FARGO - "Everyone is creative. Everyone is welcome."
That's the mantra of CreativeMornings, a volunteer-run lecture series for innovative communities that began in 2008 in New York City.
Founder and CEO Tina Roth Eisenberg started CreativeMornings with a simple premise: gather people from all professions for a monthly free breakfast and short talk to inspire their creativity, according to its website. In the last decade, the series has spread to more than 180 cities worldwide.
Typically, CreativeMornings takes place in communities with populations of at least 500,000. But local artist, designer and community organizer Jeff Knight didn't let that stop him from starting a chapter in Fargo-Moorhead, which has less than 250,000 people.
After applying with an interview and a lighthearted video that clarified common misperceptions of Fargo - yes, the famous "Fargo" Woodchipper made an appearance - Knight says CreativeMornings selected it almost immediately. That makes Fargo one of the smallest chapters in the world.
"We see creativity being a catalyst for a lot of great things," Knight says. "CreativeMornings is a place where people can come feel inspired and get engaged in something that hopefully sparks new ideas."
Something for all
The first local CreativeMornings gathering will take place 8-10 a.m. Friday, June 29, at APT, a Creative Incubator, with free breakfast from Sugarplum and coffee from Stumbeano's.
Each session takes place the last Friday of the month and features speakers from all occupations, not just creative fields, to talk about a theme that's universal across CreativeMornings' worldwide chapters.
All sessions will also be recorded by Livewire and posted online.
Because the first theme is "Craft," Knight knew the best person to jump-start the series would be the bubbly and energetic Ashley Morken, owner of Unglued in downtown Fargo.
Morken, who will become co-host of CreativeMornings with Knight after the first session, says one of the most rewarding aspects of craft is seeing people "come alive" when they embrace their creative side. She's witnessed this firsthand at Unglued.
"Whether it's (participating in) workshops with local makers, getting inspired by a watercolor gnome print or meeting a maker at the Unglued Craft Fest, when people connect to craft and craftsmanship, they become more than just consumers of goods - which is priceless in this mass-produced world," Morken says.
"I'm stoked to cannonball into this first CreativeMornings and get to connect craft and creativity and (talk about) how much we all need these in our lives," she continues.
Morken adds that every gathering will have voluntary "project time" for people to let go and get creative. Attendees will also leave each CreativeMornings session with a small gift to keep the momentum going, Knight says.
CreativeMornings Fargo has speakers lined up for the rest of 2018 and has themes for 2019 in place. Knight hopes CreativeMornings will break the common misconception that creativity is just for artists.
"You can be creative in every business and whatever you do everyday," he says. "If you're a parent, if you have a full-time job, if you work for yourself - you're always being creative and solving problems. That's ultimately what creativity does: help us find solutions to problems."
He's excited to hear from people whose stories are not often told.
"When you go, you might hear from someone you might not associate with creativity, and that's the point," Knight says. "We want to spread the message that everybody is creative, whether you think it or not." CreativeMornings Fargo is free, but tickets are required to reserve one of the 50 spots. Tickets for the first gathering will be available starting at 10 a.m. Monday, June 25.
If you go
What: CreativeMornings Fargo
When: 8-10 a.m. the last Friday of each month starting June 29
Where: APT, a Creative Incubator, 225 Fourth Ave. N., Fargo