Read Erin’s thoughts on what giving back has meant to her and how it has changed her life and her community.
As a teaching artist, mom to an awesome 13 year old. I value connection and wholeheartedness. I incorporate tie-dyeing in a variety of workshops, classes, and in my volunteering.
Before the shutdown, I would teach at the library, lead the Tiger Pause Community Service Club at the Maryland International School, and participate in a variety of community engagement activities. I volunteer to teach tie-dye workshops at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center on a monthly basis with my outreach group, Colorful Abandon. During the pandemic, we simply partnered with Art Works Now and started a virtual outreach program that we call Be the Sunshine. Many have contributed to our programs through in-kind and financial donations. We have also been very lucky to have the help of many people to put together components for the art kits. A huge thank you to Howard County Volunteens!
I work with students and workshop participants to make tie-dye head coverings. We also make handmade cards that we donate. Dyeing bandanas to donate was inspired through my involvement with the non-profit, Grateful Heads, we are an international network of tie-dye artists who get together for 4 days each summer to create approximately 1000 bandanas. The bandanas are given for free to anyone undergoing medical treatments. I have donated to a variety of non-profits. Most recently I have donated use of my tapestries to Unified for their Hoodstock Charity Music Fest and to LoveLight Yoga & Arts Festival.
I teach a class at the library. Our focus is self-kindness and creative community service. I believe that gratitude and self-compassion can change the way we show-up in the world. We are more brave, more kind and more compassionate. Peace begins with us.
The second piece that has driven me was when, in 2015, I realized that I had spent my whole life hating myself. At my lowest I made the radical decision to be nice to myself one time, to see what would happen. It changed my life. I stopped trying to be perfect or be who I thought everyone expected me to be. Since then, I have been on a journey to deepen my understanding of self-compassion and teach others the importance of being kind to themselves. My view of the world has changed. I realize that everyone is doing the best that they can with what they have been taught. So, I do not take things personally. Each day I am learning to become more open and grateful to each teacher who crosses my path and makes me a stronger, kinder person. I laugh a lot more.
Team building is one of my favorite workshops to facilitate. I believe that teams grow stronger by expressing gratitude and appreciation for their team members, allowing themselves to be vulnerable through the creative process, and working together to give back to the community.
If we cannot be kind to ourselves when we make a mistake, how can we expect to be less reactive and and judgmental towards others? So, let’s work together to send positive energy into the world that promotes peace.
If I see a way that I can help, I do. I am a tree hugger. I conserve water by using a grey water system at my art studio. Most of the tools and materials I use are up-cycled. I pick up litter on a regular basis, and I teach children the importance of using our resources wisely. Through the shutdown, I worked with Downtown Columbia Partnership to host sidewalk chalk events. We brought folks together outside to express themselves through chalk art. Art is healing. We teamed with additional local organizations to host the Black Lives Matter Chalk it up event, the Pride Chalk it Up event and most recently the Earth Day Chalk it up event.
*According to Dr. Brené Brown, “Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.”