CreativeMornings is a breakfast lecture series for the creative community of Grand Rapids and West Michigan, and part of a larger global network of 170 chapters, started in 2008 by Tina Roth Eisenberg (aka @swissmiss).
CreativeMorning events are once a month—usually the third or fourth Friday—and feature a different creative person based on the chosen theme. We interviewed the Grand Rapids' chapter host, Molly Singleterry to learn more.
How long has the Grand Rapids chapter been running?
We are celebrating our third birthday in June! Julia Jamieson Swenson started the chapter in June 2014, on the theme “Minimal,” with Nikolai Czumaj-Bront at Haworth. Our celebration this year is on Friday, June 23rd at UICA. We’re featuring Tyler Way from [HAS HEART] on the theme “Survival.”
Who can attend?
Anyone! Truly. The CreativeMornings manifesto (which all chapters are guided by) states “Everyone is creative. Everyone is welcome.” We care deeply about making anyone who is interested arrive feeling welcomed, and leave feeling inspired and wanting to return.
What speakers have been on the CreativeMornings stage?
We’ve had so many fantastic speakers in the three years we’ve been running. Highlights have been: Carson Davis Brown on “Shock” showcasing his unique, guerrilla-style photography in big box stores; illustrator Lucy Engelman in the beautiful Downtown Market greenhouse on “Time”; MOMA-artist and designer James Victore from NYC on “Revolution”; entrepreneur Ryan Vaughn from Varsity News Network on “Risk”; activist Carlene Pinto from Brooklyn on “Broken”; Mayor Rosalynn Bliss on “Transparency” in the month before the 2016 presidential election; Dana Doll, founder of Treetops Collective interviewed Shadia Mbabazi, a refugee from Rwanda and board member at Treetops (soon after President Trump’s illegal immigration ban) on “Moments”; and breast cancer survivor Tammy Myers on “Taboo”.
Has there been an event that has stood out in your mind as a perfect example of what CreativeMornings is all about or proves what Creative Mornings can accomplish?
Mayor Bliss’ event comes to mind. We were so excited when her office said yes so quickly. Soon after, we were able to secure a really beautiful venue: Kendall College of Art and Design’s old federal building, on the second floor, where it once was the City’s old courthouse! We had an excellent food spread, thanks to the generosity of KCAD; Adrian Butler had a killer ladypower playlist; and the energy of the room was an intense awareness of the upcoming presidential election. Mayor Bliss was dynamic, friendly, and very open (dare I say “transparent”) about what she wanted to do for the City, and get our community involved.
What kind of impact does an event like CreativeMornings have on the Grand Rapids community?
I like to think that our events are something that many different creative groups around the community look forward to every month. We’re not just designer-focused or artist-focused or tech-focused. We try to find a diverse group of speakers to bring in communities we might not yet know. They’re a fun way to get to see friends in these industries, meet new people and very casually network, if that’s your thing. And more importantly, they’re a quick dose of inspiration for your Friday morning. Impactfully, we create a space for inspiration, creativity, dialogue, connections, and fun.
Tell us about your Birthday Celebration!
We’re so excited to turn 3! We’ll be at UICA in the fourth floor gallery, with mingling on the terrace. UICA is our anchor venue sponsor, which means we have events twice a year, which is so rad. We love UICA for many reasons, most of all the people we get to work with and the new art installations we get to check out. It’s a win-win for our community, because we can also fit more people into this space. We’re really looking forward to collaborating with some wonderful people, including Adrian Butler, our awesome DJ each month; Katie Huber, from Kenley Event Design, who will be creating a beautiful floral installation; Ferris Coffee, for some killer coffee and drinks; and a wide variety of vendors for great food. Tyler Way will be speaking on the theme “Survival.” He’s the co-founder and creative director of [HAS HEART], an organization that unites U.S. Veterans with artists with the mission to tell their story. He is also the lead footwear designer for SEBAGO (Wolverine Worldwide, Inc.) and has created personal artwork for athletes and celebrity figures including LeBron James, Phil Knight, and others. He’ll be leaving on a 50-state road trip for 18 months with his soon-to-be wife the week after our event, so we’re excited to send him off in style.
What are some of the ways that West Michigan can better support the design community?
Personally, some of my favorite events are those nitty-gritty group discussions. Like, “what’s your freelance rate?” or “how do I make a contract?” I think it’s integral to weave those events in with the inspirational events that showcase awesome people in our community (like ours do). We need to feel inspired as any sort of “creatives,” as well as get down to the details. And I also think it’s important to expand our reach and our understanding of what a “creative” is. Are you always inspired by just looking at a similar designer’s work? Sometimes. But not always. We’re inspired by everyone’s story, artwork around us, good music, a great joke, etc. It’s not just singularly focused.
How can folks stay up-to-date about forthcoming events? How can the community connect with CreativeMornings?
The best thing to do would be to sign up for the newsletter. We promise fun, infrequent communications. We’re also very active on Twitter: @GrandRapids_CM and Instagram: @creativemorningsGR, as well as our Facebook page: @creativemorningsGR. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, too.
Is there anything else you want the community to know about CreativeMornings or the Design Community?
We truly are honored to be part of a community who cares deeply, acknowledges the diversity and includes many, generously donate their time and skills to help others and make things better … Let’s keep creating events where people feel included, acknowledged, and respected. That’s how we can keep our community growing, moving forward, and creating wonderful things.