Next Asheville speaker

John Vigeland

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February 22, 8:30am • Asheville Masonic Temple • part of a series on Symmetry

Speaker Spotlight – John Vigeland
Co-Founder/CFO, East Fork

Website  |  Instagram  |  Facebook 

Theme: Symmetry  |  February 2019

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your practice.

Well I started down this path by studying the traditional pottery of the southeastern US during a 3 year apprenticeship with a potter down in the piedmont. That looked sorta how you might imagine: preparing clay, cleaning buckets, maintaining the kiln, cutting firewood, and learning how to throw pots in relation to a particular traditional lineage, and a lot of earnest striving.

Now my day-to-day looks quite different: I create and maintain financial models that allocate and track the flow of resources through our small company which involves a good bit of computer time. I work with different department heads to troubleshoot operational problems like inventory management, budgeting, production planning, marketing spending and analysis. And spend a lot of my mental real-estate on worrying about the best, safest, bravest, truest path forward for East Fork.


What did you want to be when you grew up?

I remember having artistic aspirations as a young child–nothing specific, but I imagined I would grow up to do something “unconventional.” A flower farmer in the south of France who writes killer haiku, an abstract expressionist, a hunter-gatherer, etc.


Can you remember when you first learned about your field of work? How did you discover what it was, and how did you know it was what you wanted to do?

A career potter came and presented to my ceramics class my senior year of college. Hearing her talk, it was the first time I put it together that being a potter for a living was even an option. I was really in the thrall of making pottery on the wheel at the time, and the idea that I could do that professionally was intoxicating. It aligned with my sense that I wanted to do something a bit outside of the fold to earn my keep (see above).

What is the best part and hardest part of your job?

The answer to both of these questions is the same I suppose: the unrelenting call to step into difficult situations and be vulnerable; to be asked to try your best and know that you’ll fail sometimes. On the other hand, it’s a privilege to get to bear witness to the people around me stepping up to things, misstepping and succeeding, growing and changing. Opportunities for growth–they’re so hard but totally what it’s all about.


What on-the-job tools do you use every day?

O man–it’s cheesy as hell but the first thing that springs to mind is compassion. Being able to coordinate a group’s efforts efficiently toward a shared goal and to problem solve along the way requires that we all continually try to understand each other’s thoughts and feelings and perspectives.


What about your community inspires you?

Getting to see a group of people looking out for and taking care of each other is always inspiring. Also doesn’t hurt that everyone here is smart and funny and talented and delightful in a thousand different ways.


What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?

Just because it’s the status quo, doesn’t mean you have to do it that way. It takes more effort, but scrutinizing why certain structures or policies or systems are “standard operating procedure” for businesses is the only way you can own the process, and create something that is authentically a reflection of your values.

If you were magically given three more hours per day, what would you do with them?

I imagine that during these 3 hours I’m also a more virtuous, strong-willed individual than my current self–so in this fantasy I would go out for long pleasant runs where I reflect meaningfully on the day and poetically observe the cedar waxwings eating the dried-up crab apples in the neighbor’s tree. 3 hours of peaceful contentment if possible.

Speaker Spotlight – Dr. Bradley Williard

Researcher, Opera Singer, Creator & Founder of The Williard Method

Website  |  Instagram  |  Facebook

Theme: Surreal  |  January 2019

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Tell us a little bit about yourself and your practice.

Have you ever had one of those moments where you think you know exactly where you’re life is going, and something greater than yourself takes you on a very different path?

Almost two-decades of being in the performing arts as an opera singer, all-but-dissertation in my doctoral degree, and I was thrown face first into my “Eat, Pray, Love” moment. That moment change the trajectory of my life: I left a partner of 4 years and multiple friendships, sold everything I owned, and dove into the unknown. I lived in Berlin for over 2 years, experiencing every color of emotion and aliveness. I thought I was going to Germany to sing, but really I was going to find the truth of my voice.

Fast forward, I am the creator and founder of The Williard Method, a somatic breathing and voice integration process that I created from my doctoral research. I help thought leaders, voice professionals and unheard voices discover what it means to embody their voice and truth, helping them to step into a life of purpose and love.


What did you want to be when you grew up?

