicious spreadable fruit-based condiment to be slathered on bread with butter, traditionally consumed in the morning but also at night by people who just can’t get enough toast. Duh.
Other A: a creative gathering for people working at the intersection of arts and social change to come together, reflect, share our challenges and breakthroughs, nurture ourselves, support and inspire each other.
Fortunately for me, I get to have BOTH kinds of jams in my life! About a year ago, my dear friend Nandita attended a gathering in central Cali and came back a different gal. Or rather, the same gal, but more hopeful, energized, and fulfilled. This gathering was the 2015 Arts for Social Change Jam, which I understood as a networking/ group therapy/ art-making workshop for creative types. This year, she was selected as one of the facilitators and she begged (okay, casually invited) me to apply. Although it was a stretch to think of myself as an artist, I did.
I was super honest in my application essays– about the fact that I’m not really sure it’s possible to earn a decent living while making a career out of helping people; about my stressed relationship with money; about whether art can really change the world; about how little art I’ve produced lately. It was less a personal sell than a “I don’t think you’d want me, but if you did, I’d sure be glad.”
Somehow, though, something in that real talk caught the admissions team’s eye(s?) and I got in!. So on April 5th, I’m flying out to sunny San Francisco (and then likely hopping in a van to drive for several more hours) to attend the 2016 Arts for Social Change Jam in Ben Lomond, CA.
I have very little idea what to expect in terms of concrete activities, but here’s what the website says I can expect to think about:
- What is my story as an artist?
- How are we to be sustainable and valued for our artistic gifts?
- What does success look like for artivists? Where am I challenged as an artivist? What does it even mean to be an artivist?
- How do we collaborate as artivists across mediums, modalities, and issue focuses?
- How do we create an enduring support network of people using their creative passions for social change?
- How do our diverse identities relate to us as artists and as activists, and how do we build bridges across those identities with each other?
- What feels like the purpose and value of artist-activists in these particular times?
Sounds cool, right?! This opportunity couldn’t be coming at a better time. I recently ended a (short) kind-of relationship and am starting a new full-time job next month, so it feels like a great way to kick off what hopefully will be a year of rooting down and finding some personal stability.