People

Are events like iMakeCLT what we need to bond with neighbors?

Do you interact with your neighbors? I live on the South End/Dilworth border and talk to my immediate next-door neighbor when we both happen to be outside. But everyone else in my little neighborhood cluster seems to wave, say “hey,” and move on without conversation. (I’m half to blame, here.)

And when it comes to actually feeling like part of a neighborhood, I feel much more connected to South End than Dilworth because of all of the community engagement events South End has going on. From Magic Carpet Mural painting, to brewery yoga and run clubs, to the art gallery crawls.

So are organized events what it takes to make more neighbors feel like they can create bonds these days? Do we need all of these opportunities beyond bumping elbows at the mailbox?

If so, South End is making it happen again with C3 Lab hosting the first-ever iMakeCLT event Saturday.

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iMakeCLT, a family-friendly (and free) event taking place 10 a.m.-2 p.m. June 18, is intended “for neighbors from all over Charlotte to connect and create meaningful projects.” iMakeCLT was inspired by a Historic South End mini placemaking grant given to Digi-Bridge, a nonprofit seeking to close the digital divide in the community through access to 21st century experiences.

David Jessup, Jr., founder and CEO of Digi-Bridge, hopes to see people from all sides of the community come together at the C3 Lab hub to play, to explore creatively and with curiosity, to seek out what they are interested in and to take advantage of projects that transcend age differences.

“A space to make, break and fix is really what we aspire to create through iMakeCLT,” said Jessup of this first event, which has room to grow thanks to sponsorship from UTC Aerospace Systems.

Attendees can work with about 20 artists and makers including Cece Stronach with a community collective art piece, fiber artist Kathie Roig and visual artist/community coordinator April Marten.

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“C3 Lab’s tagline is connect + collaborate + create, which means we are about community,” said C3 Lab co-founder Maria Nocik. “…This event is integral for the long-term sustainability of South End as a featured community in Charlotte. The historic district is more than fantastic breweries and excellent food. It’s the local arts and culture that makes this place one of a few unique destinations in Charlotte.”

I’d say the local arts and culture are connecting people in this place, too. Marten said her Saturday project will teach participants how to make a sketchbook or idea book from common materials, encouraging them to write down or draw (and maybe even talk about?) their ideas as their creativity is sparked.

“I love the idea of providing opportunities for everyone in our community to experience making things,” Marten said.

So get thee to a community event, whether it’s iMakeCLT, or the Joe’s Doughs Grand Opening, or the next Summer Pops concert. Make something. Make a work of art with your hands, or just make an effort to start a conversation with a new Charlotte neighbor.

C3 Lab: 2525 Distribution St.

Photo: Katie Toussaint

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