After an incredible year for the Greensboro School of Creativity, it seemed most fitting to recap this year's highlights in a newsletter. Please read on to enjoy our year at a glance with us, as well as featured member contributions. It's longer than our usual Currents posts, but there's too much good content here not to share it all! And to view our newsletter in all its visual glory, click here to download the PDF version.
"The baby will come when the baby comes," said the wise midwife to the eager soon-to-be-parents. From the threshold of the dream of having a child, the two were reminded they were receivers, not creators, of new life. Their child would arrive in the way he or she was intended, on a schedule of someone else’s making. But arrive the child did, not as they imagined but all that they dreamed.
After six years of dreaming, the baby, now called The Greensboro School of Creativity (GSC), has arrived in much the same way. Sitting at a dining room table, a group of people imagined a place of safety where people could come and discover themselves as if for the first time. We envisioned what was then called The Sanctuary dwelling in our present location along side other non-profits, all making the world somehow a better place. But the dream did not unfold as we planned, nor did it arrive on our schedule. We needed to learn patience to let it come when ready. After six long years, countless adjustments and moves, we are now in a position to celebrate the dream’s arrival.
Back in our original location, the GSC is still a place of safety, or sanctuary, for people to discover, or rediscover, themselves in light of God’s infinite and unconditional love. It is a place where people can live authentically, flourish creatively, and thrive spiritually. With practically every studio rented, and an emerging curriculum, we are just beginning to realize what we can become. Through creativity, spirituality, wellness and recovery, our non-profit dwells along side a dynamic parish and two other organizations serving those in need. In many ways, we are nothing like what we first imagined, but are also more than we ever dreamed.
It is with a profound sense of gratitude that I write. Although we have reached this moment through countless hours of work by many committed people, in the end I can only look beyond to a power greater than any of us and give every bit of the credit.
The baby arrived when the baby (and the world) was ready, just as the baby will now grow into the life it was created to be. So join us, as you read this newsletter, in celebrating what has arrived and also what is becoming. - by GSC Founder, Chip Bristol
GSC Highlights from 2011
This year has been a collage of wonderful events and classes as well as the coming together of remarkable individuals. We have almost every studio space rented in our facility with a total of 97 members of the Greensboro School of Creativity. With a community that reflects the four elements of our focus - spirituality, wellness, creativity and recovery/rediscovery - we have artists including painters, potters, and sculptors; novel and script writers; healing therapists and energy professionals; and movement and meditation leaders.
Our new GSC Gallery has had nine shows this year featuring resident and member artists, developmentally challenged adult clients of LifeSpan, as well as themed shows such as a Clay & Paper exhibit and one by women titled P.M.S. (Playful, Magical, Sensual).
We were also host to many events in 2011 such as the Greensboro 48 Hour Film Project, part of an international film competition that just celebrated its 10th year. By having the kick-off event and wrap party here, the GSC name was spread to more than 500 participants. Our state-of-the-art film room also drew many to the school with the Sinister Film Series, Women’s Journey through Film Series, and other private and public viewings. We also offer a variety of fine arts classes with members and residents teaching beginning to advanced levels.
GSC hosted two expos for the Art of Well Being, which attracted people from across North Carolina, offering free lectures on holistic living. This spring, our May Day celebration filled the front lawn with color as an arrangement of artisans and dancers performed, displayed works, and encouraged crowd participation.
Our center continues to offer many classes in wellness and spirituality such as yoga, meditation, and other mind/body workshops. GSC continues to host the state’s second largest AA meeting, as well as Al-Anon, in addition to starting a small group discussion on weekday mornings, which has been met with much enthusiasm. Our weekly Men’s Group hosted a webinar with Richard Rhor, author of Breathing Under Water: Spirituality and the Twelve Steps.
We recently hosted a CD release for Mike Garrigan, who was with us at The Sanctuary and is now a board member. Also on the musical front were two shows with folk-rock singer and songwriter Bill Mallonee.
As we look forward to 2012, even more exciting ventures are ahead. Just a few of the upcoming classes include ThetaHealing® Rhythm to Perfect Weight and Theta-Healing® Soul Mate, along with Hooping which joins the fun of a hoop with the relaxation of focus and meditation. New movie series are being planned, more gallery shows, and various artistic endeavors which continue to build momentum and provide avenues of exploration for those seeking rediscovery.
“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” - Thoreau
I never really liked men that much. I remember the regularly scheduled poker nights that my father attended when I was a young boy. He won more than lost, apparently, so my mother allowed him that indulgent escape once a week. He enjoyed the camaraderie and the freedom to talk about “manly things” (whatever that was) and I imagined them sitting around telling dirty jokes and spitting on the floor. One year, the poker guys rented a train (the whole train!) from Texas to Mexico, where they went going “dove hunting.” They didn’t bring home any doves (Dad claimed they gave them to poor Mexican children). As for me, talking about “manly things” never appealed to me. I didn’t learn how to play poker, at least not well enough to win more than lose. I wasn’t that into sports, which cut me out of most teenage boy talk. I liked girls, but I was pretty sure that my guy friends were no more enlightened about them than I was. After a short stint in very male oriented jobs (on off-shore oil rigs and merchant ships), I settled into jobs that kept me surrounded by women (teaching and real estate). No, I’m just not that into men.