I always wanted to be in the performing arts. I started out in ballet in the Dance Preparatory division at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, but I stopped dancing because my family had a different idea of masculinity. I am so grateful I followed my heart and passion for the arts, and that my love for self-expression was greater than the gender barrier I knew growing up.


Can you remember when you first learned about your field of work? How did you discover what it was, and how did you know it was what you wanted to do?

I starting studying vocal technique when I was 15, but the work I do today with the voice, breath and body is pretty specific to my gifts and experience. To be honest, there are not a lot of people doing this type of healing work, which is why I created the method. I wanted to introduce a new a way of looking at the voice that did not put the voice first, but instead focused on creating a deeper relationship with our inner and outer experience of the breath, body and life. I knew I had landed in my purpose when I could fully let go of the singing career and step into the path that my soul was calling forth.

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What is the best part and hardest part of your job?

With a doubt, the best part of my profession is getting to work with clients that are really invested in their inner and outer growth. That particular mindset tends to create more vulnerability and emotional openness around the voice and its connection to the breath and body. On the other hand, someone who has a fixed idea about their voice and body can be very challenging, because the emotional body has already created walls. The voice is a very intimate relationship for most people, and it always needs to be approached with gentleness, compassion, and great sensitivity.


What on-the-job tools do you use every day?

The only tools I need to guide my clients are my ears, hands, eyes, breath, voice, and intuition – and my client’s willingness to dive deep!


What about your community inspires you?

I am constantly inspired by our community’s commitment to equality and inclusiveness. We have a ways to go when it comes to race, but I am happy to see the women of this community finding their voice. My hope is that the community as a whole can move beyond the confinements created by gender and race, and focus on creating the relationships that make room for all of our voices, while healing our community.


What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?

Make mistakes, and make a lot of them!

Can you name a moment of failure in your business experience that you learned from or that helped you improve your business or the way you work?

My biggest moment of failure actually came during my doctoral degree - I failed my first attempt at the qualifying exams. I realized that I had focused on the intricacies of music, and glossed over the foundations. For six months, I relearned the basics and re-built my foundation, and passed the second round. As much as that failure hurt, I learned a very valuable lesson - it is not about the impressive details, it’s about how solid your basic foundation is. That lesson became invaluable when I created a healing modality for the spoken and sung voice, built on the foundations of the breath and body.

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What books/resources (if any) would you recommend to someone interested in furthering their creative practice, or starting a creative business of their own?

One of my favorite authors and researchers is Brené Brown. We both tend to look at vulnerability and self-worth through the same lens. Everything she has written thus far is solid from a social science perspective, and she walks the talk of being vulnerable in her research and writing. She is paving the way for how scientific research can also speak the language of the heart, while helping people awaken to their own possibilities.


If you were magically given three more hours per day, what would you do with them?

Can I be choosy as to where I want to use these three magical hours? I would love to have two hours in the morning that doesn’t include feeding the dogs or getting ready for the day. Simply walk from the bedroom to my office, with a cup of coffee, and begin my creative process! I would like to give the other hour to my beautiful and loving partner. I know, I didn’t give him half… that’s the Capricorn in me!  


Who are your favorite creators and makers, local and beyond?

One of my favorite creatives here in Asheville is local artist Matt Willey who created the Good of the Hive initiative. Matt is hand-painting 50,000 honeybees in approximately 50-70 murals around the world to raise awareness about their population decline and celebrate their incredible behaviors. I admire his focus and commitment to standing in his joy, truth, and purpose.


Anything else you’d like to share?

For all those voices who are trying to find their way to their truth: true power lies in our willingness to cultivate a relationship with ourselves, grow our self-confidence, and embrace vulnerability as a strength.

Speaker Spotlight – Melissa Weiss

Author and Founder of Melissa Weiss Pottery

Website  |  Instagram

Theme: Tradition  |  December 2018


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Tell us a little bit about yourself and your practice.

I am a self employed studio potter. I have a teenage daughter. My partner and I run a studio that houses 18 artists. My partner works with me and we each work on average 40-50 hours per week. A typical day is waking up at 7 getting ready, dropping my daughter off at school and getting to the studio by 8. I make work until 5 then head home to meet my daughter. We cook dinner and eat together. I will usually do some business related computer work after dinner. On a good day i will get outside for run.  


