Minnesota author visits Red Wing to talk creative placemaking
Jamie Schumacher, artists, nonprofit founder, author, public speaker, executive director of the West Bank Business Association and mother of twom said that she has always had a "nugget" of an idea in the back to her brain: to create something in her community that she could learn from and then hand-off.
Schumacher's friends said she was crazy. However, that did not stop her from creating Altered Esthetics, a community art gallery that, eventually, led to "It's Never going to Work," a book that she wrote and then spoke about at the Red Wing Public Library on Saturday, Nov. 10.
"It's Never going to Work" is part memoir, part guide to starting an organization and part manual on creative placemaking. The book is written in vignettes to make it "easily digestible" as Schumacher's website explains. There are also illustrations throughout the book by Athena Currier, a Minneapolis-based artist, to breakup the pages of text.
The creative placemaking aspect was the focus of Schumacher's presentation when visiting Red Wing.
Schumacher fell in love with Minneapolis when she stopped in the city during a trip to visit a boyfriend's family in Wisconsin. A couple of months later, she returned to explore the city by herself. "I found my roots here," said Schumacher.
Those roots grew stronger as Schumacher began to get involved in her new community. In 2004, she founded Altered Esthetics, an art gallery that highlighted local art and artists. According to Altered Esthetics' website, the gallery was created "to assist low-income and unrepresented artists in Minneapolis."
Like most artists, Schumacher does not make a living solely by creating art. Instead, Schumacher works at The West Bank Business Association where she helps nonprofits and small businesses find creative ways to make a profit — anything from creating websites to finding a way to buy their storefront or space.
"It's not unlike working with artists," explained Schumacher, when talking about how she helps organizations find ways to sustain themselves.
This combination of being an artists, having started a nonprofit and working with small businesses and other nonprofits are all spun into a book. When Schumacher originally pitched the book to a publisher, it was suggested that she write two books — a personal memoir and a "how-to" book about creating and running a nonprofit or small business. Schumacher explained that there are already numerous manuals about how to create an organization and she did not feel the need, or desire, to write another one. She also adamantly believed that including her personal experience was an important piece of the book.
"I'm not going to remove my voice from a story to make it feel like it has more value," explained Schumacher. She continued by saying that even if there are fewer people who read her book than those who would read a guide on creating and running an organization, she is glad that she wrote the book that she originally set out to write.
Schumacher also emphasized that many books on the subject of nonprofit and business management are written by white men. As a person who identifies as a woman of mixed-race, she believes it is important to add her voice to the conversation, even if only a niche audience reads her piece.
"If even one person reads this and is like, 'I can try that art thing,' then it's worth it," said Schumacher.
For more information about Jamie Schumacher and "It's Never going to Work," visit: www.jamie-schumacher.com.