My long hiatus has been largely due to the recent start-up and management commitments of a small youth film production company I co-founded. Essentiæ Studios works with young people and organizations to produce quality video footage and photography. Our mission is to inspire young people to be creative and challenge their artistic potential. I’ll be getting back to creating for PURA VIDA soon, and will be posting some of the photography I have been working on. CONTINUE TO CREATE. MAKE OPPORTUNITIES HAPPEN FOR YOURSELF. FIND YOUR INSPIRATIONS.
Check out what we do here!: Essentiæ Studios (we are also on Facebook)
The incomparable feeling I get when completing a journal entry, digital photography album, or portfolio painting inspires me to share it with the world. The intensity of such inspiration makes me realize that the colors and words of this world are what make us who we are and whoever we dream of being. I am moved to inspire others to feel that same satisfaction of original creation, and to bring people together to simply enjoy, discuss, and create art. Creation is the means of turning our imaginations into reality. By tuning into my unique creative process, I have come to better craft a reality fitted to my self-defined dreams and interests. Through any individual’s realized potential, the world can better connect through creative idea exchange and art. Every person on this planet comes equipped with unique talents, perspectives, and interests that reveal crucial insights into the human experience, allowing the world to better understand why we behave or act in certain ways and how we individually think. By discovering and exchanging various talents and interests, communities can form stronger connections by better understanding one another and better collaborating with resources to bring looming ideas to their tangible reality. This process of building stronger communities and higher rates of community involvement will be better defined in the following three stages: discovery, exposure, and collaboration.
Building stronger communities begins with discovering what it is we genuinely love to do and what it is we are naturally good at. We discover more about ourselves by creative expression; whether it be through sports, art classes, exposure to various subject areas, or any experience that tugs at our heartstrings. Another way to discover more about ourselves is to experience an instance that tests our potential and allows us to deviate from our comfort zones. These crucial encounters give us the tools to self-actualize and further reinforce what our true interests and talents happen to be. Following the discovery of who we perceive ourselves to be, keeping in mind that we continue to learn more about ourselves daily, it is important to follow up with and continue pursuing those sprouting passions or interests. The more practice and time exposed and immersed, the more proficient and confident one will become in that specific area. Confidence, determination, and developing a personal creative portfolio are the key components to making the preparing the individual for the next stage of community involvement readiness. But why should anyone even want to be passionate? Why should anyone want to better know and understand themselves? Without contemplating and self-defining who one is or who one wishes to be, an individual may become lost, overwhelmed, and unfortunately apathetic to the overall progress and greater potential of the community altogether. A dormant individual also runs the risk of preventing a community’s overall progress, losing the will to want to live, feeling numb to existence, spreading cynicism and negativity to other members, and even committing acts of violence. If this is what can result from lack of self-actualization, then I see it necessary for positive encouragement and self-expression to be part of any child, adolescent, and adult’s daily life.
In Brian Selznick’s historical fiction book The Invention of Hugo Cabret 2007, twelve year old protagonist Hugo Cabret undergoes a series of experiences that lead to his self-realized purpose and potential. Cabret’s quest of self-discovery involves utilizing his talents in machinery to finish the automaton (machine resembling a human) that Hugo’s father had been working on before his unfortunate death. The newly orphaned Hugo strives to finish this mechanical project in his father’s honor, believing that the machine is his destiny and his life’s purpose. Hugo eventually fixes the mysterious automaton, and his efforts end up inspiring the cynical, retired French filmmaker Georges Méliès to come out of disillusionment and continue pursuing his love for film. Hugo’s self-discovery and pursuit of passion, all while being a starving orphan with limited resources and no one to confide in, led him to many opportunities that allowed for the achievement of realities greater than he could have ever imagined. That same drive and confidence in potential is needed for the next stage in building stronger communities.
