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Rita Troyer on Building Community & Creative Mornings Indy
Rita Troyer on Building Community & Creative Mornings Indy
How she started it and where it's going

For those of you who haven’t heard, Creative Mornings—a free, monthly breakfast lecture focused on bringing creative people together—has come to Indy.

For a few years now, it’s been a regular event in more than a hundred cities around the globe, and I’ve been fascinated with the idea of bringing it here since a friend of mine in Atlanta told me about it. So you can imagine how stoked I was when I heard that Rita Troyer got the ball running and launched Creative Mornings Indy.

Rita Troyer is a graphic designer by trade whose knack for collaboration is a big reason for the early success of Creative Mornings Indy. With speakers like Sarah Urist Green and Justin Vining, Rita’s goal is to connect a diverse audience and speaker base, both in their career paths and in the types of people they are. She hopes to highlight the types of creativity that might not always get recognized as “creative.”

The next gathering will be this coming Friday, January 23rd, at the Indiana State Museum, but set your alarms: registration opens Monday, January 19th, and seats are sure to fill up quickly.

How did you get involved with Creative Mornings?

I actually met Tina at a museum conference. She was speaking about Creative Mornings, and I approached her afterwards to talk to her about it. And after meeting her and realizing how passionate and genuine she was about it, I asked her about getting it started here.

What was the process of getting a Creative Mornings launched here in Indy?

I had to do a video and written application. Before I even began that, I researched what all it entailed. Last march, I started emailing people, meeting people for coffee, and picking their brains about what Creative Mornings could be in Indy, if it could be successful. And for everyone, it was a resounding yes.

So I decided that instead of me just being a talking head for Indy, I wanted to feature 10 people in Indy who are extremely talented and working here, like a 70-year old poet and a 20-something year old beekeeper. I wanted to showcase that diversity of people here and the people doing awesome work.

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Creative Mornings has been around for a good while, but there’s obviously a desire for it based on its success so far. Why do you think it took Indy so long to get a Creative Mornings going?

Honestly, full disclosure—it’s a lot of work. And because it’s always a free event, you have to find people who are invested in the idea. You have to find in-kind or financial support to put on the whole thing. That’s a lot for someone to take on, and not everyone has the time for it.

I think part of our initial success was that I had been talking to people for months and working together with people on the video and the application. We worked with people from Smallbox, and our video won $1,000 from Mailchimp.

What was your vision for Indianapolis?

I feel like Indy is really on the cusp of something right now. A great example is the growth in the entrepreneurial scene here, like Verge and Speakeasy. The growth in that community has had a direct economic impact and an impact in getting people who want to come here and stay. On a larger scale, I want to believe that something like Creative Mornings will encourage the creative community to stand up be noticed.

The reason I applied to begin with—I’d been in Indy for about three years, and often felt disconnected from other creatives. There were a lot of niche gatherings happening for designers or developers or photographers, but I consider myself a creative. I gather inspiration from so much more than design—reading poems, seeing a great concert, and so on. And I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to get all these people together and see what unfolds?”

What do you hope Creative Mornings does for the creative community in Indianapolis?

I hope it yields an even more thriving and well-connected creative community. I think it already exists today. This can hopefully bolster it, or just help to organize it some. The creatives already exist here.

At our first event, a girl came up to me who had just moved here from D.C. She works nights, and used to go to Creative Mornings in D.C. And when she heard that it was starting here, she was really excited. It gave her a chance to get connected to people here who she might not be able to connect with because of her hours and weird schedule. And a lot of people are like that, I think. They are creating in their basement or working nights, or maybe they’re a pager working a 9-5 office job who doesn’t think they’re creative.

I hope it expands the idea of what a creative is, because I think everyone is creative. For example, we work with a lawyer who’s helping us file for nonprofit status, and he is a photographer on the side. A really great one. We put ourselves in boxes all the time. Like, I’m Rita Troyer, the graphic designer. But I’m also Rita Troyer who likes to be outside, hike, and play in the garden.

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Have you always been interested in community building endeavors like Creative Mornings? Perhaps a better way to ask is in what ways have you been involved in community building like this before?

I volunteered at Indy Reads Books for a couple years before starting this. And I was really interested in the community aspect of that. It’s really easy to wake up every day and get into a routine or a pattern. I heard about Indy Reads, and I’m not even really well versed in books, but it was an opportunity for me to meet new people and to find people who are curious like me.

That definitely sparked something in me that made me really excited about community building. So I’m doing Creative Mornings now, and I’m helping on Plan 2020 now, too. I’ve really realized the benefit of coming together as a community to build something. I think my greatest take away from all of this is that people are only an email away.

Can you give us a sneak preview of what’s to come in 2015?

In 2015, we’re really starting to get our feet on the ground. We have some awesome partnerships forming and more coming. We are lining up a really diverse group of speakers. And we’ll continue to move our location around to different venues and hit a bunch of different neighborhoods. 2015 will really be getting our footing more and really trying to engage the larger community.