Monday, November 11, 2013

Where Have You Been All My Life? (Or Over the Past Year?)

2014 is going to have to work hard to trump 2013. When I graduated a year and a half ago, I decided that I needed another kind of education. I needed a quick degree in serving your community in a creative way. I wanted to know the best practices, the issues, the things you don't ever want to overlook, when trying to actually do some good for the people around you.

I knew the most efficient way to do that would be to find other people and projects that were doing great things for their communities. I went to see as many creative and sustainable projects as I could, all over the country, because I needed to figure out how to combine all of the programs I have been dreaming about under one roof. There's nothing like first hand experience and observation to help you decide things like... "no, Amy, you don't need to make your pre-school a Waldorf school. You've had all of the education, training, and experience that you need to do this." (That was my voice.) I would have had to go to school for four more years, and train/student teach at a Waldorf school during those years before ever calling myself certified. The time for study and research is always at hand, but now is also the time to act. You can research too much. Sometimes you just have to jump in and do it!

I also learned that my ideas, dreams and visions are just as important as anyone else's. The choices I make and the priorities I set are there for a reason. They dictate the things that I do and lead me towards my goals. This has helped me learn how to say, "no," without feeling guilty. And what are my goals? It's funny. A year ago, I would have said that my goals were to get SixTwelve open and to provide quality education, encouragement and care for the people of OKC.

Those are still my goals, but now, the highest priorities are to remain true to myself, to spend as much time with my family as I can, and to enjoy every step of the process of getting SixTwelve to the point where it can help people. I used to be so controlled by fear. We all are, to some extent, but I'm not afraid of this mountain in front of me anymore, largely because I've been climbing it for some time now. But I've also had the luxury of taking my time, getting to know myself and my community, and learning how to tell fear to take a hike. You have to get out of your own head and focus on the doing!

It's been a crazy, fun, exciting, scary, mind-blowing, exhausting, but thrilling experience. I've seen things that I know will play a part in our programming and I've met people that have come along, just at the perfect time. I've decided to be as open to whatever came my way as I could, while simultaneously pushing to make things happen. It's a weird, but productive, balance.

I haven't blogged about everything that I've seen or done over the past year because I kind of want some things to be a surprise. I also just took off and didn't give myself much time to write, but here's a little synopsis.

Shortly after Paseo Festival and deadCENTER Film Festival were over, I took off with my friend, Preston, to see San Francisco, Napa, the Redwood Forest, Scenic Hwy 1 along the California and Oregon coasts, and then on up to Portland. I went to San Francisco to see 826 Valencia, but they were closed for renovation when I arrived. Not to worry! I will return. We took a few days to drive up the coast after leaving San Fran, because I had never seen the Redwoods and I found this SWEEEEET little cabin on I thought I would give living in a smaller house a try and I fell in love.

This little place may have done more for my understanding of what sustainable living can be like than anything else I experienced on that trip. We had the best time and I slept better there than anywhere else along the way. We even had a composting toilet. Have I mentioned that James wanted to have composting toilets at SixTwelve and I originally said, "no way?" Ha! I worried there would be a smell and that people wouldn't know how to use them. Our stay at the cabin helped me to realize that people (like me) could learn, pretty easily, in fact. And there wasn't a smell. I also felt happier with less clutter around me. Imagine that. It's had me thinking about selling my house and just building little neighborhood of tiny houses ever since. But one project at a time, Amy. (That's my dad's voice I'm hearing there. So grateful for his guidance.)

When we arrived in Portland, I visited a Waldorf Training program and spoke with the director. He told me about all of the requirements and while I could easily see myself living in Portland the next four summers, and while I truly respect Rudolf Steiner's philosophies on education, I knew that the time had come to leave further training behind and just do it! I believe that I can create a pre-school program that will be really good for many little humans.

I loved that trip. It was fun and full of beauty, but it was time to come home and prepare for the next research trip. I'll write more about that next time!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I'm Baaaaaaaack!

I took the summer off from blogging to travel and see many, many inspirational projects and community centers! I also continued planning for the programming at SixTwelve! I seriously was having so much fun and adventure that I didn't have time to write. Have I mentioned lately how grateful I am for my life? 2013 has turned out to be one of the best years so far! I will definitely catch up on the projects and centers that I visited over the coming weeks. I mainly just wanted to check in and get the ball rolling on the ol' blog again.

SixTwelve is moving right along. We're putting in electric and plumbing right now and Phillip has started on the landscaping just this week.  James just got back from a three week trip to South Korea, Japan and Thailand. So glad he got to go! I'll be leaving for Marfa, Texas tomorrow with Joy and will only have one day when I get back to wash my clothes and pack again because I'll leave on the 16th to go to Savannah and close on the little cottage I found for a 612/Savannah artist exchange! Woohooo!!!!

Travel is important to both of us and we know that it's going to be a challenge over the next five years, while we get the business up and running, to get away. But it's a priority for both of us, so I'm sure we'll figure it out.