What did you want to be when you grew up?

I had no idea! I didn’t know any adults that did anything exciting or cool. I seriously thought being an adult meant having a boring job and life. I wasn’t resigned to that fate but i had no examples of an adult that had a passionate life or profession. So i knew i didn’t want to be boring but i wasn’t sure how. I didn’t understand that anyone could be an artist. I thought that was reserved for people who had some talent they were born with and if you had it you would know.

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Can you remember when you first learned about your field of work? How did you discover what it was, and how did you know it was what you wanted to do?

I had never met a potter or even looked at any pottery. I couldn’t name a single potter or anything about it. I took a pottery class because it sounded fun and I had just had a baby and needed a break. I knew that i loved it that first class because for three hours i didn’t think about my baby at all for the first time since i found out i was pregnant. I didn’t really learn anything about other potters and pottery in general aside from technical skills until i took a wood firing class and learned about pottery outside the shiny, glazed studio pots i had seen in my classes.


What is the best part and hardest part of your job?

The best part of my job is that i absolutely love what i do. The hardest part is managing all the aspects of running a business that aren’t just the making pottery part.


What about your community inspires you?

The ceramics community is truly generous and supportive. Potters are a special people in general. I had never worked and communicated with such a large group of people who go out of there way to help and uplift each other. It’s inspiring and teaches me to better in my daily life.


What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?

Raise your prices. Value your work because it is you.

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What books/resources (if any) would you recommend to someone interested in furthering their creative practice, or starting a creative business of their own?

My book! “Handbuilt, A Potter’s Guide.” by Melissa Weiss

And “The Unknown Craftsmen” by Soetsu Yanagi
If you were magically given three more hours per day, what would you do with them?

Run or walk in the woods, take a yoga class and meet a friend for cake.
Anything else you’d like to share?

Speak out about injustices.



Follow Melissa Weiss: Website  |  Instagram

Speaker Spotlight – Maia Toll

Author, Community Creator, &  Founder of Herbiary

Follow Maia: Website  |  Facebook  |  Instagram
Follow Herbiary:  Website  |  Facebook  |  Instagram

Theme: Restart  |  November 2018


What did you want to be when you grew up?

All my childhood dreams revolved around horses. I wanted to be a jockey, an Olympic rider, a horse trainer and, as I got older, I envisioned a riding academy that was kind of a cross between a Steiner school and an overnight camp.

Beyond the horses, I was enticed by the community which formed around horseback-riding. I never wanted to lose the sense of place and purpose which I always felt when I was at the stables…. So it’s not surprising that I now run The Medicine Keepers Collective, a community for women exploring the pathways of spirit and seeking a sense of place and purpose.


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Can you remember when you first learned about your field of work? How did you discover what it was, and how did you know it was what you wanted to do?

The writing part of my work I discovered early on. I remember months of heading straight to my room after school to secretly write the story of a unicorn who got shoved into a glass bottle and thrown out to sea.

The herb work came later, although it’s probably safe to say I wanted to be a witch or an alchemist from a pretty young age. I experimented in the kitchen constantly and at nine years old was quite proud of both my tuna casserole and chocolate chip cookies. Herbalism is advanced cooking so it wasn’t too big a jump from casseroles to skin creams. The big leap was an intellectual one: moving from dependency on doctors to trusting myself to manage my own healing. And I didn’t have much choice in that– I got sick and my doctor said “I can see you’re ill and I know that Western medicine isn’t going to figure this out.” That’s what started me down the rabbit hole which, after many years and many teachers, led to opening Herbiary.  

The women’s wisdom piece grew out of the juncture of the herb work and years of studying religion, spirituality, and rites of passage… And then seeing that it all came together in understanding the cycles of growth in the natural world as a metaphor for spiritual growth. At this crossroads the witch becomes the wise woman. I love sharing and passing on this information because it helps women find wholeness.

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What is the best part and hardest part of your job?

The best part of my job is words… and the hardest part of my job is words. They’re kind of like puppies: adorable and frisky and all-consuming.  At the end of the day I’m exhausted from tussling with them and so grateful when the verbs finally wind down and the nouns curl up and go to sleep.

