“Being the Queen is not all about singing, and being a diva is not all about singing. It has much more to do with your service to people. And your soul contributions to your community and your civic contributions as well.”  ~ Aretha Franklin 

We love this quote about community from Detroit’s very own Queen of Soul. Fostering a creative community is one of the fundamental drives of Creative Mornings. We here at the Detroit chapter are honored to have Amanda Lewan be our speaker this month on this important theme. Today, she shares some of her thoughts on Detroit and creativity. Please enjoy, and then join us Friday morning at Bamboo Detroit. 

Why Detroit? What keeps you inspired here? I love the community in Detroit. Everyone here is friendly, supportive, and often committed to helping on another grow. That’s what drew me in and why I’m here. 


What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on? What would be your dream project? I love alllll my work. Every project helps you continue to get better and better. I’m not sure I have a dream project outside of what I do every day :)

What do you do when you feel creatively stuck? I usually read, go for a walk, or de-compress. Sometimes taking time away from your project helps you get re-inspired. 

Who is another creative person / organization in Detroit that we need to know about? Detroit Writers Collective (you can find them on Facebook) 

Only a few more days until our July speaking event!! We hope you’re able to come out and join us. It’s one of our favorite non-lecture days here. Q&A day, where our speaker answers questions about life in Detroit and what keeps them creative. Calvin is a “jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none.” And that’s just the way he likes it. There’s always more he can learn about the world and about how people live their lives in it. He is the host of Leading Questions w/Calvin Moore, a moderated roundtable discussion about ongoing issues in our culture. Additionally, in the summer of 2017, Calvin and his wife, Jennifer, started The Dinner Detroit, a weekly, themed potluck-style dinner where they welcome friends, family, and total strangers to their dining room table for a meal. Please enjoy the Q&A. We’ll see you Friday at Lululemon Detroit @ 8:30! 

Why Detroit? What keeps you inspired here?
I like that Detroit is one of America’s oldest cities. There’s so much rich history here. And, though it may sound cliched, the people really make Detroit what it is. Otherwise, it’s just land and buildings. The people who fill that land and occupy those buildings create the stories that inspire humanity.
What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on? What would be your dream project?
My favorite project I’ve worked on in my adult years is my podcast, Leading Questions with Calvin Moore. I really like being part of the process of helping open people’s eyes to new ideas and a greater perspective on the world. A lot of people are drawn in because of the debate aspect of the show. However, I’m compelled to keep creating content because by the end, even if we don’t reach a consensus, there tends to be mutual respect. That’s something that you don’t see much of in today’s world.
What do you do when you feel creatively stuck?
I’ll generally consult friends and other people trying to create novel things about their creative process.
Who is another creative person /organization in Detroit that we need to know about?
I’m a big fan of Misha Stallworth. Her work with the Luella Hannan Center working with the elderly is inspiring. She’s also the youngest person ever elected to the Detroit Public School Board.
Favorite animated gif?
The Peanut Butter Jelly Time gif. Never gets old.

Two more sleeps until it’s lecture day! Yay!!
Today though is our favorite segment: Q&A with our speakers. It’s where we ask our speakers of the month to fill out a brief questionnaire so we can learn more about them and the cool things they have to share about our city. We hope to see you on Friday. (P.S. We said we’d eventually share Wayne’s photo since we shared Clare’s earlier. Lovely humans, both). 


Why Detroit? What keeps you inspired here?
We were both born and raised in Detroit. West side + East side! While both of us have spent time living in other places - New England, California, Oklahoma, Ohio, Oregon, Europe, Mexico…. - we always kept returning to Detroit. It is truly unlike any other city. The art, the music, the food, the people - all keep us inspired. What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on? What would be your dream project?
We love making custom dining tables. I don’t think that we can even pick a favorite. We create pieces that are warm, functional, and site specific - built especially for the space and customer. Currently our dream would be to create a table for ourselves! We moved last year and have not had time to build ourselves a dining table. Someday…What do you do when you feel creatively stuck?
Luckily we do so much production work that even when we are not “creating” - we are making. I think that is a key component to this business. People think that we wait for inspiration to strike and then we get busy but an art or craft process is not usually like that. We just have to be in our studio continue working. Making something, anything! These days, we have a back log of prototypes, samples, sketches, and ideas that we work into the mix between projects and regular production. We try to add something new to our small goods collection every season and we’re currently working on at least one custom project at any given time. The set schedule and continued work flow really keeps us on our toes. Who is another creative person / organization in Detroit that we need to know about?
We are very excited about the developments and work of the CCAA - The Center for Craft and Applied Arts. They are really pulling together some great people for great projects.Favorite animated gif?
I’m afraid that we might be a little too analog to have a favorite gif :)

It’s time for one of our favorite things: It’s Q&A time with our monthly speaker. Ivana has had a pretty impressive career (see our previous post with her bio), and we’re so lucky she’s back in Detroit, telling our stories. Please read our Q&A and join us on Friday at Red Bull House of Art at 8:30. It’s gonna be good! 

