Storytelling for Community Building, Empowerment, and Envisioning the Possibilities

Alan Rickman Importance of Storytelling

This graphic popped up on my Facebook feed this morning (thanks to @tcgritt) and sparked me to pen this as it resonates perfectly right now. (Bonus is the fluttering that Alan Rickman causing in my heart – whether he truly said this or not.)

I’m currently working on a deeply intriguing and exciting project to present the work of my friend, David Armistead (who worked and dialogued for ten years with Buckminster Fuller), in a wholly unique and engaging way, as part of an integrated and creative effort to sketch out and explain the emerging economy and where we fit within it. We will be doing this via storytelling combined with stunning live performance visuals and music followed by a crowdsourcing game with the audience as participants.

My passion, goal, and absolute belief is that via storytelling by David and participant/audience at these and other events and initiatives, we come to see and realize who we really are as Makers and (David’s term, to be explained further as we go along) “Entrepreneur Community Builders” (ECB), understand how many of us are really out there, and thereby begin to see the bigger picture and realize we’re more powerful than the archaic, crumbling, behemoth we struggle with daily. And to co-create our own solutions/ways forward, flowing around the behemoth (and unfixable) logjam and rebuild “on the other side.”

The Cultural CreativesMany years back (fourteen years ago, to be exact, when it was released – thanks mom for the Christmas present), I was inspired by Paul H. Ray and Sherry Ruth Anderson’s book, The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World, which made the point that, “while Cultural Creatives are a subculture, they lack one critical ingredient in their lives: awareness of themselves as a whole people. We call them the Cultural Creatives precisely because they are already creating a new culture. If they could see how promising this creativity is for all of us, if they could know how large their numbers are, many things might follow. These optimistic, altruistic millions might be willing to speak more frankly in public settings and act more directly in shaping a new way of life for our time and the time ahead. They might lead the way toward an Integral Culture. When we discovered the great promise of this new group, we set out to hold up a mirror for them, so they could see themselves fully.”

Awesome Work/Teach/Sell Opportunity at Brooklyn’s Beam Center

BEAM NYC WindowShop Residency

I’m so inspired by this. I’d love to see (many) somethings like this spring up in Austin. Such an elegant, synergistic idea.

The Beam Center in Brooklyn is a “community of learning where artists guide young creators aged 6 to 18. Our hands-on programs in technology, imagination and craft help young people build their character, courage to think for themselves, and capacity for collaboration and invention.”

Until December 15th, they are accepting applications for their three-month WindowShop Residency. Proposals will be accepted from artists, designers, engineers, and other creative professionals who can transform their storefront retail space on Bergen Street in Brooklyn into a studio, workshop, gallery, classroom, and/or store. Residents pay a reduced rent for this premium location and barter instructional time by designing and teaching a workshop in Beam Center’s educational program.

The aim of the WindowShop is to contribute to the professional development of the Resident in terms of creative, commercial, and educational practice. The ideal WindowShop project will actively engage the public, experiment with commercial strategy, and will expose young people in the Beam Center community to the Resident’s professional practice and creative process.

The Resident will occupy a high-visibility storefront in a neighborhood full of galleries, bars, restaurants, and stores, have 24/7 use of the space as a workspace, and have the potential to use the space for exhibits and workshops at nighttime and on weekends. Beam Center will promote WindowShop Residency events through its mailing list and website.

Individuals or groups can apply, and they encourage individual artists to join together to create shared or collaborative residencies. The chosen proposal will enjoy a residency period of February 1, 2014 – May 1, 2014. Past residencies included The Makery, a makerspace for youth and inventors of all ages, RAD Furniture, custom, heirloom quality made to order furniture, and currently L. Nichols, who received her undergrad in mechanical engineering from MIT, and later her masters, from the MIT Media Lab. In her residency, she has been creating a sculpture she terms a  “symbiotic organism.”

The application is located here.

Story thanks to HASTAC.

The Old Ways…and the Broom Way. The transcendent travel writing of Robert Macfarlane

The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert MacfarlaneDang you foul humours and evil miasmas! Didn’t want to spend my Sunday fatigued and wrestling with a chestalbronchiowhateverthehellthis is. Oh, well, I have dodged three potential illnesses in the last 5 months, and I’ve been Yin Chao-ing, Occillo-ing, and Osha-ing, like mad, not not as bad as it could be. I suppose I must rest and read.

Just finished this beautiful tome, The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert Macfarlane. His prose is poetry and he touches on a little of everything as he takes us with him on his part meditation, part travelogue, part natural history, part art exploration. He writes the way I think and talk when I tour friends with me across the American Southwest. He mostly covers England and Scotland, but also takes you with him to the Himalayas, Palestine, and Camino de Santiago…and more… I found it a luminous, transcendent, and deeply moving book.

One of my favorite parts (and most haunting) was when he spoke of walking the Broomway, on the coast of Essex. You can only walk it when the tide is out. It’s only about a 3 mile walk, but it’s easy to get lost. Makes me think of Avalon and the mists which conceal it.

