Let's first look at the definition.

development |diˈveləpmənt|


1 the process of developing or being developed: she traces the development of the novel | the development of less invasive treatment.

a specified state of growth or advancement: the wings attain their full development several hours after birth.

a new and refined product or idea: the latest developments in information technology.

an event constituting a new stage in a changing situation: I don't think there have been any new developments since yesterday.

the process of converting land to a new purpose by constructing buildings or making use of its resources: land suitable for development.

an area of land with new buildings on it: a major housing development in Chicago.

Chess the process of bringing one's pieces into play in the opening phase of a game.

2 the process of starting to experience or suffer from an ailment or feeling: the development of brittle bones.

3 the process of treating photographic film with chemicals to make a visible image.

It has been just over a year that I have been working full time in the non-profit development world. Prior to this, I did development work, grant-writing, soliciting sponsorship and in-kind donations, events, etc. but not full-time. I didn't realize how similar development work would be to the rest of what I had been doing until an opportunity presented itself to work in development. And somehow I found myself at home in this new role. As I continue this work, I enjoy it because it is about connections. This is the theme that runs through all the work in my career.

My visual art is concerned with language and questions about how we communicate with each other, the boundaries that perpetuate misunderstandings and the differences in experience that shape our individual perspectives, and often the way in which media impacts all of the above. From here I became a community artist and educator. In my classroom I created space for students to acknowledge their differences in a safe way and create artwork that would express their unique identity and voice. In my public installations I did the same, except expanding the participants to anyone living, working or passing through a space. Using my skills as an artist I would provide a space for their thoughts and words. In art I see a crucial tool for forging connections. I began curating, posing questions to artists to begin an exhibition and seeing all of their beautiful and unique answers, as well as including youth alongside their work to expand the dialogue even more.

Then I transition again into development. I felt my perspective change as I did the work. I knew although I did not necessarily have the words to articulate it that development is about connections. It is about doing what is needed in the world. It is about listening and connecting, knowing what people need and want. It is about building relationships between people and organizations. Looking at the definitions above I see that all of these things hold true for the work, even if there is not a definition that directly pertains to this work. It is about acknowledging one's power to be a part of building something greater than oneself, whether that is an after school program, a non-profit organization, a building, a city, an idea. It is being part of a changing world. It is finding ways to communicate this change and to connect to others as we progress. As people, as a community we are always changing, development work is about being a part of this growth and progress.