By Dana M. Gillespie

Dana Gillespie and Carlo Cuesta, Co-Founders of Creation In Common

Soon after the world started falling apart — with the pandemic, the isolation, the murder of George Floyd, and the uprising that came after — I had a deeply touching experience. We live about a mile away from the police precinct that became the hot zone. We had watched on the news as the protests became more chaotic. Fires broke out and storefronts were shattered. 

The next day I drove down to a nearby diner. Along the way I saw kids and seniors side by side, sweeping up broken glass and collecting trash and putting our neighborhood back together. At the diner the employees had created a pop-up food shelf since the neighborhood grocery store had been closed. People were bringing canned goods and other necessities. Others kept a list of requested items, like diapers and toothpaste.

And then I drove past my neighborhood YWCA. They had converted the Minneapolis Sports Center into a food and household goods distribution center with donations from the community and local businesses like Target and General Mills and nonprofits, like CLUES (a Creation In Common client). It was at that moment that I thought, we can do this. People are coming together so we’re going to be okay.

Screenshot from the Emerge North 4 Shared Creativity Story

That experience made me think of our nonprofit friends and clients who spend their days improving the lives of others. I felt a need to connect with them to see how they had pivoted to get through this very difficult time and how they were connecting with their communities. Carlo and I decided to create a series of six short video interviews with some of our partners.  

Screenshot from the Wilderness Inquiry Shared Creativity Story
  • Pangea World Theater refused to let go of staff, and instead gave them stipends to create their own works in response to this moment in time.
  • Commonweal Theatre Company talked about how, when they cancelled their season and offered refunds to subscribers, nearly every one asked them to keep the money. 
  • Ebenezer Senior Living shared the creative ways they maintained their seniors’ connections with loved ones, and how the seniors and staff formed their own quarantine family. 
Screenshot from the Commonweal Theater Shared Creativity Story
  • Wilderness Inquiry mailed presents to the kids they serve with activities to do each day and the supplies to do them, accompanied by videos made by the staff.
  • EMERGE shared how the young men of their North 4 program collaborated to develop a way to distribute food to those in need, and how the experience deeply affected both the  participants and the recipients. 

These beautiful stories reminded us of the founding mission of Creation in Common: To strengthen communities through shared creativity. In defining shared creativity, we talked about the belief that we and the world around us are always changing — how we’re all affected by our environment and our place in it.

These organizations, and many others like them, have looked at a world in flux and found ways to connect with their communities…to adjust and respond and survive.

That’s why we call our video series “Shared Creativity Stories.” We hope you enjoy these inspiring stories and find your own way to contribute.