Matthew Hoffman Uses Art to Change Chicago

by Ariel Parrella-Aureli

by Ariel Parrella-Aureli

Matthew Hoffman Uses Art to Change Chicago by  guest blogger Ariel Parrella-Aureli

Anybody walking the streets of Chicago knows they are beautiful—or at least has seen the large signs posted on fences, billboards and buildings. The bold, white ‘You Are Beautiful’ words can be seen plastered around the Andersonville, Englewood, Rogers Park, West Loop and Downtown neighborhoods, among many more, and are the created by the mastermind and custodian of the project Matthew Hoffman, a Chicago artist and designer.

 

What started out as a small idea blossomed into a global phenomenon, with Hoffman’s work being internationally recognized. Back in 2002, Hoffman started anonymously distributing small, unique ‘You Are Beautiful’ silver stickers all over Chicago to make life a little better and give people hope in times of disparity and violence that can surround Chicago and the world overall. His goal was not to be known, but to share a powerful message through easily visible art that could touch all kinds of people, regardless of ideals and backgrounds. Sending out this small but meaningful message got the attention of the community, and soon enough Hoffman was spreading his words onto bigger art installations throughout the city–in the form of murals, sculptures and sticker books.

 

Now—14 years later—with over 2 million stickers and art installations shared globally, Hoffman is seeing the large affect of a small idea, and is always working on new projects. Hoffman has since spread his entrepreneurial skills to colleges and universities, receiving grant money to create public artwork and partnering with local arts school Columbia College Chicago. In 2014 he helped the school with an interactive project that was part of the Wabash Arts Corridor, which showcases local mural and interactive artwork through the Loop neighborhood. In 2015 he was back at Columbia, this time talking to the community about not being afraid to fail and make something out of nothing, like he did. The talk was part of the college’s first Tedx event, which is the college edition of TEDTalks.

 by Bryan Allen Lamb

by Bryan Allen Lamb

 

He wants to make sure people know it is okay to fail in order to do better and reach your full potential. In the beginning of his artistic journey, the stickers he printed did not adhere properly and were printed in the wrong color. Small failures like this made him keep going in his art to make it better and more powerful to the public.

 

Especially for aspiring artists, muralists and designers, Hoffman’s words and career can be inspiring. He stresses the importance of looking at each failure as actually an opportunity—one that you can learn from and incorporate into the next step of your career. Whether an artist or a writer, those words can be uplifting to career-seekers in something they love—another strong point of Hoffman’s that paints his stubbornly confident character that has gotten him far.

 

A couple of years ago, Hoffman created a subscription called You Are Beautiful Everyday for his viewers who wanted more stickers. Hoffman said the series gives people 31 stickers a month that surround a monthly theme, and include appearances from local Chicago artists or notable figures that get their own spotlight for a month. The series makes the stickers more interactive for the viewers, which makes the project more powerful and personal for the community. People can get to know their neighbors and other stories within Chicago—a special way of uniting the people through something as simple as small stickers and words. Hoffman wants to engage people and give them something different and new that keeps them on their toes. The daily stickers are a way of doing this, and help people remember the simple goal of his project.

 

Another way of doing this is his involvement with the Design Museum of Chicago. When the executive director of the museum, Tanner Woodford, approached him for a different kind of project at the museum, Hoffman was all in. Enter the ‘You Are Beautiful’ hotline. The two paired up to create an experimental hotline where users could phone in and record uplifting messages or words of wisdom that contained the phrase “you are beautiful.” The goal was to repackage the You Are Beautiful idea in a new way for people to consume it in a different manner, and hear people’s stories about how the mantra had affected peoples’ lives. The January exhibit was displayed at the museum as recorded messaged for the public to hear.

 

These are just some of the side projects Matthew Hoffman dives into—not to mention his collaboration with local art studios, libraries and schools. Hoffman is always looking for artistic connection with other artists in Chicago. What makes Hoffman stand out—besides his social message and his trademark stickers—is his approachable, humble attitude that so many people relate with easily. Because he is loudly speaking what we all are feeling.

 

“Personally, I want to experience moments. To really feel all the highs and lows. In my work, I want to create moments for others. I do my thing, and they are able to feel whatever they need to in that moment.” – Matthew Hoffman, as said on his website, http://www.heyitsmatthew.com/

Protect Our Children

ncjw

April is Child Abuse Prevention month. It is a time to acknowledge the importance of individuals, families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect, and to promote the social and emotional well-being of children and families Last month I had the privilege of marching on the hill in DC. with the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) telling the senators to Do Their Job. NCJW is committed to endorsing for laws, programs and services that protect children from abuse, neglect, bullying, exploitation, trafficking and violence. I urged Illinois Congressional leaders to fully fund the Runaway Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act to Illinois.

