Artwork for podcast CultureRoad
CultureRoad Podcast - Episode 8: Cultivating Culture & Increasing access in the arts
Episode 827th February 2023 • CultureRoad • DeEtta Jones & Associates
00:00:00 00:43:32

Share Episode

Shownotes

Welcome to the latest episode of CultureRoad™, where we sit down with Hollis Meminger, a celebrated filmmaker, philanthropist, and tireless advocate for youth arts access. Hosted by CultureRoad™ creator DeEtta Jones, this conversation delves into Hollis' journey and impact on the arts landscape. Together, they discuss Hollis' inspiring career trajectory, the invaluable lessons he's learned along the way, and the obstacles he's faced in carving out a path for himself and future generations. Tune in for a candid and insightful exploration of Hollis' life's work and his unwavering commitment to creating opportunities for young people to thrive in the arts.

Transcripts

U1

0:09

Hi, Hollis. How are you?

U2

0:10

I'm good. How are you?

U1

0:12

Good. Welcome to Culture Road. I'm so excited that you are able and available to be part of our podcast today. Looking forward to having a conversation with you. Let me first introduce you to our listeners. Hollis Meminger is an award winning filmmaker and community activist. He is the founder and CEO of Bridge Builder Cinematic Arts. He's a longtime friend and colleague and confidant and co conspirer around all things, trying to make the world better and have an impact on the lives of others. Hollis, thank you so much for taking time to talk with us today.

U2

0:56

No, thank you.

U1

0:58

So, Hollis, let's jump right in. What I'd love to do is maybe initially just invite you to share a little bit more about yourself and your story. Of course, there's a lot of other kind of professional accolades and experience, and then you tell us a little bit more about kind of who you are and where you come from.

U2

1:15

oing it since, gosh, probably:

U1

3:06

Tell me about your I know you probably had a million exciting moments, but some of your most memorable moments in filmmaking.

U2

3:17

You know, I probably have two or three. They all kind of I would say that they they're different. You know, I have the sort of creative part of it. I have the personal part of it. And I think the sort of activists in me kind of was ignited by a whole different set of rules. So I remember being on the set of Sopranos, and I remember pushing these two carts. I had one cart that had all these all this camera stuff on it, had another cart. I pushing one cart forward and I'm pulling the other one at the same time. And I remember this parking guy 1s at that point, I was in my 20s, he was probably in his mid to late forty s. And he stopped me and he said, 1s seeing you at work every day makes me proud, right? And for some reason, I think I got caught up in the I'm just working. I'm black, I'm in the film industry. But being one of a few camera people, I don't think it really hit me until he said that, until he said, what you're doing makes me proud because I know that this is something I will never be able to do. But the fact that I get to see you doing it every day lets me know that I've also made it. So that's like the first thing that sticks out aside from the actual work stuff. And I think that's what caused me to dig a little bit deeper and see, like, why am I the only black person in a camera department? Across the board, there's only a few, and I don't see anybody unless we're doing craft service or we're doing parking or we're doing security. And so I wanted to take that time and figure out, how can I impact. 1s You know, not just the industry, but how can I impact the community? So I started Bridge Builder Cinematic Arts in my head at that moment because I was like, well, if the industry is not really doing anything about it, am I doing anything myself that's concrete? Or am I just sort of being the same as everybody else? I'm going to get mine and I'm going to keep moving. So the idea of Bridge Builder Cinematic Arts was kind of formed, I believe, at that moment, because I said, you know what, if we're going to change the industry, it's not going to be people my age. It's going to be high school students who have a hunger for this. And I saw that well before the digital age came up, well before social media. So I started ruminating about creating this program that teaches high school kids how to become masters of their own storytelling narrative to impact their community. So that's the second thing. The third actual work thing that happened, I had gone to I guess I've been working for a while, and I was working on a TV show called Younger on TV Land, and I was a camera assistant when I started and got to six years later, I had already moved up two levels. And my director of photography, John Thomas, he was retiring, and this was around COVID, and he said, I'm going to retire, but I want you to take over the show and I want you to be the director of photography. So I was like, this might be cool. I know I could do it, but. 1s You also still have to be approved by everybody else. You have to be approved by the studio. You have to be approved by the creator and all the people involved. But I had been on the show for three years, and when he said, do you want to take it over? I didn't hesitate. I was like, Yep, definitely. And then I go back into my little archives, like, reading. I'm like, I feel like I'm going back to school again. And then when the season ends, I make the first round of Emmy nominations. 2s So those three things I think have impacted me in my career, like, wholeheartedly since the beginning. Love it. There's one thing that there's so many things that you said, but one of the things that came to mind is that you have never been an apathetic person. 1s When you see something that needs to be stuffed done rather than kind of just ruminate around about it, you mentioned like, I'm not just going to get mine and keep going like everybody else. But you also feel a personal sense of responsibility for doing something. And you've always, I think, modeled that in ways that are really brilliant, but also in ways that cultivate community that give back to younger people who may not have the same access if it weren't for people like you and set kind of a tone and potentially even motivation for other people to look around and say, wait, what am I doing? What could I potentially be doing in order to help this situation? And if all of us can see ourselves contributing in some. 1s Small or focused or really leveraging our own strengths way we could really, really have a lot of impacts on society. And I love where that bridge builder came from and the work that you do there, but I also love that Emmy NaviNation yeah.

