On Tuesday, October 1, I performed fortunes with Anne Carol Mitchell for The News hosted by Kolmel WithLove. I don't have too many words to say. It was a moment better left in other people's words, memories, and sideways glances. The photos above were taken before and after the reading. They represent the its transitory nature as both sets were taken on buses. They are simply snapshots of reflections and refractions.
On Friday, September 27th, Star Amerasu hosted tea time for performers interested in contributing to In Flux, a night gallery. In Flux is an interactive exploration and documentation of change in these times of accelerated development and incessant fluctuation. Using performance, photography, community and healing arts, and the platform of a block party, In Flux invites the audience to engage directly with the documentarians of change: artists, journalists, musicians, writers, dances, neighbors, and healers.
Over baguettes, dips, fruit, and beers, Star and I chatted with two performers -- Shirley Acuna and Michael Carpentino -- about the themes of change and how to create a more refine narrative through-line. Ideas of acceptance, perseverance, hope, pushing through all emerged as we noshed and contemplated. We pondered on how while change is a constant it is experienced singularly, and how it connects us despite and/or because of this paradox. In the calm of a Friday evening, we discovered a collective experience.
It seems the theme, In Flux, hits a nerve; it succinctly names our collective experience. It doesn't judge; it doesn't condemn; it doesn't exalt. Rather, it simply puts into words what is occurring.
Our exploration, though, left a word unnamed, one I hadn't even pondered until the fog rolled in.
As I now sit on a mossy stump at Land's End, the Monday morning fog clears my head. It's exactly the kind of Monday I love. I am furiously scribbling in a notebook, which wasn't originally purchased for me. The words race across the page and my mind starts to empty. I am reflecting on on Friday's contemplation over baguettes, dips, fruit, and beer, and I am also holding in my heart the morning news from friends' feeds
-- Caribbean nations suing for reparations, Republicans trying to shut down government, youth movements creating peace in Pakistan, personal reflections on anger and compassion. All this clatter turns to silence, and then there is the word: RESISTANCE.
And it dawns on me: Yes, we are having a collective experience of change; we are also experiencing a moment of polarizing resistance.
I have no real answers to any of this pondering. I only know that In Flux is some sort of manifestation, response, documentation, exploration of both change and its counter-point, resistance.
So...PLEASE join us -- Star, Shirley, Michael, Open Show, Livable Environments, and 14 Black Poppies -- in this contemplation, exploration, and documentation! Please join us for IN FLUX on THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 7 from 6PM to 10PM. We can always use more voices, hands, and words.
And...for extra viewing pleasure, here are some snapshots from my stump:
I have the incredible honor and pleasure to sit on the Board of Directors for Independent Arts and Media. And...I'm not just on the board, 14 Black Poppies is fiscally sponsored by IAM. I joined the board and brought 14 Black Poppies to IAM because I want to see more horizontal leadership models supporting independent arts, producers, and media makers.
In my role of being both a Board Member and fiscally sponsored project, it is my hope to create a strong network of people helping people realize their visions for a better world and society. To do this, I put out a call to all of the IAM projects asking them if they wanted to join me in launching fundraising campaigns on IndieGogo because you know funding is crucial to ALL of our success.
I am calling it Cooperative Campaigning, and its main goal is simple: cross-polination between projects, audiences, and funding. You see, I don't believe in the old model of competition. It's so 20th century. It is the root of that greedy thing called capitalism. And it is ruining our social good because even non-profits who are supposed to be all about their mission become radically competitive when money gets involved.
There were about six of us that came together to start working on campaigns with a hopeful launch date of September 12, 2013. Well...none of us made that exact launch date cause, you know, life happens (especially when you're broke and need to still pay bills by working that cafe job). But what did happen is a network started forming. I know now more intimately the goals and dreams of independent artists, media makers, and producers. And we are all supporting each others work in incredibly profound ways: referring funders, making connections to international education organizations, getting programming into schools, providing crucial feedback at critical times, and even more.
Two of us did launch campaigns. 14 Black Poppies and Project Luz. You can find out all about my campaign here. It's called CAT'S Got Talent. But enough about 14 Black Poppies and IAM. It's time for you to learn about the amazing work of Project Luz, which is spearheaded by my friend (so glad I can call her that now) Jasmin Lopez.
AND...PLEASE DONATE, SHARE, COMMENT, ENGAGE with PROJECT LUZ!! It's life altering work happening in Mexico.
by Jasmin Lopez
I started Project Luz in 2007 with the idea of running an arts education program in my family’s hometown - Ejido Hermosillo, Mexico. The inspiration for the program was my cousin, Rafa, who my siblings and I looked up to as a child. As my sister best puts it, he was the leader of our pack. He taught us how to appreciate the dirt roads and simple pleasures of our family’s town. Rafa wasn’t afforded the basic resources or opportunities that we were fortunate to have and struggled much of his life - an all too common occurrence. It often broke my heart to hear news from my family, and made me wonder what challenges the next generation were facing. So, I did what I could and figured out a way to answer that question or at the very least provide a creative outlet for youth, to the best of my own abilities. The first project offered photography, painting, musical workshops to 117 students, and took place in April 2007 thanks to contributions from our supporters and the hard work of ten Los Angeles and San Francisco-based artists and educators.
The amount of support I received was overwhelming to say the least. The initial lessons, even more so. As Project Luz evolved, so did my direction and vision. I realized that the youth were drawn to photography, and that it was an accessible and effective tool for storytelling. Later that year, I sought out two outstanding photojournalists that accepted my request to collaborate. Not only did they accept without a doubt, they were in Ejido Hermosillo within a month, and working with youth that summer. I watched them, and six others, channel their passion for photojournalism into their work with these youth. It was inspiring to watch them grow, and a gift to learn from them.
