Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Inspiration For Week 9

Week 8 is in the books and we have broken through to the 300,000 penny mark! We are actually at 300,015 pennies (or $3,015.00).

Can you believe it? We are going to make it. We will raise 1,000,000 for Pyramid.

But first, here is your inspiration for Week 9.

"When I was 13, I went to a public school for the first time. I had gone to St. Michael's, a private catholic school up until then. All the Cuban parents in Miami sent their kids to private school.

It was either catholic school or military school. Not public school. Public school was full of "delinquents" who all high or in gangs, so that was the last place you wanted to go. Many teachers were nuns at St. Michael's and we went to church every Wednesday. But things changed when I was 13 and about to go into the 9th grade. My folks got divorced. My mom could not afford to send me to private school for high school on just her salary.

I remember talking with a friend's mom about financial aid and applying for a scholarship, but I think I was just too embarrassed. I was the only person I knew at school with divorced parents. I didn't want to go on to a high school with my friends being the kid with divorced parents who needed financial aid and a scholarship to go to the school. So I just sucked it up and said to myself, "it's better this way, I didn't want to keep going to private school anyway."

So I went to my neighborhood public school for 9th grade: Kinloch Junior High School. (That's Kinloch in the picture up top). It was about 7 blocks from my house. My brother, Rob, had been going to Kinloch Elementary School for at least 3 years already. My parents took him out of private school in the 5th grade because he just kept getting into fights with other kids. He didn't get into as many fights in public school and made friends really easy. I admit, I was excited about starting at a new school too. A chance to start again with new people who didn't know me before my folks got divorced. A chance to wear "real clothes." I had worn a uniform for 8 years while I was in private school, so not wearing one almost felt like a crime. I went shopping for new clothes a few weeks before, however, and got over the guilty feelings pretty quick.

So on the first day of school, I walked the 7 blocks and crossed the street to get to school. I remember seeing this guy sitting on a car. He was older than me had a black t-shirt with a red stripe across the middle and sun glasses. He was wearing these 70's sunglasses that were too big for his face, but he was pulling them off. He had ligh blonde hair that parted to the right. "Hey, man, how's it going," he said. "What's your name." "Jose." I said. "Cool, my name's Jack." he said. "You new to this school ," Jack said. "Yeah," I said. "Cool," Jack said, "Hey, let me introduce you to some friends of mine." I was not sure what to say, but Jack seemed so positive and friendly, so I said sure. Jack and I walked over to a car. A couple of guys were sitting on the hood, a couple were standing, some smoking, some talking to each other. These guys looked kind of rough. I had never seen these guys before in my life. One guy had a scar on his face, another guy's eyes were blood shot. "This is Psycho, Shorty, Joey, Frankie, Crazy Legs, Casper, Robert and Jessie," said Jack. "This is Jose guys." We al exchanged "Whassup's"and nodded our heads and acknowledged each other. The bell rang. The guys scattered and I hurried into school with Jack. "See you later, man," Jack said.

That day, as I walked through the halls, I exchanged glances and handshakes with Psycho, Shorty, Joey, Frankie, Crazy Legs, Casper, Robert and Jessie. .My first day at public school was pretty uneventful except for meeting those guys that morning, but meeting those guys that morning made my 9th grade a very safe one. Jack had introduced me to the toughest kids at the school my first day. The "delinquents" and those guys never bothered me. They got into fights with other kids and cut class, smoked pot, but those guys never picked on me and never went out of there way to make a new kids like me feel comfortable. I have Jack to thank for that. Jack introduced me and that was enough for them. The funny thing is, after that morning, I never saw Jack again. I kid you not. I don't know if he transferred or what. I remember someone told that he got into a car accident and died, I don't know, but I do know that on my first day of school, he was there for me.

I think about that and the power that people have to help others find their way in a new community. That's what Jack did for me. I didn't know anybody and I was scared. This guy saw through all the fear and welcomed me. He introduced me to the toughest kids at school on my first day ensuring that I would be safe for the whole year.

We try to do the same thing at Pyramid. When someone comes in for the first time, they usually seem a little tentative. We welcome then and encourage them to walk around and make themselves at home. Now we don't have any "delinquents" at Pyramid, but many people do arrive to Pyramid with lots of "arts-related" baggage. They were told in the kindergarten that they were not talented or as talented as the student sitting next to them. They were told they were bad artists. As they got older, they were told to not waste their time on something so unimportant as art and instead focus on what kind of job they hoped to get when they grew up. They were told that if they were to study art they would starve. They were told that artists are weirdos and outcasts. They "waste their time making art" when they should be out working and making money.

I like to shatter those expectations and welcome people into the warmest community of people I know when they walk through the door. We aren't just a couple of studios where people make prints, paper and artist books. We are a place where community is built through the art of papermaking, printmaking and bookmaking. The building community is the most important part of our mission statement. The art forms by themselves are meaningless. Art without a community to celebrate it is not art. A community without art to help define it and tell its story is not a community. More valuable than money, than power is the sense of belonging to something or someone greater than yourself. For some people that's family, for some their job, their school or their church and for some, its Pyramid Atlantic At Pyramid, its not so hard to belong because we beleive that everyone is an artist. We believe that the courage, determination & imagination that you use to create art will help you be successful in every area of your life. We offer art classes that are fun, in fully equiped studios that anyone can rent & create in and events that invite your imagination to play and let your imagination run wild. We are Pyramid Atlantic Arts Center. Come make art with us."

I hope I inspired you to join me in raising 1,000,000 pennies for pyramid. The pennies will help support art classes and workshops, internships, studios for artists and events for people of all ages at Pyramid. Its easy:
If all this penny stuff is too complicated and you just want to make a contribution, you can donate in any form of currency to Pyramid Atlantic by clicking here. I will add up your donation in pennies and include it in my campaign.

Bring your pennies and I will take them to my friends at Eagle Bank.

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