Community · Thoughts

Getting Together

Logo for Rotary Arts, drawn by Angela Krieg

My twenty-something daughter is now Boston-based. She recently sent me a link to an Instagram account: Rotary Arts. It’s a group of young artists who have come together, meeting, posting, and being in touch with each other. They have a fun logo, which my daughter designed, of a rotary phone and a banana. Fun, to remind them of their intent for coming together.

Increasingly, I’m noticing ways that people are creating connections. Belonging comes in many forms, some with intentional design, others that form organically.

The group my daughter is a part of seems to be a bit of both: intentionally formed, and organically growing. I thoroughly enjoy scrolling through the group’s Instagram feed, looking and the art and reading the prose. There is a reassuring sense that they are in this together.

A page of my drawing in my twitter friend Clarissa Grandi’s Artful Maths Acitivity Book, my review of which is embedded in her linktree

I write this as my twitter community, which I stumbled into eight years ago, has been disrupted. It’s meant a great deal to me to have felt a sense of comradery there, hence it’s kind of surprising that I’m not more upset about the disruption. I think that this is because so many of the connections that I made there are now solid on their own. Just because that platform is no longer what it was doesn’t mean that the people that I felt happy to know no longer exist. Even though communicating is less frequent and not as fluid, our rich history feels like a solid foundational piece of my being. Even if it’s not out there, it’s still in here.

I am looking around at what other people do, and how they do it. I’m enjoying learning about organizations who not only keep in touch with their members, but also offer regularly scheduled member events. Providing a platform where members can independently connect with each other is an added plus. If you are someone who wants to mention such an organization, please write about it in the comments sections below!

I’ve long admired how artist Helen Hiebert creates community. If I were to mention everything she does, this post would be way too long, but here’s some things that I’d like to highlight.

Woven Paper, upcycling an Aboriginal Art Calendar, by Davida Feder, 2022 Weave through Winter

For the fifth year in a row Helen is offering a Weave Through Winter class, where, throughout the month of February, she offers daily prompts and pre-recorded instruction. I mostly know about this class because of the people who sign up for the class year after year, and seem enjoy looking forward to it as much as the actual class. The format is a good one: a month long during deep winter, then it’s over.

Helen also does a year long class, which she calls the Paper Year. What I like about this, besides her wonderful content, is that people sign up for one year at a time. I have to say that I like offerings that have a beginning, a middle, and an end.

I have a bad attitude towards subscription communities that lock you into a current price that remains good only if you remain in the group indefinitely, though if you stop following for awhile then re-join price is higher. To me, this feels punitive. What Helen does, which is a one-year at a time choice, feels much friendlier.

Super sweet chicks sharing their warmth
Cozier Together

Helen and I haven’t taken each other’s classes, mostly, I think, because the busiest parts of our teaching seasons overlap, Still, she has a platform where I can feel part of her circle, which is her Facebook group The Paper Studio. Every Friday she asks what people are doing with paper. Sometimes I’m more active on that page than other times, but it’s always nice to know I can jump in anytime.

The way I’ve been doing something in terms of creating community is this cool idea that Susan Share and I came up with while teaching our lengthy Zhen Xian Bao classes: we do our best to facilitate the people who are taking our class to meet up together on zoom outside of class time, to fold together. Last year every one who was taking the class, as well as “alumni” from the previous year were invited to join in whenever a fellow student would step forward to zoom-host a session, which generally happened on Saturdays. Lots of people would show up for these sessions, and everyone enjoyed them a great deal. The only problem was that, although people loved joining in, barely anyone wanted to host, so some weeks there’d be no meeting. (Thank you Amy B for hosting so many times!)

Twist Box on Rectangular Tray, Zhen Xian Bao, Paula Krieg

This year we think we’ve found a solution to the hosting issue, as there is one person who will be taking on the hosting position. Now that we have even more alumni, and a great new group starting soon, I will be interested to see if these people continue together after the class is over in mid-April. If their meetings continue, they will find their own form.

Son's cat, staring me down
Groups are not for everyone. I respect that position.

Something I’ve found helpful to realize about groups is that participation is important.. As well as initiating interactions, its at least equally important to respond to others. Acknowledging interesting input from others strengthen the whole community, What’s good for the whole community is good for each individual.

Now, if you would like to be a fan of the Instagram group that my daughter is a part of, this, again, is the link; I recommend it.

4 thoughts on “Getting Together

  1. Hi Paula! I love how Angela just keeps blossoming!! I was thinking that the part of her logo you describe as a gear looks to me more like an old rotary telephone dial and, since Rotary is in the name, I wonder if this is true! I’d love to know! I hope you’re staying warm! Aggy


  2. HI Paula, Can we join these zoom session even though we are not part of the classes?
    For myself, in Canadian $$ this session is very expensive…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HI Marie-Jose, Nice to hear from you! It’s so cold here in Upstate NY that I can’t imagine what it must be like up in Canada. To answer your question about the zoom sessions: during the 10 weeks of the class, the agreement is that it’s for people who are in the class, or who have previously taken it. Once the class is over, if the group choose to continue, I can imagine that they might open it up. I understand about the class seeming to be expensive, which can’t be helped, as the research, preparation, supplementary videos, and written material and other specially designed content is huge undertaking. People come away with a huge amount of new skills, including the ability to decipher unfamiliar forms, scale their work to any size, and create new variations of the form. It’s really comparable to a semester long college level class. All that said, I know it doesn’t make it any less costly. I will keep you in mind if the zoom sessions continue beyond the class.


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