U1

8:29

After the recognition for all the amazing work that you do. Thank you.

U2

8:34

Yeah, I mean, it's interesting because as much as that is a big deal, the bigger deal is being able to go into the community because, truth be told, people love accolades, right? People love, oh, this is an Oscar winner, this is an Emmy nominated, this is an Emmy Award winner. People love to hear that, but it's only important in as much as that moment because once that's finished, we don't have the opportunity to move. You need the opportunity to do the next thing. It's like you have Oscar winners, but that's only as good as that job. So when you go to your next job and I feel like I try to impart that on a lot of students, don't rest on those laws. You can sit there and be excited about yourself and happy, but you still have to go back and put in the next round of work and no one's going to look at that for you to approve you for your next job. It's not a guarantee of anything. You still have to get out there and fight. You still have to advocate for yourself. You still have to push forward. You still have to read and learn and stay up on all this technology, which me, means absolutely nothing.

U1

9:52

Okay, so I'm going to ask you a question about that. I was just recently 1s at a program for young people who are just at the end of their college careers going into 2s the first parts of their next career 1s experiences. And there was a good amount of conversation about having kind of fire in my belly and really wanting to take care of myself and understanding how to establish boundaries. And I feel like we're in this kind of tenuous place where we definitely want to pay attention to the fact that people need to take care of themselves and be well and make sure that they're not overburdened or stretching themselves too thin. But there also needs to be that work ethic that you just described about just really doubling down and doing all of the intense work necessary to really be extraordinary, to really be exceptional. How do you balance that and then how do you like for the young people that you work with in Bridge Builder and how do you help them understand how to balance that for themselves?

U2

:

That's tricky because this day and age, they see Instagram or whatever the social media platforms are. They see success. They don't see all the failures. Right? So everybody's completely polished. Everybody is what I consider to be, like, body filtered, right? And not like, visually. Like, everything is filtered. Their entire you have this sort of facial stuff, but it's the whole persona. All of that is filtered. And I always tell them, nobody became success overnight. Nobody. It doesn't exist. It's not something that's real. And then they sort of ask questions, well, how did you do it? And I said, I fight every single day. Like, I fight myself. I fight self doubt just like everybody else. 1s But the bigger thing for me is I like the fight. 1s I enjoy challenging myself because that sort of fear based 1s whatever that person is over there that's saying, you can't do this and you can't do that. I invite that person because I feel like I'm proving to that person every day like, you're not even real. 1s It's almost like. 2s That person that I hear for a very short period of time is the person that tests me the most. And because that person has always tested me, it's almost like a game. It's like, all right, well, I'm going to show you that I can actually do that because what you're saying is just words, right? So I try to impart that to the students. Like, you have to put blinders on. You have to be like, that horse that's running that race doesn't see anything next to it, and it sees the finish line. It is going as fast and as hard as it can, but it's training to get there. You have to keep training yourself. And that self doubt, that self work, all that stuff goes away because, you know, I'm prepared. If someone calls me today and says, hey, I'm ready. I need you to do this, I'm ready. There's no question. It's like, now how when we jump in now, let's be creative. Let's do what we know how to do. And I think that's the part that a lot of people miss, especially young kids, is because they struggle with seeing perfection right out of the gate. It's not

