The Top Ten Bright Spots That Kept Us Going In 2020

By Cathy Niland | 12.27.2020

2020; it’s a year we won’t soon forget. A year that impacted our entire community, friends, families, and neighbors.

But it was also a testament to the dedication of The Crucible’s staff, faculty, and volunteers. When we closed our doors in March we had no idea what this year would look like, but our team stood by and stepped up, adjusting to new studio practices, leading our modified classes, and sharing their creativity with youth and adult students from around the Bay Area.

ten bright spots
Students watch a demo by instructor Michael Dickinson in Youth Glass Flameworking I during the first week of 2020 Youth Summer Camps. Class sizes were reduced and social distancing and masks were required. 

While we wouldn’t be so bold as to call 2020 a “good” year, there were definitely moments of joy and levity that kept us going! Below are the top ten bright spots—the wins for our students and community, and the art that made us smile. Here’s to a healthy, calm, and creative 2021.

Recent Posts


No content was found.

Visit Our Instagram →

Join Our Mailing List

The Top Ten Bright Spots That Kept Us Going In 2020

ten bright spots

Field Trip Day

In February, we hosted our first and only Field Trip Day in 2020. With twelve departments active, more than 300 students from around the Bay Area had the opportunity to see demonstrations in Glass Flameworking, Foundry, and Blacksmithing, just to name a few. Though we had to cancel our remaining Field Trip Days, we were glad to share the industrial arts with local youth even on this one occasion.

ten bright spots

Introducing ERV 2.0

ERV, short for Educational Response Vehicle, 2.0 is the new iteration of our mobile classroom, allowing us to bring activities like Blacksmithing and Leatherworking out to the community. ERV landed at The Crucible in the early part of the year and made its debut in early March at an Oakland Roots soccer game. We’re looking forward to new outreach opportunities in 2021.

ten bright spots

Our community stepped up

Shortly after shelter-in-place began, West Oakland community organizations Prescott-Joseph Center and Mandela Partners began providing produce and groceries to Crucible employees impacted by the pandemic, and our friends at Replate have been delivering pre-made meals. Additionally, faculty member, Lee McGirr borrowed two of our 3D printers to make PPE for hospital workers through And so many of you supported our relief efforts throughout the spring—thank you!

ten bright spots

Artist talks kept us connected

Keeping everyone connected during shelter-in-place was especially important. Our creative faculty were quick to step up and offer their time for our Artist Talk series, sharing their experience in ceramics, glass blowing, repujado, and more. It was a joy to spend Friday afternoons gathered (virtually) with folks near and far. If you missed any of our talks, you can explore our archive on Youtube anytime.

Ten Bright Spots

Kittens at The Crucible

In late June, a couple staffers noticed a family of cats had made a little home for themselves behind our Blacksmithing studio. Our cat savvy staffers spent a couple of days trapping Mom—not even an adult herself—and her four-week-old kittens. The greatest surprise was that Mom was not feral at all and, after eight weeks of being fostered by our Director of Programs, Alyssa Stone, she and the kittens all found homes. Today they are happy, healthy, and loved.

Ten Bright Spots

The Human-Chicken-Duck-King-Cyborg

When the pandemic hit, we weren’t sure what summer programming would look like, or if it would happen at all. Fortunately, with some changes to our safety protocols, including smaller class sizes, increased sanitation, and fewer sessions, we were able to host a modified Youth Summer Camp. Students arrived more ambitious than ever and wowed us with their creativity. 10-year-old Quinn’s mechanical Human-Chicken-Duck-King-Cyborg was just one of the highlights—make sure you check it out in motion!

Ten Bright Spots

Nothing Could Stop Our Youth Leaders

When we decided to run our Fuego Youth Program this summer, we knew it would be different. Five of our second-year students were invited to return for a shortened two-week program and, unlike in years past, Fuego Leaders did not assist in youth class instruction. But even with those modifications, our Fuegos worked incredibly hard, making an impressive body of work that they shared during our first-ever virtual reception. This two-hour event also included live demonstrations and explanations of their work.

Ten Bright Spots

Adults returned—with focus and ambition

Instructors said over and over how students came to classes more focused than ever and ready to learn and get creative. Our weeklong Woodworking I students were the perfect example! All six students moved through the class in record time, finishing their work early enough to add shellac to their tables—a step usually left for students to complete after class ends. With a little extra time left, it was the perfect opportunity for a photoshoot!

Ten Bright Spots

The Bike Shop returned, transformed

In September, we were able to re-open our Bike Shop and provide free bike repair to our community during our modified Bike Fix-Thon events. The pandemic had provided a rare break in programming that allowed our Bike Shop team time to relocate and transform the shop. “Not having Earn-A-Bike running, not having Fix-A-Thons, not having eight or ten people in the shop—suddenly we could talk about actually organizing and optimizing the space,” said Bike Shop Department Head Jared May. You can take a peek at the new expanded Bike Shop—this transformation is just the first step in expanding our Bike Shop programs in the coming year!

Ten Bright Spots

Virtual GIFTY

For the past 17 years, we’ve hosted GIFTY, our annual craft show and open house. With an in-person event out of the question, we pivoted to an online marketplace featuring more than 80 Bay Area vendors selling goods like stained glass, small batch soaps, hand-made ceramics, and much more! Many vendors have reported that Virtual GIFTY brought in more sales than our regular in-person GIFTY event. Our community cared about supporting artists and local business this season and clearly, their support went a long way.

You Can Still Make A Difference in 2020

Donate a gift of any size and help The Crucible unlock an additional $20,000 in support. All gifts before the end of the year will support youth scholarships, an expanded Bike Program, Virtual Field Trips, and more.


Keep Reading