Coffee House, Community Engagement, and Craziness

I remember when I found myself on the Élan staff my Junior year, on the first day Mrs. Melanson asked us each to go around the room and say why we wanted to be apart of Élan. I have always been a shy person, quick to blend in and follow the crowd, but I wanted things to be different for me being on the Élan staff. I wanted to be a leader. I wanted to be apart of things and have my hands in a little bit of everything. I didn’t know how true that would end up being two years ago. I’ve been apart of a lot, but I consider Coffee House and being the Co-Lead of Community Engagement as being the biggest parts of my “career” in Élan.

My first stake in Élan and what I hope to be my legacy was being the Junior Lead last year and Senior Lead this year of Coffee House, which is a collaborative show of 100% original work that Élan puts on every year. It sounds super nerdy, but I had so much fun organizing and managing the event and working with all the performers was such an eye-opening experience to get to be involved with all the different arts areas. I am forever thankful for the Senior Lead of Coffee House that year, which was Tatiana. She taught me everything I needed to know about how to make this show happen and managed to make it fun at the same time. So I was ecstatic when I was able to be in the same position and have the same close relationship with the Junior Lead this year, Oona and I can only hope that she will take everything I taught her and be able to turn around and teach her Junior Lead and so on and so forth. Coffee House is an event very near and dear to my heart and I’ve met a lot of great people through this show, so I am thrilled to have been apart of making it happen.

My Junior year I was the Poetry Editor and while I loved this role and I loved being immersed in poetry and being apart of the production of the book, I didn’t feel like I was doing enough, so I think I really found my niche being one of the Community Engagement Managers along with Savana. Community Engagement has a lot of parts to it; there’s marketing, sales, community in relation to Douglas Anderson, our Jacksonville community, and then the community of literary magazines. Juggling all of this was a lot, but I loved getting to talk to people at events like Art Walk or Jax by Jax and spread my love for Élan and try to get people to care for it as much as I do. Our role was a newer creation. There has always been a need for it, but last year was the first year it was an official role, so it’s required a lot of figuring out and learning from our mistakes, but our mistakes will allow for whoever takes on the role next year to be even better.

Madison Dorsey – Co-Community Engagement Editor