U1

:

real. That's not real. Yeah, I love the way you just described that. And one of the questions that came up for me in this group that I was in just yesterday was about how do you not kind of overthink it when an opportunity comes your way? And I'm like, listen, it's not hard. You don't have to overthink something if you've been anchoring to your aspirations all along. Like, if you stop right now and focus on who am I, what are my values, what are my own aspirations, what are my strengths? If we stop comparing ourselves to other people and put in kind of the discipline practice associated with just really trying to bring my voice, my strengths, my talents, my competence, my stamina into focus, then when choices come, it's really easy to kind of jump on them and know which ones are the right ones for you and also to feel prepared. Nothing ever comes, in my experience, at least exactly at the time it was most convenient for me. 1s But if I'm prepared and if I've kind of positioned myself to think about what my next steps want, what I want my next steps to be, and what's in line with what would be kind of a fruitful pursuit for me, then it's so easy for me to say, you know what? The timing is a little tricky on this, but heck yeah, I'm in, and I'm ready to go. And I feel like that's a huge opportunity for and I don't even know if it's just young folks at this moment in time. I think all of us yeah. I think it's everybody being swallowed up by this world that is telling us that there are all these other people around us who are doing better than us, when really, if we just focus more kind of in here, we probably would have a lot more peace and a lot more ability to manifest what it is that we want.

U2

:

I agree. And I also think that it's also 2s had a coach back in high school. That told me, you know, don't run anybody else's race, because you always lose. Yeah. And that's something that, you know, also stuck with me. It's like everybody has their own reason for being here. Everybody has their own mission. And when you when you understand that, like, I know what my assignment is, you know, whether it be, you know, if you believe in God or a spirituality or whatever that is, I was put here to do something, something. And that, to me, is unwavering. There's nothing that's going to shake that, because that's my mission. That's what I was supposed to do. And I don't really look at I watch people's work, but I watch it to get better. I don't watch it to compare myself, because there's no comparison. What I do is completely different from the next person. And if I don't put my old stamp on it, then I'm trying to replicate something that's impossible. You'll never have 1s the same tools, 1s same circumstances. None of those things will ever be the same for anybody. So I don't agree with. 1s Trying to be like

U1

:

yeah, I think irreplaceable unique, you know, indispensable, like, to really be able to find that that thing that is you. Sometimes it takes some of us a long time to get there. It took me a long time to figure out, like, how to really find my own voice. I mean, I've always just been on a path, but I really wrestled with insecurity for a long time. I was looking around. I was getting messages that I was listening to from other places. And I feel like I don't know if it slowed me down. I feel like things happen just the way they're supposed to, when you kind of sit back at a certain point in life and realize things probably happened exactly how they were supposed to. But to be able to have that wisdom as early on as possible is a gift.

U2

:

Yeah, well, I mean, it's also spending a lot of time by yourself. Both yeah. And I think I spent a lot of time, 2s and I think there's some power in that. As much as people might think that that's like an introvert or not inclusive and you don't want to kind of engage, but it's like when you're in that quiet space and you're by yourself, that's the only person you get to deal with, and you have to face that person. And I think when you do that, you become a lot more powerful, because once you step out there, 3s there's a certain strength that is unshakable in the face of all that adversity.

U1

:

And so it's so wild that you said that. That's also something that came up recently. And I said, for people who 2s really want to think about your leadership journey, the most important thing I invite you to do is find quiet time and reflect. And everybody has an opinion. Everybody has an opinion, but everybody his opinion is not right for me, even if it worked for them. Even if it worked for them. And they're incredibly successful. They're different than who I am. But I also feel like that ability to just be quiet, especially in a world that's filled with so much noise and so many inputs and so much kind of toxicity and so many we weren't wired for this. So to actually be able to find quiet time, to go deep is a very unique thing. And I don't think it's really positioned as something that is as important as I actually do believe it is. And I even talk to people about like, this is why meditation and the research on meditation is so important. It's because it really focuses us on that quiet time. However you take it, if it's just reflecting, if it's journaling, if it's praying, if it's meditating, whatever it is, but being in that space of just being quiet,

U2

:

yeah, I agree with that.

