The Absolute Beginner’s Guide To Changing The World With Art

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Hoong Yee, Richard, Janet



Blogging for a better world

At this year’s conference, I was joined by two other bloggers to capture in words the spirit and essence of this universe we call grantmakers in the arts – Richard Kessler and Barry Hessenius.

What is art about, really?

If you have ever heard Dr. Manuel Pastor speak, you would know what he would say.

Dr Manuel Pastor writes and speaks frequently on issues of demographic change, economic inequality and community empowerment.  At his keynote speech at the Grantmakers in the Arts 2011 Conference, he said many things I thought were cool:

On December 15, 199, we became a majority/minority state.

Collaboration and conflict go together.

Collaboration is principled conflict.

Do you know the difference between chess and jigsaw puzzles?

Chess                                                                                               Jigsaw puzzles

2 colors                                                                                            many colors

some pieces are more powerful than others                              every piece is important

you gain by knocking a piece out                                                 you gain by putting pieces together

the goal is to win                                                                             the goal is to complete


As a nation we play way too much chess


Art is making things of beauty with friends


beowulf sox

Frances Phillips and her Beowulf socks

Frances Phillips is a quietly impressive force with a knitted sock patterned with the opening lines of Beowulf beginning with, “Hwaet…” wrapped around two slender needles tucked away in her pocketbook.


“I’ll send you the instructions, you’ll love it.”  Frances clearly loves literature and knitting to depths beyond me and the rest of the GIA Knitting Circle.  “Just remember to weave in your strands when changing colors mid row.”


Believe it or not, that makes sense to me.  Later on during the conference, Tommer asked me if I had lost a ball of green yarn.  At the moment I am knitting something in a silver cotton so no, the yarn did not belong to me.

“Hmmm, I wonder if Frances is using green in her Beowulf socks.  Lynn Stern might be, she is working on a pair of multicolored gloves.  Let me put the word out for you.”  In my opinion, the fact that I know this stuff is actually impressive as an example of niche knowledge, thank you very much.

I turned to Frances, smiled bravely thinking to myself, “Wonderful!  Just in time for holiday knitting.”

We were serenaded at the plenary brunch by Eugene Rodriguez, Linda Ronstadt, David Hidalgo and Los Cenzontles.

Throw me the lemon

Throw me the lime

Throw me the key

To your heart.


You are my dear

You are my love

You are my dove

That sings at sunrise.


Here’s something Linda Ronstadt said at the closing of the conference:

Mexican audiences know just when to howl and they know when to be quiet.


Hwaet everybody!





About the Author: Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer writes about how to be a nimble nonprofit, make life creative and make a difference at

She is also the Executive Director of the Queens Council on the Arts. Hoong Yee can be found surfing in the Rockaways whenever there are waves.

Do you want to know the fears, visions of perfect worlds and world changing advice of your peers and keynote speakers?

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