Dreamwork and Social Evolution
By NICOLE MCGEE, ARTIST, ENTREPRENEUR AND CO-FOUNDER, CLEVELAND COLECTIVO
I got involved with the Cleveland Colectivo at the very beginning back in 2004 when I was pretty new to Cleveland, Ohio and like many other people in Cleveland, wanted to do some investment, actually nationally thinking political campaigns were where my time and energy and the little resources I had mattered.
That changes with experience, and some of us were feeling we didn’t want to donate and get an umbrella in the mail and never know where our money went. We want to donate and part of a change and see it and invite people to be part of it with us and invest in the city that we care about.
Cleveland’s come a long way since 2004, and it’s fun to feel like that mattered and I got to be part of that.
So, the Colectivo model - there’s power when people come together and there’s resources more than we realize.
That’s a model I love to talk about and love to reframe.
So, that’s what I think is exciting about the Colectivo model.
For me, it’s been many things including educational and investment in my own city. It’s also been a huge social boon. I met this group of people and we all came together and worked on things like, mission statement, and, “What are we going to call this thing?” And those things really help you build relationships as well as building a cause and a “thing” that is now over ten years old.
That was exciting but it also happened when I was new in the city. These are now friends, and neighbors and our children play together. That, is something I didn’t even expect. I would say that was the biggest boon to me, staying in the city and feeling invested because I met this group of people and we all sort of created something together.
I applied and ask them to help me with some start up funding to get an art studio. Because I wasn’t bankable in the sense that, I mean I owned my home, but I wasn’t building a business model that was based on investment and scaling and getting big and hiring people to work for me, I am an artist and I like to make things and I needed more space to do that.
That’s what funding from them allowed me to do, and then truthfully, where we’re sitting now and the story of what I’m doing now, it was me learning that an art studio and sitting by myself and whittling, which is sort of what it felt like, wasn’t really what I wanted to be doing either.
And what I wanted really wanted to do next was to work with community to upcycle and to work with materials like I was doing but not just do it by myself.
I think that’s the sweet spot for my work and the opportunity to connect more people into being creative and waste diversion and all of the stuff coming together and the places where I’d get to do it.
Now, there’s other staff and I don’t have to cover the shifts at the shop and I get to make my own stuff, it’s for sale in this shop. It’s my dreamwork. I’ve learned that dreamwork is very, very hard even though it’s dreamwork the way I was picturing it in my head is a little bit fluffier and easier than what it really is.
But I have a great community of people here in Cleveland, Ohio and there’s been so much support for the work we’re doing.
It’s a pop-up because it’s just twelve weeks of being a “shop” in a space that is otherwise empty, so it’s donated to us. We activate it with the work of other artists who all upcycle. So, myself as well as others.
We’re a great opportunity for holiday shopping as well as an excellent demonstration of creative re-use throughout the region, so it’s local and it’s the showcase of what we can do with the parts and pieces of what gets diverted to us everyday.
I feel really lucky. Cleveland is been a city that’s been really good to me. I found myself saying years ago to someone who asked me, “How do you like Cleveland?”
Cleveland’s the kind of place that if you like it a little bit, it loves you back a lot.
I feel that we’re all a lot more powerful and a lot smarter when we come together and we bring opportunities and brains together to create new things. Economics and the economy of bringing people together in our shop and as a giving circle, all of that is completely true as well. We’re all stronger together.
So, I encourage people to think about that giving circle model. It’s something bigger will happen and the effects of that reverberate throughout the community in which you’re investing. I think that’s probably something that we all want.
Nicole McGee, is Co-Founder, Cleveland Colectivo and Artistic Director, Upcycle Parts Shop and Collective Upcycle, a pop-up boutique.
Nicole sells her artwork directly to local neighborhoods in showcase pop-up boutiques. The Upcycle Parts Shop, specializes in the creative re-use of business waste.
Visit the Upcycle Parts Shop online here.
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