Today, I'll be working with kids on a recycled art project from 12-4pm at Orange Leaf Yogurt at North May and Grand. We're going to be using their spoons, cups and napkins to create little ghosts and some bigger spoon pumpkins. I hope a lot of kids come. Should be a lot of fun!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Catch Up on SixTwelve and Travels!

July 1st has begun what I am calling a month of travel and research. I know that I haven't had any problem working that in over the past months, but this one is especially full. I'm excited! But before I begin to explain what I'll be doing over the next few weeks, I want to catch up a little bit and highlight what I think have been the most significant experiences over the past few.

Last month, after chairing the music committee for the Paseo Arts Festival, taking a little breather in Broken Bow and then organizing the volunteers for the opening night party for deadCENTER Film Festival, I felt like I could really focus on SixTwelve. It's so good to be able to really give this my all again. This was my third and last year to chair the music for Paseo Fest and I'm working to bring other people in to the committees that I'm on or chairing so that I can share the workload and have more time to give to SixTwelve. It's my true passion and there are only so many hours in the day, so it's time to cut out the distractions and run toward that goal! James and I have been calling it "Laser Focus." That's what we want.

On June 12th, we were so fortunate to be invited to speak at the Norman Arts Roundtable. This entity is made up of representatives from different arts and humanities organizations in Norman and they bring in people each month to speak about their work. Jennifer Barron, the director of the Paseo Arts Association, James and I all went on this day and presented info about the Paseo Arts District and about SixTwelve. It's so fun to share our dream with people because I feel like the more people that know about it, the more good we'll be able to do when we open our doors. 

And speaking of sharing the vision, we had a fabulous opportunity to share on June 21st, when the National Art Education Association Western Region came to SixTwelve during their conference. I was working at the Oklahoma Museums Association's annual Smarties Trivia Night so James took the reigns and gave what I heard was a great tour! I couldn't believe that so many art educators would get to hear about what we're doing. We were so honored to be a part of that tour of Paseo. 

On the morning of June 22nd, SixTwelve joined forces with SustainableOKC and the Great Plains Coca-Cola Bottling Company to provide a Rain Barrel Workshop. Great Plains provided the barrels and conversion kits; SustainableOKC provided the directions and discussion and SixTwelve provided the location. We're not even finished with renovation and we're already seeing some learning and gathering taking place. I felt like I was on cloud nine during that event. I'm really proud of James for being on the board of SustainableOKC and making things like this happen for our community. We had a great crowd and everyone seemed grateful for this free opportunity to take a rain barrel home with them! IT'S REALLY HAPPENING!!!! People are learning valuable things at SixTwelve!!!

We had a great crowd for the Rain Barrel Workshop!

Last week, I went to Kansas City with Chandra for a few days. Our goal was to catch up and have a girls' trip, but I snuck a little research in as well. The first night that we were there, we met with our friend Cori Imig. Cori is a fabulous lady and thanks to the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition, OKC has a  relationship with her and with the gallery and project that she and her fellow co-founding members started, Plug Projects. She is also the Program Coordinator for Artist INC, an organization that OVAC and other Oklahoma organizations, such as Oklahoma Contemporary, are working with in order to help artists grow in their business. 

As if Cori isn't amazing enough, her boyfriend has a 24 hour, local foods grocery store, Howard's, that operates on an honor system. This visit deserves (and will get) its own blog entry next, but I think anyone reading this can get an idea of why it would be fun to bring these people to Oklahoma City and to speak, teach, or share their ideas with our community at SixTwelve. I admire them so much! While we were in KC, we also took in some great art at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and the Nelson-Atikins Museum of Art. Man, oh man! We saw some great art. We also ate some delicious food  and shopped, but I'll include all of that in the next entry. 

So June and the first part of July have been really fun and educational. The rest of the month won't pale in comparison either. I'm home this week and then next Sunday, I'm hitting the road for a long stretch of wanderlust and exploration. My friend Preston and I are heading to San Francisco, spending a little time there seeing a great program called 826 Valencia, the Rudolf Steiner College, and of course, experiencing delicious art, music and food. We're then renting a car and driving up the Pacific Coast Hwy 1. I've always wanted to see the Redwood trees so I am going to work that into the time between San Fran and my final destination, Portland. There are a lot of places that I want to visit in Portland too. All of this travel is meant to provide inspiration, insight and to hopefully make contacts with people that I can bring to OKC for future SixTwelve programming. Plus, once we open, I know that it will be hard to get away. I'm sure I won't feel stuck or imprisoned by SixTwelve. I'll just want to be here, making sure I give everything I can to see it grow and flourish. So now is the time to go! 

About three days after I return from the west coast, I'm going to turn around and head out to Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico. This trip is more for fun, as the group I'm going with will be celebrating a great friend's birthday, but I know that I'll be inspired and surrounded by art and music, so I'm sure I will find places that will somehow be of importance to the 612 project there too. Every experience is important for what we're doing. 