U1

:

I want to shift gears for a second, because one of the things that I know about you and we talked about this recently when we were together, and you talk about storytelling, and I know that you're a genius storyteller. You're always reminding me what's the most important thing Vietna is, telling the story and putting things together in a way that humans can connect to it. But I also know that storytelling is not just important in filmmaking. It's also so much part of being a community activist. So I'd love for you to just explain a little bit more about when you talk about the power of storytelling, what do you mean? And also, 1s what do you think storytelling does? How does it impact minutes?

U2

:

Um, I think that, you know, that the power of telling a story can change the world, right as we see it. I mean, we see it every day. We see, you know, the news, this this storytelling, and it it moves people to someplace, whether it's right or wrong. You know, so it it's also how you decide to ingest that story. Like, we can you know, people hear something on the news that's completely false. Run with it. And now that telephone game is being told outside, and now what was red is now blue, and what was blue is now green, and what's green is now yellow. But I think the power in it for our people, and I'm being specific is that 1s if we take ownership of our story, it's more powerful when other people tell our stories, they tell it the way that they see us and the way that they see our community and our people. I think that's reflected in unfortunately, it's reflected in Hollywood as well. It's like the major stories that get told a lot of times aren't being told by us. They are being manipulated to. For an audience that can ingest the information. Therefore, that's where if you look at the list of movies year to year, most of the time they're not about the lawyers, the doctors, the positives. Every once in a while, you sprinkle a couple of those in there, but for the most part, it's 1s so some sort of offbeat historical context of something that's not quite valid. Or it's a superhero, because people can see us as superheroes, right? Because that's fictitious, and it's supposed to be. Right. So those things are really pushed. But I think when you get down to the community level, when people are given the voice to tell their own stories, it's more more impactful. For companies, it's more impactful. For investors, it's more impactful because sometimes people want to whether it be a nonprofit or for profit company, people invest in what they believe. 1s But I feel like if people from the community are the masters of their own story, much more of an impact can be had.

U1

:

Yeah, and I totally agree, and you and I talk about this all the time, but this is also, to me, a place where our work kind of intersects. Right. So I do equity and diversity and inclusion work as a practitioner. You do? In my opinion, equity, diversity and inclusion work in every single thing that you touch right. That you told about how somebody stopped you and said you just being there actually had an impact on him, made him proud about himself. And also that translated into you being able to create Bridge Builder and give back to communities of people who might otherwise not have access and who have absolutely been marginalized in society in a lot of different ways, as a lot of people are, especially from this filmmaking industry. So I feel like there's this amazing intersection that I think people are still trying to get their minds around. But the word impact and the word equity are right at the center of it, and it feels like there's just something really. Important that's happening, this amazing kind of transition in the world right now where there's just conversation that's taking place that's very different than what's been popularized before and conceptualized before, and people are willing to think more expansively rather than everything has to fall into these cookie cutter, easily digestible molds. I don't know exactly how it's going to turn out, but it's exciting to think about kind of where this is all going, potentially.

U2

:

Yeah, I totally agree. And I think that if people again, it's an art to telling the story right. 1s There's sort of the blueprints. There's the philosophical ideas of archetypes and all that, which is true, and I believe that those things exist. But when we can ingest that stuff in terms of ethics, in terms of morality, in terms of community, in terms of bridging, like, really serious deep gaps in that information, it's easier for people to kind of understand that. But I think that it's such a hard thing for people to really grasp when they're not wholeheartedly seeing that as a real thing.

U1

:

Right. So, Hollis, we're talking about storytelling, and you do this practically as part of your work. You integrate storytelling and narrative techniques into your profession. Tell me a little bit more about how you do that.

