Five years ago, Kristen van Ginhoven was an actor and graduate student in theatre education living in Western Massachusetts. Then she went and read a book called Half the Sky. By the time she closed the cover, she had decided to start her own nonprofit: the Women’s Action Movement Theatre. I spoke with her on the phone about the repercussions of reading humanitarian journalism, the practical steps she took to get her organization going and what she’s had to give up in order to pursue a career in nonprofits and the arts.
“I knew on a rational level that write/perform-for-hire jobs would pay very differently based on the company hiring you to do the work. But it’s still a shock on an emotional level to remember there isn’t agreed upon value for a lot of creative work.”
I wanted to talk to Molly about how she runs her creative career, including her touring expenses and whether she can predict how much money she’ll earn every month.
Not long ago, a friend told me he’d been fired from a West Coast marketing internship for not having a “hunger for marketing.” I asked him what that could possibly mean, which turned into a far longer story about post-graduate floundering, awful-seeming marketing software, and the perils (or subtle benefits) of showing one’s utter lack of enthusiasm in the workplace.
Part Two in a series of interviews with people who have found hands-on, creative work through doing an apprenticeship.
Shoemaking, or cordwaining (the official term), is a craft that has been largely erased from mainstream shoe production over the past 30 years. Only 2% of the US shoe market is produced domestically, and as of 2011, there are only 1,460 shoe repairers and shoemakers practicing in Canada.
“My mother was the night baker before me,” she says. Kelly’s 27. She started baking donuts when she was seven. It was a punishment. “My mom was the night baker,” she says again. “If I was, you know, ‘naughty,’ she took me with her.” If Kelly was naughty, she went to work with her mom and made donuts. She did that for years. She quit. She came back. She’s been working here a year-and-a-half. Night baker, like her mom. She takes her smoke breaks out front, because there’s no camera out back. “We’ve been robbed before,” she says. Man walked in the back door. Emptied the safe. Kelly wasn’t working. “I’m just lucky,” she says. She’s quitting again in two weeks. She’s going to be a security guard. “Fifteen dollars an hour.” The sum makes her marvel. She won’t mind the hours. She doesn’t really like people who work days. “The night shift, I’m wired for it,” she says. She’s a natural. She’ll come back for coffee, but she doesn’t eat donuts anymore.
Other professions represented include Taco Bell manager, road-worker, CVS employee. As the author/artist says, “I saw these people, and I wanted you to see them, too.”