Really looking forward to these trips! So grateful for my life.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Festivals Galore!

The past month has flown by in such a pace that I could barely keep up. I had my last class meeting with the Oklahoma Arts Council's Leadership Arts program and I have to say that I love my classmates. They were a huge encouragement to me and helped inspire me to keep truckin. I feel like I have friends all over the state that are on the same page about promoting the importance of the arts in our state and I now feel like I have the tools to advocate for what I believe our state needs. Most importantly, I am grateful and honored to be included in a group with any of them. They are superstars in my book!

The day after our meeting concluded here in OKC, I helped to get the Paseo Arts Festival set up. This was my last year as the music chair for the festival and while the last three years have been such a great learning experience for me, I am excited about working at 612 during next year's festival. I want to give my energy to my baby!

The Paseo's Gayle Curry created the artwork for this year's festival and I love it!

This year's fest was great. We had wonderful art, food and music. My only real goals were to enjoy as much of it as I could, to try to solve problems with a clear head, and to get along with James. Ha! That can all be hard to accomplish during a festival, because of long work hours and heat. Although the weather took a break on us this year, we didn't suffer a lack of challenges. The biggest difference this year was in how I chose to respond to those challenges. I'm finding that I have more confidence in myself so I don't need to fly off of the handle when injustices happen...especially after all of the recent loss we have experienced in our state due to the tornadoes and rough weather. It kind of puts things in perspective.

I was so impressed with the musicians that performed at the festival. Almost all of them gave their tips to the relief effort. They raised $1,190.84, to be split evenly between the Red Cross and the Regional Food Bank. These musicians were already playing for free to begin with! I'm so grateful for their generosity. It made all of the challenges we faced so small.

After a quick getaway trip to Broken Bow with my friend Preston, I'm back in OKC and getting ready for deadCENTER Film Festival. It starts on Thursday and I'm in charge of the opening night rooftop party at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. I think it's going to be a lot of fun and I can't wait to see the films.

I love Oklahoma City. We're lucky to live in such a great place with so many wonderful things going on all the time. There's no time to be bored! The best thing about Oklahoma, though, is the people. We make these things happen and I'm so honored to be a part of it.

Shameless Plug: If you haven't gotten your passes for deadCENTER, click HERE now and join us this weekend. It's going to be fun!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Hard Hat Tour, Leadership Arts, Paseo's First Friday, Better Block and What's coming up!

The past few weeks have been flying by and I don't see things slowing down until the middle of June.  I've had so many great experiences, but it's made it difficult to keep up with my blog. So I thought I'd give a little sampler post to catch up!

On Earth Day, April 22nd, we held a hard hat tour of SixTwelve and it was so fun to share our dreams with people we'd never even met. It's one thing for your family or best friends to encourage you. In fact, it might have been what kept us going over the past few years, but it's wild to see people you don't know getting excited your project and what it can mean for the community. The wonderful guys at Mockingbird Media, Matt Barnett and Stewart Perryman, came to the tour, filmed and created a wonderful video that really captures our vision and then just gave it to us for free. I'm so grateful!!! Such generosity is rare these days. Take a look!

Just a couple of days after that tour, I headed down to Beavers Bend State Park in Broken Bow, Oklahoma for our third Leadership Arts class meeting. It was so beautiful down there and I have to say it was a needed break from the fast-paced rush I'm always running through up here in OKC. I'm amazed by all of my class mates. They do so many wonderful things for the arts in our state and are simultaneously so supportive and kind. We discussed ways in which the arts improve quality of life and were lucky enough to get to tour the Museum of the Red River in Idabel as a part of our program. What a great museum!!!! The two things I like the most about the Leadership Arts program are the people I get to meet and the parts of the state we now feel connected to because of our great experiences. This state really does have so much to offer...we just have to get out and see it!

The following week, during Paseo's First Friday Art Walk, my friends Molly O'Connor and Lauren Zuniga, the band, King Mary, Feathered Rabbit and Richard Ray Whitman all performed on SixTwelve's stage!!! Boom Horn also created a mural while the event was taking place. It was the first time anyone used the stage and I was thrilled with the caliber of talent we saw there. I wasn't in charge of anything, as we just let the group hold their event there, but I was so honored to have such incredible artists, musicians and poets inaugurate the stage. The goodness keeps on flowing!

The very next morning, we got up really early to get to the OKC Farmers Public Market. It was time for the Better Block OKC event and SixTwelve had a booth! Erin Latham is an artist that I really admire, especially for her talent, approach and philosophy. She is concerned with the environment and sustainability, so she is a perfect fit for what SixTwelve is about. Sooooo, I invited her to join us for the Better Block event and to help provide the kid's art activity that we were asked to provide. She created dyes out of veggies and used fruits and vegetables as the stamps kids (and adults) could use to make cards for Mother's Day. All of the waste we created was then composted by Fertile Ground, so we could talk to the kids and parents about the cycle of those plants we used! It was perfect!

