Richardson: The Great Toledo Brain GainWritten by Rachel Richardson | | firstname.lastname@example.org
For about four years, Rebecca Facey (co-founder and co-director of Independent Advocates) and I have spent much of most workweeks and beyond with an imaginary string connecting us. We’re a team. There’s no doubt about it. We’ve grown accustomed to certain responses when people see us coming. One of our favorites is the “(groan) uh oh … here come the partners in crime …” To which we always answer in unison and probably a little sing-songy (because we’re obnoxious like that), “We’re not partners in crime. We’re partners in peace.”
It’s habit now, but if I remember correctly, the first time we ever said it, it was in spontaneous unison. We share a brain. We also share the closest thing to a child either one of us is going to have anytime soon. We recently took this analogy all the way and traced back to what month in 2007 we began to “decorate the nursery,” which was when Rebecca was doing all of the difficult stuff like managing our 501(c) (3) application while I was schmoozing and trying to get meetings with people who might be able to give us advice about how to raise this thing.
Not a whole lot has changed. I still do the schmoozing and Rebecca still does the hard stuff, but Independent Advocates is a strong and healthy toddler by now and if it weren’t for the both of us feeding and parenting it, it couldn’t grow. Yep, you heard me right. “Independent” Advocates could not possibly operate “independently” of one another. We each bring something that the other one doesn’t have but that the agency needs to progress.
I’ll guess that Jacob David and Joel Washing (the “Js” as us “Rs” call them) hadn’t considered the “having a baby” analogy in 1993 when they started making movies together — because how uncool would that be for a couple of guys in high school?
But, the outcome is the same. Above the Shop Studios is a fixture in video and film in Toledo. Not only is it the resident videographer for Toledo City Council, but it is very connected to the art community through the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo (ACGT) and seems to always be working with a mind toward documenting and respecting the history and importance of artists and their work in Toledo. I don’t know what the inside of the J’s partnership looks like as far as division of labor goes, but I assume that Jacob’s talents complement Joel’s and vice-versa in ways that only serve to make really solid work and a really solid reputation.
Toledo’s creative class is a bunch of Fertile Myrtles. We recently received word of a new addition to the family. Proud mamas Jules Webster and Dana Winfield-Syrek have announced the impending arrival of a bouncing baby art supply store on South St. Clair Street in Downtown Toledo due in July. The Art Supply Depo floor plans were spread across my dining room table one evening last week when Jules looked up at me with the most precious mixture of fear, weight and hopeful anxiety in her just-short-of-tearful eyes.
“Dana said we just had a baby,” she said.
“You better believe it,” I said. Then, I went on and on about how amazing it will be and how Toledo will support the effort and that she has nothing to worry about and that the time is now while we have the momentum to revitalize Downtown and to add more layers to the artist-friendly atmosphere, poised for the Great Toledo Brain Gain of the 2010s.
These partnerships are so powerful to think about. Jules said to me once (and I immediately relayed to Rebecca) that, “You should only go into business with someone who you respect more than you do yourself, because you’ll never want to let them down.”
That’s some pretty intense motivation, but absolutely necessary when the level of responsibility is so high.
Thank goodness for the biological clocks of artist and activist teams in Toledo. What I think may be the moral of this story is that you don’t always have to make a human when you hear the ticking.
You can make action instead.
Rachel Richardson is an activist, musician, co-founder and co-director of Independent Advocates, and a product of Toledo, Ohio. E-mail her at email@example.com.