Daring Greatly with Big Stone Arts                                                                                                   By Edie Barrett

After three years of negotiations, Big Stone Arts has a commitment from the City of Ortonville to procure the water plant building next to Lakeside Park. Transforming this dilapidated building will be an ambitious endeavor. While Big Stone Arts has a committed core group, we are looking for people who are able and willing to contribute to the process, whether that’s in construction, physical labor, design, financial contributions, or simply supporting us in the vision.

Once a month, Big Stone Arts meets in the downstairs basement of the Ortonville library. The meeting is held at 6:30 PM every second Tuesday. We welcome your participation at these meetings. Being an artist is not a prerequisite. This is a wonderful group of people who are creative and inspired and want to contribute to our community and region.

On Tuesday, February 11, our presentation will be “Show and Tell.” My plan for that meeting is to do a book review and relate it to the water plant building. As I began to create my notes and a handout, I realized there could be some value in publicizing the information. What follows was created with that intention.

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead written by Brene´ Brown, published by Gotham Books, copyright 2012. Brene´ Brown has a PhD in social work and is a research professor at The University of Houston.

In the introduction of her book, Brene´ Brown quotes a speech written by Theodore Roosevelt titled “Citizenship in the Republic.” This speech was given on April 23, 1910 at the Sorbonne in Paris, France. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…”

According to Brown, “Vulnerability is not a weakness, and the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure we face every day are not optional. Our only choice is a question of engagement. Our willingness to own and engage with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection… Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience. We must walk into the arena, whatever that may be – a new relationship, an important meeting, our creative process, or a difficult family conversation – with courage and the willingness to engage. Rather than sitting on the sidelines and hurling judgment and advice we must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen. This is vulnerability. This is daring greatly.”

When I consider a project that seems significant, I asked myself the following questions: 1. Can I imagine it? Can actually see the outcome? 2. Is it in service to something greater than me? 3. Is it in alignment with my personal beliefs and my life mission? 4. Is it attainable and realistic? 5. Do I feel passionate about the project? For me, in regards to the arts procuring the water plant building, I have sustained a resounding YES to all of these questions. But I also know I am not in charge. This isn’t about me or any one person specifically. The image that comes to mind is an Amish one of “Raising the Barn.” The truth is this project will require the assistance from people in all walks of life, not just artists.

What I deeply care about – equal to the building itself – is the quality of engagement that will be required by each and every one of us. If this project is about building community, it has to start here and now. It is my hope that each of us would look into our hearts and think, “There is nowhere else I’d rather be than sharing this vision and being part of this project.”

This renovation will require all of us to dare greatly, to be in the arena, to be vulnerable, to be seen, because—really—the whole community is watching. If we are able to embark upon this endeavor truly consciously, respectfully and mindfully, we will have created something valuable for our community and in that process become better at being human.

We stand, ringing the bell, asking that you to come and help us raise the barn. Our next Big Stone Art’s meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, February 11 at 6:30 PM, downstairs in the Ortonville library. We hope to see you there!

Edie Barrett is an artist and writer who moved to Ortonville in 2011 after living for 26 years in Santa Barbara, California. During the turn of the century, her ancestors lived in this area. Her grandparents, Julian and Clara Bursheim, lived in Waubay and Summit, South Dakota. Her great-grandparents were Catherine and Carl Wold of Clinton.Image

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