Sometimes, you see something and you just have that feeling. you know you share a connection. you just know…
We had that feeling when we first encountered Asheville, North Carolina’s HandMade in America. Now, don’t get me wrong, HandMade In America isn’t a new revelation to us at Black Belt Treasures. It was a model from the very beginning, and I have personally dreamed about visiting HMIA, Penland, and John C. Campbell Folk School for YEARS!!! But when we began working with Melissa Levy and her associates at Yellow Wood two years ago, we began looking at the HandMade model a little more closely. And we got that feeling.
And a few months ago, we learned we would have the opportunity to take a Learning Journey to North Carolina (thank you to Yellow Wood Associates and Deb Markley with the Center for Rural Entrepreneurship, and to the Community Foundation of South Alabama) and that feeling grew. We knew we were heading to hallowed ground, and that the future of Black Belt Treasures would spark from this journey.
Our Learning Journey is only a week away. We have assembled our team of creative leaders and partners from around the Black Belt Region. In addition to Sulynn Creswell (BBTCAC Executive Director), Judy Martin (BBTCAC Arts Outreach Coordinator) and myself (Art Programs & Marketing Director) We have partners from higher learning institutions, area community foundations, economic development specialists, artists, arts councils, and city leaders. We have a loaded itinerary (specifically designed for us by the HMIA staff) of sites ready and willing to share their successes and challenges with us. We are all doing our homework and researching all of the sites, and that feeling and excitement is growing. Read more about their Small Town Program here …
HandMade In America began their journey in 1995. “HandMade in America grows economies through craft and creative placemaking, transforming both individuals and communities through education, entrepreneurship and economic development. HandMade in America has a 19-year tradition for pioneering innovative ways to empower the people and towns of Western North Carolina through programs that educate and facilitate the needs of creative entrepreneurs and communities.”
Black Belt Treasures began it’s journey in 2005.”Black Belt Treasures’s Mission is to help stimulate the economy in Alabama’s Black Belt region through the promotion of regional art and fine crafts, provide regional artisans a means to promote and sell their products to a larger market, and provide arts education to area residents. Our Goals are to allow artists to promote their products to larger markets than most have been able to reach, through a gallery shop and e-commerce website; Provide arts education through art classes and courses, as well as exhibits and demonstrations.”
We share similar goals, we share similar visions. This is an exciting time in our Black Belt Region – we have a wealth of cultural heritage, artists, craftsmen, agricultural artists, natural enthusiasts, and passionate people ready and willing to take the lead for change through Creative Placemaking (remember this term or learn more at …
Where will this Learning Journey take us? What ideas will be sparked, what partnerships will be born, where will this journey lead?
We will leave Alabama on Sunday, June 1st and return to Alabama on Sunday, June 8th, 2014. Join us for pictures and more as we share inspirations from our journey each day.
Let’s Build OUR Creative Black Belt together – one county, one artist, one journey at a time!
BBTCAC Art Programs & Marketing Director