Congrats to our August Volunteer of the Month, Glynnis Ritchie! Read our interview with Glynnis:
What first brought you to Big Class?
I live in the neighborhood and was excited for an opportunity to get involved in the community and meet other volunteers. I love to implant myself in the local art community wherever I am--especially if it's one that is focused on cultivating a passion for expression and the arts in youth.
What keeps you coming back?
I love the people! Big Class staff and volunteers are such a fun, creative group. I haven't had as much opportunity to work directly with youth due to my work schedule, but whenever I get the chance to interact with them I have a great time. The opportunity to support and uplift young artists who have a lot to say is truly a gift, and I think of my work with Big Class as a way to pay back all the artists, writers, and mentors who supported and uplifted me and my work when I was young. Plus, I leap at any chance to read work by the writers and students at Big Class--their talents make me think about my own experiences and creative expression in a new way.
What are some skills you have that help you out at Big Class?
I helped design the Pizza Poetry 2015 anthology, along with a number of event posters and social media images. I also have experience designing and publishing on the web, which was helpful to draw on in getting the word out, promoting, and documenting Pizza Poetry this year. By far the most esoteric skill I've put to good use with Big Class has been calligraphy--once I addressed over 100 formal invitations by hand for a Big Class event!
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced at Big Class?
Finding a way to motivate people to give their time, money, and attention to Big Class keeps me thinking. There are so many ways to get involved (and Big Class is the best!), but competing for people's limited attention can be hard. That's something I try to keep in mind whenever I'm trying to get the word out, planning an event, or designing posters for Big Class.
What are some great projects you’ve helped with? Tell us the story behind them if you can.
With a team of other volunteers, I helped run the Pizza Poetry blog this year. We concocted lots of ideas for how to promote Pizza Poetry, increase engagement online, and document the excitement of receiving a poem on a box of pizza. We decided to interview owners of participating pizza places about Pizza Poetry and feature their answers on the blog. I conducted a few of the interviews myself, and the answers from owners about why they chose to participate totally, unexpectedly, blew me away! Their support and excitement about young poets in our community inspired me.
Helping with fundraising has also been fun. For GiveNOLA Day, I encouraged my friends and family to donate to Big Class and offered little "lagniappes" for different dollar amounts as a way to say thank you. Secretly, it was a scheme to kick start some of my own creative activities. Some of the "lagniappes" included custom calligraphy, handmade books, and handmade greeting cards. I was surprised at who was motivated to donate, and enjoyed the opportunity to crank out some creative work of my own on behalf of Big Class.
What are you up to when you’re not volunteering with us?
I often joke with my friends that I collect hobbies. I'm especially fond of more tactile, antiquated hobbies since I work full time as a web designer and software developer; sometimes it's nice to get away from the "glowing rectangles" I spend so much time staring at for a living. Just to name a few from my hobby collection: ceramics, book binding, paper craft, mail art, tabletop gaming, calligraphy and lettering, videography, photography, and knitting. I read voraciously--comic books, non-fiction, poetry, you name it. I'm a self-proclaimed tea connaisseur (ask me about my yi xing teapot collection), and a Francophile to boot. The local music scene in New Orleans keeps me sane, and I hope that soon I can add "swing dancing" to the list.