After being encouraged and endorsed by an awesome local organization, Empowered Women International, where I did my entrepreneurship training from over five years ago, I put my idea out to a world of people I’ve never met.
People, that is, who are the wonderful micro-lenders at Kiva Zip. I shared my idea of opening an artist’s studio in my community where I would work, where people could come see my work, explore creativity, and celebrate the art and stories in their community. I haven’t found exactly a space like that myself—there are places where I can do art and there are places I can write, and there are places I can meet people but where do we gather to explore art, share our culture, and tell stories all in one place?
A classroom where can we ask a photojournalist why she shoots pictures in black and white or listen to someone tell us how Haitian artists make their art. How about a space where a grown woman can clap and laugh as she tears colorful handmade paper to create a beautiful collage—her first one ever? A venue where a dad and kid can spend some time creating Lego creatures and imagining stories about them. Even, a studio where two boys can get a tube of orange paint, a box of shredded newspaper, and a canvas and see what they make out of it.
A community livingroom where we can share stories like the one a senior citizen shared with me about spending childhood winters playing in a New Hampshire barn, being careful not to step on hidden eggs forgotten in the hayloft; where she can then make a little book that looks just like that barn and put that story inside; and where her friends can gasp that she cut up her broom and glued it into the book just to create that very hayloft!
That is what I hope Studio Pause will be: a space for the community to PAUSE and share all their talent and ideas and stories, so we can understand each other and get a peek into other worlds.
So I put my idea for Studio PAUSE out there.
And I have been simply amazed at the support! From random strangers here at home in Arlington, all the way to Sydney, Australia; from farmers to aspiring poets; from schools to mommies—the Kiva Zip lenders — individuals who want to make a big difference with just a little bit of money — have blown me away with their encouragement. Here are some of their comments:
“I really like your courage to do something so different as well as giving to your community.” – Jeanne, USA
“Sushmita – I too live in Arlington and wish you the best of luck. When you get your studio up and running, I would love to come in and learn from you. I have a very creative side that has been stunted a bit by the hours I spend at my corporate job. Please let me know.” – Susan, USA
“As a fellow Indian-American and an aspiring poet and writer I am ever so grateful to my mentors who encouraged me in the craft. Thank you for providing a wonderful opportunity for people to tap into their creative side. I wish you all the best as you embark on this adventure.” – Charles, USA
“Maybe you could offer Art Therapy sessions there, too? There are plenty of Art Therapists around that I’m sure would be available to run a group one night a week or something.” – Eric, USA
“I love art and books, so I’m honored to be able to contribute a little to your project.” – Frederic, France
“I absolutely love what you’re doing and I know it’s going to rock. Wish you the best of luck!” – Ana, USA
“I know Sushmita, so when her profile came up in KivaZip I thought I’d explore this loan option supporting someone I know. I tend to choose women artists or those working in agriculture or food, often from countries I have traveled.” – Suzanne, USA
Thirty-seven percent of my $5,000 goal has already been funded by random strangers such as these in just a few weeks. But my loan is eligible for invitation-only loan matching too! And I invite you to check it out: http://zip.kiva.org/loans/1388/i/a7u
New lenders who make loans after following the special link above will be matched and will double their impact. You can lend from $5 and up and your money will be returned in the full within a year. And stay tuned for more by joining my mailing list from the sidebar to the right to see what your funds and support can allow me and the community around me to do!
I’m on the verge of finalizing the location of Studio Pause, and filling in the details of my new website, and with just a few more KivaZip lenders, the fun will begin soon. So what do you think? Is it impossible?