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CreativeMornings in 2020

Dear community,

Wow, what a year it has been! It would be an understatement to say that 2020 was challenging and hard. What should’ve been a wildly impossible year for an in-person global events organization, 2020 has been a testament to what it means to have a community that is determined to go against the odds.

We pivoted all of our monthly events online, added a peer-to-peer university layer known as FieldTrips, and to our surprise grew 12 chapters! Together, we learned that our community is damn resilient and committed to showing up in the name of connection.

It has been a remarkably transformative 12 months for us, and we’re so grateful to have you along for the ride. Here are a few highlights we’re proud of…

(Heart GIF Source)

CreativeMornings chapters pivoted virtually, and we’re still growing!

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(Photo by CreativeMornings/Richmond)

When in-person events came to a halt in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, our CreativeMornings chapters pivoted all of our face-to-face events to go virtually — our local creative leaders and organizers met this challenge with courage, diving in head-first.

To date, our global community has hosted over 1,000 virtual chapter events with a total of nearly 125,000 total attendees from an inspiring array of backgrounds, cities, and cultures.

We’ve experimented collectively and reimagined what it means to design and host “very CreativeMornings feeling” online experiences. Our chapters have put on creative talks, interactive community experiences, virtual “coffee lines,” joint regional events, immersive walking experiences, musical performances, and even acrobatics — all on virtual platforms.

On top of this experimentation, we have grown by twelve chapters since the pandemic first hit. We are proud of our volunteers and this resilient community. It’s thanks to their commitment and strength that we are still here. Our chapters held this community together.

Virtual FieldTrips is officially born and thriving.

For several years, CreativeMornings has proactively experimented and piloted FieldTrips, our peer-to-peer learning experiences. One of our main challenges had always been finding venues that were willing to host our FieldTrips. The pandemic turned everything on its head, and we “went rogue” by launching Virtual FieldTrips on Zoom.

Since our official kick-off, we’ve hosted over 300 Virtual FieldTrips serving over 160,000 attendees from all around the world.

We asked the individuals in our community a simple question: “What can you teach?” In response, Our FieldTrip hosts have rallied us around in-depth work sessions, craft making nights, ice cream socials, productivity workshops, wellness, storytelling, writing, podcasting, and much more.

We don’t know what the future exactly holds, but we do know one thing: Virtual FieldTrips is here to stay.

Our generous partners continue to champion and support us.

We often say that CreativeMornings is “an engine of generosity.” Our generous partners at all levels — global, content, and local — are our champions of creativity and help us keep the organization running.

A special thank you to our Global Partners Mailchimp, Basecamp / HEY, and our newest member of the family Skillshare for their ongoing support. It’s thanks to their vote of confidence that we can maintain our small and mighty HQ team, run our website and ticketing, as well as tirelessly work to serve the CreativeMornings community across the board.

We’re sharing our expertise in virtual gatherings and over a decade of community building knowledge.

(Illustration by Monica Rief)

From content design, to engagement strategies, we helped companies break through Zoom fatigue and unlock new opportunities for connection. One of our favorite examples: We helped our Global Partner and friends at Mailchimp with their launch for Mailchimp & Co., a new partnership program for freelancers and agencies using Mailchimp.

The same way CreativeMornings set the standard for what in-person events and community could feel like, we’ve taken our learnings from running over 1,300 virtual events and built out a series of best practices to teach others the CreativeMornings way to Zoom.

Stay tuned for our newest guide on how to host Zoom celebrations in 2021.

We’re committed to unlearning and are continuing to learn.

As a global, U.S.-based organization, we published a vulnerable and honest letter to the activists, Black members, and worldwide CreativeMornings community. We reiterated and owned that there is power in our platform and that we have work to do.

In the open letter, we promised that we would work on a plan as an organization and as a team to engage in the work it takes to exist as an anti-racist organization and further the work that our community is already doing.

Here are three big changes we have made since making this promise:

  • Every CreativeMornings HQ department — Partnerships, Community, Content, Product, and Leadership — has broken down our various decision-making practices and created a repeating accountability office hour to make progress on our inclusion and antiracism goals.
  • We have been upfront and honest with our host and organizer community about our shortcomings. Thanks to the recommendations and suggestions from the activists in our community, we have plans (and are working on setting aside budget) to bring in an expert who can guide our team through an objective process of reaching our aspired goals.
  • In our content curation libraries, we’ve reexamined the kinds of voices and overall diversity that have traditionally made up the sources we often highlight. We have rebuilt and filled our content feeds with fresher inspiration — giving proper space and prioritization to marginalized sources, voices, and creators.

Our commitment is not just for this moment, but for the long term and as an ongoing practice. More details and changes are coming in this area, and we are excited to share more with you in the coming year of 2021.

Globally, we’re more connected than ever before.

At the very beginning of 2020, the CreativeMornings HQ Team had our annual team retreat. We grabbed stacks of sticky notes and colorful markers to reflect on beautiful and bold ideas. One of the questions asked was, “What would it be like if CreativeMornings could no longer exist?”

This year has made us confront the question head-on, live and breathe the answer, and pushed us out of our comfort zone. Now that the dust has settled on the unknown, we are in awe of how our creative community leaders have shown up for their local communities.

We are more globally connected than ever since CreativeMornings was born. This year, we had over 280,000 registrants at our virtual events. We’ve even had attendees from cities that don’t even officially have CreativeMornings chapters!

You, our virtual participants, have written your appreciation and it has warmed our hearts. “They’ve kept me feeling sane, connected, and inspired during this crazy time,” wrote a CM/Asheville community member.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Through everything, our CreativeMornings hosts, organizers, and volunteers continued to uplift the value of human connection. Our CreativeMornings/Austin team said it best…

“Though 2020 tried its best, it could not break the bond we all share.”

As 2020 comes to a close and we forge ahead, we hope you find time to relax, unwind, and find the nourishment you need. Thank you for showing up this year in whatever way you did.

Our offices are closed over the holidays (December 24 - January 3). We look forward to connecting with you again in 2021.

Wishing you warm holiday season and a new year,

— The CreativeMornings HQ Team

(GIF by Thoka Maer)

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