Every day in this country, youth run away from home, are kicked out, exiting juvenile detention centers or welfare systems with nowhere to go. According to the National Runaway Safeline (Formerly the National Runaway Switchboard,) between 1.6-2.8 million youth runaway each year in the United States.  Children can begin running as young as ages 10-14. The youngest are the most at-risk for the dangers of street life.

According to the National Runaway Safeline, children runaway because:

  • 47% of runaway youth report conflict between them and a parent/guardian in the home.
  • Over 50% of youth in shelters or on the streets reported that their parents told them to leave or knew they were leaving but did not care
  • 80% of runaway & homeless girls reported having been sexually or physically abuse.
  • 43% of runaway youth (girls and boys) reported physical abuse before leaving home.

marian wright edelman

For over four decades the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RYHA) provided three types of assistance to help communities deliver lifesaving supportive services for youth. The Basic Center Program provided shelter and basic necessities for younger children up to 21 days. The Transition Living Program is geared for older children 16-21 providing developmentally appropriate and readily accessible trauma informed services. The Street Outreach Programs provides service referral, crisis intervention at street locations and drop in centers.

 

In 2103 the money ran out. Since then state and local agencies have been attempting to fulfill those roles. But like many states, Illinois is cutting back on mental health services and needed care. Today with bipartisan support The Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act (s262/hr1179) would reauthorize and strengthen these three critical programs in addition to collecting trafficking data, adding a nondiscriminatory clause and increase the length of stay in Basic Center to 30 days, requiring suicide prevention services in transitional living programs

 

Runaway and homeless youth are especially vulnerable to becoming victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation.   Traffickers prey on their vulnerability. They say” I will take care of you. I can provide food and a place to stay. Let me help.” The National center for Missing and Exploited Children said 1 in 5 of the 11, 8000 runaways reported in 2015 they were likely to be victims of sex trafficking. Furthermore, 28% of the youth living on the street trade sex for basic needs such as food. A growing number of homeless youth identify as lesbian gay, bisexual or transgender. (LBGT): Data suggests they make up 40 percent of runaways today. This bill gives them protection from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sexual orientation or gender, much like Violence Against Women Act or Head Start. The non-discrimination language is key not re-victimize youth when seeking care

We know for forty years that RHYA has worked. Each year 25000 youth find shelter through the RHYA street outreach program. In 2104 after receiving trauma informed counseling and care, 85% of youth exited these programs and returned safely. In 2103, 72% of youth RHYA temporary housing reunited with their families.

In addition federal programs like this are cost effective. Homeless and runaway youth are disproportionality involved in public healthcare, juvenile justice systems. In 2009 the public cost of services for a homeless individual in Los Angeles, including shelter, health care was $2897 per month- significantly higher than $605 per month for residents in supportive housing. I know what it is like to be sexually abused. I did not run away but I know plenty of people who did. I know what I have spent on healing. The long term consequences of abuse, physical, mental and social are devastating. The actual dollars spent on additional health care is huge for the individual.  Studies indicate moving 500 youth from the juvenile justice system to transitional programs could save anywhere between 5 and 20 million dollars.

 

The modest investment in Runaway and Homeless Youth act programs has laid a foundation for a national system of services for our displaced youth. This essential program must continue. Please write your legislatures today and tell them to fully fund the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act.

 

 

 

 

 

What Would You Do With A Million Dollars?

 

Powerball Lottery Reaches Third Highest Jackpot

I joined a 31 day challenge recently to write 500 words a day. It is all about finding your authentic voice. What is the message and vision you have to share with people? This is my day one.

What would you do if someone handed you a million dollars?

Not too long ago the Powerball lottery prize was 1.6 billion dollars. People who never would consider buying a ticket did. In California we heard of people standing in the pouring rain for hours just to get a chance.  Have you really thought about what you would do with that money? How it would change your life, what could you do to change the world? Now I didn’t stand in the rain but I did buy a ticket.  Now my coach whom I love said why…you have the ability to create money. I said to accelerate my dreams.

Now I have always been a big picture thinker, one of my best skill sets. Over the last three years I have been encouraged to dream big, to stay in the question what would I love to express, to be, to do, or create in four areas of my life. The first is time money freedom, the second is creative expression or work in the world, the third is relationships and the fourth is wellness. It took some real soul searching to come up with a vision that truly was an authentic expression of my values. How many of us have lived our lives based on should, trying to please other people?  How often have we taken the “comfortable or safe path” because we are scared we might fail?

Now I have a big, bold, audacious vision. I want to engage, inspire and connect one million creative activists. What is a creative activist you ask? They are people like you and me who have embraced their personal gifts and power to create a better life for themselves, their families and community. They see a problem and look for a solution. They know the best way to foster change is being an example of what they would like to see. They share their voice, their stories so you know you are not alone.