U2

:

Yeah. As a cinematographer, most of my storytelling is visual. 2s I get a script, I read it, and I try to figure out what's the best visual cues that accentuate those words. 1s So it's really like looking at something with a really wide vantage point and trying to hone in on every single thing that's creating that emotion, from the colors, from the lighting, making some suggestions on what people are wearing. Sometimes those things can be distracting based on what we're trying to convey visually. But I feel like 2s I'm a budding master story jelly, because that's something I think is a lifelong journey, like the masters of light and the masters of 1s cinematographers that exist in the world. They'll say the same thing. Like, I'm always learning. I'm always on that journey. So if I'm on this visual journey of storytelling, then at the same time, I'm trying to understand that written journey as well. So we kind of put both of those things together that create what people see as these masterpieces, even though we know where the Plaws are. Right. But there's something really perfect about that imperfect space. I

U1

:

love it. I totally agree. I love it. So we love it. 1s You've had you've had an incredible career to date, which is still strong and still strong and going. What motivates you to keep creating and to keep pouring so much of your time and energy into Bridge Builder? In addition to making films, you also do Bridge Builder. I saw you recently with Young Arts. I mean, you constantly have ways in which you're pouring into a variety of different communities and also pursuing a very active profession and a lot of your own projects. How do you keep the energy and the focus and the drive to keep doing all of this?

U2

:

Again, it's the mission. It's like when you know what you're supposed to do once you figure that out. And I feel like I've had a million jobs, I had a million different 1s paths and ideas. But I think once I saw the impact of what I was doing in the community, because I think that the traditional sort of sense of professions don't work for a lot of people and it doesn't work for a lot of people from marginalized communities because of access and resources. Right. And then all of a sudden, you realize, like, when you go into these I went into East St. Louis some years ago with a lot of gang members and people that were struggling. But the creativity that they have is something that is unprecedented because they have to be creative to survive, right? Growing up in certain neighborhoods and situations and also moving to New York, I had to be creative to survive vibe here. I had to creatively think about what kind of job am I going to get, where's my money coming from? Where am I eating? How am I navigating New York City in the 90s? But I think that the drive is that I've been given an opportunity in a business that. That nobody I knew was already here. So I feel like if more of us kind of push that narrative, like, 1s we're not legacy. We didn't come from money, we didn't come from and I don't knock those people. Like, that's their mission. That's their life. That's what they were given. Totally fine. I understand that. But when I see kids who are first generation students from other countries that are now here, I see people immigrated from here recently, and their parents don't know this world of storytelling and visualization and film and television, but how it can impact it's one thing to just get a job. Like, you can go out here and get a job on film, television and not care about the rest of the world. But I feel like my community gave me something, and I have to give something back to my community.

U1

:

I love that. I feel like we have so much in common around that. And I feel like it's funny. I just came from a conference for HBCUs. I feel like it's very cultural for us, and I think there are a lot of cultures that feel the same way way, but kind of this not a desperate sense, but an urgency. Like this is not an option we have to pour into each other. We have to see ourselves as part of the same kind of thriving ecosystem. 1s So the last thing that I would ask you is just if you could give advice for people who have kind of a fire in their belly but feel overwhelmed right. Thinking about you at, you know, leaving Georgetown before you went to New York and a fire in your belly. But it was kind of an overwhelming idea to think about leaving everything that was familiar, going to a place that was unfamiliar, going into a profession where that you didn't know other people and where an obvious path was not already laid, and some of the experiences that you can draw on from your own life. What are some of the pieces of advice that you would give to people who are at whatever that point is in their journey, where they're like, you know what? I know that there's something that I can do or that I want to do. I'm a little afraid, but I feel like it's definitely in line with my passion. What guidance do you have?

U2

:

