On The Street Where You Live...

What happens when we work towards improving newly-learned creative skills by creating new work?

One thing that happens is the emergence of new ideas, perspectives, connections, forms, and ways of seeing the world. And there are other benefits: some obvious, some surprising…

According to “The Impact of Professionally Conducted Cultural Programs on the Physical Health, Mental Health, and Social Functioning of Older Adults,” a controlled study lead by Gene D. Cohen, MD, and sponsored mainly by the NEA, people 65 and older who engage in regular art-making experience less depression, less loneliness, fewer doctor visits, fewer falls, and take fewer medications.

For some people this bit of research may not be surprising. But it was something I recently learned as I expand my role here at COMPAS to make creators not only in MN schools, but also in hospitals, and older adult residential and day centers.

As a poet, I value the craft of writing. As a supporter of my whole community, with its wide spectrum of lives, I also value writing’s power to affect and improve life in a diversity of ways. I can think of no better way to celebrate the power of art-making than with poetry written by one of our participants from Johanna Shores, a partner in our Arftul Aging™ program.

This May, Walter Ritter wrote this poem in a workshop with COMPAS teaching-artist Zoë Bird. Please read it and use it as inspiration to write your own “My Street” poem. If you feel so inclined, please send it to us at COMPAS. We’d love to connect with you and read about the way you see the world.

My Street

Many friends
From Sylvan
Down to Park
Billy Sampson
Went off to war
One day he did not come back
Tom and Mary Collins
Welcomed me in
The cookie tasted good
Some were friendly
Some were stern
From them all
I began to learn of life
When I left them
I had no fear
To see the world
And not look back
I loved my childhood street.

by Walter Ritter, May 18, 2017
used with permission

Blog post by COMPAS staff member, Julie Strand