I’ve written a stupid amount in the last year and a half and I just signed my fourth book deal. It’s like finding out your word-spaniel is pregnant again!


What on-the-job tools do you use every day?

As a writer and leader of an online community, it’s all about the laptop. I love how portable my work is. I can write and connect from just about anywhere which has opened my life up in ways I never could have imagined.

What about your community inspires you?

My community– those in the natural healing realms, my writer friends, and the women in my online programs– inspire me everyday with their soul-searching, their honesty, and their bravery. It’s hard to live outside the lines. It takes a certain amount of rigor to question, and question, and question again. It’s easier to step into the status quo, to go with the flow. It takes strength to stand up over and over and say “there’s a better way.” I’m in awe of the people in my communities and the fortitude with which they live.

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What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?

My partner (in life and in business) once coached me to take the long view: look at a year, not a month. Running your own business is a lesson in riding life’s roller coaster, but I’ve found that if you can take that long view most of it works itself out.


Can you name a moment of failure in your business experience that you learned from or that helped you improve your business or the way you work?

My online business had a big growth spurt a few years back and I decided to reward myself with a new online website and classroom. What a disaster! I went from a fairly easy system to one which needed to be maintained by a coder. And the maintenance, as well as the stress, was constant. Instead of focusing on my online community, I spent a year focused on Wordpress updates, and plug-in compatibility issues, and emergencies of every flavor imaginable.

Now I’m back on an easy, done-for-you platform and I celebrate my successes with a chocolate milkshake from The French Broad Chocolate Lounge.

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Who are your favorite creators and makers, local and beyond?

I love Hib Sabin. He creates sculptures which lead you straight into the mythic. We seem to vibe with the same animal spirits so I’m always checking to see how owls and ravens are showing up for him and in his work.I’ve also treated myself to some new jewelry by Savannah King for my last book tour. She uses techniques from the Roman era to make modern, simple pieces I adore.And then there’s the local crew! So many people doing amazing work. I’m fond of ceramics myself: I collect mugs by Akira Satake and Julie Covington; I get offering bowls for my retreats from Melissa Weiss; and I adore Blue Fire Studio’s Owls. I’d also put a number of our local chefs in the “artist” category: dinner at Sovereign Remedies or Night Bell is always a creative romp. And then there’s the herbal creators– I’m exposed to so many through Hebiary that I wouldn’t know where to start!


Follow Maia: Website  |  Facebook  |  Instagram

Follow Herbiary: Website  |  Facebook  |  Instagram

The CreativeMornings Asheville Late Morning Show wrapped up this month’s them on Chaos by chatting with our speaker, Tonya Dalton.

Celebrate CreativeMornings Asheville’s 2nd birthday this summer with creative conversation about envisioning - and taking action toward - the Asheville we want to live, work, and create in.

Saturday, August 4
6-10PM
Location TBA
Minimum suggested donation of $25

Limited tickets available. Snag your seat starting Tuesday, July 17 at 11AM (be sure to get on the waitlist if you don’t get a ticket - as usual, we’ll do our best to get you in!)

Forge––Ahead is made possible through the generous financial support of CreativeMornings Asheville’s presenting sponsor UNC Asheville, along with:
Center for Craft
Buchi Kombucha
Mountain BizWorks
Embellish Asheville
Saraz Handpans
Herbiary
Mojo Coworking

We are also grateful for our in-kind event partners including:
Dewey Property Advisors | Revolve | French Broad Chocolates | Foothills Local Meats | Honeysuckle & Hive | Earth Fare | Ginger’s Revenge | Smiling Hara Tempeh | Gan Shan Station | Chai Pani | Roots Hummus | Hi-Wire Brewing | Compost Now | Sew Co.  | The Bright Angle

Okay! Now that we’ve got your attention: 

We’re doing things a little differently in December.

FIRST: Due to the Holiday, tickets will be released Tuesday (instead of Monday), 12/26 @ 11AM.

SECOND: Wouldn’t a change of scenery be nice? We thought so too! Join us at Blue Spiral for breakfast and the Fine Arts Theater for the talk (they are adjacent to each other on Biltmore Avenue).

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