Building Creative Communities Conference, Colquitt Georgia 2015 – Food, Glorious Food!!!
This year’s conference was yet another incredible example of what is possible when communities work together for the good of the whole. Colquitt magically weaved its spell bringing people from all over the world and from many different backgrounds and cultures who are all driven by the same passion for creating a sustainable and mutually beneficial society for all.
Joy Jinks and Karen Kimbrel who co-founded the conference in 2006, hosted the event in the true style of community, both exhibiting incredible generosity and humility for what they have achieved. Delightfully sharing their own incredible stories about numerous extremely successful community projects they’ve started in Colquitt, they launched us into three days of inspirational speakers and experiences.
Dr. Tim Chapin and Margaret Ashmore from Florida State University, Dr. Richard O Geer founding artistic director for Swamp Gravy, and Jan Sanders, Community Development Specialist worked with Joy and Karen as conference planners and were assisted by Elaine Chafin.
Dr. Timothy Beatley PhD who is the Teresa Heinz Professor of sustainable Communities in the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning, School of Architecture at the University of Virginia was the keynote speaker. He gave an informative speech on “Reclaiming our Food”.
On the last morning of the conference eight other speakers shared their incredible community success stories adding even more realization of what is possible –
Kathryn Lewis:Teaching Artist; “The Telling Trees Project,” Stone County, Mississippi
Karan Pittman: Founder of Coffee as the Catalyst, Cuthbert, Georgia
Juby Phillips: Founder of Food for a Thousand, Albany Georgia
Qinghong Wei: Co-founder of “Participate,” Beijing, China
Tannur Shewrightz Ali: Poet; Founder of iLOGiC, Albany, Georgia
Gregg Grimsley: President of Peanut Proud, Inc. Blakely, Georgia
Melanie Hammet: Musician; Creator and Executive Producer of the “Life Sentence Project,” Georgia Innocence Project
Herb Donaldson: Playwright and Founder of the Palaver Tree Theater Company, Wakulla County, Florida
The participants who numbered around 70, were also given the opportunity to experience Social Artistry and Story Bridge first hand.
The Social Artistry workshops were led by Jan Sanders. The experience with Jan brought people together with their community projects in mind and led them through powerful Social Artistry exercises during which they found tangible ways of growing their projects throughout their community in an effective and mutually beneficial way for all.
Dr. Richard Geer led another incredible two days of Storybridge which took two different groups of people, most of whom had never met before, through a beautiful exercise of sharing personal stories in small groups which led to a full performance on both evenings. It was another wonderful example of theatre that is of, by and for the community, which in turn empowers individuals and brings neighborhoods together.
The attendees of the conference couldn’t say enough about how impactful both workshops were and such a wonderful surprise that added real depth to the weekend. As well as being inspired by the speakers, they were being inspired by themselves and seeing tangible ways in which their projects could really come to life in their communities to benefit so many others.
Plans are already underway for next years conference which will be a 10th Anniversary Celebration, bringing past speakers and visitors together with their projects that were inspired by and launched from previous conferences.
Visit the website for more information on this year’s speakers and photographs of the conference. Information will be coming soon with next year’s topics and speakers. We look forward to seeing you all in Colquitt GA next year, January 28-31, 2016
–Reported by Victoria Scott
Top image: Dr. Qinghong Wei, who did her doctorate at Florida State University, created this mandala process as part of her social enterprise which aims to empower individuals and communities through arts.