I know how hard it is to share your story. Now those who know me now would never believe this but I was shy, retiring, I never had an opinion, I sat on the fence and waited to see how the wind blew. I usually agreed with the last person who spoke. If you know a bit about my background it might make sense.

As a child I was sexually abused by my grandfather from age 7-13. Now in those days no one talked about it, not on the news, no after school specials and if you grew up in my house you know that like Vegas whatever happens here stays here.  I was afraid no one would believe me, a pillar of the community could do that…so I kept quiet. I never told anyone until I was in my early twenties and I went to therapy for the first time.

Over the years I realized traditional talk therapy was not enough for me. I was surviving but not thriving. I would lay in bed after my kids would go to school and contemplate walking in front of a train. At night I would drown my sorrow, my grief and fear with pints of ice cream, cookies and cake.  I reached a critical point, I could not go on like that…I was going to live or die. I chose life.

I became a workshop junkie. I traveled the world in search of answers. They came much closer to home, actually they were inside me all the time.  My imagination, my intuition, my inspiration, my creative genius was there all the time. Over the years I just lost sight of it. Actually I put it away because one teacher said you are not a very good writer, a choir director  said mouth the words, my parents said you will never make a living being an artist. Where have you experienced this in your life? Who tried to set you straight? What did it cost you?

So I took out my crayons and began to scribble and doodle. I read a thousand self-help books and answered the questions in them. I created a gratitude and did well journal. I painted, took photographs of flowers, did body work, listened to music and I danced. Little by little I saw enormous changes. I felt better, I looked better, I had more energy, more confidence, I had a positive attitude, and my relationships got better. People asked what happened you seem different. I was different. As I let go of the past, when I embraced my gifts and talents when I asked how I can use this experience to make a difference in the world, my life opened up. I experienced more joy and a sense of well being and love.

You may be asking how this relates to being a lotto winner. A 2015 Camelot study group found that 44% of people who ever won large lottery prizes were broke within 5 years. Other studies suggest that lottery winners frequently suffer from a high incidence of depression, divorce, suicide and addictions. They don’t feel they deserve it. They often lack a clear vision for how they will use the money, how they will relate to their friends and family when they ask for money. They don’t have a good support team in place to help handle their finances. They never really considered how they can use their increased wealth to make a difference in the world.

Well I still play lotto. I believe in miracle, magic and a bold vision for success. I have a burning desire and a clear action plan to engage 1 million creative activists. I am international speaker sharing creativity as a path to personal and planetary healing. We have an online program that offers tips, tools and techniques to become a fearless thought leaders and a creative problem solver. We offer a community resource guide of “best practices, creative programs and solutions.”  Finally, hosting Dream a Better World television. Everyone has a story. I love creating a safe space for them to share their voice and vision.

I would love your comments. Thanks

Celebrate World Creativity and Innovation Week

 

creativity-and-innovation-source

Celebrate World Creativity and Innovation Week 

World Creativity and Innovation Week was the brainchild of Marci Segal. During World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15 – 21 people are acknowledged, informed, inspired and encouraged to use their creativity – to be open to and generate new ideas, to be open to and make new decisions and to be open to and take new actions – that make the world a better place and to make their place in the world better too.

It’s something you create it for your home, your school, your community, your business, with your customers.

Here are twenty things you can do starting today.

  1. Listen to my conversation with founder  and creative activist Marci Segal http://ow.ly/L9BhN
  2. Eat an ice cream sundae for breakfast
  3. Take a different route to work
  4. Make a meal you never did before
  5. Have your family make a centerpiece out of found objects
  6. Have a come as you wish you were party
  7. Talk to a stranger and ask them what they need…and get it for them                                                                             marci_segal_photo_
  8. Sing in the shower
  9. Learn something new
  10. Dream a better world and take one action step to make it a reality
  11. Imagine yourself as a superhero
  12. Ask what if questions
  13. Organize recess at your office
  14. Write a  big thank you to everyone you know and post it on Facebook
  15. Create a vision board on Pinterest
  16. Take a selfie
  17. Scribble and doodle
  18. Take an architectural tour of your hometown
  19. Plant a garden
  20. Visit a new art gallery or museum

The possibilities are endless, nothing is too small. This is your time to create new ideas, make new decision and take new actions.  Join me and other Creative Activists as we come together to support and share our creativity to make the world a better place. » bit.ly/CreativeActivists

 

 

How Do You Create A Bold Vision For Success in 2015?

oprah vision

 

How do you create a bold vision for success?

 

There are three steps to creating a bold vision for success.

