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Storied: San Francisco

Jan 4, 2022

This episode is the first in a series we're doing with Creativity Explored. CE's mission is "to provide developmentally disabled people access to the human right of creative expression." Check back next week for the next episode in this series.

In her own words, Linda Johnson "always had a passion for city life."

In this podcast, the executive director of Creativity Explored shares her life story with us. She grew up in Ohio, graduated college with degrees in English and creative writing, got her master's in Iowa in social work and poetry, and moved to San Francisco in the early Nineties on a hunch.

After working at a number of different places, Linda combined her loves of social work and the visual arts with a job at Creativity Explored. Before that, she had worked at Streetside Stories, a program that helps young people tell their life stories. From there, she worked for the city of Walnut Creek, what Linda describes as "an incredibly arts-focussed city." She managed arts programs there.

She shares the story of first falling in love with Creativity Explored, many years before working there. It was back in the day when you had to be somewhere, in person, to see and buy art. She remembers the big sales that CE would host and what enriching experiences they were. While at the City of Walnut Creek, Linda told herself, 'My dream job would be executive director of [Creativity Explored].'

When its then-ED was retiring, the person doing the outreach to find a replacement just happened to live in Walnut Creek and found Linda through her work there. It was like a dream come true.

Linda tells us in her own words what Creativity Explored is and what the non-profits vision and outlook are. A big part of CE's future is moving more deeply into a "community with" type of organization and away from an "in service to" operation.

She goes on to talk about how proud she is of CE's artists. Some have been collected or gone on to show in museums and galleries around the world.

Please visit Creativity Explored's website here, where you can sign up for their newsletter and never miss any of the things they're doing. You can also donate to the non-profit there.

​Check back next week for another episode in our series with Creativity Explored.

We recorded this podcast at Creativity Explored in the Mission in December 2021.

Photography by Jeff Hunt