Over the next few years, collaborations with many individuals and organizations continued, and Project Luz flourished. In 2008, we began our work in Nezahualcoyotl, Mexico. We were introduced to Talleres Comunitarios, a community center in Neza, and the 20 youth we work with to this day.
Why do I do this work? This is the question that I am often asked and continuously return to. To answer this, I take a look at the history of the project, the individuals and communities I have worked with, and the personal and professional lessons they have taught me. I can’t discount the generosity, support, and hard work of the mentors, students, and Raul Solis of Talleres Comunitarios. They are what make Project Luz such an inspiring project, and what keeps me moving forward.
When allowed, collaboration leads to lessons leads to growth leads to community.
Read an article about Project Luz here.
AND...Follow Project Luz on Twitter: @Project_Luz @JasminMara @DarcyHoldorf @Talleres_Neza
Photo of Hampshire where the shooting occurred.
by Jason Wyman
My dear friend Jennyb was in town, and she invited me to go with her to Fort Funston on a Wednesday morning in August. The evening before a shooting took place outside of my apartment about 200 feet down Hampshire Street. The man shot was a father who was out walking his dog. It occurred at 11pm, and it could have been any one of us.
Outside on that Tuesday night the neighbors gathered. People were consoling one another, speaking to police and trying to make sense of what had just occurred. Hampshire, blocked off by "Do Not Cross" tape, was a crime scene of flashiing reds and blues. Officers with their flashlights in hand carefully scanned the street for gun shell casings and other evidence. And Luke, a cashier at the convenience store, the one who's alarm rang in response to the shots, was consoling, organizing and caring for the community. Amongst the tragedy, compassion and camaraderie were found.
The police detectives came to our door at 5am and asked if we knew any details. We only heard the four shots, and couldn't offer much help. They thanked us and left. My husband and I tried to go back to sleep, but shots kept ringing through my ears and the red and blue kept flashing the backs of my eyelids. I got up, and so did my husband. It was 6am.
I had plans to grab some coffee with Jennyb later that morning. I was going to call it off because all I really wanted was to sleep. Four hours really isn't enough rest for me, which makes me grumpy and tense. Add to that the events of the night and grumpiness and tenseness can turn into despair. I knew it was on the edges of my psyche. It is a familiar friend.
As we played tag via text, I decided it was best to keep my plans. Jennyb lives in Portland, and it is a treat when she visits. She also enticed me with the beach. I couldn't resist letting the ocean air and Jennyb's sunny disposition renew my sense of hope. It seemed the right response to an evening of chaos and death.
We picked up her friend Izak as we drove from the Mission to Fort Funston. The trip in the car was filled with smoke and laughter and brightness. And as we arrived at Fort Funston, my nervous edges were blown away by the cool ocean breeze. It was perfect.
As we made our way down to the beach, I couldn't resist snapping photos. I felt grateful that amongst everything I was still able to find beauty. The photos, the friendship of Jennyb and Izak and Fort Funston renewed me. For that I am eternally grateful.
by: Jason Wyman
Beauty is all around us. It exists in a cracked cement floor, the rough edges of a century-old picture frame, a blossoming bud that others call weeds, a single brush stroke in a painting you hate. It can be something small or entirely grand. It just requires the ability to see it, appreciate it, and just let it be.
All of these photographs were taken during my recent trip to Indiana. I was invited there by Janet Wakefield to attend The Journey's Being Retreat during the third week of August, 2011. It was a transformational experience for me, one that as a whole I will not forget. I met amazing executives who work in youth services/work across Indiana, had engaging conversations about politics, organizational and workforce development, marijuana legalization and personal growth, and played quite a bit. I found myself lost in moments of transcendence, which quieted my often racing mind. And it was also exhausting. Presence often is.
During the first day of the retreat, we were tasked with just being for 30 minutes. Then, we were supposed to journal for 15 minutes. Finally, we got into triads to share our experience. I used the entire 45 minutes to be. I was absorbed in time and unaware of its passage. As I stared at my journal hoping to write something, I realized I remembered little of what transpired. And I was struck with the thought, "Nothing is as beautiful as the moment you forget."
For me, it is not about denial. (Thanks to Willis for helping me articulate that!) Rather, it is about integration, about letting it all consciously seep in to your unconscious self. To find the beauty of forgetting requires an acute presence, an openness to the world that seems almost unnatural especially in this age of constant doing. It means slowing down and not judging, describing or analyzing. At its core is being.
After that exercise, I became hyper aware of those things that most do not notice and thus cannot forget. Rather, they are caught up in doing something and never be. In some small way, the loss of forgetting is tragic for it means it will never be integrated, it will never affect your self.
This photo essay is those tiny moments and minuscule spaces. As I was snapping these photographs with the only "tool" I had, my cell phone camera, people kept asking me "What are you taking a picture of?" I was struck by how unique it is to look at a broken fork lift chair and see its beauty. And it strikes me too that my cell phone was my camera for how often do we use it to communicate and transmit beauty? Or to just be?
So please look at these photos and notice them. Try to let them be. And hopefully as you let them be you experience the true beauty of forgetting.
About the Blog
The 14 Black Poppies Blog is the place to find creative works, personal reflections, articles and various arts and wellness sundries that either inspire or are created by co-founders Jason Wyman and Margaret Bacon Schulze.