We had the good fortune of connecting with Natalie Patterson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Natalie, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I measure success by three things: quality of life, freedom to sleep, and happiness. As I looked around the world, at the people I knew and the people the world considered successful I didn’t see people that met my success scale. I knew that to be successful on my terms meant I’d have to be creative because a traditional 9-5 wasn’t going to allow me the feeling of success even if I had all the material benchmarks of success. My interest in poetry was peeked in high school, but it wasn’t until college that I really began looking at how I could turn the poems in my notebook into a respectable career. Being a member of the creative community is really the only space that has ever felt like the right place for me.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My work is many things. I am a poet so I write and perform. I’m a teaching artist so I develop curriculum and workshops taking into account what the traditional education system teaches and what I think is missing and needed. I love teaching emotional intelligence, integrity, vulnerability, communal responsibility, and boundaries. I love developing lessons to invite folks to talk about race and mental health. I do this work with people of all ages. Over the last 18 years, I’ve taught jr. high, high school, youth who are incarcerated, college, at the corporate level through professional development, and with elders in retirement communities. Having the ability to work with this many demographics has allowed me a rich understanding of the world we live in. Sometimes a lesson I’m teaching at a corporate retreat is actually in service to the young people I work with that are incarcerated. I’m often trying to bridge the gaps by sharing what I have learned. My greatest hope is that during this time in human history we will do more good daily. I want folk to think more critically and really find solutions to these huge issues. We have access to all the lessons of the past, now is the time to tap into them and shift the culture. My newest project, A Love Language Project aims to do exactly that by challenging the city through public text based art centering black voices.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
First, I’m all about a driving city tour. LA is wonderful because you can be in the mountains, the desert, and the beach all in one day. I usually do an ocean to downtown tour. You can make that a day or take each part of the city each day. I love the ocean, I love sharing with people the unique things about our city like how neighborhoods change block to block. How we hide certain parts and glorify others. A drive down PCH, a walk on Venice, a tour of Santa Monica while sharing about the Black families and businesses of Belmar that were systematically destroyed so the city could have city buildings and Shutters hotel. I would take my guest to Blossom, a Vietnamese restaurant that is so thoughtfully curated by the owner. I would stop at Scoops for ice cream, Woon in Frogtown for some traditional Chinese food and apple soda curated by a mother and son team. I’d drive-by Echo Park Lake and share the complexity of such beauty and frivolousness neighboring so many unhoused folks. Then head into DTLA. I would have to make a stop at Lately in Chinatown for a Little Gem salad or a Nashville Hottie then walk across the street to Nous Tous to see their latest installation. Then I’d head to South LA to see my people. Drive-by Nipsey Hussle’s Marathon store. Hit up the Fox Hills Mall for some shopping, then head to Queen Boutique on Pico for all my accessory needs. There are so many small businesses that I love. So many people of color and black folks offering such beautiful cultural treats to the city.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Raynette Aggabao- We went to high school together and remain friends. She was the first person to write poetry in a way that moved me. She was the spark for my love of poetry. A Love Language Project is the culmination of many years of solo work that has now become a space for so many things I love all in one place. Kourtney Wiley. My greatest support and truest friend.
Other: Current project: ALoveLanguageProject.com @alovelanguageproject
Sam Trotman Jr.