Erin Latham, holding down the fort at the SixTwelve booth - Better Block OKC

In addition to all of this, I'm preparing for an education event, a Parent/Student art workshop this Saturday at the PAA. It's for students at the elementary schools surrounding Paseo, such as Edgemere, Sequoyah, Putnam Heights, Wilson and Horrace Mann. I'm the chair of the education committee for Paseo, as well as the chair of the music committee for the Paseo Arts Festival 2013, and that festival is coming right up. Immediately after Paseo Fest, I'm a party captain for the opening night party for deadCENTER Film Festival on the rooftop of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Mainly I'm just in charge of helping to recruit volunteers and to spread the word about the greatness that is deadCENTER and I'm thrilled to be a part of it!

I have to say that afterwards, it will be so nice to return to a little normalcy...whatever that is. I know one thing...I'm going to take a big ol' nap. But it sure is fun to be a part of this community and to do whatever I can to help it grow. I love OKC.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Our First Press Release

Last week I had the good fortune to eat dinner with a friend that I really respect and while we were eating, I was telling him about SixTwelve's upcoming Hard Hat Tour. He asked me if I was going to do a press release. A PRESS RELEASE???? I was just inviting all of my Facebook friends to come see the building because so many of them had said they would like to take a peak inside. I didn't even think about a press release. I also thought it was way too late to do something like that. This was just an informal tour.

Of course, as more and more people said they would be coming, I thought, "Maybe I should create one...just for the experience of learning how to do that. I've never written one up before and that skill could come in handy in the future." Romy encouraged me to write one too, so I asked our awesome board member, Tracey Zeeck, if she thought I should and she said it could be good for posterity. So I decided to give it a go!

I totally underestimated how long it would take to write one up. I thought, "I wrote a thesis this time last year. I can handle a one page press release." Ha! It took me about an hour to muddle my way through choosing the most important information, a quote that could be used and a short explanation of what SixTwelve will be. I laughed at myself after I finally finished.

I sent it to Tracey, and she replied with a revamped (and much, much better) version, along with this kind note:

Ok I plan to rearrange a lot of it, so just a heads up. Don't want you to think you didn't do a fab job ;-)

I'm really grateful for Tracey. I want to learn how to do things well and I know we all have to start somewhere, but it really helps to have guidance, especially from someone like her. I respect that woman. She knows what she's doing and gets things done. AND SHE IS KIND. I realize more and more that the people we've chosen for board members are people that we want as teachers. We're so lucky to have them. Thanks, Tracey, for all of your help.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hard Hat Tour of SixTwelve

One week from today, we're going to have a hard hat tour of SixTwelve! It will take place on Earth Day, from 7-9am, and will be an informal way of letting people come in and take a peek at what we're up to. It will be fun to share our ideas with whoever shows up. Can't wait!

Click here for the Facebook invitation and more info!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Traveling with Tron, pt. 2 - Austin, Texas!

Two Thursdays ago, James, Trey, Ron, Katie and I all traveled south to Austin, Texas to meet with people and organizations that Ron and Trey had told us about. These people are doing great things down there and I really wanted to meet them myself, in order to develop a relationship and connection. I thought they could be potential speakers or teachers for SixTwelve, and an Austin/OKC partnership would be ideal!

Ron, Trey, James and Katie at Curras Grill in Austin

Our first stop, after some yummy mole enchiladas at Curras Grill, was Reclaimed Space. This is an organization that takes old lumber and resources from buildings that are being torn down, and builds new houses out of it that are a little smaller and eco-friendly. These spaces are beautiful! They also keep land use and preservation in mind when helping customers plan the perfect layout. This vision is also revealed in their collaborations with others in the Austin area, promoting gardening, farming, community gathering and education. I would love to live in one of these "spaces." Everything we saw at their location was inspiring!

Reclaimed Space's outdoor community space with a new stage - 
you can see the living space in the background. Rad. 

After we left Reclaimed Spaces, we traveled to a micro-grocery store called, in.gredients. Man, oh man, this place was just as cool as RS! Their vision is "to minimize waste and promote healthy, sustainable lifestyles by selling local food with pure ingredients, package-free." Did you know that over 700,000 tons of garbage is added to American landfills DAILY?!?! in.gredients only contributes about 1 pound/month to the landfill. Word. Some products that they sell have to be packaged, like meat and milk. But the rest of the products they sell are either dry goods that come in bulk or fresh, local produce (Mostly from Austin, but some from the state of Texas) that has no packaging at all. How does it work? You can either bring your own containers, weigh them before filling them, and then pay just for what you filled them with, or you can buy a glass jar from limited selection they offer in the store. (That would be for people like me who forget things. Ha!)

