This weekend my FaceBook lit up with responses to posters visible throughout the campus of Southern Illinois University. More than one of my FaceBook friends had posted on the topic. One thread in particular had 38 responses at my last count this afternoon. Obviously this is speaking to the community zeitgeist. Speech Communications is hosting a performance this coming weekend at the Kleinau. The work reflects original research done by PhD candidate Elena Esquibel that was in part inspired by the book Sundown Towns authored by Illinois native, James W. Loewen. Esquibel interviewed residents of Southern Illinois and used the oral histories as the basis for the work. Much of the thrust of the FaceBook and face-to-face discussions spawned by reaction to the posters dealt with how we deal with a past that we can neither change nor ignore, how that has lasting effects on those living in those communities today, and how we might move past the hurt to a safer space. I look forward to seeing the show and participating in the after-presentation discussion. I hope to see you there.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of being a guest on Native Voices. Morningstar has a mix of music and talk. Her Sunday afternoon slot allows for a heavier emphasis on talk than my morning show. We indulged in an hour and a half of dialog and storytelling on the subject of how to have conversations about difficult and/or sensitive subjects like race, privilege, power and religion. You know, all of those topics we were told to avoid growing up. Thank you for the invitation and thank you to all of those calling in and coming by.
I also would like to thank my Special Guest this morning, DJ Melia of Mixed Plate, who also happens to be my daughter. It was a way for us to continue discussion on the topic with some personal perspective. We had just moved to Winona, MN about ten years ago when both of my daughters and I were selected and asked to participate in a special workshop/training at the high school. There had been some racial/class motivated violence in this relatively sleepy college town, and the episodes had shaken the community to take action at the urging of a local socialite and a bold group of professors. As a mediator trained and certified in Oregon where we had just moved from, I was asked to fill out the paid facilitators roster. Kiri and Melia, my then-high-school-aged daughters, had been separately selected for participation by another process entirely. It was quite an interesting introduction to our new community, to say the least. But it is also an experience that we still call on for inspiration in our current lives. Professors, current and retired, as well as community members had become trained in Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed as developed by Augusto Boal based on the philosophy and pedagogy developed by Paolo Freire. Through the tireless and amazing work of local sustainable farmer and community advocate, Doug Nopar, the three day seminar was not only a success, but it had a lasting transformation on all who participated on both an individual and institutional level. One of the direct effects of this event was the formation of a Youth Action Theatre (PTO) to enhance the work done at the high school. It also offered a direct means by which the community-based Action Theatre could mentor the high school aged actors. It forged a connection between community, college, and the high school that resulted in many of those participants going on to highly acclaimed college programs. The former high schoolers that I am still in contact with have grown into adults who are consistently giving back to their own communities. Melia helped me pick out tunes today and stroll down memory lane, remembering different trainings and experiences over the ten years we’ve been utilizing the techniques learned through the trainings. One of the highlights of course is Doug’s coups in getting Augusto Boal to personally come to WSU for a seminar training.
If you would like to learn more or become involved in developing a PTO in Southern Illinois, please contact me or Melia through email at whirledpeascafe(at)gmail.com. We are currently seeking “players” of all ages and backgrounds to become involved through NonViolent Carbondale, a project of the Human Relations Commission.
A Night In Tunisia/ Dizzy Gillespie
My Heart Skips a Beat/ The Secret Sisters
Many Moons/ Janelle Monae
St Teresa/ Joan Osborne
Elysian Persuasion/ Ozomatli
Ain’t No Reason/ Brett Dennen
Tolerance/ Michael Franti & Spearhead
Brown Eyed Girl/ Van Morrison
Proud Mary/ Ike & Tina Turner
Somewhere Over the Rainbow/ IZ (Israel Kamakawiwo’ole)
Tell Me What We Are Going To Do Now/ Joss Stone
Force of Nature/ Lenka
Anything You Want (Not That)/Belleruche