Growing Positivity: A new way of thinking
By KATHY LEIGH BERKOWITZ
WINTER HAVEN — The Garden Ball Room glowed and teemed with life as young urban leaders gathered under a mantra, the newest movement known as “Growing Positivity.”
Founded by Kurtis Flanders of Winter Haven, the group, he said, is “more than just a logo or an organization, this is a way of thinking.”
A long-time volunteer of various arts and philanthropic causes in the area, Flanders said he formed the growing group of artists, musicians, photographers, conservationists, creatives, non-profit leaders with the idea that with everyone’s help, the community can become a better place as businesses contribute time and materials to non-profits.
The debut mixer event, free to all who were invited, was put on by numerous sponsors, including The Garden Ball Room, Arts Ensemble and others.
Everyone who attended was given a domino on an elastic cord to wear.
“If you have one domino by itself, nothing happens,” Flanders said. “But if you put a whole bunch of dominoes together and they interact, something happens.”
The unique group consists of several people who are passionate about various things, serving humanity, taking care of the homeless, being positive, sustainable living, functional business models that give back to the community.
“Give back to what you are passionate about,” Flanders said. “If you really care about women’s rights, or you care about civil rights, or you care about growing heirloom or organic food, get behind it and really give it your all. You are only going to be around one time. We want to take this opportunity to leave the world better than we found it.”
Flanders said the idea came to him when he and his friends had a group page entitled “Becoming the Change.”
The group morphed and started a new page, a new mantra, that is inclusive and progressive in nature.
They share ideas, for example, like clean energy and biodegradable dinner plates, planting seeds, donating to the poor, and living simply.
Lorraine Nevot, owner of The Garden Ball Room, said Flanders donated his time to help her get the fountains working outside and do an overall cleanup in the courtyard.
“I feel that in the world that we have today, we have to find people that have the same feeling, the same mentality you do,” she said.
Flanders said the group is going to connect a lot of different people, where each is free to promote their own business, but they also give back.
Arts Ensemble and Outer Space Studio and Gallery are going to have a young adult creatives group, he said.
One local artist, Tinia Clark, noted, “I think there is so much hate in this world that it is sad. Art, music, all of the things that make us happy are the things that we should work toward.”
Flanders was quick to give credit to his newly appointed board, Amber Jairl, Cheyenne Yost and Emily Skaggs. Skaggs is going to open a tea bar soon, where tea is served instead of alcohol.
“I have learned as I’ve gotten older that you cannot necessarily complain about your community, you have got to create the community around you that you want to be a part of,” Skaggs said. “Find people and help uplift them together with yourselves, otherwise, you are just running stagnant and complaining about life, you are not really doing anything.”
The event featured several musicians and art talents, a catered buffet and special gift bags to those who attended. One of the bags had organic vegetable seeds inside.
Editors’ Note: Growing Positivity has an announcement to make soon, Flanders said. Read about it in The Winter Haven Sun as you keep up with this creative and generous group.
Kurtis Flanders poses with his board of Growing Positivity: Emily Skaggs, Amber Jairl and Cheyenne Yost.
PHOTO BY KATHY LEIGH BERKOWITZ
Singer and songwriter, musician, Brett Mathis, entertains the crowd with songs from his upcoming album, Flower Children.