Some have described 2016 as a dumpster fire outside and inside of Charlotte. Among those grabbing fire extinguishers and rushing headlong into the blaze is the team at CreativeMornings/Charlotte.

CreativeMornings/Charlotte, which celebrated its first full year in December, has been doing its part by ensuring that at least one Friday morning each month would inspire us, challenge us, make us laugh, or – in most cases – all of the above.

Along with 160+ chapters around the globe, CreativeMornings/Charlotte plays host to a breakfast lecture every month featuring a local speaker addressing shared topics ranging from “Risk” and “Reality” to “Magic” and “Fantasy.” The Charlotte team also spent much of its inaugural year spreading the word that #CharlotteIsCreative, highlighting people and organizations actively indulging their creative passions in The Queen City right now.

“For years, the story about Charlotte has been that we’re a banking town,” said Matt Olin, freelance copywriter and host of CreativeMornings/Charlotte. “And while that’s something we can be proud of, it’s far from the end of our story. There are incredible creative endeavors happening all around us. Some are well-known. Some aren’t. Some just need help to get going. We want to be part of that – expanding how we define our community and our city in the eyes of the world.”

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Introducing the monthly topic of “Sound” Dec. 16, Olin shared that the group’s focus in 2017 will be inspiring others to find their voices, to discover creative ways for those voices to be heard, and to amplify the creative energy already well at work in Charlotte.

“All CreativeMornings chapters share the belief that everyone is creative and that everyone is welcome,” said Tim Miner, co-leader of CreativeMornings/Charlotte and director of marketing with Brixx Wood Fired Pizza. “Those concepts seem in short supply in the world right now, but they can be a powerful ingredient in making Charlotte a more dynamic, inclusive and empowering city.”

What the monthly CreativeMornings/Charlotte gatherings of 2017 will bring us has yet to be seen, but thanks to Charlotte Star Room, we can look back at those from 2016:

  • Jen Band of Playing For Others kicked things off with a powerful reminder that in order for us to do our best work on the outside, we must first commit to focused work on the inside.
  • Writer Patrice Gaines shared her unique perspective on time, influenced by her experience of incarceration and her subsequent life as an award-winning newspaper journalist.
  • Jess George of Google Fiber challenged us to be girl detectives to seek social justice.
  • The Rev. Josh Bowron of St. Martin’s Episcopal Church urged us not to let others write our life stories.
  • Actor Carl McIntyre showed how to accept the changes of life and win every day.
  • Cooper Lambla of the US National Whitewater Center spoke of the risks and rewards of pursuing creative passions.
  • Dr. Susan Cernyak-Spatz, a holocaust survivor, warned us to question the “reality” around us.
  • Monty Montague of BOLTgroup shared design theory and challenged the notion, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
  • Herrison Chicas used his boundless energy to encourage us to pursue the love of our lives, in spite of our fear.
  • Hasaan Kirkland, a professor at Johnson C. Smith University, taught us to harness the power of our personal weirdness.
  • Suzie Ford, co-founder of NoDa Brewing, shared stories of the creative magic of brewing.
  • Cassie Parsons of Harvest Moon Grille and Senator Jeff Jackson debated the necessity for transparency in making laws – and sausages.
  • Kim Parati, a local actress and director, created a one-woman show to explore her personal history through the eyes of fantasy.
  • Julianne Gold, a Broadway actress and psychologist, shared how her deafness has shaped her ability to hear her internal voice. (Video to follow on Charlotte Five next week.)

Ready to have a CreativeMorning of your own?

The next CreativeMornings/Charlotte meeting will be held at 8:30 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 6, at Warehouse 242. The speaker at this first event of 2017 will be Jonathan Fields, founder of Good Life Project, who will speak on the global topic of “Mystery.” In addition to the speaker, guests will enjoy free breakfast and coffee, as well as live music, games and assorted creative mayhem.

Tickets will be available at www.CharlotteIsCreative.com at 9 a.m. sharp on Monday, Jan. 2. Tickets are free, but are first-come, first-served. If 2016 is any indication, tickets for this event will go quickly. Sign up for their newsletter on their website to receive event information and registration alerts.

Photos: Courtesy of the CreativeMornings/Charlotte Flickr

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