Since 2001 Michigan’s state budget for the arts decreased from $28.8M to $2M.
They say you can find your vocation at the intersection of your greatest passion and the world’s greatest need. Well, I think we may have found it. With a statewide unemployment rate over 10% there’s an obvious need to nurture creative, curious and capable youth; and that’s just what we’re going to do.
It started in 2008 with six high school students, a chalkboard table and two questions: “What do you want to learn? and How do you want to learn it?”
Though the subjects varied (photography, graphic and product design, painting, drawing, sewing, cooking, etc) the environment they were looking for was the same:
So that’s what we set out to make. We started asking friends and people we respect to lead workshops on subjects that inspired them. We started printing tees second shift and selling them in order to keep the program free for all students who wanted to learn. Week in and week out. As with most worthwhile ventures; it was exhausting but satisfying.
And now it’s 2012; four years after our initial meeting and our after school community is living into the vision that students set around that chalkboard table. Our list of partners is growing, students are going on to college and new students are joining every week. It’s messy, exhiliarating, full of failures but worth every ounce of ink that’s been spilt.
St. Ambrose (340-397 AD) was the Bishop of Milan. During his time in leadership, Goths invaded the empire and held many of his people captive. Legend has it that Ambrose responded by melting down the church’s fortune of gold statues to give as their ransom. As a community of makers we hope to follow in his steps by repurposing our fortunes of education and experience to aid in the holistic development of youth.
For centuries master craftsmen turned raw materials into finished products on anvils. Their callused hands spoke of an intimate knowledge of tools that comes only from years spent perfecting a craft. On the anvil raw becomes refined. Now more than ever; youth are in need of an anvil; a solid place to turn raw ideas, passion and potential into something beautiful, refined and ready.
The mission of Ambrose is to develop sustainable spaces where mentoring communities can build creative confidence and competence in youth. We do this by inviting guest artists, designers and students to make tees based on workshops exploring our community, creativity and commerce. Profits from the tees support the program.