So it was with more than a little trepidation that I accepted an invitation to join a “men’s spirituality group” on Friday mornings at what was then called The Sanctuary. From the first meeting, it was clear that this group was willing to expand the discussion beyond their most recent golf score, and wrestle with the difficult questions of spirituality and how God plays an intimate part in our everyday lives. Some members have been “stung” by the church, others blessed, and most have experienced some combination of both. God seems to weave his way into every discussion, even if it starts with something mundane (ex. “Yeah, the wedding was nice, but did you see Pippa? So hot!” – OK, so it IS a men’s group!). Every week I am challenged to broaden my horizons and defend long-held beliefs. We bring our joys and sorrows, our triumphs and crumbling defeats, and somehow find God working his magic in it all. While I don’t always agree with my colleagues’ theological ideas, I am confident that they love and respect me, as I do them. They are now counted among my closest and dearest friends.
Since joining the Friday men’s group, I have participated in several other activities associated with the Greensboro School of Creativity, including singing Rutter’s “Requiem” and attending numerous art gallery openings, showcasing some of GSC’s wonderful artists. I’ve been blessed by other people’s musical and theatrical talents at concerts and shows. The Greensboro School of Creativity has enriched my life in ways I never would have dreamed. Most of all, it has allowed me to meet men willing to talk of “manly things,” like love and God and a life centered around both. For that and so much more, I am eternally grateful to GSC. - by Wayne Young
Under the sign of cancer, my path is one of feeling and nurturing; for me, a pure gift from the divine. As a heart-driven soul, I am led to many joyous places. Prior to feeling my way to GSC, I was always in search of a higher ground. Since the age of 13, I have been on a this journey, never losing sight of what I knew to exist. With each path, I would stumble and fall only to feel myself even closer to a state of peace and joy. It took several years to learn that this place would not come from a material thing, a person, or a situation. In 2008, I ventured inward and the “shift” happened; I was awakened with new eyes.
My husband and I heard of a so-called sanctuary on 16th Street, where he had once taught classes when it was a charter school. It was an impromptu visit where we were greeted by a lovable dog and an ambitious owner. Upon meeting Chip, he immediately spoke of transformation, art, healing, kids classes, and non-judgmental spirituality. Okay, where has this guy been for the last 3 decades? Those topics weren’t just on my list, they were my list. I knew right then, in that space of touring the second floor, that my life would be transforming again. Four weeks later, I began teaching yoga classes, created our GSC logo, joined The Artists Way group and just watched doors open one by one in the way of personal growth. It takes stillness and non-attachment to let things just be.
Aside from my graphic design business, GSC has enabled me to grow my yoga business, co-launch a wellness program for kids, inspire my own art enrichment class at an elementary school, and return to making my own art again. In living each day authentically, I see others that refuse to ignore their passions, despite the grain of society. I see the GSC family constantly growing and evolving as one. With all of us mindfully bartering our talents, and practicing service-oriented living, our light can only inspire others to do the same. - by Laureen Haviland
In 2006 I left my last employer, The Guilford County School System, determined to make painting my primary occupation. To support that decision, and because I love the creative interaction, I resumed teaching adults privately.
I had become familiar with The Sanctuary at Revolution Mill, its philosophy and various offerings of classes, workshops, performances, and ministry. I felt a strong resonance with its mission, but remained content to just know it was going on in Greensboro.
Then the need to find a better venue for my classes arose, and I approached Chip Bristol about possibilities. Eventually my classes merged with ongoing Sanctuary activities. When the much larger 16th Street location became available, I was personally very excited about the potential of expansion and cultivation of a much larger community continuing the momentum of The Sanctuary. I assisted in whatever ways I could to bring The Greensboro School of Creativity to life.
As a painter I am always seeking a visual metaphor for how I am responding deeply to the times, ranging up and down the scale from realism through abstraction to symbolism. In the diverse, dynamic community of GSC, I have found the dialog, the creative influences, and the heart-interactions with so many quality individuals I’d otherwise never have known, to be profoundly nourishing and transformative. At this point I cannot even imagine not being here. I feel an amazing spirit of love and mutual support here. And like life and growth in general, it is anything but static or predictable. We are a creative laboratory, reflective and proactive of the larger community. It is the best experience of my life. - by Jack Stone
I have been many things through the years . . . a son, a father, a tobacco man, electrician, prisoner, and drunk. The thing that remains constant is that until I became associated with The Sanctuary, now known as The Greensboro School of Creativity, I never knew or had the confidence to be myself. When I arrived six years ago, the building was as empty as my soul with air as stale as the life I’d been living.
When I moved to Greensboro, my brother opened his home and family to me, but I felt undeserving of such kindness. He also reintroduced me to Chip, who had just bought a building and was beginning a new type of community. Little did he know that the help I was offering would be nothing compared to the help and new life I would be given.
The first thing I did was hang two banners in the church, and those banners covered my pain with love. I put in wooden floors, and those floors were the base on which I could stand again. I was asked to build sets and run lights for a show called Godspell and somewhere, in those tasks, I found God again.
Although the building has housed much change over the years, it was always clear to me that there was a plan in it all. Today, I know that plan includes joyful music, movement, brushes scraping against canvas, and the click of a camera. In it all, I feel God’s presence and hear his words of grace. Whether in interacting with residents in the hall or in various circles, I have been given a path to follow, companions for the journey, and, most importantly, a way home.
This has been, and continues to be, a place of miracles for me. It is a place of authentic joy. In my work, I have found myself, not in the things I have done, but in the service I do. In these walls, I have found love, safety, and, at last, the peace which allow me to be my true self. - by Dan Schoultz