When we started the MAMA Art Collective almost two years ago, I had barely heard of makerspaces. This movement of bringing people together, in a dedicated space to make things, is simple. You make things. You find friends with similar interests. Over time friendships deepen and the creative projects grow more complex. The evolution of our own space and the organic growth of the MAMA Art Collective movement is anecdotal evidence that we need creative outlets in our lives and that our communities are strengthened by their existence.
So imagine how delighted we were to see this article on CNN.com today. According to the article, experts say crafting can help those suffering from depression and anxiety. It may ease stress by releasing dopamine and could protect your brain from aging. Key to this is achieving the elusive “flow”, a much written about phenomenon where you engage in activity fully and your existence outside of this activity is temporarily suspended. A zen-like state compared to meditation, achieving flow is feeling like you’re “really on a roll” with something, or when you’re so deep into a project you lose track of time. Mothers with small children are almost never in the position to achieve flow. Personally, I have a steady flow of fires to put out. I do not feel restored after a day of that.
Once a week, for two hours at a time, our MAMA Art Collective members try for this flow. And sometimes the magic happens, the dopamine is released, the meditative state is achieved and the healing power of our craft manifests. And now science has proved and CNN has reported what we’ve been feeling for awhile: a good morning at a makerspace feels like therapy. Wonderful, stress relieving and slightly addictive therapy. You can tell when we’ve had good flow because there is an indescribable energy that pulses through the group. People find their groove and the methodic rhythm of stitching, weaving, knitting and painting takes over. When we’ve had a day like this, I can feel the lingering effects stretch long into the evening. I’m in a better mood, more patient with my kids and have a sense of accomplishment that carries over into other areas of my life.
We always joke that recruiting members can be hard because we don’t want to make our makerspace sound like a cult and scare people off. How you feel after a morning of really great crafting can be powerful and hard to describe. Thankfully, we now have an article to direct people to, one that validates our feelings with science and journal articles. It’s a Christmas miracle.
Side note: if you’d like to join a MAMA Art Collective, check out our spaces here. We have two metro-Atlanta groups, one in Madison, WI and one in the New River Valley area of Virginia. If you’d like to start a MAMA Art Collective, we’d love to hear from you! Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have an online peer mentor group/incubator for women launching spaces around the country and we’d be happy to talk to you more about it.