Why Detroit? What keeps you inspired here?

The unique position the city is in – a city with tons of potential, people beginning to once again invent themselves and communities driving for unity. Plus it’s just cool. It’s a cool place to live.

What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on? What would be your dream project?

I’ve been very lucky to have had quite a few, both large and small scale projects I worked on.

My dream project is Detroitisit.com! That’s why I’m committed to it!

My second dream project - if I’m allowed two - is having an animal sanctuary.

What do you do when you feel creatively stuck?

Start doing research online and read sites based on topics such as design, art, fashion, literature, life. These are a few good ones:

https://waitbutwhy.com

https://www.businessoffashion.com

http://www.thebookoflife.org

https://www.brainpickings.org

Listening to people way smarter than you think you are always helps.

If all else fails, get out into nature. There’s always a remedy in organic forms, fresh scents and little discoveries.

Who is another creative person / organization in Detroit that we need to know about?

There’s so many! Where to start!

Favorite animated gif?

Our first on DII Instagram. It’s a lion and symbolizes power, story and commitment. Check out our IG to see it yourself. 

Our videographer couldn’t make the event, so we don’t have the full video for the talk. But, I did capture this funny moment with our speaker and our audience member playing an improv game called questions, where you can only talk in questions. Fun and hard! :) 

Good morning, everyone! 
Each month, we like to ask our speakers some questions so that we can learn more about all the cool things they do and be inspired by their deep talent. Please enjoy our Q&A with this month’s speaker, Margaret Edwartowski. In our opinion, she hits the nail on the head about the voice of Detroit: “midwest manners but also don’t suffer fools.” And join us tomorrow for lecture day at 8:30 at Planet Ant. See you then! 

Why Detroit? What keeps you inspired here? I started out at Wayne State where I got my theatre degree.  I fell in love with and moved to Detroit during this time.  This was a very different city then, it was the mid 90’s.  Shortly after graduation I was cast at The Second City Detroit and spent years writing satirical material about the city. 

Something pretty amazing was going on in that time for creatives.  Many of us had grown up hearing Detroit mocked in movies and on TV for years.  But we all knew there was something wonderful, gritty, and above all REAL about this place.  It bonded us.  Those bonds still last.

For a long time I was inspired here by the endless opportunities to trailblaze new projects and organizations.  I spent much of the early 2000’s exploring all the possibilities available to me.  I’m also very inspired by the Detroit voice and point of view.  We have midwest manners but also don’t suffer fools or fakes lightly.  Nowadays, I’m inspired by this new generation of creatives coming up.  I was pretty stodgy and closed off to passing the torch, but I’ve come to realize there’s a lot of innovation and great ideas coming from the next generation that are worth giving a chance.

What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on? What would be your dream project? This is a really tough question.  My time at The Second City Detroit (1996-1999) was my true creative birth.  Everything I did at Planet Ant Theatre was like a self-directed training for creating programs and finding my voice as a writer.  I’ve had a million amazing experiences with the YMCA, sharing my creativity and giving opportunities to other creatives to serve underserved youth.  But I guess my favorite project (at least right now) would be the musical I wrote, Call Me Cass about the life story of Cass Elliot.  I don’t get to sing enough, so performing that music and standing in her shoes is a pretty amazing feeling.
My dream is less about a project than an overall career dream.  I’d like to work toward supporting myself solely as a writer.  I always joke that I want my job to be to go to the mailbox for checks everyday.  I’d love to have a dedicated writing space and be able to spend many hours at it.  Right now I pretty much get an hour or so after my kid goes to bed at night.  It’s never enough.


What do you do when you feel creatively stuck? As a writer, I usually shift gears from writing to reading.  I either find a book to read for enjoyment or start reading what I’m working on from the beginning.  Reading other people’s work is often very inspiring, whether you think what they are doing is great or awful.  Either way can spark creativity.

As a performer, it’s a similar approach.  I force myself to go see performances.  (I’m terrible about making time for that.)  It brings out a competitive streak I have buried deep inside.  Sometimes as an improviser, if my sets have been stale or underwhelming, I try to focus on improving one skill the next time I play.  For example, I’ll try to focus on more physicality or giving more scenic gifts to my partners, etc.  Fix one thing rather than the whole.


