Entrepreneur meets raconteur meets iconoclast.
Meet Ivan Saul Cutler: community ambassador, city councilor, nonprofit promoter, photographer-at-large.
Throughout Greensboro, Cutler, 74, is active, energetic, versatile and ubiquitous. Cutler may have used similar words when he posted his surprise birthday greeting on Facebook, starting with “You really know how to defy history and . . .”
“I’m always trying to improve things. Me too,” he said. “These are good qualities that my parents instilled. There is a Yiddish word — kvell. It means to be happy, to have a mind to achieve, not through pride, but in helping others to succeed. To me, it’s self-affirming. This helps me grow. I am ready to serve.”
Cutler’s interests include public education, human rights, inclusion, fellowship and faith.
His community service has provided awareness for Habitat for Humanity, Guilford Child Development, The Salvation Army, Greensboro’s United Way, Guilford County Schools, Preservation Greensboro, and Summit House.
He has served on the Greensboro Civil Rights Commission, the Greensboro Public Library, the Jewish Association of Greensboro, Temple Emanuel, the NAACP Greensboro branch, and the Guilford County Schools Endowment Fund – “enjoying finding ways to fundraise for children’s lives.”
He graduated from Impact Greensboro, Greensboro City Academy, and Guilford County Citizens Academy. He is a good judge, he ensures that the work of the voters is carried out easily.
“When I think of Ivan, I remember the late Maya Angelou saying ‘…people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you felt. they don’t,” said John Graham, who voted for Cutler. .
Today, Cutler traverses Greensboro, capturing with his camera the activities of non-profit organizations, clubs, and organizations: “The camera, just holding it, became the key to introductions and new friendships.”
He considers himself a photojournalist, a chronicler of Greensboro through his self-created MakingNewz! – a united society. Game logo for MakingNewz! is a children’s newspaper vendor, hearkening back to Cutler’s childhood days delivering the Los Angeles Times.
He was born in Compton, Calif. (“I was in front of Dr. Dre”), Cutler is the youngest and last of four brothers (“Look at their age, I think I oops!”). His father is a citizen of Lithuania, his mother is a citizen of Ukraine. (“Obviously, I have an opinion of American immigrants, and it’s a good one.”)
Living in Pasadena, Los Angeles, Alhambra and San Francisco, Cutler called himself a “California Carolinian,” arriving in Greensboro in 1989 to work for Furniture Today magazine.
On the street, it’s easy to see Cutler packing his signature camera and wearing a funky colored shirt or a wild bow tie (“I tied them myself. It’s wrong. It brings contrast and humility at the same time.”)
Sporting salt and pepper hair and beard, he laughed when passers-by reminded him of the Laws he gave to Moses at the Jewish Festival. “Moses,” they would taunt, “let these fearful clouds go.”
There is something else, something deeper. Cutler and his wife serve in the Chevra Kadisha, the Holy Society of men and women who prepare the Jewish dead for burial. Because the deceased cannot show gratitude, this service is one of the greatest good deeds in the Jewish religion.
“Responsibility defines us. And we define responsibility. There is no score card except in my heart,” he said. “It’s what you do when no one is watching.”
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