As we adapt and innovate to stay connected, Artistic Director Matt Guidry shares some of Upstream Arts’ best practices so that those who are sheltering at home, out of school, or isolated from usual activities can practice creativity and social connection. Welcome to In Small Moments, where Matt offers tools and tips for practicing Upstream Arts activities on your own and with your loved ones at home.   

Wonder where the mutual moments are.   

I wonder. 
These are two powerful words. 
Crucial words when building community.

When we are unfamiliar we are cautious, afraid, sometimes skeptical.
When we are curious we move more quickly down the road towards understanding.  
When Julie and I founded Upstream Arts, our mission was focused on fostering the social and communication skills of individuals with disabilities through creative communication. Like we had experienced with Caleb. But we all grow and change over time. Upstream Arts has become about so much more than teaching social skills. And for me, one of the most critical parts of our work today is building community through shared experiences. 
We create spaces full of curiosity.
We ask questions. We become familiar. 
We watch. We listen. And we notice. 

We search for the common denominators of communication and connection. Often it’s not about learning how someone else communicates. It’s about discovering together a way to connect that works for both of us. That moment in the dance studio with Caleb so many years ago when the language of movement became our common denominator, and in every moment since, we were, and are, constantly discovering the moments together. It is in these moments of discovery that our Teaching Artists are creating every day with our community when I believe Upstream Arts’ brand of play and social engagement succeeds.   

I wonder how you will respond if I move like this.

When we are curious about the next momenteach moment of wonder builds on the previous. Understanding becomes real and authentic.  Familiarity is discovered together.  

We must cultivate the practice of active listening. 
We must listen to each other’s stories.  

It’s empowering and validating, 
on both sides of the connection, 
when we discover our common narratives.  

Be curious about the person in front of you.
Wonder where the mutual moments are.
Try a new way.
Wonder what will happen next.

Keep looking, keep listening, keep moving, and keep finding those moments of connection. And keep practicing being creative.


Matt Guidry