The community garden and eating space in front of in.gredients
James is excited about in.gredients!
I'm excited too! I loved their granola!

That evening, after checking into our hotel, we went to a place called Casa de Luz. This "place that houses light" is an all-organic dining and community center. As soon as we entered this place, I could feel a change in me, and it was more than the food. I looked around at all of the plants and smiles on people's faces and instantly became inspired! I also couldn't wait for others to experience exactly that at SixTwelve. What a blessed journey I am on. I can't wait to give this to people. I heard that they also had a pre-school on location, but it was late in the evening, so we didn't get to see that. Might just have to go back to Austin soon to take a look. Twist my arm. :)

Casa de Luz is gorgeous! 

The next morning, we all loaded up and drove to Urban Patchwork Neighborhood Farms. This was not only a fun trip, but informative too. I loved seeing chickens, a greenhouse, gardens, dogs, and every inch of a back yard used like a farm...right in the middle of the city!!! The women who greeted us were so willing to share their knowledge of how to organize neighborhood farms and THIS IS WHAT WE NEED! We want to learn about the best models and practices in organizing neighborhood farms, so that we can be most effective here in OKC with what we do through SixTwelve.

Urban Patchwork Neighborhood Farms

Thanks to Paige Godfrey who gave us a tour of her back yard! 

Katie is checking out the chickens and the crops!

I want to make sure that everyone knows that I believe OKC already has great things going on too. There are people here farming in their back yards, valuing local food and supporting the creative, local community. We are experiencing great energy and progress here and you don't have to look too hard to find it! What we hope to do at SixTwelve is to give these people a central meeting spot (if they want it), a platform to amplify their voice and to bring in ideas from other places to share. We also hope that some of the leaders in our own community will share their ideas with people and groups in other areas of the country. The more people working together, the better (in our opinion.) We want SixTwelve to be a local node within a bigger, more global, community of like-minded people.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Traveling With Tron: Geothermal Systems

A few weeks ago, James and I had the privilege of "Traveling with Tron." That's what we call traveling with two of our board members, Trey Parsons and Ron Ferrell. Ha! These two are awesome road trip partners and because of the research Trey had done, we drove out to Marion, Arkansas to see a net-zero middle school in the Marion School District. Net-zero buildings are structures with zero net energy consumption and zero carbon emissions annually, and the size of this school made that fact really impressive!

This school district had worked with a company called Hydro-Temp to design a geothermal system for the middle school, which controls the temperature and humidity in the building. Because the building was so HUGE, I expected to enter a space that was quite hot, but I was really pleasantly surprised to find a very comfortable and quiet environment. We want SixTwelve to be an example of everything we will try to encourage through our education curriculum, so we have to do all that we can to build with the health of our environment in mind. This is a huge way that we can do it, as long as we can afford it.

The upfront cost can be pretty big, but heating and cooling utility bills can be dramatically reduced, by as much as 75%! James has been working on this part of our project for almost a year and he will give a much more detailed description of what we've decided upon in a future blog post. (He already promised that he would! Yay!) But for now, I'll just say that the biggest perks a geothermal system at 612 would hold for me are reduced utility bills, temperature and humidity control, which is huge for exhibiting art in our gallery as well as for comfort, and last, but not least, its health benefits.

The assistant superintendent of schools for the Marion School District said that they have been putting these systems in as many schools as they can. They have two elementary schools that are about five miles apart and built at roughly the same time period. The district only had enough money to put a system into one of the schools the first year and then the other during the second year. The first school experienced almost an 80% drop in absenteeism the first year and then the second school experienced the same the next year. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT? When these systems are combined with a UV Light purifying system, the air is actually cleaned. Our buildings have the ability to make us sick or to help us lead healthier lives. People with asthma and allergies don't suffer as much in buildings with these systems. Can you imagine the impact on student health and education we would see if all of our schools could trade out their heating/cooling systems for geothermal + UV Light purification systems? I'm hooked and am even thinking about doing this at my house.

For anyone who wants to see a video description of how this works, check out this video! There will definitely be more posts over this topic in the future. This one is just the tip of the iceberg!

Some might wonder why we went all the way to Marion, Arkansas to check out a company when we have Climate Masters right here in Oklahoma City. We are definitely trying to promote "local" in all that we are doing. The answer is that the people in Arkansas are the ones who have been creating and inventing a lot of the technology we're looking for.  We think Climate Master is great, but if we use Hydro-Temp's product, we'd have more control over the different areas of our building because Hydro-Temp offers more variables in the system. Also, if we want to get LEED points for whatever we use, it needs to come from within 500 miles of our location and Marion is 449 miles away. So I think we're still doing good!

