Flocking Together for Creative Youth
The Bird Box Initiative Foundation
In a city strife with grief, pain and anger I took a chance on creating a foundation solely focused on young artists. In a world crippled by an unrelenting pandemic I took a chance on establishing a foundation where we shine the light on talented teens. Young people who deserve all the support and accolades even though their own family, neighbors and society may or may not provide it based off how they look. Minneapolis is my city. So, I know what you are thinking…the foundation I created somehow intertwines racial and social justice within its organization objectives. And this would be incorrect. I don’t discuss either of these in regard to my foundation as they are not the core of why the Bird Box Initiative Foundation is here. Art is – art transcends all of the ugly we’ve witnessed. Because art highlights the beauty of whatever medium the artist elects to use. Art is where you find commonality, peace, and understanding. Photographers use different tools than painters, but they are connected through artistic expression. And this is why I created the BBI, we need the artistic viewpoint of young people. That is their identity, their voice, and their way of navigating this crazy world. Commonality is not solely found on social media, and to reinforce the social aspect of being social the BBI conducts bi-annual (in-person) events where we invite our community, fellow business leaders, family and friends of the young artist(s), and anyone with two or four legs to join us in celebrating the artistry of a deserving young person. Because they are deserving of being reminded how special and unique they are. How no matter what the apps on their phone display, a “like” is nothing close to a “community.” We flock together for these young people because we recognize the value of support and encouragement. My passions for this are simply the regurgitation of what my own mother did for me. The moments she put myself, and my siblings in spaces to receive accolades for our unique artistic point of view. As an adult, I still remember those moments. They are stored in my soul and manifested into the creation of the Bird Box Initiative Foundation. I can’t guarantee that the BBI will do the same for the youth we work with, but it all starts with one moment. One moment to push them towards their passions. One moment to remind them it is okay to be your authentic self. And one moment to celebrate them in a way that they know, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are worth more. I wish I could say you could monetize worth, but you cannot. And this is why I am so passionate about my foundation. Because no dollar amount I spend is ever spent with regret, as I am spending it to better the life of a young person. To give them the stage to shine. They are worth every penny we use to create exhibitions and shows dedicated and focused on them. Locating, supporting and highlighting the creative youth in our community is what brings me true fulfillment. Their artistic point of view propels our foundation mission and inspires me each and every day. Because it serves as a constant reminder that no matter what is happening in my own community, country, or world we can connect and heal through art. So, yes, I did start a foundation in a city where tears are both visible and hidden but hope and creativity are alive and well. As it is all around the world. And our youth are manifesting that hope and creativity in ways/mediums unlike anything we’ve seen before. I, for one, am here to witness it, and to support it!