Networking to Create Community

It is hard to believe how fast the summer has flown by since the ending of Fresh Inc. After attending daily workshops and nightly concerts as well as some of the impromptu Discord hangs, it has become quite clear that Fresh Inc was a really invaluable experience, even in its digital format. 

With participants being from many different backgrounds and experience levels, as one of the older participants I had no idea what to expect from this program. I had known about Fresh Inc for quite some time and knew of many alumni who had participated in previous years. I knew that entrepreneurship was one of the primary goals of the festival – and yes those workshops were incredibly invaluable – but the thing that  I learned more than anything is that the easiest way to learn about new composers and ideas is through an expanded network. What do I mean by that? While one of the signature slogans of the festival is that “your network is your greatest currency,” that phrase is a little bit misleading. For many young musicians, this might mean if you know more people, you have access to more musicians who will play your work and help you get ahead (somewhat self-serving if you ask me). What I got out of this message was that if you expand your network, you have access to more ideas, more resources, and more support systems; either as the primary supporter or the person being supported. This works best by having meaningful relationships with your network, particularly if these folks are meant to be collaborators in some way.

If you like food and creative folks, this series is for you!

A running joke during the festival was my desire to talk about my YouTube cooking show Cooking with Creatives. I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about this in relation to the show, which was in the early stages during the festival. By the end of August, I will have filmed twenty episodes: half with people I know well, and half with folks I have met through a friend. During a one-on-one coaching session with Melissa, she helped me gain insight into how I as an extreme extrovert can be a better listener and help amplify the voices of others.  Fresh Inc also helped me to  question what the purpose of this project was in the first place. It really isn’t a cooking show (even if that is the premise), and while I have been experimenting with format, it’s ultimately  a community building show. I’m bringing folks from different parts of the music and arts community  together to learn from one another. 

Cooking with Fresh Inc alum Robin Meiksins

One very influential  event at Fresh Inc was the opening night S’mores cook off event (see Hannah’s blog post for more information!). This event was designed as  an ice breaking event with one common goal: present the best S’mores possible. This premise became the beginnings of my now-monthly “Community Come Cook & Hang” virtual event.

Fresh Inc teaches us to learn to adapt. They teach us how to connect, and they teach us that community is extremely important to a career in this field. A strong community is not just for the sake of getting ahead, but as a way to grow as a musician, entrepreneur, and global citizen.