Friday, April 04, 2014


There are few right angles in the reinvention of oneself. Mostly the changes involve a more sweeping slope, a gradual veering toward one direction or another.

Lately, though, I have made some right angle changes in my volunteerism. I stopped reviewing albums for a record label which shall remain nameless, partly because I didn't like any of the albums, but mostly because I didn't think that a major label needed my charitable hours. I also dropped a  volunteer gig last year because I wasn't getting any love for my efforts. Primarily, though, I simply need to keep things interesting.

After eight years,I will be taking this summer off from volunteering at the Calgary Folk Festival. Although I get lots of love and perks as a Record Tent co-ordinator, it's time for a rest. Originally we thought we might be travelling during festival time, but even if we are not, it will be rejuvenating and very freeing to don the Birkenstocks, sling our festival chairs over our shoulders, and assume no responsibilities for the entire festival. No close-toed shoes, no keeping an eye on my watch, no putting out any fires, and no abandoning the family tarp while filling a shift. No free admittance and meals or hanging with musicians backstage, either, but I am willing trade in those perks to be a civilian again for a year.

A few weeks ago, I started a new volunteer gig, helping out with the creative writing session of create! in the East Village. This is a wonderful program, started by one amazing and very caring woman, who was concerned about the lack of creative programming for marginalized people in our city. Single-handedly and with virtually no funding, she started offering two visual arts and one creative writing session each week, in addition to hosting two evenings a month - devoted to Artists' Trading Cards - at a neighbourhood cafe. All sessions are free, drop-in, and open to anyone in the community.

I've been to a handful of creative writing sessions now and am always taken aback by the quality and the passion of the writing that people share. Many of the participants have not had an easy life and many of them face a lot of challenges. They inspire me.

This week I led a tutorial on Blogging 101 during the creative writing session. I am by no means a teacher, but these students were so kind and accepted my bumbling explanations with good humour. I hope to see a few of them start their own blogs. Not only does the declining blogosphere need an infusion of fresh blood, but I have a suspicion that my highly engaged students are just the writers to inject that much needed passion into the art. 


umbrellalady said...

Bravo on your new endeavour!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Thanks, Kathy. It's been really rewarding so far.

Unknown said...

Volunteering is a learning experience, and clearly you're ready to learn some new things! Sounds like a fantastic opportunity for everyone involved.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I do like my comfort zones, but every now and then, you have to stretch those out, SME.

John Mutford said...

In your recognition that there was the potential to spread yourself too thin, you've switched the toast. Love it!

Good on you for making the most of your freedom, and any organization is lucky to have you! Except the Harlem Globetrotters.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I am taking growing taller lessons, John in the hopes of giving the Globetrotters some much needed help one day.