Creative Collective: Drop-in Craft Time offers a community of inspiration and support

SFU Health & Counselling Services offers a safe, welcoming space for artistic expression

Illustrated by Alex Vanderput.

By: Brianna Condilenios, SFU Student

The premise for Creative Collective at Home is simple: participants do a craft of their choice over Zoom in the company of other students and a SFU Health & Counselling Services (HCS) host. This structure gives students the chance to connect with each other in a safe space while creating art together. Everything about these sessions is geared towards the comfort of participants. The host introduces themselves and asks attendees about the crafts they are creating in order to nurture a friendly atmosphere and help start dialogue. There is no pressure for students to keep their cameras on or to use the microphone and they can opt to use the chat box instead.

The session I attended was a drop-in session where participants could attend whenever they wanted. The event also encouraged the use of whatever supplies students had at home, even if all they had was paper and pens.

To help inspire students, SFU HCS provided a digital activity calendar of different craft ideas. Ideas varied from creativity through body movement in prompts like “choreograph a dance” to visual creativity in “create a bookmark with paper and coloured pencils.” My personal favourites were the ideas centred around directly cultivating healthy emotions towards ourselves or others with prompts like “create your bliss list” and “create a card of gratitude for someone in your life.” 

I appreciate being able to craft this way as it allows me to take care of myself and create excitement and joy by showing love to someone in my life. All of the activities on the downloadable calendar are focused on developing a healthy relationship with art by recognizing our feelings and expressing them.

The event emphasized the many ways creativity can be interpreted. For the host, creativity meant taking a piece of paper, folding it in random places, colouring it, and possibly adding some quotes. For me, it meant using old travel photos as a guide to write in my travel journal about past adventures. The possibilities were endless. 

I also appreciated the warm community support of this event. It goes a long way to have someone support your decision to participate in art without judgement. So often, people question the usefulness of art in modern life. and this can subconsciously cause us to feel shame when participating in artistic activities. Even if we try to ignore such voices, it’s exhausting to hear this negativity or try to justify ourselves to no end. But having a community of people, or at least one person, can help validate and support creative expression. Attending Creative Collective, I definitely felt like I could share my passion for journaling and be listened to. 

Another beautiful aspect of creating art collectively is being inspired by the creativity of others and potentially inspiring others with your creativity. During the event, I shared my book journal, my languages journal, my lyric/quote journal, my poetry journal, and my miscellaneous journal, as well as my journaling philosophy. I no longer write about every menial thing that happens to me but rather, things that ignite my curiosity or touch my heart in some way — meaningful experiences or thoughts. For me, this keeps journaling a passionate, exploratory activity instead of a passive chore. 

After sharing my ideas about journaling, the host told me that they felt inspired to dive into more diverse journaling practices. I was happy to share a hobby that is a source of such peace and love in my life, as well as a medium for self-growth. She also mentioned a free journaling workshop that provides a framework for reflection in processing the year that was 2020.

SFU HCS recognizes that many students may be experiencing Zoom fatigue and the idea of another Zoom call, even if it is for self-expression, may be too much. As a solution, they also provide asynchronous online resources for students to use. After looking through the resources, my personal favourite was Our Creative Community, a digital art gallery featuring creative pieces in response to a monthly prompt which students, faculty, and staff can contribute to with writing, imagery, or both. 

October’s prompt was “What does a peaceful place look like?” while the prompt for November was “What is your favourite part about autumn?” Viewing and reading through the responses treated my eyes to gorgeous paintings, my mind to indulgent writing, and gave me so many ideas for self-care. I felt so energized by the simple activity of absorbing what other people created, imagining the mindful, loving care that each person put into their work.

If you are looking for an accepting space and are open to exploring your creative genes, Creative Collective at Home is a lovely option. For more information, check out the Creative Collective part of the SFU HCS website.