On our next SixTwelve road trip, we will be visiting Austin, Texas to see Urban Patchwork Neighborhood Farms and Reclaimed Space, two entities who are leading the way in sustainable living! I'm kind of geeking out over getting to meet these people and seeing what they are doing in person. Weeeeeeee!!!!!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Construction Series: Story 3, Steel Beams

Here's the third installment of our 612 construction series. When we started this round of renovations toward the beginning of the year, we were told that the idea James had for opening up the west side of the building might not happen exactly as we wanted. Without these beams, the wall supporting the upstairs hallway would have had to stay. It wouldn't have been the end of the world, but our interior definitely wouldn't have felt as spacious or appeared as architecturally appealing.

Our friend and framer, John Beedon, told us about a structural engineer, Syam Mannava, that he had worked with before, so we called and, sure enough, he was available that day to come over and take a look. He helped us so much. (Have I mentioned enough how grateful we are for John?)  Mr. Mannava was the one that led us to the solution of the steel beams. Here's a look at the arduous process of getting those incredibly heavy things into the building and up to the second floor. Wild! Thank you so much BC Summers, Colin Rosebrook, and all of the other people who volunteered and helped to get that steel beam upstairs. You are so appreciated.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Oklahoma Arts Council's Leadership Arts Program

One of the highlights of 2013 (so far) was being accepted into the Oklahoma Arts Council's Leadership Arts program. I am more than honored to be a part of this; I am grateful. During the four overnight retreat meetings we'll have all over the state this spring, the 2013 class will benefit from participating in panel discussions and experiencing methods of training that will be useful in our own businesses. We'll also be given useful tools in learning how to be better advocates for the arts in Oklahoma. I really want to do all that I can to help encourage the growth and quality of arts in this state, so I will take all of the free education I can get. I also want to make sure that I take every opportunity to learn how to be a better leader, so this couldn't have come at a better time.

At our first meeting, held at the beautiful Quartz Mountain, I met some incredible people. INCREDIBLE!!!  I'm so lucky to be a part of this group. The main thing that I took away from this initial experience was the fact that I had been so confident that I could see the big picture in relation to arts education. After our panel discussion over the topic, I realized that I only saw things from my perspective. I have been preaching and preaching about arts integration being the key, and that's because I was seeing things from a regular classroom teachers view. I discovered, after listening to everyone else, that I was forgetting something. What about time to develop mastery of skill? What about a class devoted to art for art's sake? What about experiences dedicated to music for music's sake? As a musician who was lucky enough to take voice and piano lessons after school, I just assumed that any serious artist or musician would be devoting time, outside of school, to that pursuit. That's not always the case.

I don't have all the answers yet and I doubt that I ever will. But I will say that my dream model for arts education would look something like this:

1. Arts integration in Math, Science, History, Language, etc. during the school day
2. Art, Music, Drama and Dance classes for electives in school
3. Private and group lessons in Art, Music, Drama and Dance after school

But here's the deal. A new friend that I made at this first session, Lisa Allswede from Funky Box Studios in Edmond, said something similar to this and I agree; we should allow students to cultivate their own interests. Not every child will want to be an artist, musician, dancer or actor when they grow up. Everyone is different. So why not help our students to explore what it is that they are interested in and base their curriculum on that?

I am in love with the idea of students telling their teachers about what they are interested in and want to learn more about, and then a team of educators integrating everything they need to learn into education based on those ideas. If you haven't checked out the Keystone Adventure School and Farm (also in Edmond), give it a look. I think what they do there is pretty impressive. SixTwelve will definitely be doing something similar. I'm excited to think about it!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Construction Series - Story 2

We are so enamored with our new outdoor stage! Who knew that concrete could be so exciting? Here's a short video of James explaining what was happening in late January at SixTwelve!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Construction Video Series

Have you been wondering about what's going on at 612? We'll have a series of videos that will let you know a little more! Here's one covering what happened last month. Take a look!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day: What I Love About Being Single

In the past, I might have been known to throw a pity party or two on Valentine's Day. Most of my friends were married and having kids. I thought, "That's what I want!" But I didn't have it, and I thought there was something wrong with me because I didn't. I was wrong.

Sometime over the last year, I've realized that not only is there nothing wrong with me, there is a lot that is right. I just didn't really want to be married. I mean, I thought I did. And don't get me wrong. If Mr. Right had walked in, I probably would've ridden off into the sunset with that cowboy. But I just haven't been ready. I had things that I wanted to accomplish with my life before I settled down. For one thing, I wanted to finish school. (Goodness, that took a lot longer than I thought it would.) I also needed to figure out what I wanted to contribute to this world. And now, I've not only figured it out; I'm doing it.

Because I have accomplished (or at least on the road to accomplishing) those goals, I find myself stronger than ever. I'm not as afraid of life or others' opinions of me as I used to be. I'm just ready to give everything I've got to my hopes and dreams. The beauty of that strength is that I'm also free and happy to let life flow, and to recognize it as good, whatever it is. Everything is what it is.

