Why We Should Prepare to be Dangerous

This is a big week for me as a teaching artist and girl advocate.  Not only has our Go Girsl! Camp registration opened for the summer, tomorrow, I will be giving an 18-minute TED like talk at the How Kids Learn Conference in San Francisco about my work.  The event is sold out but, don’t worry, it will be filmed and I will share it here.  My talk shares my views on:

  • Why I feel we so desperately need a compassion revolution;
  • Why I feel like we must support the leadership of girls and women to lead us in the compassion revolution; and
  • Why theater is the greatest medium for helping all of us learn and practice the skills of compassion
From my powerpoint presentation

From my powerpoint presentation

This is a big deal for me.  I want to make it clear that I am talking about something more than giving girls the opportunity to improve their self-esteem by being in some “cute plays.”  It’s bigger than that.  These are girls are engaging in a process of deciding who they want to be and co-creating the world they world they want to live in.  I really do believe these plays that Go Girls! make can change the world.

I’m just afraid that no one else believes it.  I’m afraid it’s more than we are prepared to believe.

Also this week, on Saturday in Berkeley, I will facilitate the first full membership meeting for Teaching Artists Organized (TAO).  As the Membership Committee chair of TAO, I am really pumped about about making 2013 the Year of the Teaching Artist.  I believe so strongly (and have written about this before), that, in the wake of violence and disconnection and abuse and neglect, it is time for teaching artists to rise to leadership in bringing us all back to peace.  This compassion revolution that I speak of depends on the skills of the teaching artist.  Again, sharing this on Saturday is a big deal for me.  I want to make it clear that I am talking about something more than giving kids the opportunity to get the arts education that has been so savagely eradicated from our schools.  It’s

From my powerpoint presentation

From my powerpoint presentation

bigger than that.  Teaching artists have the power to help kids and adults, in various community settings, imagine new possibilities for how we can all BE together.  By strengthening the collective imagination and giving everyday folks the tools and skills to make and do and create, we threaten the whole status quo.  As my friend, Big Rich, said to me yesterday:

“The game is in danger.  Being able to be creative and proactive is dangerous to these people.”

I’m afraid that my fellow teaching artists aren’t prepared to be dangerous.  I hope we are.  I hope I am.


What is Media?: A Presentation for K-8th Graders

Yesterday, Park Day School in Oakland, CA kicked off their annual CARE Week (Campaign for Acceptance, Respect and Empathy).  Their theme this year is MEDIA and their whole school, kindergarten through 8th grade, will dig deeper into various forms of Media, how it relates to their lives and what it has to do with creating a culture of empathy and compassion.  I was invited to be the opening assembly to kick off CARE Week for the school.

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What Do You Do?

I don’t have a real job.  So, when someone asks me “What do you do?,” I kinda panic.  One of the primary reasons I started this blog was so that I could continue to put words to “what I do.”  Maybe I should try to only ever answer visually.  Perhaps, when folks ask, “So, what do you do?,” I can whip out a 4’x6′ postcard with this image and hand it to them…

Wordle: What Do You Do?

But, that might be weird.

We all know the traditional way to answer this question.  We are all supposed to have a profession.  “I am a doctor.” “I am a lawyer.”  “I am a firefighter.”  These are all great answers.  But this is problematic for me.  I could say…

  1. I am a theater teacher and director.” – However, I am rarely in the room with actors these days.  And when I am, I am rarely doing theater in the traditional sense.  When I am, I am helping folks, who do not identify as professional actors, practice being braver, more compassionate people.  I just use theater to do it.
  2. I am a business owner.” – However, then, of course, I have to explain what my business does and that is a whole other complicated web of description…one which I am working very hard to make simpler…especially because it is one of those businesses with a mission to do good and not just make money so I could also say…
  3. I am a social entrepreneur.” – Which I have on my business card and LinkedIn profile, but it feels funny to say it out loud for some reason.  It’s not one of those “doctor” or “lawyer”-type professions that conjures up an immediate image in the mind of the person you are talking to.

Maybe, I am being too modest.  Maybe, I am just not being bold and brave enough to say what it is I am truly here TO DO in the world.  Maybe the next time someone asks me, I will have the courage to answer:

I am a leader in a compassion revolution.  Theater is my tool.  I make plays with all kinds of regular folks that promote the  virtues we desperately crave and often neglect as humans.  I also build and inspire programs, organizations, and systems to support this revolution.

Is that too wordy?  Is it just too much to throw at someone over cocktails at a happy hour mixer?  Or, do I owe it to my work and my mission to tell the whole truth.

I don’t know.  You tell me.  What do YOU do?