1. Clarify your intentions

Ask yourself a series of questions.  Write the answers in your journal.

What major indulgence are you willing to experience in 2015?
What would you like to evolve most about yourself in 2015?
How would you like to make a difference in the world?
What would you like to be your biggest triumph in 2015?
What would you be most happy completing in 2015?
What advice would you give yourself?
What is the most loving service you can imagine in 2015?
What compliment would you like to receive?
What is the grandest adventure you can imagine?
What would you like to experience more of in 2015?
What would you like to explore or create in 2015?
What makes your heart sing?

2.Imagine  yourself one year from today.

What does your life like look? What does it feel like? Who are you if you have been successful? Imagine you are having coffee with an old friend and you are telling her about your year. Write your vision including as many details, feeling, and experiences as if they all came true.  Oh Mary let me share what an exiting year I had.  I published The Creative Activist in June. What a thrill it was to see the numbers from Amazon each week as they climbed to the top of the charts. I had a number one best seller in Personal Growth and Leadership category.  The launch party was so much fun. The DJ I hired played all my favorite songs, Celebrate, Let it Go, Climb. I got to dance with my granddaughters and Ali brought the baby. We got some great family photos to send to mom.

3. Create a vision board.

What is a Vision Board?

A vision board (also called a Treasure Map or Dream Board) is typically a poster board on which you paste or collage images and words from magazines, cards or Pinterest that inspire you. The theory is that you surround yourself with images of what you want to have in your life or images of who you want to become. They are really simple to do and very powerful.

There are two types of vision boards. The first is for opening and allowing and the other is when you know what you want to manifest. I have been doing both types for many years.

When I went through a deep depression in my mid-thirties I could not see any way out. I did not know what joy and happiness could look like so I collected images of pictures that made me smile. I put them in a book and I spent time every day looking at them and it freed my mind to consider something new and different. I eventually came to the other side. Before I ever thought of interviewing over 120 leaders around the country and becoming a speaker and a radio show host I created a vision board of Oprah and other influential leaders I admired like Eve Ensler who wrote the Vagina Monologue and started a movement. I put this in my office and looked at it all the time.                         vision board

In 2013, I decided it was time to release 50 pounds and get active and I made a specific board that had images of me at a thinner weight that I put on the fridge and one with images and words such as “it is safe to lose weight” in the bathroom where I could see it all the time. Since then I have lost 60 pounds.

Last year I created a vision to write The Creative Activist: One Person Can Make A Difference. I will have the first draft finished by Dec. 31st, 2014. Having a powerful vision, written and visual, keeps me motivated and inspired when I hit “road blocks”. We all have days like that but looking at my vision board on Pinterest just makes me smile. It reminds me who I am serving, my work matters and I can contribute to making the world a better place.

Supplies for Creating a Vision Board:

Poster board

Manila envelopes to collect materials

Scissors

Glue sticks, rubber cement or fabric glue Markers, gel pens, glitter pens

Photographs of you

A big stack of different magazines as well as different kinds of paper: post cards, gift wrap, stamps, maps, calendars

The Seven Steps of Creating a Vision Board:

Step 1: Go through your magazines and pull out pictures, words or headlines that strike your fancy. Have fun with it. Don’t censure yourself. If an image or word appeals just tear it out. I know many people like to use a scissors, but ripping is important to the experience. It increases your creativity, imagination and intuition. You can trim them later.

Step 2: Go through the images and see if any themes emerge. I was working with a client and she was amazed that what began as a general” I don’t know what I want to do with my career”… blossomed into something very specific based on the images she choose. It actually brought her clarity.

Step 3: Eliminate any images that no longer feel right.

Step 4: Glue everything onto the board. You can add writing, stickers, glitter or other materials.

Step 5. Title it

Step 6: Hang your vision board in a place where you will see it often.

Step 7. Spend time looking at it and journal about your experience. What feelings and thoughts have come to the surface? What action steps or strategies have emerged from the images?

If a traditional vision board does not resonate try these options.

Mandala

Mandala is the Sanskrit word for magic circle. Throughout history it has been part of spiritual and religious practices from Buddhist monks to Native American medicine men. Draw a circle within a circle. In the smaller inner circle put a picture of you as your most happy and radiant self and fill in the images in the larger circle what you want. Sometimes I place a spiritual icon or a peaceful image such as a lotus flower in the center.

Pinterest

Over the last few years I dove deep into Pinterest. I have boards about confidence, success, gratitude and forgiveness.I just finished creating a three year Vision Board. They never fail to inspire me and put a smile on my face. http://www.pinterest.com/dazzlingdivarae/

 

What is your bold vision of success in 2015?actions

 

Tags: vision boards, personal growth, creativity, success