Creative Philanthropy

| 11/20/2013 12:13:00 PM

Number 1 (2013) Christian Williams

Finding creative ways to make a difference in our communities

Putting together a magazine like Utne Reader is, by far, the best job I’ve ever had. For the first time in my career, exploring my fascinations and interests is more than just an after-work activity; it’s one of my primary responsibilities as editor.

The process of curating articles for this kind of magazine also means daily exposure to new ideas, fresh perspectives, and highly-motivated agents of social change. When you’re constantly meeting people who are so interested in trying to make the world a better place, you start asking yourself what role you can play in that noble pursuit.

Some of us on staff have become involved in the local branch of Food Not Bombs (associate editor Sam Ross-Brown), while others are maintaining a permaculture-focused community garden that donates produce to local food banks (associate editor Suzanne Lindgren). In both of those examples, I realized that a personal passion is being put into action, and it got me thinking about activism and volunteering in a whole new light. In addition to our time and money, every one of us has a set of skills and talents that we can be using to better the communities we live in.

So when I thought a little harder about how I could contribute to the greater good, I considered my passion for creativity. I’ve been painting abstract pictures for a little over a year, and just recently started to display them in my office at work. One particular piece caught the eye of our publisher and editorial director, Bryan Welch, and he asked if he could buy one like it. My abstract pictures are spontaneously produced and never alike, so I decided to give him the piece that originally caught his eye (pictured above). As I finished the piece with a handmade frame, I realized I’d stumbled on a way to make a difference—a concept I’m calling “creative philanthropy.”  

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