Thursday, April 19, 2012

Creativity Retreat: Workshop Report

Hard to believe it was just a week ago that we were headed to the Create in Me retreat at Lutheridge, in Arden, North Carolina.  On the way, we stopped for a late lunch in Saluda, North Carolina.  What a beautiful little mountain town!  I didn't think to take pictures though.

We had been through the area before back in February.  We ate at the fabulous restaurant, The Purple Onion, that we had so enjoyed before.  It was very busy--no tables, when we got there at 1:15, so we wandered down the Main Street and stopped in a gallery.

Yes, one of several galleries in this tiny, mountain town.  I asked the woman how long she had been there, and she said 24 years.  After lunch we wandered some more, and saw a real, old-fashioned general store, where you can buy overalls with your hard candy and cast iron pans, skillets, and molds of all sorts.  The store also has all sorts of historical/old objects as decoration--very charming.

You see these kind of Main Streets in small towns all across the North Carolina mountains:  stores that look like they'd be right at home in Asheville combined with real estate offices, along with cool restaurants, and the occasional store left over from the time of our grandparents and great grandparents.

At the retreat I led two workshops.  During the Saturday workshop, I led participants through the process of making a cross out of found objects (for more on this idea, see this post on my theology blog).  During my Friday workshop, we discussed blogging as both an art form and tool. 

As I thought about preparing for the workshop, I quickly realized that I had no idea what the participants might want to get out of it.  I planned for several directions that the workshop could go.  I decided not to use a computer.  Blogging software is fairly intuitive and easy to use--and I think there's nothing more boring than watching people operating a computer.  I thought a discussion would be more fruitful.

The participants ranged from a few experienced bloggers, to a woman who had to blog as part of a grad school course but wasn't sure how it would apply to regular life, to several people who had interest in starting a blog but hadn't yet, to one or two who really had no idea what blogging entailed.

We talked about all the ways a blog could function:  a private journal open by invitation only, a public journal, a place to create rough drafts (writing and other types of projects), a place to record artistic process, as part of an artist's platform, a community forum, a place to record family memories/pictures/artifacts, and as art form in and of itself. We had a great discussion, and most participants wrote down some ideas.

I'm calling it a success; one participant has already started her blog--hurrah.  Head here to welcome her to the blogosphere.

This retreat consistently has been the most generative of all the retreats and conferences that I do.  I come away with teaching ideas and ideas for my church and ideas for my school community and ideas for my own creative pursuits.  It's wonderful to be surrounded by that kind of creative energy that leaves me so inspired and refreshed.

Yesterday I began the process of sorting blog posts into a manuscript which will eventually become a memoir of a year lived in faith at work and at creative play.  I'm psyched.

And while I was working on the blog post at my theology blog, I had another idea, one for an eBook.  I think it would be great to have as a resource a collection of all these art projects that have some spiritual applications, and I've collected quite a lot of posts that could be used in that kind of book.  I'm thinking eBook because the photos would be so useful and would be cost prohibitive in a traditional paper book.  As I understand it, an eBook could even have some embedded video.

I love feeling inspired.  I hope I can hold on to that inspired feeling through the summer--and beyond!

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