In our pre-Harwood lab meeting, when we were asked what we were expecting from the program, I was set on learning new tools to reach out to the community from the standpoint of being a member of The Patterson Foundation (TPF) team.

As participants in the lab, we were asked to share three aspirations for our community. My responses went from small to huge. I was hoping to get clear tools to help get me on the right track to visualize and bring ideas and aspirations to action. Pen and paper in hand, I took notes on the sessions, read, watched the videos, grabbed pieces of information, and followed the lab journal the best I could.

Mid-way, we were asked to have conversations regarding our aspirations with people from our community. These conversations somehow felt repetitive. We were not necessarily moving forward as I envisioned. I took notes:
  • Our challenges exacerbated by the pandemic
  • How can we meet them [people] where they’re at?
  • People are experiencing these problems in a variety of ways, and sometimes they don’t even realize the root of the problem is the same.
I had gathered quotes and highlighted words, but the strategies I was hoping to find didn’t seem that clear.

Another week and another assignment later, I was rushing from a project to my Harwood journal. The page opened with a title, and before stating the question, it read in red, PAUSE.

I paused.

I didn’t read the question for a few seconds. I just paused. Then, I slowly grabbed my notes and filled out my entry. I had notes in a notebook, on a different document, and even on my phone. What I wrote was not memorable, but writing it was.

In that way, I was showing up for my community by taking the time to reflect. I was showing up for my community by not working on the project I was rushing from. In other words, my small choices were making a big impact. Pausing, journaling, and following the Harwood Lab questions helped me see more clearly.

During sessions and our TPF meetings, we talked about possibilities, aspirations, shared language, civil faith, visions, listening to the community, turning outward, showing up, small steps, big steps, and moving to action. My biggest action started as many things in my life as an artist have, with a pen and a white piece of paper.

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