Friday, January 3, 2014

The Start of a New Year!!!!!????????!!!!!?????

The start of a New Year for Made in Bridgeport is a little bit exciting and a little bit scary or at least questionable  with all of the changes that have taken place in the recent days at the Arcade Mall. It came as a shock and a hard blow when Ripka's Bullshead Market gave us word Decemeber 21st, that they were moving out. They closed their doors to the public that very day. It has left a lot to the imaginations of many and reasons will never be quite clear. Bottom line it just didn't work for all the right reasons and all the wrong reasons too. I posted a question on my Facebook page that very week and surprisingly it was seen by more that 800 viewers- the most ever, witnessing my inquiring mind in the whole time I have been a product of the Facebook social mill. Here's what I wrote:

{Dear Friends- we received the news yesterday that Ripka's Bullshead Market in Bridgeport is Closing. They have only been there a few short months after nearly a year of renovating the space and with the vision of bringing something Bridgeport really needs. as a shop owner who will greatly be affected by there leaving I am asking for your help. Please Post what are some of the issues that prevent you from shopping in downtown Bridgeport. Ex: parking is a main issue...for shop owners and the small businesses downtown. We loose our customers because of the risks of getting tickets for parking over the limit, but the City does not have updated parking meters that can take credit/ debit cards. which would ensure our customers could stay longer and not have to flee because they are afraid of getting a ticket. Bridgeport should offer at least one day each week for free parking so that the shops can actually succeed. Ok so this is my main beef but I know there are others. Please feel free to add and also to send your feelings about this to the Mayors office. It is a very real shame that Bridgeport has lost the market and how can they expect other businesses to move in when the planning of how business is or isn't working is never really addressed. Bridgeport What is really Viable? and are we delusional in thinking we can do something as small businesses to make a difference? Tired of Being a Puppet and Yes CP not wanting to take anymore wooden nickels. Comment Please>}

Not really sure how 800 viewers makes a difference, but it would be great to get that many people into a room... with all of the productivity and consequences, ideas and solutions, weed it all out until we get to the core of the real issues. Community and belonging to something. believing in something is important to me. So with all of these new casualties I must aspire to new possibilities, even if it means that things don't turn out the way I had originally expected. One of the things about being an artist first and foremost is the potential to constantly re invent ourselves. This year I will turn 55, it comes as a shock to me, one, because my mind is still so supple, ahh! my body says otherwise...but more than that I have lived a life of an old soul since birth. I may in fact be 155 that is if we should add up all the times I have reinvented myself through this lifetime. And here again a new year and another day to reinvent myself and what the future may hold is continuously a mystery and to start out any plan for action I am somewhat thwarted because I am beginning this new year sick with the flu.

I am not a church going soul, I am a believer though. I am in constant contact with something much greater than myself. So, being sick, often is the only way I am able to rest ,I am a physical being, a mental being...when I rest I become a more aware spiritual being. I am almost thankful for times like these. Silence serves to help us find the truth of our being. I should be having a conversation with my one dearest and closest to me, yet the need for silence proves to be the dominant need at the moment. I suppose before I come out of this writing I will have read this to him a number of times,. Because He needs to know. We are a team. We need each other to make all that's ahead of us happen. I really do understand that. But for now the silence is serving its purpose. I need more of it.

This morning I woke up and my first thoughts were "what if I could no longer run the Made In Bridgeport business at the Arcade?" My thoughts went to the practical stuff. 1) I'd have to move everything out 2) I would let all my consignors know and pay them up to date. 3) I would regroup. inventory, and probably sell everything online that's left.
But then I thought ok so that's a plan, but isn't there something greater that you can do, that you want to do? And what I love most about my business is the people. I love their stories, that feeling of community, that opportunity to inspire and give to those who know I want to see them succeed because they see their own potential. I want to be the contagion.  The Brick and mortar space in the Arcade has given me the opportunity to do what I love, to create and to inspire, to create a fellowship of peers. To share common interests, to comfort, to explore, to bring hope. I carry a lot on my shoulders with this. I know this as a wounded healer. And there's the word,- Healer.

I see in my surroundings in downtown  Bridgeport people who are down and out, I am often, mistrusting and afraid of them. Not because of the color of their skin or how they look, largely its their behavior. I sometimes have the opportunity to speak with some of these folks, and I wonder what is their potential? I don't want to be Mother Theresa, but I see something, I try to draw something from everyone, I try to help them find their spark. Much of it comes natural and much of it comes from training in mental health. A man came into the shop recently, I could see he had lived some hard times, I was afraid at first. so was on my guard. But I asked him to tell me his story and why he does what he does (he stamps leather belts), how he got his training. Do you know how difficult it is for a person coming out of incarceration to begin again? I gave him a chance and materials as a leap of faith and he came back with a cool upcycled product. I hope he will come back with more.

What if I could do that with the large community that no one wants to look at, wants out of their pretty parks and financial center.s What if we could create a center of workers making art, making products, making a living...shifting their focus from the street to applying their gifts as contributors to society. Notes to self: Contact the Rescue Mission, Speak with CCAR. What if???? My nearest and dearest and I have been speaking of this for years. We have a model to follow. Neither wants to be in charge of it and that's where the problem lies. It won't happen unless we take ownership of it. Because it is our vision and we cannot expect anyone else to know what is in our heats or minds until we take action and make it happen.

So this New Year for me is about taking responsibility for my ideas and my vision. Creating a Crafters Cooperative by first learning what steps I need to take. Speak with the powers that can get me to my realized vision. And seek out the help of those who have it in their hearts to lift people up rather than knock them down. This year is about staying positive even in times of adversity, to speak my mind when I am ready to really say something and not before I am ready. To trust that what I have to say can make a difference and what I choose to do will make a difference in how I live my life . I have faith that I will find wisdom, a balance, and I will learn to choose my words wisely for the betterment of all I encounter.

The Road ahead looks brighter when I can see every step ahead moves me closer to the heart of my being.