In September I was lucky enough to join a week-long press trip to Atlanta with a focus on art and social change. The trip was sponsored by Brave Nu Ventures, and it was truly an impactful glimpse into Atlanta’s local art scene, as well as the perfect introduction to the heart of this beautiful city. Our planned activities inspired me, pushed me past my comfort zone, and opened my mind to new ideas, places, and people. Below are some of the highlights of the trip, and some of the ways you can expect to expand your own comfort zone when you travel with Brave Nu Ventures.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”Neale Donald Walsch
What is Brave Nu Ventures?
Brave Nu Ventures is an educational travel company that offers immersive experiences centered around fascinating topics. Check the Brave Nu website for information on their upcoming ventures. Regardless of which one you choose, you can expect to explore a new destination, learn with other like-minded travelers, and connect with the local community. Brave Nu Ventures has a refreshing take on travel, allowing visitors to become residents and travelers to become students. With Brave Nu Ventures you will challenge yourself, expand your comfort zone, and leave with a deeper appreciation of the city and culture.
How I Expanded my Comfort Zone in Atlanta
Exploring Art with Brave Nu Ventures
Atlanta is a city bursting with art. Murals adorn the city’s walls, putting artist’s dreams and visions on public display. Atlanta’s art is proud and playful. Even the sidewalks are filled with flowers, rainbows, and symbols of hope. Where I live in Orange County, California, we have murals too, but not nearly to this extent. It was refreshing to experience a place of art unleashed, the city itself a canvas. I can only imagine how growing up in a city literally covered in art can effect one’s creativity.
Visiting MODA, the Museum of Design Atlanta
Hearing the Journey of a Muralist
One of the included activities on my Brave Nu Venture was a visit to MODA, the Museum of Design Atlanta. MODA is located in the heart of the Midtown Arts District, and celebrates design as a creative force that inspires change. Our visit to MODA was centered around meeting artist and muralist Aysha Pennerman, who talked about her career and passion for art. The examples she showed of murals she has done for communities around the world was so inspiring. I love hearing about the successes of people who have turned their passion into a career.
Getting Hands on with a Chalk Mural
After the talk with Aysha Pennerman at MODA, we got to participate in a group chalk art piece, where we each contributed our own symbols of what social change means to us. It was a thoughtful activity. I saw some of our group doing elaborate drawings while others were chalking up stick figures, but we all contributed despite our varying artistic capabilities. We all had a good laugh about it and enjoyed participating in an activity that pushed us past our comfort zones.
I asked Aysha what advice she would give to all the other aspiring artists out there, and her main message was to never give up. She said to take the rejection with light, as it’s just another door to your next yes. She also advised that when you find yourself doing a lot of work for others, to be sure to take time for your passion projects, as they are therapeutic and what keep us going.
Visiting the Splatter Paint Studio
One of my favorite activities was the Splatter Paint Studio, a place where you can let your inner artist loose, no matter your skill level. This studio is literally covered from floor to ceiling in paint streaks and splatters, marks left by past painters going to town on their canvases. Rows of canvases and paint stations lined the walls, ready and prepped for our group’s arrival with tons of colors, brushes and super soaker paint launchers. Some of us started out a bit hesitant and reserved, while others came out swinging with the paint launchers. Either way, by the end of the night, we were settled well past our comfort zones, smiling and covered in paint, proud of our crazy, beautiful masterpieces.
Visiting the Decatur Makers Workshop
Brainstorming and Making a Prototype
As a fan of some of the TV shows out there about makers (Making It, Making Fun) I was super excited to visit Decatur Makers. I love the idea of making something from concept to creation. Upon entering the workshop, we were surrounded by workstations, materials, tools, and projects. It was a maker’s paradise. We did a group exercise in design thinking and broke out into small teams to design a physical prototype for an abstract idea. I loved the open and creative energy from the makers I was paired with, and was proud of our little model that we made out of random materials.
Reflecting on our Experience
Brainstorming and creative workshops are activities that I love and thrive within, so I felt I was really in my element at this workshop. We had a moment however, where we went around the group and took turns giving a word about how this activity was making us feel. I think I said something like creative or inspired, but I did notice that a few others had words like overwhelmed, confused, or anxious. This activity really pushed hard on some of our group’s comfort zones, but on the walk out everyone was buzzing with excited conversation and stories.
Learning About Civil Rights with Brave Nu Ventures
Visiting the National Center for Civil and Human Rights
Experiencing the Exhibits
A visit to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights was included in my trip to Atlanta with Brave Nu Ventures. It was a moving experience, and one that definitely required me to step outside my comfort zone. Walking through the civil rights floor of the museum took us on a journey through many emotions. It was full of beautiful, thoughtful displays where we could listen to speeches, read stories, view photos, and watch videos. The entire experience felt very immersive and interactive, and I would recommend it to everyone visiting Atlanta.
