Being together is a wonderful thing


My grandparents recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary, which was special and incredibly sweet to see. For their party, I found them a little letterpress card that had an anonymous quote on the front – “Being together is a wonderful thing.” That simple line exemplified their relationship, and what they’ve modeled for for my family all their lives.

I sometimes think about the sheer luck that brought them together 60 years ago in Chicago, with no cell phones, no internet, no sites for checking out the other’s interests or insight into what they might be really like. To communicate with their family, friends and colleagues, they banged out letters on typewriters with sheaves of carbon paper to make copies, and endured static-filled telephone calls. We have so much more at our disposal now, and staying in touch is so much easier. 

We know this as we’re building up the Creative Exchange, and so we’ve tried to create as many ways as possible for people to connect with us. You can follow along and be in touch on Facebook and Twitter, sign up for our newsletter to get monthly updates about what’s on the site, and we have a Civic Commons page dedicated to space for conversations. On the Civic Commons page, you can suggest artists whose stories inspire you, ask questions about the toolkits and get responses from their creators. There is a web of experience and insight that we are just starting to get into here, with your help and voice.

You can also meet us in person – Springboard for the Arts Executive Director Laura Zabel and I will both be at the the Americans for the Arts Convention in Nashville from June 13-15. We’ll have an exhibitor’s table so you can stop by and see the toolkits, share your inspiration and connect with questions and ideas. It is wonderful to be in the same room together.

And if not in the same room, then on the phone. Later in the summer we will be organizing conference calls for users and creators of our hosted toolkits to share information and feedback. If you want to be a part of those conversations, or want to stay updated about the details, please be in touch – – so we can be together.

Finally, we are excited to introduce a new toolkit to Creative Exchange this month, based on the Irrigate creative placemaking projects in Saint Paul over the last 3 years. Faced with a large-scale construction project through the heart of the city, Springboard for the Arts partnered with the City of Saint Paul and the Twin Cities Local Initiative Support Corporation to connect artists and community businesses and organizations to create projects that brought surprise, delight and visitors to the construction zone. Our mid-project audit showed that there had been 30 million impressions of stories about Irrigate arts projects, and that they had helped shift the narrative away from disruption to one of positive community engagement. We have created this toolkit, in partnership with ArtPlace, to be a part of the the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Resilient Cities initiative, and we are delighted to be able to offer it here first.

Carl Atiya Swanson is Director of Movement Building at Springboard for the Arts, an economic development organization for artists and by artists based in St. Paul, Minnesota.