Some Kind of Journey 2

Late last year, I became a board member for a local nonprofit that is focused on magnifying the arts scene in the downtown area of my city. Since many of the big car manufacturers left the area, this city has fallen victim to societal virus known as the rust belt.

And while that may seem like some sort of demise, I really don't believe that.

Especially since I've met so many incredible people who have hunkered down in this town, determined to lift it up.

The vision for the downtown area, which was once a hub of business, is to steer away from retail in this Amazon-driven, ship-it-to-my-house era, and focus on local artists, arts engagement and enrichment, as well as offering a place for community members to meet with others, to discuss, connect and just realize that the city is very much alive.

One of the events that happens the first Friday of each month is called, just like many other towns who probably do the same thing: First Friday.

Wifefriend and I decided to make a night of the October First Friday. The idea behind this idea is that different venues stay open throughout the Friday evening, and one of the locations we decided to step foot in was this place called A Town Center.

We walked into a gallery, looked around at all the art hanging on the walls, fell in love with some of the styles, and ran into one of the people that started it.

After a tour of the facility, I wanted to be a part of it. They have four artist studios in the basement, where they have four artist-in-residence. Each artist is in charge of creating pieces for the First Friday shows and teach classes each month or provide some kind of opportunity for the community.

Having become friends with each of the artists, its challenged me to put down my pencil for writing, and pick up my other pencil that is for illustration and art.

Having joined the board, I've been able to recalibrate their website, design a few logos, work with their social media presence, and design pieces to promote their programs. Although I wasn't quite sure about what they wanted, I sort of knew what they needed, so I just dove in and created pieces.

And I haven't looked back.

You can learn more about A Town Center, Inc at We feature guest artists each month, which allowed for me to pull a friend in to showcase his watercolors (and to kick his butt to get painting again), and we've got a call out for local artists to submit work that ties into our city, which will be up for the month of June.

I've been around a few nonprofits that I have admired, and I've been wanting to be a part of something for quite some time. A favorite, a creative writing and tutoring center with storefronts that masquerade as fantastical stores (Pirate Stores, Superhero Stores, Time Travel Stores, etc.), would be a dream to work with, but the closest two are Chicago and Ann Arbor, Mich.

Other places are 40 minutes away in Indianapolis.

To have something that's just a few minutes from my house wins.

Follow us on Instagram: @atowncenter1206 and check us out on Facebook at