It’s about that time of year; students can take a break from the stresses that come with the end of the semester and spend a few days with their families and gorge on delicious home cooked food. As we give thanks and remember what we’re grateful for, this is also a chance to open up and give. You can do this by thinking about giving your time next semester to do CreateAthon, but there are a few other ways you can give directly to the local community this Thanksgiving break.
- When you go home, ask your parents if they have any extra cans of food and donate them to FeedMore, Central Virginia’s hunger-relief leader made up of the Central Virginia Food Bank, Meals on Wheels Serving Central Virginia and the Community Kitchen. You can also volunteer to be a food bank sorter there.
Have a safe and relaxing holiday, students! It’s a wonderful time of year to remember all there is to be grateful for, and to take the time to feel good by giving back to the community.
CreateAthon onCampus brings talented creative students together for 24 hours to create work for deserving nonprofits in our community. Since our inception at VCU, we have served 68 local nonprofits, working with 11 just last year.
So what do we do exactly?
For F.I.R.S.T. Contractors, a program that provides at-risk youths with life skills, Ally Farrish and her team created a logo, a print campaign and a compelling brand identity.
Cj’s Thumbs up Foundation wanted to be more visible in their community when we worked with them in 2011. Karlin Lichtenburger and her team created a logo to make their brand more identifiable.
Free Clinic of Powhatan is a free clinic that wanted to create more awareness to reach potential clients. Zachary Lepine and his team faced the challenge of bringing awareness to qualified patients. They produced an identity system, creating a poster, logo and a letterhead.
We also worked with Safe Harbor Shelter, an organization that serves victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Christine Gordon and her team addressed their need to overcome the anathema of the topic itself. Her team also addressed the need to bring awareness of the shelter to the community, and to inform individuals that they possessed the ability to end domestic violence. They created an identity system that helped to directly convey the organization’s cause which included a logo and business cards.
We look forward to helping nonprofits in the years to come; we are currently accepting applications for this years CreateAthon event in March 2014! If you are a local nonprofit who could use our help, or if you know of a nonprofit who might be interested, you can tell them to apply here by November 25th.
Frenzy. Creative. Growing. Momentous. Extraordinary. These are the five words CreateAthon onCampus team leader alum Alana Robinson uses to describe her CreateAthon experience.
Team leaders enroll in a class each spring semester dedicated entirely to preparing for CreateAthon. Their team is assigned a client, who they work with directly in the months leading up to the event. Alana worked with Unique Perception Services last year. And in just 24 hours, her team created a brand identity, including a logo, business card, letterhead, shirt design and website. On top of that, they provided the client with a strategy guide and social media plan.
“It was very challenging in the best way,” she said. “Being creative on cue, and powering through ideas in a short but long period of time was something.”
So what made it all worth it?
“I loved being surrounded by creative folks all excited about the same cause I was,” she said. “Even though we were all in smaller teams, having a big team to chat with, bounce ideas off of, or even just de-stress with was one of the most entertaining pieces of the event.”
The collaboration with other creative and talented students in high doses was special to her, and is a very special part of CreateAthon. But the most rewarding part of her experience was the big reveal when, after 24 hours of hard work, she was able to present the results to the client.
“When we showed our client everything, she broke out into tears. That is one of the most rewarding experiences of my college career,” Alana said. “Seeing everything we had worked for and created visually come to life was an amazing accomplishment, and knowing we got it right was the icing on the cake.”
When it was all said and done, she was free from the frenzy of blood, sweat, tears and caffeine. But when asked if she would do it all again?
You can check out Alana’s blog at aortathence.tumblr.com
It was a sunny Saturday afternoon in October at Tricycle Gardens, a nonprofit that grows food locally and makes it available to the community. They were moving their entire site to a new location, which required hard working volunteers to shovel dirt, lift buckets and sand bags and carefully handle plants in the transition to their new home.
I volunteered that day, and found myself surrounded by enthusiastic volunteers from the Tumblr office wearing “Corporate Hands On Day” shirts.
“We were looking to volunteer as a group,” said Lianna Woods from Tumblr, smiling with a shovel in hand.
The project coordinator, Jamie Segreves, matched people with the right project for their organization.
It was inspiring to see a corporate office taking time off from work to come together to do something hands on for the community.
“It was hard to stop routine, as Tumblr is always busy and a smooth running machine. But taking a few hours away to work differently was nice. When you go back to your normal job, it’s new again,” said Lianna.
This outlook is reminiscent of CreateAthon’s belief that if there’s a will, there’s a way for an office or group of students to do something productive for the community with their skills. It’s thrilling, and revitalizes the office spirit as well as the community.
“Somewhat selfishly, I like getting to hang out to do something productive,” Lianna said. “Everyone was in a good mood. It was a great bonding experience for us. We were helping people and improving the city.”
On volunteering with a group of people rather than alone, she said, “You feel like a big impact is going to happen, and it’s very visible. It was really hands on, and there was a sense of community in that.”
She said it was nice seeing more of the city. She drove by Tricycle Gardens all the time previous to volunteering with them. “We create community on Tumblr. That’s what’s most important,” she said. “Users creatively share and find people who support them and are similar.
“The more you learn about the city, the more you want to help,” she added. “There are small nonprofits you’d never hear about, without big advertising budgets.”