He handily utilizes so many robust and multifacets words, and includes a glossary of many of them in the back which I’m keeping around just to dip in to and ruminate over as a daily meditation. Here’s one for today:

Kora – “A circumambulatory pilgrimage whose goal is not arrival but the transcendence, by means of a passage through sacred geographies, of the attachments and innattentions that constrain awareness of a greater reality”

Walter Russell, The Modern Leonardo, and The Twilight Club…

“An inner joyousness, amounting to ecstasy, is the normal condition of the genius mind” ~ Walter Russell

I am thinking today about my mentor, Walter Russell (and his wife Lao). I have mentioned him before, but today he came to mind because of a piece I was composing that wove in his philanthropy and activism as a member of “The Twilight Club” (thankfully nothing to do with the abysmal books/films), whose members at one time or another also included Herbert Spencer, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Thomas J. Watson, Andrew Carnegie, Ernest Thompson Seton (who my mom knew as a girl in New Mexico, my grandfather being a fellow Scot), Rudyard Kipling, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and others.

It was after learning about Russell that my mom was turned on to the work of Nicola Tesla in the late ’60s and raised me on both. I am grateful to her for that education, and grateful that she took me as a child to Swannanoa Mansion in Afton, VA, then home of their University of Science and Philosophy, to meet his wife, Lao. It’s my one degree of separation moment: that this woman, who hugged me, shook my hand and blessed me, was deeply partnered with this brilliant man who was friends with so many of these giants of intellect, science, innovation and industry. Gives me shivers still.

“Walter Russell is known as the ‘Man Who Tapped the Secrets of The Universe,’ ‘The Modern Leonardo,’ and ‘The Most Versatile Man in America.’ Gifted as a poet, painter, sculptor, author, musician, architect, scientist and mystic, Walter Russell’s impact on early 20th century spiritual and scientific thought was impressive. His original and unique Periodic Table of the elements accurately predicted the location and characteristics of four undiscovered elements. It wouldn’t be until years later that these elements deuterium, tritium, neptunium and plutonium were detected by laboratory researchers.

[Nicola] Tesla urged Russell, Bury your ideas in a vault for a thousand years to await the unfolding of human consciousness to comprehend your vision.'”

This is a beautiful video which shows in glorious, rich detail numerous works by Russell.

Weird Wedding by Weird Reverend at Museum of the Weird

So a lot of heavy stuff going on right now but in the midst of it, a rather amusing plus: I, Reverend Maggie, just contracted an officiant gig in June to marry two horror fans at the Museum of the Weird on 6th Street in Austin. They’ll drive up in a hearse and all that. Apparently, I get to dress up too, apparently. Then they’re off to run the Keep Austin Weird Festival +5K run after. The groom should do well as he’s a professional zombie/grim reaper stilt walker.

Definitely an interesting life…

OneSense: When a Simple “Please God Leave Me Alone” Just Isn’t Enough

So I have this problem on occasion where friends / acquaintances can get sort of annoyed with me because I say I need time and space to myself to recharge my batteries. This is usually met by pouts and admonishments of not spending enough time with them.

When the interpretive dance / puppet show illustrating the busy life of a single mom of a teenager working on about a gazillion projects doesn’t reach them, I wish I could be a lizard and fiercely display my red neck skin to make them leave me alone…

…until now. The OneSense by Joe Doucet!  It’s a (symbolic) immersive all-in-one  device that shuts out all annoying distractions to allow for some peace and quiet whilst simultaneously warding off intruders with nasty looking red warning spikes. High tech gone punk! (Or Geordi LaForge’s punk visor).

Original article in Tuvie posted here:

Ralph McQuarrie – Star Wars Portfolio

So I read today that artist Ralph McQuarrie had passed at age 82 a couple of weeks ago (another item missed during SouthBySouthMadness).

It takes a great “envisioneer” to help frame a dream and make it manifest, and McQuarrie was one of those who did it for George Lucas.

Both a shaman artist and a translator, he was able to see what Lucas saw in his mind and translate it to tangible form.

Those too young to remember (and pre-tech) couldn’t even imagine, I’m sure, how difficult it would have been Before Star Wars (BSW) for Lucas to present his vision to financiers, studios, etc. There simply was nothing else like it before.

I have had a copy of this portfolio since 1978 and enjoy poring over the production paintings every so often. I see it’s now worth about $100 and growing in value. Yeah for me.

Check out the 1977 Portfolio here in all its glorious color:

Image by Rene Walter.

The past comes alive – help needed to identify two sailors from the USS Monitor

Two of my favorite loves came together in this story – Civil War history and forensic recreations.

This is the face of one of two sailors recovered from the gun turret of the ill-fated USS Monitor which capsized and sank off Cape Hatteras on December 31, 1862.

The Monitor is famous as one of the first ironclad vessels, and its use during the Civil War marked the end of the era of wooden ships.

This sailor was gauged to be about 17-24 years old, while the other was in his 30s or 40s. Their faces were reconstructed by Louisiana State University’s Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services (FACES) Laboratory. Now the hunt is on to see if anyone sees a similarity in either to their own family line and can identify the two.

Full story here: