Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Allow Me to Introduce Myself

Hello! You may have noticed me walking around downtown Colorado Springs, fervently pushing a red dolly emblazoned with a shiny yellow COPPeR logo. Depending on the occasion, said dolly may have been weighted down with PeakRadar Pages (your official, comprehensive guide to arts and culture in the Pikes Peak Region), house paint, or a root beer keg. WELL. I’m not just a mule for the arts; I have a name, you know! (It’s Sarah Wool. Cozy, right?) And I am working with COPPeR for the summer with the awesomely fancy title of Community Arts Development Specialist.
Sarah Wool, Summer Fellow. Here I am!
COPPeR and I found each other through Colorado College’s Public Interest Fellowship Program, or PIFP. Jeff Livesay, one of my favorite Sociology professors, designed PIFP to give students an opportunity to work with nonprofits in Colorado in summer or yearlong fellowships. Because I will still be in school as a senior next year (Sociology major, Art History minor), I was interested in the summer fellowships. COPPeR immediately caught my eye. It seemed like the perfect place to combine my interest in social action and enrichment with my love of culture and art.

Whether I was coloring on the walls, giving myself a spontaneous haircut, writing a newspaper that only my parents would read, or coloring my dog’s fur with washable markers, I’ve had a passion for creative endeavors since I was very small. (And I guess I’m still pretty small, because Christina told me last week that I’m the shortest person COPPeR has ever hired.)

It was in the second semester of my junior year, during a semester of studying art in Chicago, that I began to realize how vital the arts are to a city’s personality, energy, and sense of community. (Fun fact: I interviewed with COPPeR on Skype while I sat in the closet of my tiny Gold Coast apartment in a desperate attempt to get some privacy from my roommate.) As I made my way through Chicago’s famous art spaces—the Art Institute, Improv Olympic Theater, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and The Moth StorySLAM, among many others—I decided that I wanted to do all I could to make my own city of Colorado Springs a vibrant and attractive arts community. Lucky for me, COPPeR and PeakRadar are really into that goal too! Who would’ve thought?

I’ve been engaged in quite a few projects this summer, the most active of which was planning and executing a large mural on the wall of COPPeR’s office where people could paint messages or logos on an abstracted cityscape of the Springs. That should explain why I was wheeling paint along the sidewalk. When I’m not breaking a sweat to keep the arts community alive, I’m usually creating emails or surveys, planning events, and indexing local arts and cultural resources. I also organized and led a forum-type meeting called Coffee with COPPeR, where different cultural projects around the city presented their plans and progress to arts professionals and interested or curious community members.

One of my favorite things about this job is that it’s given me the opportunity to talk to a lot of different people about a lot of different things that are going on in this area. CC students very often forget that they are merely a small part of a much larger community; they rarely acknowledge that there is anything to do outside of the comfortable bubble of campus. Working with COPPeR and PeakRadar has shown me that there’s always, ALWAYS something to do. In fact, COPPeR employs [the wonderful] Brett Garman with the specific task of fighting boredom!

So there you have it: the story of how COPPeR and I met and came to be great boredom-fighting, arts-building friends.