What Tumblr found the time in their schedules to do was inspiring to those of us at CreateAthon. CreateAthon recognizes nonprofits and assists them where their advertising budgets restrain them from getting out here and making a name for themselves. It was awesome to see small nonprofits recognized by bigger corporations. As we help these nonprofits grab attention in the community, more organizations such as Tumblr and people looking to help will know where to go, and the more help these nonprofits will get.
“Scheduling is the hardest part, but I want to do more in the future,” said Lianna. “It’s nice to get out into the community and to be a part of the city you live in.”
The creative process can be brutal. Artists and ad executives alike can tell you it takes blood, sweat, tears and commitment to transform talent into work you can be proud of.
CreateAthon focuses that intense creative energy into a 24 hour period. It’s insanity, but, thankfully, CreateAthon believes, sometimes, we all just need a break. Whether you’re working for one hour or 24, it takes fun and physical movement to get juices flowing so that you can put passion into your work.
There’s no need to feel guilty for taking a break. In fact, it may be exactly what you need to go that extra mile in whatever you’re working on. Einstein took them! It’s all a part of the creative process. Work doesn’t need to be miserable; it can be a lot of fun!
These breaks can even be crucial. The New York Times published an article in 2012 called “To Stay On Schedule, Take A Break”, which shared a body of evidence proving taking regular active breaks from mental tasks “improves productivity and creativity - and that skipping breaks can lead to stress and exhaustion”.
At CreateAthon, we get sponsors to provide fun, active breaks. Last year, Grow Yoga RVA and Richmond Comedy Coalition came by to provide yoga and acting classes, free of charge. We also did a Harlem Shake video in costumes. What people look back on in their CreateAthon experience isn’t just all of the hard work they did and how proud of their work they are; they remember an experience full of life. They remember costumes, insanity, laughter, solidarity in all that it means to be creative, and to love and enjoy what they were doing. This is what is so unique about the creative process, and this is what is so unique about CreateAthon.
Breaks can take many shapes and forms, for those of us bouncing with energy, to those who seek quiet and relaxation.
“There was always something going on,” said Mike Rodriguez, a team leader last year with CreateAthon. “Any time you left your room, you could pop in on what other people were doing.”
“It was fun,” added Alana Robinson, another former team leader. “Last year I did the improv comedy, and the year before the back massages and the yoga, which were super awesome and relaxing. It was a stressful time of the day,” she mentioned, referring to a point in the blitz where her work was evaluated and criticized. “It was nice to relax and it was quiet. People cope differently, and for me having just silence was nice. For some people, it’s laughter.”
If you’re like us and can’t wait for the next CreateAthon event, here are some things you can do at home when you’re working on any kind of creative assignment or big exam. So what are you waiting for? Get moving!
At just 19 years old, Mike Rodriguez jumped into CreateAthon at VCU headfirst as a team leader.
"I chose to come to VCU because the work was so hands on in the School of Mass Comm," he said. "CreateAthon seemed very hands on."
“It was one of the hardest project based things I’ve done,” said Mike, who is involved in his fair share of projects. He struggled to find words to describe the experience, but when asked if he would do it again?
“Yes!” he blurted out. “Absolutely, I’m doing it again!”
Brutal work that students can’t wait to do again is essentially the CreateAthon experience.
What made it so worth it?
"It was chaos. A battlefield. Everyone’s room was a mess by the end of the event," he said. "Everyone’s in the same situation. It might not all be for the same client, but everyone’s staying up 24 hours. We connect through that. In the morning, we’d all been through so much in such a short period of time."
He laughs whenever he remembers his experience. He described the whole energy of the night as full on creative chaos filled with Harlem shake videos, costumes, lots of free food and energy drinks from sponsors, improv acting, yoga classes and entertainment. The much needed breaks were all just a part of the creative process.
It didn’t stop at hard work and fun. CreateAthon helped spark Mike’s future.
“It definitely helped me grow within my (competitive) major,” he said. “Before, I was worried I couldn’t produce the same level of work as other people, and CreateAthon made advertising seem more realistic to me. I did the work for a real client.”
After this hands on experience, Mike said he knows now that he can handle anything. He’s stayed true to that since CreateAthon, working at Ink Magazine and The Commonwealth Times, VCU’s independent newspaper, founding the 817 Agency and making plans to do CreateAthon again in March 2014.
Do you think you have what it takes to be a team leader like Mike? Are you ready to get some hands on experience using your talents to do some serious good for local nonprofits? Apply here by October 25.
THIS IS REAL.
The following is a semi-found, semi-exquisite corpse poem assembled by Danielle from a few of the many interesting, inspiring, and just plain funny things overheard during past 24 hours.
Ode to CreateAthon
Holy tortilla! I’m concerned
about Flash. It has legs. How
can I help?
Get a little more history going.
Replicate that design:
The pen as negative space,
modern tree concept. It’s important
to get footage of the band.
My head’s been jostled. The entire face,
entire body. I’m going to be
a forgotten idea. Throw
your trash at me.
Figuring out what we’re doing
next. This is the mockup. This
is the demo. Shit,
there’s no caffeine in this!
The shuffle feels good. I nestled
your cola. It’s 3 AM;
don’t tell me what’s not pretty.
One o’clock, the rah-rah
ended. I am on to your client.
It’s light outside. Are you
ready? Is it where it is?
How many gigglebytes
is it? Is there coffee?
It’s all gonna be good: This
is rockstar work.