Before the pandemic started, I embarked on a creative endeavor that I called “Enrichment.” According to the section dedicated to it on my website, “Enrichment is a project that seeks to introduce curious Bull City adults to new and exciting things–and each other–through hands-on classes. Topics range from the wacky (like basic tap dancing steps) to the incredibly useful (like folding a fitted sheet). The point isn’t mastery; it’s learning something new while meeting people who are similarly curious and thirsty for knowledge.” 

We launched at the beginning of 2020. We did henna in January and knitted headbands in February (well, I failed at knitting but that’s part of the fun). In March, we were all set to revamp our resumes and cover letters, but then the pandemic started. That class, along with the others I had lined up (personal styling and overcoming imposter syndrome) were postponed and then canceled. RIP Enrichment. (Yes, I know I need to update my website.)

Lately, though, I’ve been looking for something to fill the void Enrichment was supposed to fill. I’m still not comfortable spending prolonged periods of time indoors, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with others, so I wouldn’t want to bring back Enrichment as it was first imagined. And I probably don’t have to bring it back online, either, because there are so many options now!

One of the silver linings of the pandemic was the opening of virtual doors to convening online. While I worked remotely before the pandemic and even completed a master’s degree online in 2015, this concept was new to a lot of people. Fortunately, enterprising folks acted fast by creating all kinds of spaces to connect, learn, and have fun. And while a lot of them fizzled as we grew more and more tired of the pandemic (and Zoom), some of them stuck around, continued to iterate, and are thriving.

One such space: CreativeMornings. Originally started as breakfast and a short talk once a month for NYC creatives, it’s now a global community that, along with in-person events, has free “Virtual FieldTrips” about all kinds of topics. Since joining CreativeMornings in September, I have optimized my LinkedIn profile, learned the history and elements of an ofrenda for Día de los Muertos, and learned to make chickpea soup and scones from other community members across the globe.

Keeping with the cooking and baking theme, I’ve also started taking classes with the Sylva, NC nonprofit Uncomplicated Kitchen. They teach community members how to plan meals, shop for ingredients, and cook healthy, simple and affordable (pantry-centered) recipes. And many of the classes are online! By donating and/or paying to participate in their classes, it creates the opportunity for others to attend for free. This week, we made dark chocolate pumpkin mini cheesecakes, and I’m really looking forward to the spiced gingersnap cookies and scallion pancakes classes coming up.

Are these activities what I envisioned for Enrichment? No. (But honestly, CreativeMornings comes quite close!) And that’s okay, because what I’m looking for are ways to engage my brain, unlock some creativity, and connect with others—especially during the cold, dark months when I’m less motivated to get outside.

If you’re looking for something similar, I highly recommend checking out CreativeMornings and Uncomplicated Kitchen. And if you’ve found your source(s) of enrichment, please share!

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