The second stage in inspiring greater community involvement is exposure through the sharing of our creations and ideas. Without a voice, and without creative exposure, individuals within the community remain blank, anonymous faces in the crowd; as useless as a cocoon that never reaches its metamorphosis. But what kind of environment will allow people to feel comfortable enough to share their inner thoughts and personal creations? And why is it so important? In order for this next stage to work, communities must cultivate safe and comfortable artistic environments. Systems must stray away from hierarchical and judgmental impersonal conditions and shift to encouraging and open-minded sincere relationships. The importance of putting yourself out there reveals hidden talents and inimitable perspectives. If we do not know our own community, how can we even care about it? In order to maintain a strong community, it is crucial to have people that can stand up for themselves and their community without fear of failure or ridicule. It is important for people to feel comfortable enough to network, dream big, and put their ideas into action. It is important to feel like what we say and who we are matters, because each member of a community is so extraordinary by simply being born into this world. Why would we want to miss out on an opportunity to learn from the unique perspectives any community member has to offer?
International street artist Banksy directed the acclaimed documentary Exit through the Gift Shop, 2010, that tells the invigorating story of a passionately accidental street artist named Mr. Brainwash, more formally known as Thierry Guetta. The documentary tells of Guetta’s unrelenting creative perspective and drive to constantly document the essence of street art, eventually being encouraged to make a street name for himself. By putting himself out there and expanding all of his resources, including endorsement from the famous Banksy himself, Thierry Guetta was able to produce an extravagant art show in less than nine months held at the CBS Studios on Sunset Boulevard. Attracting over thirty thousand guests, and making over one million dollars in profits, Mr. Brainwash was forced to extend his intended two week show into a two month exhibition. Guetta’s example of exposure and sharing his talents with the community shows how creative exposure can bring together thousands of community members to participate, be inspired, and leave with a sense of pride in the artistic talents their community has to offer.
The final stage in building stronger communities is collaboration. Recognizing talents and collaborating on small projects are great for bringing together groups of similar interests. When the smaller groups become better defined and established, networking and commodity exchange can take place. As communities begin to utilize their creative groups and resources, identities begin to form. Cultivating a community environment that encourages and inspires unprecedented engagement of a community involves developing a highly desirable and recognizable identity. Think about the vibes you get when you hear the names of the following cities: New York City, Detroit, Paris, Little Rock, Chicago, and San Antonio. What kind of culture do you associate with them? Which are most appealing and why? The way people interpret their very own city can determine how involved their community members are; whether it be actively voting politically, attending local events, supporting local sports teams, or wanting to settle down there. How well the community collaborates depends on how connected, engaged, and inspired the community is; and this principle goes with any group or organization of people in general.
On February 29, 2011 Lady Gaga released her official Born This Way Foundation movement aimed at empowering youth and inspiring bravery to respond to the ever prevalent acts of bullying in schools across the nation and around the world. When Gaga was asked the question, “Why the Foundation, Why this?”, she responded by saying that it was something bigger than herself that “just fell into her lap.” She continued by saying that with her influential voice as an international pop super-star was never about money or fame, but to make the world a better place. With Oprah as the keynote speaker and Harvard University as the Foundation’s launching site, many distinguished resources were able to come together and use their talents to support a mentality shift that transcends societal norms and represents the power of youth in today’s society. Gaga’s singular example of self-realized potential, global exposure, and highly influential collaboration is building a stronger world community through this youth empowerment movement. Efforts like these bring people together, inspiring members to get involved, and building stronger connections through the promotion of value based ideas, discussions, and initiatives.
As I sat alone looking up at the “surreal dream” collage I posted up over the bricks that line the walls of my dorm room, I thought to myself, “I am an artist. I recognize and sense my individual style. I have dreams and visions. I can create realities. My work can inspire.” These thoughts keep popping up, striking up wild fires of introspection during class, while eating dinner, in the shower, and almost anytime I am reminded of my core values, interests, or beliefs. Inspiration and ambition comes from believing in our potential, not wishing on a shooting star. Every person on this earth is that very artist described above, and it is important to encourage and support each other to exert the potential inside our hearts just waiting to pop like an unlit firework. What makes a community are its members. What makes an outstanding community are passionate, ambitious members that are proud of their identity and potential. It takes one person to stand up and share their life, ideas, and art, it takes a community to collaborate and support each other’s efforts, and it takes the world to make itself a better place to live. Without strong communities, the world remains as helpless as a patch of grass waiting for the rain to bring it out of its browning misery during a drought. We are the answer to the questions and challenges of today’s world, and by bringing together our talents and ideas through creative expression, anything is possible.
