Stranger Company Collective is an inclusive group that has been taking root in the Pittsburgh area in early 2019. The collective is dedicated to community, resource sharing, mutual support, collaboration, and anti-loneliness with a centered on creative events.
So far the Collective has a number of events running including:
Monthly Drink & Draws – artists spend time in each others company working on projects over beverages of choice. Projects can be personal in nature or an experience to learn together. This event is open to artists of all skill levels and mediums.
Bi-weekly Craft & Chats – members meet up to plan upcoming events and stick around to work on art projects. Meetings are usually the first Thursday and third Sunday of the month.
Birthday Benefits – folks celebrate an well known artist's music/poetry with a fundraiser for a charity of choice. September's benefit showcased Leonard Coen's work and fundraiser for Combatants for Peace. November's benefit focused on Kimya Dawson's music and fundraiser for Pittsburgh Action Against Rape.
Monthly Meditation 4 Mental Health – members come together for a mediation and support group centered on learning and discussing self-care strategies.
Check out Stranger Company's Facebook page for current event location and time information.
Here's some Q& A with Jared Blumer, a founding member of Stranger Company:
What led you to wanting to put the collective together?
Two of my favorite bands, of Montreal and Neutral Milk Hotel, were part of a collective back in the early 90's called The Elephant 6 Recording Company and for years I've wanted to be a part of something like that. I was inspired by how members of that collective would play on each others' records and tour together, so I reached out to some friends to see if they would be interested in forming a collective to collaborate and organize shows together. I wanted the collective to be as democratic as possible and do my best to assure that everyone's wants and needs were being met, so I collected feedback from the interested parties and we together formed our mission statement: "The creation of an inclusive artist collective dedicated to community, mutual support, resource sharing, collaboration, and anti-loneliness with a focus on creative events." We have members ranging from visual artists, to musicians, to poets and writers, and encourage artists of all types and skill level to join.
What do you hope Stranger Company can contribute to the community? What need(s) are you looking to fill?
On one level we want to put on fun shows and regularly raise funds for causes we support (so far we've raised money for PAAR and Combatants for Peace), but we also hope to give artists a regular space to meet new friends and feel less alone. Artists have a tendency to self-isolate and struggle with their mental health so our Bi-Weekly meetings give people an opportunity to spend time creating art with other artists and our monthly Meditation 4 Mental Health event aims to provide artists and other community members with resources and skills on coping with mental health struggles and also providing a space to share about their lives in a supportive space and relate to others working to grow in their lives.
How can folks join?
Anyone interested in joining can attend one of our Bi-Weekly Chat & Craft events. (Details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/413664192861195/) Members are asked to try to attend one meeting a month, but life gets busy and we encourage self-care over attendance so members attend when they can.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Being a member of the collective could mean attending events on occasion, chatting, and making art, or it could mean being a lead organizer in an event you're inspired to take on. We encourage people of any interest level to attend.
Top Image - Heidi Unkefer "Slime Mountain"
Bottom Image - Andy Warhol
You have people in your life. Family members, friends, coworkers, neighbors. You also probably don't realize you're taking advantage of them. It's easy for us to take those in our lives for granted and not recognize them for all they are. I think we tend to cram people into typecast people into roles based on their relationship to ourselves. We frame them within the context of our own narratives. The thing is, your boss goes home at night and has a life wholly separate from your own. Your friends have interests you probably have no idea about (not just ones secured by incognito windows). You've probably felt underappreciated in some of your own endeavors. The point here is that people are infinitely more complex and interesting than we tend to give them credit for.
I live with four other people (and three cats). One roommate posted on Facebook a few months back that tickets were available for a musical they were going to be performing in. Wut. I had no idea about this at all. I was sleeping under the same roof as this person and had no idea that every night they were going out to rehearse for this performance. So, I go to see it and the show is incredible. It was huge, long, and complex full of singing, speaking, dancing, and all kinds of other things that would take ten lifetimes to get down right. My roommate played a huge role in the production and I felt like the biggest loser for not knowing anything about this. Just recently, one of my favorite coworkers sent out an email that he, too, was in a musical. This is a monotonous guy who has a very dry sense of humor. Of course, I go to his performance, and it's the coolest thing. He's onstage, singing and doing cartwheels, dancing with a rose between his teeth, and beaming the entire time. How was I so close to these people and fail to recognize their talents? Am I just an idiot? (Most likely.) Or do we live in a collective obliviousness to those around us?
The moral of this nonstory is to take an interest in those around you, pay attention to who they are, and support them when you have the chance. I think anybody reading this page knows how isolating it is to have an unrecognized hobby. We've all been locked in a room alone with a word processor. Whether it's a book, an album, or a petting zoo in my basement made out of stuffed roadkill, it's worthwhile to take an interest in the interests of your peers. Not only does it encourage them but it enriches your relationship with those around you.