Post 21: Adapting to a new role during a pandemic

In my last blog post, I discussed creativity and how I like to give my brain a creative work out by setting myself challenges and visiting the ‘creative brain gym’ at least once a week. This time I want to chat about how at ReCreate we have adapted our methods and the way we work during the current Covid- 19 pandemic.

I have been a supporter of the ReCreate family since before it opened to the public in 2013, but have only been part of the team full-time since the beginning of March this year. All the team members in the Creative department are brand new, and as you can imagine it has been an absolute rollercoaster since day one. Being a newbie in any job you need to adopt all the specific systems, approaches and guidelines, and my whole working life has required talking to and interacting with people face to face. Removing that crucial factor during the pandemic has meant having to adapt and expand my comfort zone by bringing my face online for all the world to see. This has been an interesting journey and one I would never have expected to go on. But I find that we can often surprise ourselves with what we can accomplish when put to the test. One silver lining to this pandemic is realising that we are capable of overcoming new challenges by changing how we work.

Since the pandemic began, I’ve been thankful that we at ReCreate have been a couple of steps ahead embracing, adapting and developing the way in which we work. We have been coming up with creative solutions, such as producing online videos and live streaming sessions to facilitate workshops in place of our face-to-face sessions. The intention of these videos is to stay connected with our members and the wider community, share our creative brains and encourage people to play and engage with each other from the safety of their homes. This totally online approach is new to me, but thanks to my 15-year career as a facilitator and educator I have had to be adaptable. We are all more flexible than we give ourselves credit for. While we love our new online audience, of course we also hope to soon be back with you all in person, in addition to our online world.

One example of how ReCreate have recently adapted (Spoiler alert!) is for the upcoming Cruinniú na nÓg festival. This fantastic event is a free day of Creativity for children and young people. ReCreate is delighted to be a part of this event. We had originally planned to have a big beautiful marquee in Corkagh park where we would make creations out of our wonderful repurposed materials. Unfortunately, such a gathering is no longer possible, but our creative minds have been working hard with Creative Ireland and South Dublin County Council on exciting alternatives. As our current catalogue of videos has been such a success, we wanted to develop this way of interacting and take the videos from our Creative Shed all the way to our Creative Festival Garden. We wanted to give the feeling of what it may have been like if the original event had gone ahead. While we can all adapt and work differently, it’s not always without challenges. In our case due to social distancing we needed to take on new roles in set design, production, graphics, presenting and editing, something none of our team have had any experience in. For our Cruinniú workshop set I made giant bees, larger than life ants, signage and images for the set. This was the fun bit. The more problematic aspects that were out of our control, were trying to arrange garden recordings while living in a vibrant noisy community and contending with mother nature’s elements such as the wind, sun and rain. In the end the most difficult challenge for me was my tendency towards being a perfectionist.

In these times of change and adaptation it’s important to focus on the positives we have accomplished. When I observe others having a moment of creative difficulty, I can almost hear their inner saboteur telling them ‘You’ve made a mistake’. I call this moment the ‘Creative Stitch’ and sometimes I feel that I can pinpoint it as it happens. When I see participants in my workshops feeling discouraged, I gently highlight the moment and encourage them to carry on as the chances are their creation will evolve into something else beautiful. The satisfaction in successfully coming out the other side of the ‘Creative Stitch’ is a really rewarding part of the process. Sometimes I would do well to take this advice myself, as I am as prone to ‘Creative Stitch’ as everyone else. But by sticking with it and carrying on, we can overcome these challenges, and in the end, I am always pleasantly surprised and pleased by not only the journey but also the outcomes of the process. As we all start to find our way out of this pandemic I’m reminded of a quote often associated with Winston Churchill – ‘If you’re going through hell, keep going’.

Jo May

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