Arts in the Arb – Barger Leadership Institute Student Voices

Arts in the Arb

By Zachary Sieloff
Liana Lau, Ariana Kertsman, Noah Kempken, and Christopher Walsh

As part of ALA175: Foundations in Leadership, our group took various steps to achieve our end goal of hosting an event in the Arb to help connect students with the environment, as well as serve as a mental health event for students with upcoming final exams. Firstly, we started brainstorming different ideas of what we wanted our event to consist of. We were always set on hosting the event on the Arb but kept bouncing back and forth on which activities we wanted to host. Originally, it was supposed to be painting in the Arb but, after talking to our stakeholders, we realized that creating friendship bracelets and sun catchers might be a better option. Once we met with our stakeholders and got their feedback, as well as approval to use the Arb, we finalized our activities and all we needed to host a successful event! The next step in the process was filling out a grant to the BLI to cover the materials needed. Once we knew what we wanted, we applied through the BLI form, submitting our mission for the event along with what items we needed. Soon enough, they got back to us, and we were able to receive the grant—we are very grateful to the BLI for approving this grant so that we could fund the materials and food/drinks at our event! Our last step in this process was to host our event. We had a great turnout at the Arb this Thursday, April 18th with around 20 attendees, and everyone had a blast!

One of the most important BLI Habits that we addressed in this event was “Collect, Combine, Create.” In our research, we learned that mental health challenges and stress can be quite isolating for students. The goal of our event was to offer students a space in nature where they could work collaboratively and in community to challenge this sense of isolation that they may often feel daily at school. By offering them a chance to make art and practice mindfulness in a community setting, students voiced that they felt a renewed sense of collectivity through the process of art-making.

In terms of what’s next for your team and project, while our event was designed to be stand-alone, we hope that our event participants are inspired to attend more wellness events in the future and to explore the Arb more as the weather gets nicer. Nevertheless, each one of us will carry on the leadership and well-being lessons that we’ve learned from ALA 175 into the group projects and initiatives that we pursue in the future.

We want to thank Fatema, Samantha, Ananya, and Natasha from ALA 175 for their support in making this event possible! We learned so much about collaboration, planning, the importance of stakeholder feedback and perspective, and leadership/followership from them and this class. Our event was a great success due to their guidance, as well as the feedback we received from our classmates throughout the semester.

This event was put on in partnership with Mindful Michigan, a student club that aims to cultivate an inclusive community through contemporary mindfulness practices such as yoga and meditation, as well as more social activities that help members develop a stronger sense of self and community. We appreciate their support in putting together Arts in the Arb, and a special shoutout goes to MM President Nate Alexander for his collaboration!

Additionally, we’d like to thank Wolverine Wellness for providing tote bags and other materials for us to share with attendees. We are very grateful to the staff at the Arb, particularly Catriona Mortell-Windecker, for allowing us to use and enjoy the Arb. If you’d like to attend future well-being events, we encourage you to participate in student organizations like Wolverine Wellness and Mindful Michigan and also join the Arb’s Nature Rx program.

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