Leaving our Comfort Zones at the Door
The one that really got me was an interactive display where you sit down at a table, put headphones on, close your eyes, and see if you can last through the whole experience. The audio essentially gave a very real experience of sitting in a restaurant and being taunted and threatened if you didn’t leave immediately. The violence and fear that came from that audio brought some of our group to tears. This journey through the museum was an emotional one. We knew it would be emotional, willingly stepped past our comfort zones to enter that museum, and we all left better for it.
Going on the Civil Rights Walking Tour
Learning with Unexpected Atlanta
On our Brave Nu Venture we got to do a Civil Rights Walking Tour with the company Unexpected Atlanta. Our tour guide Leigh was so full of knowledge and energy. It’s clear that she feels a passion for educating and helping others really dive into the harsh issues and triumphant moments of Atlanta’s past. She played us clips of iconic speeches from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on her iPad, which really added to the immersive experience. It made me feel closer to the city as we walked through historical Atlanta, listening to stories of heroes who walked these very streets.
Reflecting at the King Center
Our tour concluded at the King Center in all its peace and beauty. There is a giant cascading fountain that leads to the resting place of Dr. and Mrs. King. I loved that quotes and words were inscribed everywhere. In the fountain, on the the fountain, on the sidewalk, and even on the steps and railings. I felt surrounded by the wisdom of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We passed the eternal flame, a rose garden filled with poetry, and plenty of shady green areas for visitors to sit and rest awhile. The inspiration at the King Center spreads the message that civil rights are alive and well in Atlanta.
Supporting Equitable Dinners
Learning About the Event
Equitable Dinners is a collaborative, city-wide event that inspires anti-racist action through art and courageous conversations. The event begins with a one person play and is followed by a shared meal with strangers, where a host helps facilitate dialogue filled with honesty, depth, and mutual respect. While I’m sure our group would’ve loved stepping out of our comfort zones and into those Equitable Dinner events, we were there just a few weeks too early. Instead, we got to involve ourselves by helping to create promotional content.
Growing as Interviewers and Promoters
We visited the campus of Atlanta University. Center Here we met and took turns interviewing Andrea Jackson Gavin, the director of engagement and scholarship at AUC. Her passion for Equitable Dinners and willingness to answer our questions was truly inspiring. While getting in front of the camera and being in a live interview was a bit uncomfortable for some of our group, we felt so rewarded to have helped spread awareness about this amazing event.
Making Connections Through Brave Nu Ventures
Sharing the Experience of Good Food
The two restaurants featured on this trip were Chai Pani and Slutty Vegan. Chai Pani is a colorful, cozy spot in Decatur that features James Beard Award winning Indian street food from Chef Meherwan Irani. Slutty Vegan is Atlanta’s high-energy vegan burger joint that spawned from the imagination of CEO and founder Pinky Cole. Both restaurants were visually stunning with imaginative food and amazing flavors. I’m a vegetarian who loves Indian food, so I felt right at home in both of these restaurants, but for some of those in our group it was their first time trying Indian dishes and plant-based proteins. Expanding horizons through food is such a personal yet shared experience, and I thought it was a nice touch to let us explore and connect through food on our Brave Nu Venture.
Building Community Through Tea and Agriculture
Two great inclusions on our Brave Nu Venture that centered around community and shared knowledge were our visits to Just Add Honey and the Wylde Center. Both of these visits completely took me out of my comfort zone because they involved topics I knew very little about. At Just Add Honey, our group participated in a tea tasting together, learning the intricacies of tea varieties, blends, and tasting notes. At the Wylde Center we learned about growing herbs and vegetables, and volunteered together in the plant nursery repotting seedlings.
Getting Hands On Together
Both of these events had a hands on component: I got to make my own tea blend, and I worked to replant a couple trays of little mustard plants. I picked up knowledge from the experts at the Wylde Center that I still use today in my personal garden. By allowing us to join these community activities together as a group, it not only allowed us to make connections with the employees but connections with each other as a travel group. I happily stepped out of my comfort zone as a novice in these two subjects, and walked out with some new skills and stories to tell.
Immersing Myself in Decatur, Georgia
Staying in a new city literally expands your comfort zone because you’re suddenly in a completely new location, and have no choice but to explore unknown streets, be inspired by new murals, and walk into new restaurants where you’ll try new flavors and meet new people. I loved walking to Decatur Square in my free evenings. Decatur Square had some amazing restaurants, shops from small business owners, and fun, colorful murals. It was such a peaceful and welcoming city, and some of my favorite moments were hearing local musicians play music as the sun set.
Summary: How I Expanded my Comfort Zone in Atlanta
This was my first trip to Atlanta, and instead of just seeing the major sights on my own, I felt like I got the full introduction to heart of the city thanks to Brave Nu Ventures. I explored so many new locations and ideas, learned about fascinating topics, and connected with locals and my new travel buddies. It can be overwhelming to try new things sometimes, so booking a trip with like minded travelers is the best way to go. Brave Nu Ventures is a refreshing example of how to travel deeper, and I can’t wait to see what awesome new adventures become available with Brave Nu.