I'm not looking for a change in my life, because my life is good. Sure it would be great to share all of my incredible blessings with someone, but on THIS Valentine's Day, I'm happy to have all of the warmth and love that surrounds me daily. I don't need anything else. I'm grateful.

Plus, this stage of my life offers a lot of great things too. For example, as a single gal with no children...

1. I have more time to give to my family and friends.

2. I have more time to give to SixTwelve, Paseo, the arts in Oklahoma, and more!

3. I have more time to travel and see the world.

But like I said, if the right guy came along...I'd just invite him along on the adventures. Whatever happens, I'm happy, and I'm more grateful for that than any date I might have tonight.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Work vs. Family

Yesterday, I returned to SixTwelve for the first time since I left for a Florida adventure. I spent two weeks with my family and I loved every second of it. Family is more important to me than anything. ANYTHING. I know at the end of my life, and especially at the end of the lives of those I love, I will not be sitting there wishing that I had spent more time on SixTwelve or any other job I've held. As much as I love and am passionate about this project, nothing compares to the importance of my family.

In many ways, I believe that it's the time I've had with my family that has made me who I am and helped me to have so much to give to this project. Plus, I just love them. Ironically, I think that working on this project has helped me to love them and all of my friends in a much healthier and complete way. I'm a blessed lady to have such a great amount of goodness on both the professional and personal sides of my life.

Having said all of that... I missed SixTwelve while I was gone. I had a tiny bit of a hard time not being here to watch my "baby" grow and change. I had no doubt that James and John and all of the incredible people we have working at the building could handle the work. They are doing such a great job and I am definitely not qualified to even critique. I just love being able to see every single step of progress.

I realized through this valuable experience that I will be the only person who can keep the correct balance between work and family/personal life. I will be the only person who can choose to worry or let it go. I have to say I did a pretty good job of letting it go. I decided to live it up and enjoy the time I had with them. And when I returned, I found everything going so well. It was fun to see the progress that took days and days to accomplish in one viewing!

I'm so glad I went to Florida. I wouldn't trade anything for the time I had with my mom, dad, Jenny, Sam and Gaius. And to Tom and Camille, I know a time will come when you can be there too. Love you all.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

What a Week!

This past week was incredible!!! The month of January just keeps getting better and better!

I had lunch with Louisa and went to the Paseo Education Development Committee meeting on Monday. We're working on coming up with some great things to do for Edgemere Elementary and Harding Fine Arts School. That night, James and I celebrated with Romy at Cheever's because she received one of the five spots in OVAC's Art 365 exhibition that will take place in 2014. This is a huge and exciting opportunity for Romy and I couldn't be more thrilled for her! All five artists selected receive $12,000 and work with a nationally recognized curator to create innovative works. This year, they work with Raechell Smith from the Kansas City Art Institute. Yay for Romy and my friend Bryan Cook, who was also accepted. So happy for them!

On Tuesday, I enjoyed lunch with Joy downtown at Kitchen No. 324. Not only was the food delicious, but the decor was smart. I loved it. Can't wait to go back and try another tasty dish.

Kitchen No. 324

Wednesday might have been the high point of the week. Every day was good, but this one was extra special. I found out that morning that I was accepted into the Oklahoma Arts Council's Leadership Arts Class for 2013!!! This is going to be such a great thing for me because it will help me to better understand what it means to be an arts leader and an arts advocate in this state. I need all of the free (and good) advice I can get, because I want to contribute in meaningful ways to SixTwelve and to the arts in Oklahoma. So, so, so, so grateful!!!

We also held our first SixTwelve board meeting on Wednesday! Woooohooo!!! It was so fun to get everyone together and to get to know each other. I had the idea of trying to prepare the food myself and tried to get as much of it locally as I could. I wanted everything to represent our goals at 612. So I bought a salad an antipasto platter from The Wedge. I know that's not exactly "preparing the food myself," but if you've tried that platter, you understand. It's just sooooo good! I bought the chicken, pasta and some veggies from Urban Agrarian, and some hors d'oeuvres and brownies from the The Prairie Gypsies in Paseo. So I should say that I really didn't prepare any of the food myself. Haha! I would have been responsible for the main dish, but Tracey Zeeck and James took that over when people started arriving so that I could greet them. Oh well, at least I can organize...and at least the food was delicious.

After dinner, we held the business part of the meeting and it went well! Everyone signed their board commitment form and we talked about all kinds of ideas. It was crazy to finally experience what I had envisioned and imagined for so long. I know now that taking all of that time to get to know our community and the people in it before choosing board members really payed off. I'm really grateful for all of the people I'm going to get to work with!

James - Sharing the Dream

Tracey, Arif and Trey - Listening Intently 

Ron and Tracey - We're going to do great things!

We held the Oklahoma Food Cooperative's delivery day INSIDE of 612 for the first time on Thursday.

