I am, in my best days, an extroverted introvert. I enjoy people, but I often find myself saying that I "do my best work alone." As someone who wears many hats, I have notoriously grown to put a number of walls and excuses up to avoid working with people in collaborative efforts. I, like many of you, have been let down by unfulfillable promises, challenging situations, and overall discomfort from working together. Somewhere along the line, I decided to work alone on most of my projects and be to myself to get the job done.
Oddly enough, as we've shared before, the word Konbit actually means "working together" to accomplish a goal. I've spent a great deal of time each week working alone on my Konbit work. Oops.
Recently, I had the opportunity, after months of unrest, to visit our home in Haiti. It was a quick trip compared to our months and months in-country before, but it was a great reminder of the things I have to learn.
Spending time with our ladies who sew, "The Haiti Ladies" as we call them in the US and Fanm Konbit as we call them in Haiti, I remembered the importance of community in a new way. Community and connection are not just important for our personal lives. I know we've all heard that before. Community is also important for our professional and artistic lives. These artisan women come together and chat about all kinds of personal things they're pondering; they pray together; they share the hot gossip of the community. But, they also cultivate a community of creativity.
Someone wanted to know how they could attach a strap with a specific piece of thicker-than-normal fabric and someone brainstorms with them. Another wants to know about the stitching involved in a napkin, and someone comes to teach them. With each stitch, these ladies create a community of openness and learning, and I was their student.
I've come back and have started working on a few things for my next trip down, as well as brainstorming for things like markets and conferences. This time, you better believe I'm reaching out. With our co-founders of The Konbit Collective, our Haitian friends, local Fairhope artists, and more, I am learning all kinds of new things I never thought I'd know. I am leaning into new skills and passing off what I am not gifted in nor interested in learning to someone who is far more passionate about it than me.
If you are reading this from your iPhone or work computer as you sit alone and work, I challenge you to find someone or a few people with whom you can cultivate that kind of creativity through community. They don't have to be in-state or even inc-country to bounce ideas off of one another. They simply have to want to be open and ready to grow.
How are you cultivating a community of creativity?
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