I know I was not on the call and do not have a pulse of the conversations that went on but I will start where I am at in my questions and experience, which is a seed waiting to mature.
“To be civilized in the next century we need to learn to deal with other cultures.”
(Goldbard, Arlene, New Creative Community, The Art of Cultural Development, pg., 49.)
I read New Creative Community by Arlene Goldbard in G1. Her book covers the aspects and angles of community cultural development and community-engaged art projects. My first essay on New Creative Community posed the question: Has our knowledge and use of technology become an illusion? I would love to hear some group thoughts about the relationship between technology and our society.
Goldbard says…Consumer culture is the "couch potato," the individual who has succumbed to the virtual existence available via remote-controlled television, eschewing the flesh-and-blood contact of social intercourse and direct participation in community life. (pg., 45)
My question in reading Goldbard's book for the Insider/Outsider Peer group is : How can we value different cultures in a multi-cultural society so that individual and group identities are supported and creativity embraced?
“Culture takes diverse forms across time and space. This diversity is embodied in the uniqueness and plurality of the identities of the groups and societies making up human kind.” (Goldbard, pg., 49.)
To be able to exchange ideas, innovation and creativity in a multicultural society we need to see, hear, and feel cultural diversity. Then maybe and I do believe we can, begin to understand that cultural diversity is an important building block in sustaining humankind. Simply engaging in a form of communication through personalities that are strong and charismatic, folks that have morals, and a vision to create equal opportunity may change the developing pockets of communities that become isolated, but for how long. Communities may still wonder what happened to their individual identity and also their group identity. I am specifically talking about New York City because I have lived in NYC and now work here. Yes, people are attracted to certain geographical areas and are drawn to like minded people (depending on economic factors, jobs, and other circumstances that can affect peoples choices), but are they comfortable, and do they have a voice in the larger community. In one of our meetings at Goddard, I remember Ju-Pong telling us about her experience in her neighborhood that was settled by Italians many years ago. Her story was very moving to me because I have seen the outsider/insider duality happen in NYC, especially outside of Manhattan in the other four boroughs. As a teaching artist in Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, the outsider/insider story certainly exists and of course it does, we live in duality. I make it a point to go at least half an hour early to the school that I am teaching at and have breakfast with the kids and teachers. Through engaging in conversation and asking questions, I listen deeply to the issues that frustrate and bother community members and the teachers who do not live in the community but feel the tensions. Sometimes I can only read the body language because many people in these different communities do not speak english. (A lot of parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents do not speak English.) I find the language barrier is the biggest frustration in getting a dialogue manifested. Teachers who are second generation Americans talk about the waves of different cultures that have settled in all five boroughs of NYC. In some areas the wave of different cultures entering the community has been positive and in some cases the reaction is quite negative. I have taken baby steps in my journey in developing a community engaged art practice, but those baby steps are the key to dancing with the insider/outsider waltz.
“An issue that remains completely unresolved is race relations-interracial and intercultural issues. So many schisms in this country have to be addressed and art is a useful platform to address and find solutions to these dilemmas.” (Goldbard, pg., 49.)
My passion and interest in learning, exploring and discovering how to collaborate with communities and be part of a community-engaged art project is to find a commonality within diversity. Not to change a culture but to bring an awareness of acceptance through creative expression. I hope that by collaborating with community members and facilitating a community based project that there can be a bridge that brings issues to light or dark, which may then embrace an individuals or groups sense of belonging alive and healthy even in the mist of confrontation. The outcome becomes an intention of welcoming differences as a way to grow, and prosper. I am discovering that in my project on laundry, (working title “Collective”) that everyday tasks that are done by just about everyone on the planet, but done differently can connect us in our humanness.
“We (who live in the United States) have a unique opportunity as a country to show how diverse people can live in a global culture. We have more cultural diversity than any other country.” (Goldbard, pg., 49.)
How can artists deeply assist in weaving cultural differences and begin to create spaces, experiences, and conversations that transform people’s perceptions and fears of one another?
Projects are beautiful and are always needed to create awareness and consciousness in communities where there are confrontations, challenges, and tensions but: How can we/I create lasting changes? Can we/I create lasting changes out of the confrontations, tensions, and challenges that occur between cultures and give new light to concerns that separate people?
How about the possibility of creating new myths and rituals? I know we have all thought about this before.
Tom Driver states in his book Liberating Rites, …the decline of ritual sensibility, particular in the Western industrialized nations, has become a threat to the survival of life on earth.
I ask these questions to myself because I am interested in new myths and rituals, but I would like to hear your thoughts, ideas, and opinions.
My title for packet 3 and the beginning of building a performance piece would be.
Equality in Diversity or Diversity in Equality. Just a seed thought staring to brew. I thought I would share my thought.
Goldbard, Arlene, New Creative Community, The Art of Cultural Development, Oakland, CA., New Village Press, 2006
Driver, Tom F. Liberating Rites : Understanding the Transformative Power of Ritual. Boulder, Colo: Westview Press, 1998.