Thursday, September 25, 2014

Corrugated Community: Cardboard Ball This Weekend

Posted By on Thu, Sep 25, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Tomorrow, Friday, Sept. 26, is the final deadline to submit three-dimensional art work for the Cardboard Ball, which takes place, Saturday, Sept. 27, 7 p.m. To submit your art work, from noon to 8 p.m., go to Maker House, 283 N. Stone Ave. Tucson artist Mykl Wells will be there to take your beautiful work.

Now hopefully, you're also working on your cardboard costumes. At my house we have run out of glue sticks and I think I cut my right pinky, but life goes on. You can still get your Cardboard Ball tickets at Maker House, Yikes or Pop-Cycle for $10 (if you hurry), but if you forget to get them in advance, you can get them at the door for $15.

Wells, who organizes the ball, is a co-founder of the All Souls Procession. The ball helps raises needed funds for a series of weekend community workshops Wells runs all next month to help people build the entries, memorials, masks and lanterns—really anything they want specifically for the All Souls Procession. They are amazing workshops. Mykl is very helpful and his beautiful mom is often on hand to help folks out. While we can talk about the All Souls being a true community-inspired event, the workshops Mykl organizes lead up to that really all in the spirit of building community and culture. It's actually what I'd say is another good example of what you can do in Tucson to "walk the talk" we so often love to claim around these parts.

So, really, consider coming to the Cardboard Ball to help kick off the workshop and celebrate community. Last year, I believe our friend Daniel Buckley wore a box from a Coca-Cola 12-pack. You don't have to go crazy (even though my household is, at least a little).

Want to understand where Mykl is coming from in his work? I really recommend an interview on the Many Mouths One Stomach site done by All Souls Procession volunteer Jhon Sanders. It's a great interview with Mykl that gets into the history of All Souls and the heart of Mykl's workshops.

From Sanders' interview:

Probably one of the key elements to a healthy and happy individual —a happy life, a good life— is….before things like health and food and shelter, is actually the efficiency of the community working together. Can people gather together around a common cause and do something about it? Can they organize? Can they work effectively together? And I would say that’s probably one of the greatest strengths in this, that it’s this intense community-building thing, and it really has this powerful ability to break down barriers between people. It doesn’t matter if you’re conservative or liberal, or this or that, whatever….everyone shares this stuff in common, this is universal. And in the workshops especially: when you come together to build things, the focus is on the project, it’s not on who you are or what you’re doing. It gives people this opportunity to work together and really bridge the gaps that occur between us. It brings our community much tighter together.

Those people, when they walk out of there, they have much more of an experience than just making a mask or whatever; they’ve worked with other people, they talk, they bond. I know lots of people who’ve made friendships in the workshops that have lasted for years. I also know that just seeing other people do these things is inspirational. “Oh…they just put together this thing and they did it. We could put together something and do it”. You see a lot of smaller cultural events popping up out of this greater Procession community. And that is the essence of building community, that right there.

I’m not very big on organizing people, but what I’m very big on is trying to spread a culture. To me it’s really about creating a culture of collaboration and creativity, and getting people excited about that. You don’t get sailors by offering them money, you make them yearn for the open sea, right? I’m paraphrasing there. But, so, to create this community you don’t do it by saying, “Okay! We’re going to build a community!” You say, we’re going to build an amazing Procession. We’re going to give you opportunites to create with other people. You create the incentive and th yearning to be part of something bigger and to work well with others. I don’t think I could have organized the workshops to function as well as they have if I hadn’t done it from a cultural approach as opposed to an organizational approach. Instead of trying to impose this rule on it, you instead create a culture of openness, and non-judgement, and creativity, and you show people how to do things but you let them make their own things. It pretty much self-organizes if you let it. People want to contribute to that. People feel like they’re getting something out of it. And they are.

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