Oklahoma Food Coop Delivery Day at Paseo Pick Up Site

What a great experience! I can't believe how fast the renovations are going now. If you blink you might miss each step. Not only has work continued on the inside, but we also had all of the concrete around the building demolitioned, moved to a big pile because we're going to reuse what we can in building other concrete structures this next week and dirt moved to create the foundation for the stage area on the west side of the building.

All of the concrete is now gone, including that little patio near the back end of the building.

This is where they moved it! This was done in two days by three men. Crazy!

On Friday, I ate breakfast with Romy, lunch with Farooq, and had a drink at Louie's (Midtown) for happy hour with friends. In between all of these fun meetings, I have been researching for the creation of the preschool, The Young School! I am really excited about getting this organized and planned out. My guess is that we will start the school in January, but if the building is ready this fall (as James thinks it might be), I need to be ready then! I know it all takes as long as it takes, but I am getting anxious (in a good way) to work and to see my dreams realized. It's happening!!!!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

John Beedon

When James and I started this 612 project, we both knew that we would meet new and wonderful people because of all of the different experiences we would be having. There's something about reaching outside of your comfort zone that leads you to new groups of people with different expertise. This has definitely happened, and I'm really grateful because with each new acquaintance and friend that is made, a refreshed sense of possibility and potential enters into our dreams. The irony, however, is that we are also reconnecting with people from our past. The best example of this is our friend and framer for the building, John Beedon. I met him at OU a looooooong time ago...I won't mention the year. Ha!

John During the First Week of Interior Renovations

John has been working in residential and commercial renovations since the 80s and really knows what he's doing. When James and I first bought the building, I saw John driving around Paseo so we stopped and talked for a while. I found out that he had actually wanted to buy our building too. After some playful trash talk, we started talking about the programs that would take place there. He and his wife have been a great encouragement to me, supporting everything that we have proposed.

So when John proposed the idea of being involved in the renovations, I told James immediately! I wanted James to have the experience of interviewing multiple people and trusting his instincts in selecting those we would work with, so it wasn't a fast process. Nothing is with this project, but nothing substitutes for learning how to do things by doing them yourself. It's in that process that you learn to trust yourself in your choices and that's a good thing. Eventually, after a few talks with John at Picasso's, James agreed with me that John would be the perfect person to work with on framing and interior renovations.

The thing that sealed the deal with him was that he was the only person we talked to that agreed we should keep the original flooring. We really wanted to reuse as much of the original material as possible. And it payed off. When we were pulling up the floors, we found that most of the wood was in pretty good condition; the original grooves (I don't know the technical term) for connecting each plank together were solid and the original stain didn't go very deep so we'll have plenty of room for sanding it down and re-staining. 

John and his crew have also committed to recycling as much of what we're not using as possible.  This makes me really happy!!!! I don't want to contribute to a landfill any more than we have to. John specializes through his own company, beehold reinvention, in green and energy efficient systems and tax credit assistance, so he was naturally interested in reusing as much as possible too. Angel, Alfredo and Lou are all great guys and I can see why John trusts them. Plus they are speeeeeedy! We're very fortunate to work with them.

Angel hauled off all of the old pipes and conduit to be recycled
after they were taken out of the building.

Yesterday was a momentous day, and not just because we had our first 612 board meeting (I'll write about that tomorrow.) The main reason it was so special was the fact that John and his wife, Kristin, had a baby!!! Welcome Ayrton Ellison Shamas Beedon. We're so happy for your whole family and know that blessings will surround you.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Picking Up the Pace

Since James and I signed on the loan, things have been picking up and moving along. I'm really thrilled! Yesterday, I went over to SixTwelve and helped out a little by breaking up some old tile that was harvested out of the bathrooms at. We believe that it's original to the building (1929) and our friend, Diane Cody, is actually doing some research at the Oklahoma History Center to see if her hunch about the manufacturer is accurate. Can't wait to hear about what she uncovers!

James and BC (friend extraordinaire) spent time hammering nails out of the original, floor planks so that we can reuse the wood in other areas of the building. Our goal is to reuse as much as we can!

This pic was taken upstairs in the area that will be removed in order to open up
the space and make the area a double high gallery!
Following suit, I took a crack at the tile...literally. Ha! I wasn't able to save every piece, and I have a loooooong way to go before I'm finished, but this tile is just too beautiful to throw out. I want to see if we can incorporate it into the new bathrooms or, if we can't save enough, to create a mosaic out of it to hang somewhere in the building. Homage to our history!!!!

You can see the piles of tiles in the background and all of the cement attached to it.
I endured quite a muscular workout, using that chisel and hammer, but every single tile will make the effort worthwhile!

Closeup of that gorgeous 1929 tile!

I have to admit that having a job and purpose really is helping me to sleep better. I was never scared that this project wouldn't succeed. I just experienced some anxiousness for the day to finally get here when we could get back to work on the building and the programming for the space. I'm incredibly grateful that the day is finally here! Now, back to work (fun)!!!!