A close friend and I were aimlessly talking one night and stumbled upon the topic of what our lives would be like if we had never met. A brief silence of wonder and curiosity followed, but was soon interrupted by an intense rebuttal of laughter at the realization that such a reality could not be imagined.
That very realization is the root of what it means to feel connected to someone, and is further experienced on a larger scale with the various groups and communities in which we associate ourselves. Think about the numerous clubs, organizations, programs, and other group related experiences that we have all been a part of. What would your life be like if you never played a sport, were never elected for student government, never pledged a sorority/fraternity, or never attended Trinity University? It becomes quite ridiculous to even imagine a life without the various people, events, and experiences that make us who we are. Since that collection of experiences becomes something so personal, it naturally develops into a universally meaningful experience that inspires us to want to create future memories and participate in future experiences together. That’s how societal communities form. The realization that values, beliefs, interests, passions, and experiences in this life are shared “in common” or are personally “familiar” brings out an identity that is mutually defined, widely recognizable, and can be further developed into a sense of prideful belonging. That’s also why ethnic cultures, political parties, religions, and biases toward professional sports teams have such strong influences in the way people relate to the world; we are proud of who we associate ourselves with, we are proud of what we believe in. That, or our apathy causes us to be alienated from connecting to anyone or anything altogether.
As college students, the opportunity to form and join communities is constantly at our fingertips, so how can we ensure that every opportunity to feel connected, and every opportunity to ensure that everyone feels connected, is not lost? Many campus projects and events do involve students providing experiences and opportunities for each other, but how many of those were for a grade, and how many have felt as if its overall effectiveness was limited to the select number of faces on campus already belonging to your club/organization? As a university community in its entirety, what can we do to further develop a visible and intrinsic sense of campus intimacy, and why does it even matter?
Feasible steps to take synergy within our campus community to the next level:
1) Venturing out to new clubs/organizations by attending their events or programs
2) Organizing stimulating, hands on, and engaging events that involve participants to share their thoughts and work together
3) Collaborating with multiple clubs/organizations for events; bringing in new faces and larger crowds to spark new relationships
4) Expressing your interest in TU Speaks to meet other passionate peers, to start hatching out ideas, and to start planning new initiatives
The future of the university community is in our hands, and we can have as much fun and use as much creativity as the number of experiences, insights, ideas, talents, passions, and perspectives each of us has to offer. It starts with meeting a stranger, and continues with the consistent exchange of passion and ideas between all members of our community.
Let’s get to know each other!
Let’s make the Trinity University campus community stronger than ever before!
P.s. Here are some cool quotes on community!
Community cannot for long feed on itself; it can only flourish with the coming of others from beyond, their unknown and undiscovered brothers.
Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy, and mutual valuing.
You’re an artist. Start acting like one; and be convincing.
Pura Vida: “Write & Speak” CHALLENGE Results
The time has now come to announce the official winners of the 2011-2012 Pura Vida: “Write and Speak” CHALLENGE. With hundreds of likes issued, these eight contestants pulled out with the most votes! There were a total of 30 official participants, representation from 6 US states & 3 foreign countries, and entries submitted in a total of 3 different languages. Congrats to ALL who participated and contributed to the challenge by posting, commenting, and liking! This collaboration has been both inspiring and insightful, and I hope to see the project grow to an even larger audience next year. Never cease to create. Write on!
Pura Vida, Andrea Madeleine Medina
1st Place-“Unknown Stories of the Young Society” by Kara Hernandez
2nd Place-“Majestic and Alone” by Mary Cook
3rd Place-“Is It Simply Music?” by Jaime Vasquez
4th Place-“It’s Been So Long” by Aubrie Hardeman
5th Place-“Dive” by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
My crown was only ever a smoke ring
My scepter only a mop handle
My kingdom ranged from the near horizon
To the mountains of lost dreams.
My palace was built of whispered prayers
More fragile than thought
And broken by anything stronger than an idea.
I drank the bitter nectar
And ate the words of poems.