I would tell people, like, what you're afraid of is, okay, it's okay to be afraid, but, like, in the end, if it's not something that's going to I wouldn't suggest anybody 1s put themselves in a situation where they're homeless. 3s Unfortunately, I've experienced that, and I know what that's like, so I wouldn't suggest that to anybody. Now, that wasn't done. 1s By choice. I made some decisions that put me in that situation and I had to deal with that. So I wouldn't suggest that. I would suggest that people 1s develop a strategy to nurture that fire, like whatever that is, if it means you have to go get a second job so that your bills have to be paid, you have to be able to take care of yourself. You have to be able to eat, right? Because if you don't have those in place, you can't be creative. 1s You can't go out here and make this magic because you're thinking about all these other things and your brain is clouded with just surviving. But I would say that if something wakes you up every day, that thing that you think about when you wake up, you have to answer that. 1s And it doesn't have to be right away. You don't have to assume that you're going to be successful tomorrow. But if you keep chipping away at that and you keep nurturing that every day and you give yourself that space, I'm going to do this for 1 hour for myself. I'm going to do this for 2 hours. I'm going to do this for 30 minutes, right? I feel like in 30 minutes a day, you're talking about a few hours a week now that you've invested into yourself. We give all this energy and investment to everybody's business and everyone else's job and all that. But the thing that most drives us, we kind of push that away and we let fear do that. We have to sort of change that paradigm and do the opposite. Feed that like you feed everything else. And I feel like it will eventually take over, and it'll take over you. And you'll flip it around to where that thing that you're most passionate about becomes a thing that you do all the time, and that job becomes a thing that you do less and less. And by the time you could be two, three, four years from now, you're doing what you love. And it doesn't matter how much you're getting paid anymore. Because you know that you're feeding that fire, that little flame that I have. Every morning when I wake up, I think about all my projects. Every single day. I set a goal every day. I give myself 30 minutes to do 130 minutes to do something else. And then I always go out, you know, or if it's crazy outside visually, I think of something. If it's a photograph or if it's a book that has photographs in it, I look at something every single day to keep feeding. And that fire. Yeah,

U1

:

I love it. And what you're describing, even though you're an artist, I think everyone can take a lot from that. Right. I think regardless of whether or not a person sees themselves as an artist, we all have creativity in us, and we all have a need, I think, to express it in some way. And so finding the thing that connects us back to that creative spirit that we all have, like when we were talking about photographs or going outside and looking at nature or reading or spending some time writing, creating space to cultivate some of those creative energies is so important. Even if you're a business person and looking at numbers all day and spreadsheets, it kind of gives our brain somewhere else to go. But I also think it really helps to develop more kind of even muscles. Our brain needs to be kind of pursued. And it's so important. It's funny I told you this already, but I just recently I've done this before, but I recently completed the Artist Way again and did all of the routines associated with it. The artist way. This fantastic workbook is actually kind of a workshop that I went through on my own every single day. And I'd get up every morning and I'd spend 45 minutes doing my morning pages. I took my artist dates and just took time all by myself, kind of being quiet, looking around at something that stimulated me creatively. And I felt like it was absolutely amazing and helping me refocus on what's important. And it also gave me time to kind of put in perspective the things that weren't important right then. Just quiet time. This is not that important, and this is not that important. And once I got done with that 45 minutes in the morning, the first 30 of it was just kind of chipping away at all the stuff from the day before. Right. And kind of my to do list and all of that. But the last 15 minutes, I'm like this right here, this is the sweet spot. And then from there, you continue to build the way that you're describing it. I think, like, The Artist's Way could really resonate with people across industries at any point in their life who are just trying to find the thing that helps them reconnect with their passion and their mission and potentially turn it into something that could be more meaningful life work.

U2

:

Well, it's also like I mean, we were all creative at one point. Everybody I mean, like, regardless of whether you became an investment banker, you know, a VC of a company or CEO of something else, what we were like that that 23456, probably all the way to eight and ten before things got real, like serious. And fifth grade, you start paying more attention when we had to go outside. And again, this is pre all this social media and stuff. It was go outside and play, and if you didn't have a whole bunch of toys to play with, you made things. We made basketball, hooves with milk crates. 1s We balled up rubber bands until they got big enough, and that's your basketball or baseball or whatever. But, I mean, our minds were drawn to being creative with the things that are around us. And I think we quiet. That when the noise of the world comes in and we have to be business like, and we have to start paying bills and start doing that. It's like that six year old and me, I don't ever want that person to go away, so 1s I'm beholden to that six year old.

