There’s a story I want to tell you. It’s actually a few stories. This blog post is important to me because it’s about other people. It’s about underdogs. These people have been overlooked for most of their life. But tonight, that all changed.
I was the first person there:
Just sat down at Downtown Jeaux. Jazz is playing in the background. Antonino is the DJ, scone baker and order taker. See y’all soon.
That simple message alone was good, but that was before experiencing the rest of the night. This is what happens when you put a dozen creative people together in one room.
Before everyone showed up, we put three tables together and planned for about 10 people, but once everyone arrived, we had to add another table to it, and a few people even sat in a booth next to us. The number of people that gave my group a chance is incredibly humbling. I was nervous about the outcome before it started, but I left there knowing that something big just happened.
Once everyone walked in—they were all right on time, some even early, all eager to get started—they ordered their coffee and scones, filled up the chairs, and we took turns introducing ourselves and how we were creative.
The coolest story from tonight is that my friend, Devin Wright, when it was his turn to introduce himself, said, “I’m not creative, I’m just here.” Well, before the night was over, he handed me his small notebook, and asked me to read what he wrote. The same guy that said he wasn’t creative wound up writing a short story, and he’ll be my next Guest Post on this site. That’s incredible. That’s a success story like no other: someone that walked into a room full of creators, shy and feeling like he didn’t belong there, ended up being the only one that left with a finished product.
After introducing ourselves, we decided to leave for 30 minutes and watch JP perform. He was only a few streets over. He knew the small group was coming watch him, but he thought the small group only consisted of a few guys. We walked in with a dozen people (about half as many as they already had in there), increasing the audience and giving JP the support he deserves. My Creative Minds Small Group, after learning each other’s names, went on a field trip to watch a fellow member perform spoken word. You would think this was planned. You couldn’t have scripted a better introduction if you tried.
When it was over, we all went back to Downtown Jeaux and stayed there until 11pm, two hours later than their usual closing time. The owner gave us permission to stay there as long as we needed, and that thought alone blows my mind. See, this small group was originally planned for Books-A-Million. It was the only place I could think of for a handful of people to talk about creating. It was also the only place I could think of that stayed open until 10pm. But a few days before starting my small group, I found Downtown Jeaux, told the owner about my idea, and this is the results. As you can see—between this and an art performance going on a few blocks over—things effortlessly fell into place.
When we settled back in at Downtown Jeaux, one guy performed a song: he went grab his bluetooth speaker, grabbed a handful of loose-leaf papers, turned on the music and words just started flowing. Behind me was someone crocheting. In front of me, there were three acoustic guitars, people singing, another guy rapping over the guitars, there were writers writing. On the right side of me, coffee was brewing. You can hear people laughing and just having a great night. This paragraph is what I had in mind for a small group: no structure, no rules, just let creativity happen—but even the thought of all of these things happening doesn’t compare to what actually went down. Inspiration was everywhere.
I made this small group on Saturdays at 8pm for a reason. That’s usually the time people are getting ready to go out and drink. I wanted somewhere’s healthy for me to be, without the alcohol, without the negativity. I wanted my Saturday nights to be booked up with people that inspire me. I didn’t want my Saturday nights to be a blur anymore. I made that decision when the location was still going to be Books-A-Million. God had other plans. My small group is now hosted at a coffee shop that’s right behind two popular bars. The people that are walking in those bars and won’t remember their night, are first passing by us and looking through the window, at a dozen people who are experiencing a night they’ll never forget.