My cloak was made of gossamer webs and ash.
And I was a king.
My people were only ever the shadows of my mind.
My throne was a birch tree’s branches
Unfolded to the sky.
My treasury was empty, but I thought myself rich.
The cathedrals that I built were hollow and unlit.
My sunlight was only a lamp
With a flickering, dying bulb.
My flowers were pages torn from a book,
A book I should have written
A poem I should have read.
And I was a king.
It is hard to build bridges with rotten wood,
Hard to sing songs with broken words,
Hard to love when love has left the land.
And my kingdom is forever shrouded in rain clouds,
And my roads are rivers of churned mud,
And I must have left my heart somewhere
Somewhere between the near horizon
And the mountains of lost dreams.
I used a leaden heart for a while
Because I was a king.
My heart beat amid the tea leaves,
My foot skipped amid the mud.
No rain could wash away the tears,
But my ocean was filled with lime juice
That my scepter could never clean.
My throne was covered in moss,
Wet and thick and green.
My people gazed silently, then turned and fled
Before my sun, though the sun was dead.
And though I clung, my crown disappeared.
But I was still a king.
About the Author & Work
From San Antonio, TX
October 25, 2011
How did it feel to write this piece? It felt easy. That is, the words came easily. But it made me realize that I am the speaker, as all writers are the speaker. We are kings of our worlds, building castles in the air – but castles built of moonbeams are never meant to last. Out worlds are imperfect and flawed; though we are kings, we have no wealth and very few of us actually have the love of their people. I felt like an exiled king still clinging to my crown, still trying to control the world I have created. I should have known long ago that I was no king, but I think that I shall return to that world for a little bit longer. My heart is still lost there, and I need to get it back. Yes, I will go back into the words to search for something I did not know that I had lost until this poem reflected the shattered remains of my dream.
Submission Type: Poem
Category & Place: Written, 2nd Place
It only took a few notes bowed until the vivacious sensation bestowed itself upon me. Time had frozen, and the only feelings which lingered in my soul included those invitations of grandeur and mystery. While the music flowed naturally on my violin, my soul transported itself into a sanctuary that I had never experienced before. Questions kept resonating in my head as my soul embarked an enigmatic expedition.
Where was I?
Is anyone else here?
While these questions were left unanswered, there was one thing I knew for certain, this phenomenon delivered feelings of brilliance! The phrases of music delivered my soul into another realm, another world! The violin in my hand was not just some ordinary instrument. From that moment on, music was not a hobby anymore. My violin now had the capabilities of being a spaceship; my very own spruce and maple spaceship. The music became the destination; a destination of nirvana. As I finished playing, reality started to take place again, and I wondered if I would ever go back to that mysterious world that I loved.
What is this world?
Is this a figment of my imagination?
Is my heart trying to tell me something?
The world I encountered is inexpressible; you just have to be there to realize its wonders. It’s simply not a spontaneous excursion for the soul. It has to be something more. It could be imagination, but the feelings of joy were ever so tangible. It has to be something more. Whatever this marvel happens to be, the one thing for certain is that whenever I play my violin, it feels as if all in the world is right.
As for me, I think this sensation could be love. Music contains criteria of motivations and my motivation is a simple, yet perplexing love for playing the violin. Whether anyone understands, it really does not matter. I understand and so does music.
About the Author & Work
Corpus Christi, TX
Mary Carroll High School
January 4, 2012
The words flowed right out of my mind while writing this. I really do love playing the violin and music if one of the few things that really can touch my soul. The gift of music itself touches the soul, and I believe getting lost in the music is a feeling everyone should encounter. It’s an enlightenment like none other. Music = Life folks!
Submission Type: Essay
Category & Place: Written, 3rd Place
About the Author & Work
Cypress Ridge High School
December 10, 2011
I began writing this at midnight before talent show, but I continued the following week with less anxiety and with just as much anticipation and passion. I’m proud of what it has become. This is hopefully the first of many Slam videos to come. This is an original work that I both directed and wrote. Hope you enjoy this as much as I did.
Submission Type: Spoken Word-Video
Category & Place: Video/ Audio, 2nd Place