Feature photo by Hillary Ehlen
From left to right: Ashley Morken, Unglued; Morgan Schleif, Eco Chic Boutique; Jesse Horrelbeke, J. Alan Paul Photography; Jeff Knight, Cereal; Jack Yakowicz, Office Sign Company; Crystal Cossette, Sugarplum; Dayna Del Val, The Arts Partnership; and Kent Kolstad, Livewire.
There’s so much positive energy in the community right now. There are a ton of opportunities to gather, network and hear about new ideas. First Fridays, 1 Million Cups Fargo, and others are hubs of learning and connecting, and it’s been fabulous to watch new ideas and relationships spring from them.
With all of this already in place, it might seem like we’ve reached the metro’s capacity to engage in these types of events, but those of us who live and work in the creative class don’t think that’s true. And we’re about to launch a new program called Creative Mornings Fargo, which is aimed at engaging anyone who is interested in finding ways to incorporate creativity and creative thinking into their own lives.
The mastermind behind Creative Mornings Fargo is Cereal Founder and former Concordia College professor Jeff Knight, and we at The Arts Partnership are thrilled to be working with him to bring it to the metro.
Started in New York City in 2008, Creative Mornings was about creating a breakfast lecture series for the creative community, and now Fargo is among the more than 180 communities around the globe invited to host these monthly get-togethers.
What’s more is that Creative Mornings typically only accepts applications from communities with populations of 500,000 or more, but when Jeff and TAP’s videographer, Erin LeMair, put together an outstanding video submission, Fargo was accepted the very same day the application was sent in!
I recently sat down with Jeff Knight and another member of the Creative Mornings Fargo committee, Ashley Morken, who owns Unglued and will be Creative Mornings Fargo’s first speaker, to talk about what we can all expect and why people should be excited for this to be in our community.
Jeff, how did you first hear about Creative Mornings?
Knight: I first learned about it a few years ago when I stumbled upon it online and subscribed to their e-newsletter, which is awesome by the way. I followed them for a while and watched speakers before really pushing to get a chapter here in Fargo. It wasn’t until we began loosely discussing what an arts meetup group might look like that the conversation shifted to include more than just art-lovers and makers; it was to be open to all, unified by the fact that everyone can and should identify with creativity.
Why did you have a desire to bring this to the Fargo metro?
Knight: Creativity can be a weird thing. It can almost never be fully controlled or trained, yet it’s something we as humans rely on to advance our communities, our jobs, our livelihood and our basic evolutionary needs.
In Fargo-Moorhead, we’ve had discussions among many in the art, design, and business fields that there isn’t a consistent platform to collectively unite and celebrate what we are doing creatively. We felt it was time to provide a type of positive reinforcement to brand the Fargo metro as a creative place and one that can compete and stand tall on a worldwide scale.
What’s the goal of Creative Mornings Fargo?
Knight: Really, it’s about building awareness and community around local individuals and their stories. We want attendees to be the most creative individuals they can be, and sometimes it just takes a shift in thinking or slight encouragement to begin realizing one’s creative potential.
Through well-organized speaker talks and discussions, along with delicious food and freshly brewed coffee (ours will be from Stumbeanos), we can start conversations that will hopefully begin to push the creative energy of the metro to support creativity in all its manifestations.
The national Creative Mornings mission begins by saying, “Everyone is creative,” and we want to emphasize and re-emphasize that. It’s through creative problem-solving that better, more thoughtful solutions arise, some in ways you may not be expecting. But by embracing a creative mindset and showing up to better understand its importance, we can all accomplish and navigate problems in a much more resourceful way.
Who is it for?
Knight: Anyone. If you’re looking for a spark of inspiration or a moment to step away from your day-to-day job and really branch out of the box, we want you — even if, and maybe especially if, you’re one of those people who doesn’t consider yourself creative. We challenge you to come and hear from others who want to share the importance and value of creativity.
Ashley, you have the distinction of being the first presenter at Creative Mornings Fargo. What are you going to talk about?
Morken: I am convinced that the more we do at Unglued to connect people more to their creative side, especially through craft, the more we see people come alive and be connected. Whether it’s earning merit badges at adult summer camp, doing workshops with local makers, getting inspired by a watercolor gnome print or linocut tea towel, or meeting a maker at (Unglued Craft) Fest, when people connect to craft, they become more than just consumers of goods, which is priceless in this mass-produced world. And it inspires people.
I’m stoked to cannonball into this first Creative Mornings and connect craft and creativity and how much we all need these in our lives and how we can continue to pursue them forever.
Jeff, what’s the value of making Ashley the first presenter?
Knight: Ashley is one of those people I clearly associate with the rise in craft and maker inspiration in Fargo-Moorhead. Because of Unglued and her continued support for makers and crafters, she’s provided a community for those who would typically only turn to online sales and who may not get the local support they deserve. She’s a positive force for artists, makers, and designers and gives 110 percent in everything she does. She also has a great perspective about how creativity has helped the success of Unglued and our local area.
“It’s about building awareness and community around local individuals and their stories.”
What else can people expect at a Creative Mornings event, in addition to a speaker?
Knight: A lot actually. There are two major rules for Creative Mornings talks:
1) There must be breakfast provided.
2) There must be a recording of your talk.
We have the generosity of a great team of volunteers helping to bring this event to top-notch, world-class levels while adhering to those requirements. We hope to go above and beyond the minimum and provide more of an experience that attendees will welcome and embrace.
I hope our audience comes to Creative Mornings eager to start their Friday mornings off with a bang! It’s a place for those seeking inspiration or to refuel their energy by being around others who may or may not consider themselves creative. It’s a place to give your mind a jumpstart and a time to dedicate for contemplating your creative process.
Creative Mornings Fargo Video Submission
Jeff Knight enters the frame in a flannel jacket and flappy-eared hat. He casually leans on the wood chipper outside the FM Convention & Visitors Bureau. Snow is swirling all around him.
Knight: “Oooooh, hey! It’s Jeff Knight from Fargoooo, Nooort Dakoooota!”
Jeff talks about Fargo the film and TV show. The snow stops, and it’s a beautiful summer day. Jeff removes his hat, drops the accent and says:
Knight: “That’s some of who Fargo is, but we’re also home to the second-largest Microsoft campus in the world, a major healthcare system, three four-year institutions of higher ed and an excellent creative economy.”
Not hard to see why they knew we were the kind of community worth putting their stamp on, is it?
Anyone looking to incorporate creative thinking into their daily life
Creative Mornings Fargo
Friday, June 29, 8:15 a.m.
(Doors open at 8. Bring your own coffee mug.)
APT Creative Incubator, 225 4th Ave. N, Fargo
To better engage those who live and work in Fargo’s creative class