GTPulse: Life and Whim Brings Community and Art Together with Creative Workshops

I read often because I enjoy it. I’m not too picky either, as long as I enjoy the writing. I like fiction, nonfiction, comics and blogs. I delve into local blogs because they’re a great way to see what a community identifies with culturally. They’re fun and helpful no matter where I’m living and Traverse City has some cool ones that cover a range of topics that tie into life in Northern Michigan. I’ve read some on foraging, outdoor winter sports, raising children, farming and some on turning a farm into a home. There’s plenty to learn about through blogs, and one of the first ones I found here was Life and Whim, a Traverse City blog created by wife and husband Heather and Jay Harrington. They’ve transformed Life and Whim to go beyond the screen and into the community with creative workshops they hold every month.

Life and Whim started just six months after Heather and Jay moved to Traverse City from downstate. Heather grew up vacationing in the Alpena area which planted an early seed for her love for the outdoors but it wasn’t until she got married that she and Jay started vacationing in the Northwestern side of the state.

“When my husband and I got married, we often came up north in the Harbor Springs area. That’s where a lot of his friends came up too. One of those times we came to Traverse City and totally fell in love with it and thought why not? Why not live in that place up north? We really loved the proximity to the outdoors, I felt like it is such an entrepreneurial creative environment up here and I just loved the small town. We also have a young family.”

At the time, Jay and Heather’s twin daughters were two and their eldest girl was five. The thought of giving the girls a childhood filled with the beauty and wonder of the outdoors sealed the deal.

Life and Whim was a way for the couple to document their move, new life and experiences in Northern Michigan. The theme of the blog is Live Big Through Small Moments, and encourages people to relish the sweet, little things that make life good. The blog focuses on how to live a happier, more creative life, and also parenting techniques that help children do the same.

Heather is a graphic designer and Jay is a writer, which was part of the reason they thought a blog would be a perfect project for them that marries both of their creative talents. Eventually, they wanted to connect with the community in a more face-to-face manner. Their first project was the annual fairy garden walk that happens at the Botanic Garden at Historic Barns Park. Families are tasked with creating a fairy home or garden based on the year’s theme, and when they’re done designing their fairy home they display it on the fairy walk trail that winds through the woods for all to enjoy.

“It’s a free event and the public can come and walk through the fairy trails and see how these artists built houses. I always love this kind of combination of creativity and the outdoors.”

Another hybrid created by Life and Whim is the painted piano in downtown Traverse City off of Park Street and East Front Street.

“Sometimes it’s kids playing and other times you walk by and it’s someone playing the most beautiful music. It’s really fun to see.”

Their passion for combining community and creativity sparked the idea for offering creative workshops. 

“I just wanted to take it further. I feel like a lot of creative people work from home or maybe work solo or even if you don’t work and you just kind of make on your own, on the side, there’s a need to have something that brings people together, where you can make together. I feel like oftentimes we are sometimes hesitant to start something new because it’s intimidating, you don’t know what you need and feel overwhelmed going into the stores.”

The creative workshops are held once a month and teach people how to create everything from beautiful home decor to jewelry and more. The classes are currently hosted every third Tuesday evening from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. inside of the Yurt at The Little Fleet. The classes are taught by local artisans or makers.

“It’s been an amazing space for creating these events because I really feel that the space also inspires art and creativity and people coming together and being a little less intimidating for people that maybe don’t consider themselves artists or makers to come into an environment and try something new.”

The classes will run through this month and April at The Little Fleet before transitioning to a new location for the summer. The next creative workshop will be a jewelry making class at The Little Fleet on March 18th, followed by needle punching class on April 21st at Mammoth Distilling. Buy tickets and check out all of the other lovely things that Heather does at the blog here. The next endeavor for Life and Whim is to host creative workshops for larger parties like weddings or offices, but until then, the little family is happy with their contributions to cultivating communal creativity.


Categories: GTPulse