MANITOU SPRINGS — With an emphasis on building community through the acts of sculpting words and throwing clay, Poetry and Pottery continued its summertime tradition this year in Manitou's Soda Springs Park, an event that first began during the summer of 2016.
Created through a partnership between Manitou non-profit Poetry Heals and Wong Wares, Poetry and Pottery was first conceptualized about six years back as a way to bring art, and with it, an additional, positive community presence to the pavilion at Soda Springs Park.
"At the time, we had a social problem with our parks, they were not a very fun place to be, and bad things were happening, especially at night," commented Molly Wingate, executive director of Poetry Heals, a non-profit dedicated to healing through the written word.
Wingate recounts that she met Mark Wong, owner of Wong Wares, at a public meeting in 2016, both discovered that they shared a similar passion for bringing art to Soda Springs Park in Manitou and already had access to a degree of funding to jump-start the project.
"I had a grant that could get us started," stated Wingate. "Then I turned to the then planning director for the city and asked where the city had the money for this, and he said 'I've got some money,' so the idea was about five minutes old and already had some funding so I was like, OK, I guess we're going to do this."
Years later, the event continues; aimed at bringing together a range of individuals from all walks of life, tourists, locals, and our un-housed neighbors, to share in a common purpose of having fun, starting conversations, and engaging their creative spirits.
"We have ongoing relationships with people who don't usually have relationships with anyone," said Wingate.
The free event runs each Tuesday from 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm from mid-June through August 2nd and offers all comers the opportunity to learn how to use a potter's wheel with a teacher, glaze and fire a finished product, or simply express themselves via written word with a variety of colorful pens and pencils.
"It makes people grin," Wingate continued, "it makes people smile, I mean you could do the brain chemistry, the serotonin is flowing man!"
It's pretty, clear just by walking into the pavilion, that the event achieves its goal of promoting positivity from the word "go," and organizers report seeing dozens of folks filter through each week, writing, sculpting, grabbing a bowl of soup, or just hanging out.
"Once again," said Wong, "you have shared experiences and people get along a little better."
Wingate explains that the entire endeavor wouldn't be possible without the critical component of community support, you can learn more about those donors who help fund Poetry and Pottery HERE.
Although this specific event only runs through the beginning of August (2nd), Poetry Heals hosts a number of other programs and hopes to continue Poetry and Pottery next year if funding is once again available.