How Does Your Garden Grow? Hillman City “Social Incubator” Celebrates Two Years

by Robin Boland  (Featured image courtesy of Mari Kim)

 Last Thursday the Hillman City Collaboratory celebrated their second anniversary with a “Space to Shine” themed birthday party. In attendance were the shepherds and the shapers of a community that continues to grow in unexpected and encouraging ways. The art on the walls were odes to west coast/east coast rap legends, for the most part deceased, bringing the past in to the present. The paper lanterns and holiday lights shone warmly on the dancing children and Collaboratory community. The evening was a celebration and a pat on the back for a young idea that’s taken root and continues to grow.

Basically it’s an extremely well intentioned ‘throw stuff at the wall & see what sticks’ philosophy. When I first wrote about the Collaboratory (or Collab for short) it was still in its first year. John Helmiere, one of its founding members, talked with me about the vision and why they were there. The tenets remain the same: Grow and support the community via any and all means available. Over the past two years, though still in its infancy, the Collab has become a safe landing place for artists, writers, community organizers, dreamers and teachers to gather and develop. John indicated they’re still figuring out what works and what doesn’t and that’s okay.

This column came to mind as I sat talking casually with John about the end of the garden season and what was next. Each time I enter the Collab something new is brewing so I was interested to hear what was on the horizon. As the garden season ends, taking with it the back yard barbeques and outdoor art parties, I envisioned an interior growth. When we are drawn inside because of the short, wet days our creativity and need of community doesn’t end but it needs a new nest. And so we discussed which direction the Collab was going to grow in. It may not grow in the expected direction but grow it does, teaching as it goes.

Robin Boland, affectionately referred to as “little bird” by her friends and family, is a Hillman City resident.

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