The Red Room Collective is a community of artists, entrepreneurs, educators, creators, and dreamers of all kinds. Each dreamer has untold stories to tell. Each dreamer is a key part of the community.
Some dreamers have been a part of the Collective for a little longer though, and SPNDRFT is one of those long time dreamers. The RRC's resident producer (Check out the monthly playlists he releases: the DRFT! Or his recent interview of another RRC dreamer, Yànjú, from January's Creative Saturday), SPNDRFT has been a part of the Collective since its inception. His untold stories are many, but recently, he sat down to share just a few of them with us.
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Querida: Tell us the story of your name. Where does “SPNDRFT” come from?
SPNDRFT: My family didn’t have a whole lot growing up. They put a lot of time and resources into my soccer career, so we didn’t really get a chance to “vacation” much. My mom worked for the Portland Public Library system though, and the library owned a house on the Oregon coast that they would raffle off to different staff members. The house was this old rustic building that had been around for nearly 100 years. It had the kind of magic that old spaces like that accrue over time. My family won the raffle a couple times so we got to stay there. That space reminds me of my family and the sacrifices my parents made so that I could have a special childhood. I think about the Oregon coast a lot when I am trying to be creative, so when I was figuring out a name for myself the name of the cabin popped into my head: Spindrift. It fit me and my journey and my personality, and I decided to run with it. Then I saw Spindrift sodas at Cava one day and was like, “I ain’t trying to get sued by a beverage company.” So I took out the “i’s” and SPNDRFT became a thing.
Querida: So that's the story of your name. What about the story of the Red Room Collective and STAYDRMN? What is story of how those communities began?
SPNDRFT: Rainier Maria Rilke is one of my favorite writers and sources of inspiration. He has a quote that I find increasingly relevant to my life and my work: “The future enters into us, in order to transform itself in us, long before it happens.” I read that quite a long time ago and kind of brushed it off, but this past year has taught me the truth that it holds.
STAYDRMN came into existence as a named thing over the summer of 2017, but it is rooted in a number of different journeys and experiences. I think it makes sense to say that it “started” with the election of Donald J. Trump. I remember walking around the inauguration and the protests going on that day with Mr P and 2nd Ave, and I just felt like everything had changed; I needed to be a part of a community that filled me with hope, and joy, and love. We launched a wildly unsuccessful campaign after the inauguration called the “We In It Challenge” that called on people to name the thing they were going to do now that we were in this new era of American history. My declaration was that I would help start a creative collective that equipped creatives to share their story. We started running monthly gatherings called “Creative Saturdays” that brought creatives together, and the foundation of the STAYDRMN network began to take shape.
While that journey was taking, Mr P was also beginning to build a similar set of spaces in SE DC at Stanton Elementary, that would soon become known as The Creative School. That period was a beautiful time of exploration and experimentation, and I remember Mr P kept reminding us to Stay Up and Keep Dreaming. Eventually the phrases merged and we realized we were building something bigger than the sum of its parts. We were building a lifestyle that challenged societal norms; we were building spaces that valued stories, journeys, and experiences. After a lot of tinkering and wandering, we formally named that lifestyle: STAYDRMN.
Querida: As you started to get in to, STAYDRMN's mission is to "inspire a lifestyle of cultivating untold stories." What does that means to you?
SPNDRFT: My story and my journey aren’t normal. My father is from Port-Au-Prince, Haiti and my mother is from Davenport, Iowa. I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, and for the longest time I remember having to conform myself to fit into other people’s narratives and their vision of who I was.
When you’re young, you tend to be pretty malleable. I didn’t have a problem shape shifting to be accepted in the different spaces I inhabited. However, as I got older it started to dawn on me that what I was doing came with a cost. I had gotten so good at revising my story to fit other people’s tastes that I started getting lost in translation. It was stifling my perception of myself as a leader, as a creative, and as a person. Being a part of this DRM has helped me come back to my own story; I feel empowered to explore myself more, and I feel capable of walking as the person I am. I think that shift is powerful; it’s why I believe in the work we are doing. I believe a lot of people have spent a good chunk of their lives re-writing their own stories so they can fit into a narrative that doesn’t authentically value the beauty of their nuances. This DRM is about moving in spaces that encourage us to embrace our stories and the stories of others so that we can challenge the broader narratives that suffocate us.
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Those are just a few of the stories SPNDRFT had for me this week, but he's got a whole lot more (self admittedly, "brevity is not my gift" he told me). All the dreamers who make up the Collective haves stories to tell, but they're also eager to hear yours. When I asked him what his Marketplace request or offer was, SPNDRFT's only request was for all y'all to come join us in the spaces that are popping up around the network: Creative Saturday is March 10th...get your tickets now! And if you're interested in our smaller community circles happening throughout the month, hit SPN up with questions at email@example.com.
What's your untold story? Come through and tell us.