U1

:

Yeah, well, think about how many times people are. I don't know, that's all I hear people talking about all the time they spend talking to their therapist and their therapist is like, go back and find your inner child. Hey, that person in there, you owe them something and they owe you. The energy that comes along with that, that artistic, creative energy, we just tamp it down and we judge it and we call it not important or we say that it's optional. We say it's for those people in those specific spaces. But I actually believe if we had a more holistic way of kind of thinking about ourselves and all of the different parts of ourselves in ways that honored them, we would be much happier and much more whole as a society and as human as individuals.

U2

:

I pray.

U1

:

Alice, thank you. Thank you. Fantastic conversation, as always. You and I sit and have long conversations all the time, so this was just, like, one of many. But I really appreciate you sharing yourself, your story, your 1s insights, your advice with us and with our listeners. We deeply appreciate you.

U2

:

Thank you. And I hope to do it again sometime

U1

:

soon. Absolutely. Tell us how we can find you, please.

U2

:

You can find me periodically on Instagram. 1s I have a social media presence, but I'm not on there as much as I'd like to. 1s It's at H-O-L-L-I-S-M-E-M again it's at H-O-L-L-I-S-M-E-M on instagram I'm on Facebook. Just my name Hollis Meminger and I'm on LinkedIn. Same thing. And my website for my nonprofit is www.bridgebuilderarts.org. Www.bridgebuilderarts.org. And you can Google me, too, and probably find some nice little articles and find me that way as

U1

:

well. Absolutely. And we can also potentially contribute and find ways to support the work that you're doing at Bridge Builder and with the arts community. It's really important work that you're doing.

U2

:

Definitely. Thank you. Yeah, there's a little donate button on that website, but I always tell people, like, 1s this goes back to that first thing that you asked me, like, things that have impacted me in my career. I got a dollar donation from a kid from some other country, but he told me that's all he had available, and I will never forget that. And I thanked him because I feel like it's not just about the amount, it's just the intention, like he said. I really love what you're doing for young kids in the community. This is all I have, but I want to give it to. 2s That to me was worth a million dollars.

U1

:

I agree. And that's all he had, comparatively speaking. Now, for everyone else, if you also want to give compared to what you have, take it 1s down. The bar is here. Instead of the sense of the

U2

:

yeah, you could add a few zeros to that. That would be, just to be clear, 100% of everything that's donated goes back into the organization, but 100% of that is for the students. They don't pay for their classes, they don't pay for materials. Everything that's been done since 2016 that's been donated goes right back into the community for the kids. So there's very low overhead in terms of anything based on, like now that it's virtual, a lot of it is virtual. 2s I just find that it's such an impactful thing for people to do for these kids because they can see themselves in the work. And that's where we come in as we show them that these are viable options, these are career paths. These kids are going to top universities now based on what they've learned in this organization. So I appreciate any dime, any amount of zeros, whatever you have, feel free. Or if you just have some advice and some information to add to it, I'll take that too. These kids are learning money management, life skills, wealth building. It's a very holistic approach to storytelling through their bots.

U1

:

And the number of students you have at any given time is what? It's

U2

:

about 25. So on average when I have when I have the program and we've had as many as 50, but for the most part, 25 is usually the most manageable. But on online programs, we've had 50, we had 65, we've had 35. But it varies. But the sweet spot is about 25 students.

U1

:

And what I'd invite all of the viewers and listeners to do is to go to the website, Bridge Builder Arts and see what is happening there. There are amazing, amazing skills that are being developed. The curriculum is amazing. The level and quality of interaction, the amount of guidance. Hollis, you've told me the very intensive, handson ways in which you've not just worked with students, but also work with students and educators and community. As we transitioned into COVID, as we worked through COVID, trying to make sure that people had access to resources, that people could continue to learn, that young people were not feeling depressed or disconnected from the thing that really gave them joy in this world. So really thinking about not just learning a skill set related to storytelling, but connecting it to your life in their lives, and also at a time when wellness and mental health are so incredibly important to be attentive to, and that you've also layered that into the curriculum. And the experience has been really powerful. So I just strongly encourage everybody to check out Bridge Builder. And huge love and gratitude to you for doing that important

U2

:

work. Thank you.

U1

:

All right. Take care, Hollis. And okay. All right.

U2

:

And I appreciate it. Thank you. I'll talk to you

U1

:

soon. Bye.

Chapters