It is my absolute please to bring you an inspiring guest post from my friend, John Seaver. John lives in my town and is genuine and sweet to his core. John is an example of how “challenging” times can be used to rebound instead of accepting defeat. Thank you John for sharing your story and about the birth of Shantytown.
It was a little over a year ago when a friend and I were exploring different paths we wanted to take. I owned a little property that I had always dreamed of using for a small scale eco-village. The two of us decided that it would be a shantytown of sorts, pieced together with construction reminisce and recycled materials complimented by eco-wise new materials. One inspired afternoon, while enjoying the process of our journey, shantytown…a clothesline was born! I sat down and drew two trees connected by a clothesline, from which hung three t-shirts 1 shirt red, 1 gold, and 1 green… As time went on and different inspirations and ideas were pursued, shantytown was put aside, but remained strong in my heart and mind.. Together we were inspired by other’s inspiration and moved to create a venue for self expression, we rented a local space and began building! A week or so before our opening, we were cast in a play as metaphysical shop keepers, selling wonder and joy, answering the unanswered and promising the “unattainable”! The night was kooky, cosmic and cool, the audience was the cast and we enticed them with our words and intention…as the play began to wind down, the party started and it was beautiful! The unfortunate part is the closing of my night, I drove home after too many drinks and was arrested and incarcerated to be released 7 months later.
To say the least, it was a whole new world, my life was ruined…all my plans, many of my friends, the future that I had worked for was no longer! Those first few days in the medical block were hell, beat up, exhausted and lost. Time went on and the reality began to settle in, there was nothing I could do, no one to bail me out and I was in no mood to be calling home. So, there I was, sharing stories with my fellow prisoners, learning who they wanted me to believe they were. Several days were spent in the “blocks” before I was escorted to my new home, ”Bravo” dorm, it was there, in “Bravo”, where I would spend the remainder of my sentence. Bunk 5 to be precise, 2 feet away from bunk 4 on the left, two feet from bunk 6 on the right. (crunching what could be pages into paragraphs is going to be a challenge, so please, bear with me!) If I were asked to describe the environment in 1 word, chaos would be it! Voices from the occupants competing with the television both bouncing off the walls and funneling into my ears. The stench of 2 toilets and 10 men locked into a 500 sq ft room the intensity made the space seem even smaller and I could feel the weight of the stench in the air. Surprisingly my body seemed to acclimate within the first afternoon and as the days passed the metal bunks and confinement became my home.
Fortunately, I am a seeker, I am able to accept that the universe has a mission and path for me, this was no exception. I remember a sense of relief settling in as the days passed, once I was aware of my inability to control the situation, I was free! It may sound odd to use such a word considering the circumstances but in many ways I had no burden, no bills, no obligations and all the free time that I was missing in my life! I immediately starting searching for opportunity, 2 bunks down was a man who’s desk was adorned with origami creations, I began to see the beauty of the situation and look beyond the dark surface and I noticed as I began to do that, the room seemed less chaotic and lighter. I began listening to the stories and sharing mine, interacting and discussing, soon, I saw the opportunity for growth and the necessity to plan what I wanted to be doing with my life on the “outside”! A couple weeks in, I remembered shantytown, as if it had been germinating in my heart and one day sprouted in my mind. I began drawing and visualizing what the true potential could be, I learned ways to “do my time” , I learned origami, listened to the wisdom and played my role as peacekeeper and mediator the best I could…shantytown provided an outlet for my creativity, took up time and brought great joy to me in many moments!
As my final court appearance approached, I remember being so scared, having to pick up all the pieces that had shattered when I fell, dealing with others’ judgment and starting fresh but I knew I had shantytown and luckily a support network of really beautiful family and friends. It was my last walk in shackles as I stepped out of the sheriff’s wagon and into the courthouse, I left with a sentence of time served and 5 years probation…I was “free”! I stayed with my parents for the first few months, so driven to launch shantytown! I downloaded a free image manipulation program and began playing and designing. Then the mission came to me, to encourage equality and use shantytown as a positive influence in what can be a negative industry, it took a hold of me, like being swept away in a current. I began with the focus of social justice and racial harmony and using shantytown as a venue for uniting the beautiful cultures of this world that we are often inspired by with everyday interactions. I remembered being in “bravo” and the realization that we were all right there with our own equally unique stories sharing the same existence. Soon that carried on to this world that we all share, we all have our stories, pasts, individuality and talents. Now, shantytown is about equality in all aspects of the world, whether we’re a criminal, a carpenter, a writer, a baker, a doctor or a lawyer. We all share this 1world. as 1 people. connected by a universal 1ove. that makes us all equal!
It is my intention to offer t-shirts as an opportunity for us to give back to those who are less fortunate, to encourage the union of the people who wish to see a more fair existence and to inspire equality! Every t-shirt sold represents a necessary step in our evolution, wearing shantytown is equal to saying i care and i am doing something. I am supporting, and am part of an ever growing worldwide community who’s intention is human unity! Though I may have limitations, I am free, free to love, free to care and free to help to play a healing role in this time and we are all free to do that, no matter what our circumstance may be. I am so grateful to be sharing these words and connecting with those of us who care! Thank you for reading and welcome…to shantytown!
Thanks so much John for sharing your story. You are an inspiration and I am very grateful we are friends and I get to watch your journey unfold. While you were physically in prison so many of us have been imprisoned in our minds for so long. We repeat the same negative self talk, self defeating messages and it becomes more and more challenging to break out of it. You have shown that we can use these moments in our life to make another choice. Our life can ALWAYS begin NOW. We can use it to not only change our own life but the lives of others. I LOVE my shantytown shirts and support you 100% and your message and view of the world. One love! Please go visit John’s website, “Shantytown” and check out his amazing products and vision.