Who is another creative person / organization in Detroit that we need to know about? Some dear friends of mine are starting a nonprofit called MiResonance.  It’s all about supporting musicians with accessible mental health services as well as providing space to play and create.  Their website is miresonance.org and they explain it better than I do.  


Favorite animated gif? I’ll be honest.  I literally posted my first gif comment in a thread a couple of weeks ago.  I’m cool in some way, but when it comes to gifs I’m an major old lady.

Hey, everyone.

We’re getting really excited for our talk on Friday. We have the amazingly talented Margaret Edwartowski coming to speak on this month’s theme of game and to tell us about The Detroit Creativity Project. We hope you’ll join us on Friday at Planet Ant at 8:30. Please read more about Margaret in her bio.

Thanks!!

Margaret Edwartowski received her BFA in acting from Wayne State University in 1996.   She was a mainstage cast member with The Second City Detroit writing and performing in ten revues.  Over the last twenty years, Margaret spearheaded numerous improv, sketch writing, corporate theatre and play reading programs in the Detroit metro area at venues such as Planet Ant Theatre, Gem and Century Theatres, and the Boll Family YMCA.  In addition to her acting and improvisation credits, Margaret is a playwright and has had many of her plays produced and read at local theatres including:  Planet Ant Theatre, 1515 Broadway, The Ringwald Theatre, The Furniture Factory and Performance Network Theatre.  In 2013 she won a Wilde Award for Best New Script for her play Hamtown Races.  Currently Margaret is the Executive Director of Y Arts Detroit, overseeing and creating arts education and enrichment programs, including The Improv Project - an in-school and after school improv program offered in Detroit schools in partnership with The Detroit Creativity Project.    


Each month, we like to ask our speakers to tell us a little more about their creative lives and what keeps them inspired. Please read our exchange with this month’s speaker, Laura Khalil, and join us tomorrow morning at 8:30 at PLAYGROUND DETROIT to hear Laura talk about being courageous. 

Why Detroit? What keeps you inspired here?Detroit is such a unique city for creatives because people can actually afford to live here and pursue their creative endeavors at the same time. In many other cities, San Francisco being a great example, residents are so consumed with making next month’s rent payment that there’s very little energy left at the end of the day to be creative.I love meeting people from all walks of life. There is so much talent and diverse career paths in Detroit. It’s really special.What is your favorite project you’ve ever worked on? What would be your dream project?My favorite project has to be performing in the Vagina Monologues. My dream project would be traveling around the country, telling stories from my life that inspire women to accept their bodies and selves exactly as they are. If I could teach people anything, let your freak flag fly. Your greatest gift to the world is to be yourself and express your talents. You don’t need to change for anyone else.What do you do when you feel creatively stuck?Go for a walk. Movement is really important. We need to get out of our heads. I’ve also found the Kaizen method extremely helpful. Kaizen talks about taking trivially small steps towards achieving a goal. So small that they do not trigger a fear response in the brain, which keeps us stuck. For example, instead of saying, “I’m going to write five chapters in my book this month,” tell yourself, “All I need to do today is write two sentences today.” You’ll find yourself going above and beyond the goals your set for yourself. Who is another creative person / organization in Detroit that we need to know about? I love what Amy Sacka (@amysacka) is doing with photography. She did a beautiful series on Belle Isle last summer and has a real gift for capturing the essence of whatever she points her lens at. 

Favorite animated gif? Miss Piggy is my rock.

Please join us on March 16 at 8:30 at PLAYGROUND DETROIT! 

About the speaker: 

Laura Khalil is a professional storyteller and advisor on marketing strategy to global technology brands such as GE, Intel and Twitter.
Raised in metro Detroit, Laura lived in France, Montreal and San Francisco, before returning to her hometown in 2016. She received her Bachelors in History and Philosophy from McGill University in Montreal and likes to take credit for bringing poutine to America.
She has yet to convince anyone of that, but will keep trying.
Laura has led an unconventional life, from being divorced and homeless at 27 to picking herself up by the bootstraps, eventually quitting the corporate life and making the leap into building a thriving remote business. She believes that the right mindset can transform lives.
A natural storyteller, Laura has a love of sharing adventures from her life. She has delighted audiences at The Moth, Risk!, Detroit Stories, Ladies Get Paid and creativity and technology conference, Intermitten 2017. She is the MC of Intermitten 2018, being held at the Guardian Building on July 12th.

We have our next speaker and venue all lined up. Looking forward to seeing everyone on March 16. More details to come soon! 

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