So, given that this is technically the third blog entry for this project, we should probably start with a belated welcome to all that have found their way here. And what is “here” exactly, you ask?
Well we are calling this project Made Collaborative. And if you read the first couple of blog entries, you probably already know that the project’s primary mission is to collaborate with participating urban youth to develop collaborative comic stories based on their own interests and ideas. And by doing so, we hope to foster creative thought and provide a truly positive collaborative experience to participating youth and artists alike.
That’s the project in a nutshell anyway. However, this project didn’t actually start off as a comic-based project. In fact, prior to starting this project, I don’t think I actually read a comic story from beginning to end in my entire life.
Indeed, a lot has happened between the time I walked off that bus in the winter of 2012 and today. The path hasn’t been a linear one by any stretch of the imagination. And we may eventually cover that zigzag path in this blog series to the extent anyone is interested. But for now, it’s probably sufficient to just give a very quick overview of where we are at today and perhaps even more importantly, where we hope to take this project going forward.
Since that first meeting with the youth when we first decided to make this a comic-based project (which came after a long series of collaborative efforts that prior summer, which we again can get into some other time), we had a series of collaborations to further develop those initial youth ideas. I also recruited other artists to help flush out those ideas, create illustrated characters, draft a series of plot scripts and ultimately put together a full five issue manuscript based on these initial collaborations (much credit goes to Len Kody in that regard).
It was that manuscript that culminated in the creation of our first comic series called “Back of the Yards,” our first of what we hope to be many comic story lines developed in collaboration of participating youth. Our hope is that these unique collaborative opportunities will help to empower youth to tell their own stories, and in so doing, foster their own creative thoughts. The comic is just the platform that we believe will best facilitate that collaborative process.
Along this winding journey, as we continued to focus on ways to empower participating urban youth, we came up with the idea of creating a corresponding scholarship fund. So, just like everything else on this project, we started from scratch, researched how to create such a fund, partnered with an independent third party scholarship program to help with the creation of that fund and related administration (Scholarship America) and formally started the Made Collaborative Scholarship Fund, which will provide talented urban youth with opportunities to attend fully funded pre-collegiate educational programs of all types, helping to fulfill what has become the very core of our project’s mission of urban youth empowerment. With a fixed portion of all net proceeds from sales of the Back of the Yards comic series helping to fund this scholarship program.
And as a further way of putting our money where our mouth is, we even contributed $10,000 to that fund which was then used to award two scholarships (selected independently by a non-profit organization in Chicago) to the Columbia College Summer program in 2019, which we’ll cover a bit more in the next blog entry.
Although it has certainly been a long and winding path, we are proud to be working on this project and look forward to the continued evolution in that regard. But to be clear, we are most certainly learning as we go along here. As will be emphasized throughout, this is very much a grass roots project, almost entirely self-funded to date in that regard.
We are just a small group of artists and non-artists trying to do something positive in light of the challenges our urban communities encounter these days, both internally and externally. But even as we ourselves are learning along the way, we hope that you enjoy what you see here and look forward to earning your support as we continue to embark on this creative journey together.
On that score, I think I will close this blog entry with a quote I ran into while researching various elements for this social enterprise project years ago. It’s from a book called “The Creative Process Illustrated” written by W. Glenn Griffin and Deborah Morrison. This particular quote comes from an advertising guru named Simon Mainwaring as he described his own creative process, but I believe it really captures the spirit of what we’re trying to do here and what we hope you will find this project continues to develop along the way …
“No matter how we approach creative work, it should be fun. The arts are an enormous playroom where we get to behave like children, never looking for answers where we are told to, but instead heading off in unknown directions. The joy comes in the surprise of finding what we didn’t know was there. There is great power in approaching life this way, leaving us free to discover the answers only creativity can find, and, in so doing, revealing our shared humanity.”