I was introduced to the prompt “What gives you oxygen?” during the launch of Creating Healthy Communities: Arts + Public Health in America in 2018.
Our team at IDEAS xLab has incorporated variations on the prompt into artist meetings and workshops, because it provides a great way to get to know people in a non-transactional, and more personal way.
Through convenings like those organized as part of Creating Healthy Communities, along with the 2019 ArtPlace America Summit and RuralGen Summit - I found myself surrounded by artists, practitioners, community members and funders, and created this series as a way to meet and better understand my fellow attendees, and how we are collectively inspired to live and work the way we do.
The participants in this series responded to the prompt, “What gives you oxygen?”
#WhatsYourOxygen photographs by Josh Miller.
“My love for the Uŋčí Makȟá -Grandmother Earth helps me to honor humans of unique cultures to transform their own narrative. I will continue to love and liberate the sacred.” - Mitákuye Oyásʼiŋ - Billi Jo Gravseth
“The laughs, smiles, brilliance, body-moving loveliness of the people that I have the privilege of being in community with.” - Eric Avery
“The fierce work and leadership of a new generation invested in rural landscapes and people.” - Ada Smith
“Honoring ancestors.” - Carolyn Rubin
“The honesty, the intuitiveness, the knowledge, and the pure love of children.” - Jamilah Peters-Muhammad
“Being able to affirm commonly held values - as a tribe - and go back to the spaces where the work has to be done.” - Inga Haugen
“Discovery of new things that help develop myself and the community.” - Sheryl Threadgill-Matthews
“As someone who grew up in a rural area, who has a sense there are multiple ways to be in the these spaces - I want people from rural places to know there it room for all people - there is possibility here.” - Derek Hamm
"For the love of my people will continue to move forward to preserve traditional and cultural arts, to be able to share to the world of who we are that isn’t correctly written in history. We are still here." - Jennifer Martel
“Gently pushing boundaries and then going further.” - Dominic Facio
“Mine is two-part.
I’m a mother of two young children, one is five, one is 10 months. Especially for my 10-month-old who is breastfeeding, we have a strong and clear physical connection, that provides for quiet intimate moments. My five-year-old likes to be close by me - and it is in the times with my children I am at my best - fully present with them - and they are giving me oxygen and I them.
The giving and receiving with them requires making time for things like exercise and self-care, having things just for me gives me the oxygen I need to come back and be in that reciprocal relationship. Seeing me be active helps my children know we take care of ourselves - it’s a priority.” - Chera Reid
“Intuition.” - Jamie Hand
“Knowing that our clients and customers feel seen, and that they are making the transition from striving to thriving.” - Ashley, Caroline, Trevor and Trevor Jr.
“Sunshine, bbq ribs, and hugs.” - Theo Edmonds
“Witnessing how all types of diverse communities are engaging in really creative practices as they think about their future - tribal, rural, urban, suburban.” - Jen Hughes
“Ardor.” - Sunil Iyengar
“Connectivity.” - Katie Wehr
“Black women.” - Taja Lindley
“Exposure to the deep seeded-ness of others doing this work is what gives me oxygen.” - Jeremy Brownlee
“The dream is the truth.” - Liana Ambrose-Murray quotes Zora Neale Hurston
“Compassion.” - Camilo Reina Munoz
“Being around people who are irrationally proud of their places is fun and gives my oxygen.” - Simon Stumpf
“Smelling places for the first time.” - Lyz Crane
“Adventures through reading - learning and knowledge - gives me life.” Nikisha Williams
“I have the dream of being a hope dealer.” - Raul E. Storey
“Learning how to help people.” - Judith Lichtman
“I’ve often said that the work underneath my work is about bringing worlds together. Whether I’m connecting people, ideas, or disciplines, the sparks that can fly always give me joy.” - James Brooks