What can you imagine?

Jul 11, 2021


What can you imagine? For your future? For your community/communities? For your neighborhood? Your business? For the next generation and their education? For the future of food and food ecosystems?

Pause for a minute and try. Pick one.

Now, I will acknowledge the unintended hiatus which has taken place with these newsletters. Many months have passed in what has been/is intended to be a bi-monthly long-form communication with all of you — a reminder that we are still here, still active. As the one primarily responsible for this publication I will share with you in no great detail that the past year, the past six months, have been some of the worst in my entire life. And yet I know I am not alone in these sentiments. Many of us have lost loved ones and endured the blues in COVID sanctioned isolation. Our businesses have suffered some to the point of no return. We’ve squeezed ourselves into tiny boxes with hopes of staying at least somewhat connected. And yet here we are self-appointed in our tasks to honor the past, challenge the present, and generate hope for a future we can create together. And where are we in relation to the togetherness that came to an abrupt stop in March of 2020 at the close of our Community Lab on Reynolds Ave.? We were then and are still in the midst of the transformation of conNECKtedTOO as a project into TINYisPOWERFUL as a formalized non-profit arts organization still rejecting traditional, extractive, exclusionary, racist, hierarchal systems and operations while pushing for expansive definitions of art, artists and their functions. This relates with my participation in an artist led giving circle centering artists as essential agents in creating change and advancing equity. As a cohort we have shared values, visions, vulnerabilities. We’re committed to collective, community decision making and we’ve never met in person.

Ah yes and now the savior, sweet vaccination, hope is alive! But what about the skeptics? Those who do not wish to be part of the trial? Is it a choice or social responsibility? Can we trust our systems now? About 43% of South Carolinians are fully vaccinated. People are dining out, going to live music shows. Now many businesses are challenged with not enough staff to meet demands. What will happen next? Will this moment make it impossible to ignore the needs for higher wages, stronger public transportation and infrastructure, better treatment of employees, accessible support from our local governments for smaller-than-small businesses? Or is it just a matter of time before things “go back to normal?” Where are the arts and the artists in all of this? In the galleries? Under proscenium arches? Behind buildings? In public parks? What about in master plan community development focus groups outlining a framework that will guide civic decision making for the next ten years? Are we at the table or on the menu? Last month TINYisPOWERFUL was represented by 4 artists/tiny businesses who participated in a focus group as part of an effort to collect data from the tri-county community that will inform the creation of an “actionable roadmap to economic prosperity, stability, and equitable opportunities for all.”

Lastly I will say I never met Mr. Jim Campbell but from the affectionate reflections of Ms. Terry Seabrook of The Space Company in her writing, “James ‘Jim’ Campbell,” and the reverence expressed “In Memory of Jim Campbell”, I feel a sense of admiration for his life and how he is remembered. He participated since the early 2000’s in many meetings, workshops and recordings of the Charleston Rhizome Collective and I can only hope something about this work today will honor him even in the tiniest way.

And I’ll leave you with this. The Circle of Advisors to TINYisPOWERFUL recently reflected on the words/concepts of “art” and “community organizing.” I can imagine more of this in the next newsletter to come maybe sooner than expected. In the meantime, I invite you to visit TINYisPOWERFUL.org as often as you wish and for as long as you like. There is much to explore and discover and maybe you even have something to share like an artwork, poem, reflection, community news, offerings, needs. All are welcome.