Posts Tagged ‘writers in community’

Lesson#2: Love Your Community & Do the Dishes (lessons from Brooklyn)

Filed under: Lessons of an Artist,On My Mind | May 18, 2013

Michael and HJ

My little family recently visited my sister and lots of old friends in Brooklyn, New York. It had been 2 years since I had walked that much (and that fast) in one day, rode the subway, strolled streets lined with row houses, got used to being warmer than usual indoors, washed dishes by hand, and went on the roof to water plants! If you don’t already know, my husband and I lived in Brooklyn (Park Slope) for a year before we had H.J. I remember leaving to move back home with renewed energy to make more time for friends. Family is awesome- especially mine- but friends are really important too. Friends in community are even more so.

India and Michael and HJ

HJ and India on a rooftop in Brooklyn

Our recent Brooklyn visit reminded me of that again… spending time in Crown Heights (my sister’s hood) felt like I was in a historic jazz town from a children’s book! Folks who had lived there all their lives were sitting on stoops and laughing with others, enjoying the Spring weather. When India (my sister) passed by, they waved to her and chatted as if she’d lived there all along too. And we had a warm welcome gathering in Park Slope in a lovely and quaint backyard of friends’. Afterward, my sister and her husband quickly offered to do the dishes! By hand! There aren’t many apartments with dishwashers there, so it’s a great way to serve your friends. And that’s when you get to the really good stuff in conversation- when you’re doing the dirty dishes! Don’t know why, but its true.

Party at the Booker's 1 Party at the Booker's 2 Party at the Booker's 3

I don’t know what it is about Brooklyn, but it breeds close communities. Communities of people with big dreams and big talents! That’s what I miss most about Brooklyn. Living among talented artists, designers, cooks, dancers, actors, musicians, and speakers and counting myself as one of them. When I visit, my old friends, my old community make me feel like I am still a part of it :) I’m so very thankful for that.

Hanging out behind The Old Stone House

Ben and I have chosen to live in the South near our families for now. I’m thankful H.J. gets to spend lots of time with her grandparents! And I have free babysitters often which blesses me with precious time for my illustration endeavors. I don’t get as much community with friends here in Georgia as did in Brooklyn, but the ones I do have are precious to me.

At the Brooklyn Botanical Garden At the Brooklyn Botanical Garden 2

I meet with 6 insanely awesome writers once a month! We (unofficially) call ourselves Trail Mix being as we are SO very different from each other, but we all all have the common thread of pursuing careers in children’s books. There’s laughing, tears, tough love, encouragement, and so much fun every time we meet! I would’ve never thought I would find such community with a group of writers! (Since I am more of an illustrator and all :) At the end of this month I’ll be hosting the group at my house, and I’m going to cook them dinner which is a little out of the ordinary. I guess I’m inspired to serve my little writer community!

HJ in BK!

I also happen to be a part of a very artsy family which I probably take for granted. It would stink if my whole family thought I was aloof and wanted me to be a doctor. That is definitely not the case! My family sets the artsy bar high- I am constantly being amazed!

HJ in BK 2

And my neighbor is pretty cool. Brandi has shown me that it can be a whole lot of fun to be friends and neighbors! We visit over coffee at each other’s houses or yards at least once a week. And if we need a cup of sugar, we walk over and get some :)

I also live in a sweet little railroad town called Ball Ground. I hope to be a pillar here and see it grow into something really neat. A small town girl with big dreams might be important to this small town- who knows?

McCloskey's in front of Manhattan

Conclusion: Artists need each other. Artists and non-artists need each other. Family needs each other. Maybe there’s a reason you exist in a place or in the same place as someone else. Maybe you are meant to inspire them or they to inspire you. Probably both.

So, love your community and do the dishes wherever you are.

NYC Graffiti


Shanda McCloskey, Children's Illustrator & Author