Thursday, April 21, 2011

Week 8: We Solve Problems Everyday at Pyramid

Hey folks, its week 8 and I hope you are doing well. What inspires me this week?

Problems Not creating problems, but solving them. We solve problems everyday at Pyramid Atlantic. “How do you get all the colors to register perfectly? How long do you beat the pulp for paper so thin you can see through it? How do you make the pages in the artist book look like the branches on a tree?” You would not believe how much problem solving goes into printmaking, papermaking and book arts.

Where did I learn how to solve problems? At home. I remember my earliest memory. I must have been like 4 years old and I remember waking up one day and finding nobody home, except for my brother. I can remember this clear as day. I remember the green carpet in the living room. The big RCA television. The sun coming through the window. I remember walking through the house looking in every room. Nno one was home, but me and my brother. I remember thinking “I need to get out of here. I need to find an adult.” So I took my brother by the hand and we walked, in diapers, three blocks to my grandmothers house where my grandmother promptly called my mom to find out where she and my dad were. That's me, my brother Rob and my sister Liz in the picture.

Where did I learn how to solve problems? At work. When I worked at the DC Arts Commission, my title was Manager for Special Projects and New Initiatives, but it should have Manager for Special Problems and New Solutions. My boss Tony Gittens would call me into his office and he would say, ‘I want to do a city-wide music festival” or “I want an Arts Festival on U Street” or “I want to create a grant program for emerging artists,” and it was my job to go make it happen. My job was to get on the phone and contact artists, look at performance spaces, write the contracts, get the permits, call reporters and pitch the press releases. It was awesome! I loved being able to book a band in 24 hours or a poet for a reading in 48 hours or a presenter for an awards show. I loved learning how to cut through the red tape of city government and make it possible for artists to create, for communities to come alive with arts performance and for people to come out and enjoy it.

I felt like Superman saving the day for the good citizens of Metropolis.

Being a problem solver has served me well at Pyramid. I have been able to work with a community of artists & volunteers, business leaders and elected officials, to re-energize a 30 year old organization. We have made our greatest liability, our building, our greatest asset. We discovered a model for our workshops that impacts the bottom line and the lives of the students who are filling them and coming back for more. We have invited groups like Washington Printmakers Gallery, DC Sonic Circuits, Copiosity, Project Youth Outreach and Playback Theatre, artists like Kari Minnick, Marcie Wolf Hubbard, Shanthi Shanthi Chandra-Sekar, Jessica Buckley, Franc Rosario, Carol Parker to call Pyramid Atlantic home & in doing so, we have found a much larger place for ourselves within the area’s vibrant arts community.

Being a problem solver has served me well in my personal life. Its helped my wife and me to figure out how to both work to support our family and find time for one another in the busy chaotic lives of young parents to keep our marriage if 15 years alive.

I fail too. Believe me, I have failed many, many times and when I fail, I fail big. But, I believe in solutions and I believe that when I fail, I am just that much closer to finding a solution.

I hope I inspired you this week.

I am at $1,600 at week 8, with 8 weeks to go. I need to raise $1,400 more to support Pyramid Atlantic's awesome arts programs. I am committed to raising $3,000 for Pyramid and sending you, my friends, a message of inspiration every week for 16 weeks so that you may be inspired too & help me reach my goal.

Make a contribution, in any amount to my Pyramid Atlantic fundraising campaign by clicking here. Have a great week.

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