We at CivNet are super excited to welcome Aryon Hopkins on as our new Design Lead! Check out Aryon's story below:

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I believe everything is possible. I believe nothing is possible.

Somewhere in the middle of this dualistic dead end is my reality of civic action. My wide eyed optimism needs to be tempered by strategic planning. Lofty goals that I dream up on whiteboards and piles of post-its need to be broken down into actions posed to a group of overbooked activists to perform the daily, weekly, monthly actions that will slowly create change. I obsess over creating the spark that will ignite the heavy hearted pessimist to stand up.

Forage, Collaborative Art Installation

My name is Aryon Hopkins and I am a recovering social change art activist entrepreneur. My work since graduating in 2004 from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia with a BFA in Graphic Design has always relied on collaboration. Starting with collaborative art making with the thirty plus artist collective, Space 1026, we built an enormous ewok village covered with reused screen printed cardboard bark and connected by hand braided plastic bag ropes. Collaborative art installation transformed to collaborative parade performing as I helped create and lead an art performance group at the Mummer Parade, the longest running American folk parade held every New Year's Day in Philadelphia.

NERD Island, Collaborative Performance

All of these art making adventures were tied together with the common thread of sustainability, environmental activism and community celebration. The Vaudevillain’s parade performance of “Mummers in the Global Warming Induced Perpetual Summer” included displaced penguin (costumes) dancing through the city streets in an imagined world of completely melted ice caps. In an attempt to provide more actual activism I started NERD Island, a parade brigade, with my wife Olivia. Our “Bedazzled Hazard Disaster Blasters” theme set an ambitious goal of attracting 100 new members, relied on reused hospital curtains for costumes, and raised $500 for Haiti Relief Funds.

Sprout Dinner Winner

After moving to New Mexico in 2010, my wife and I continued to work as a team and built ABQ Sprout, a non-profit that hosted meal-based micro-granting dinners supporting local initiatives. Our work was focused on creative communication and fostering collaboration and community celebrations. We hosted hackathons that connected local web designer and development talent to local musicians, businesses and activist groups to build websites that improved their communication with the community. We also leaned into our parade experience with Junkado, a people powered parade with a prize. Groups marched or biked down bicycle boulevard in celebration ending with performances that were rewarded with a micro-grant.

Junkado Parade Winners

Community in action can have many forms. My collaborative art installations and performances are closely related to my recent work in creative fundraising and civic action. Both required clear constant communication, regular meetings or rehearsals and effective promotion or outreach. Civic action too often forgets the fun and sacrifices engagement in attempt to improve the effectiveness of their message. Art in my practice is often too eccentric and self-centered to create considerable change in a civic sense.

I want to do better. I want the community to do better together.

My collaborative work in the community would benefit from the CivNet platform. Effective community action always benefits from clear communication, realistic goals broken down into achievable actions and an organized schedule. In just my third week with CivNet, I am overwhelmed with the potential of our platform.

My extensive experience in community and collaborative art organizing will be essential as I work to improve the usability of CivNet for both Project Leaders and Volunteers. The main goal of my work is fostering a relationship that is respectful of all user’s limited time and engaging enough to hold interest. I believe we have an incredible opportunity to improve the engagement, retention, and collaboration between these two essential roles in community organizing.