I love my Humanitou work. Every conversation is an opportunity to connect with an individual creator/contributor and our community, and with something deeper. I learn.

I ask questions that are of self-interest along the way, ones I think others will appreciate and apply in their lives. This is a creative, listening journey.

It’s personal exploration shared openly with and for others. It’s unabashedly positive, for those highlighted on the site and for our amazing Manitou Springs, as a whole. Artists, community leaders, business owners, teachers, makers, crafters, doers, believers, sharers and carers. 

Community Building by the Numbers

When I started this creativity-sharing, community-building project, I couldn’t guess what to expect. Would five people a month read these stories? Fifty, 100 or only my mother, who lives in Missouri?

Lifting the veil on where Humanitou is, so far, the average number of monthly page views is nearly 1,000. The average number of readers per month is 500. And my mother rarely is one of them.

The engagement level on Humanitou’s Facebook and Instagram pages also has been powerful. While the numbers of followers appear to be modest, my approach has been to cultivate quality interaction rather than the appearance of quantity. And the strength of community interaction on those pages shines. 

And the number who subscribe to the monthly-ish email newsletter grows each month.

Here are some of the reasons why … Below are insights and stories from Humanitou’s first seven months, a highlighted handful of the ~ 40 conversations and essays published in 2017.

We’re turning the corner into a fresh year and will continue building momentum … together.

C.H. Rockey | Artist + Sage + Local Legend

Manitou Springs Artist | Words with Rockey

When I asked Rockey, several months ago, about a sharing a series of his insights on life, art and Manitou Springs, he liked the idea. He is a man of messages, with love at the center, and giving. Not surprisingly, Rockey is a crowd favorite, to locals and countless visitors alike.

We’ve talked about “Art + Money,” “Illustrations, Tolkien and Sharing Gifts,” “Teaching Art, Passion and Creativity,” “Love and Being Present,” and “Manitou.”

“I don’t paint what I see. I paint how I feel about what I see,” Rockey says. “So, when I paint how I feel about Manitou, which is love from the get-go, I’m hoping somebody sees that painting and feels that way, too.”

LuStyle | The Art of Giardiniera

LuStyle Local Goods and Giardiniera in Manitou Springs, Colorado

Luke Cissell and Lu Vallie at LuStyle Goods (and baby Arrow) opened up their local goods shop on Ruxton for a chat one morning. We talked about Lu’s giardiniera, but we also touched on poetry and hip-hop, the spirituality of art and the meditative aspects of LuStyle … and what hospitality means. 

“It hit me,” Luke says. “‘OK, that’s what we do. You come in and whatever your needs are in this moment, to be fed something — good conversation, food, water — we’ve got you covered.’”

The Art of Manitou Glassworks

Manitou Glassworks in Manitou Springs, CO

There’s 2,000-degree fire lighting up a 10’ by 10’ corner of the Makerspace at the Manitou Art Center. A pair of torches blow heat and possibilities, where straw-like sticks of colored glass morph on command by hand. This is Manitou Glassworks.

“Working with fire and working in a 2,000-degree atmosphere, there’s something to be said about that,” Marc Croswell says. “And you’re part of a bloodline, a knowledge bloodline. This is passed down.

“The first beads, Egyptian beads, seed beads, chevron beads. It expanded to Italy and Germany, and spread across Europe. And now that knowledge is passed on to us two (bleeps) at the Manitou Art Center. (both laugh) It’s crazy how we got here.”

Nikos Pulos | The Art of Printmaking

Printmaker Nikos Pulos in Manitou Springs, CO

In a mother’s-in-law cottage turned art studio, Nikos Pulos pours himself into old-world printmaking. He largely keeps his art to himself … for now. But with Humanitou, he opens up about printmaking projects for world-renowned artists Edward Curtis and Emi Fukuzawa. He talks about passion, failure, and the personal journey that art is.

“Everybody has their own drive for things, but printmaking is, in my mind, kind of a reflection of me. Printmaking, it can be delicate, it can be violent, it can be soft,” Nikos says. “For me, staring at a copper plate and wanting to crawl inside of that print is one of the most amazing things there is. It gives me goosebumps.”

The Art of Anna’s Apothecary

Anna's Apothecary in Manitou Springs, CO

Anna Papini and Sara Berry are sisters, co-owners of Anna’s Apothecary in Manitou Springs, educators,  and all too familiar with the curiosities and cock-eyed misconceptions of what they do.

“When people come in and ask if we’re witches, we say, ‘No, we’re herbalists, and here’s what we do.’ We’re not in the back mixing potions of toads feet and eye of newt, or whatever they think we do.”

Sophie Cowman | Quiltmaker + Wood Carver + Ex-Sister

Sophie Cowman | Quilt Maker and Wood Carver in Manitou Springs

With her hands on a quilt-in-progress spread in front of her, Sophie, 77, talks with Humanitou. We talk about her will for independence, and her transition in the Seventies from life in a convent to hitchhiking and hippie culture. We talk about a life made by hand from cedar and thread.

“I couldn’t stand the authority. Instead of doing what we saw we should do, the church was on top of us. The church said, ‘No. No. No. No.’ So, I left … I learned to smoke pot. But I’m not an ex-hippie. I was one of those hippies before there were hippies.”

Share + Subscribe + Socialize

Do you know someone with a story to tell? Check-in with them, as needed, and send along their info to Adam at Humanitou. This site is about the creativity, resilience and spirit in each of us and all of us. Everyone has a story. Everyone.

Have you subscribed to the newsletter that shows up in email inboxes every 4-6 weeks? Emails contain positive, inspiring, relatable connections with fellow humans who happen to have Manitou Springs as a common ground.

Help to share in this community-building creativity project by joining Humanitou where you socialize in the ether, that is Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

All forms of this sharing, subscribing and socializing are free to you.