Troubadour Hope Chest

Troubadour Hope Chest

It provokes. It challenges. It lures. It’s beautiful. It contains and protects hopes and dreams. It takes up space. It’s practical. Every home needs a Troubadour Hope Chest

A couple of weeks ago I met with friend and fellow slow learner, Tricia Postle.

Together Tricia and I formed a group we call COTH or Creativity-On-The-Hook. Once a month, we meet for tea, state our intentions, and report to each other on our progress. See earlier entry.

During our first meeting, Tricia shared the details of her intentions: her to do lists, her  goals, her best intentions. I didn’t want to say anything at the time, but most of the items on her list felt dull and ordinary, full of duty and obligation and all those good things necessary to support and nurture Tricia’s brilliant creative projects.

But then Tricia started talking about how  she wanted to someday travel as a troubadour musician. She spoke about rhythms, the songs, the traveling, the Persian rugs, the tour mobile, the demands of composing in the form, the possibility of a postmodern gypsy caravan. When she spoke about her future life as a troubadour, her physical presence transformed. She sat straight up. Her eyes brightened, and her voice lightened. Her visions of self as troubadour literally pulled her forward. There was a passionate woman in love with her future, speaking of longing and desire, sitting at the edge of her seat.

That’s when the idea came: why not invite some of this passion and desire into the everyday?  Why not bring something physical and real into our homes as a reminder of what is possible?  Why not use this container as a repository for carefully selected objects that bring us closer to a future we want to live into?

After some searching, Tricia now has her Troubadour Hope Chest.

In an email, Tricia says:

I like that it’s empty, I like that it’s there. I rearranged the studio so that it’s visible from all points. It seems to glow and make the rest of the furniture recede. In short, every household should have one.

Questions for reflection:  What’s calling me forward? What kind of future might I create from my own longings? What kind of hope chest might I find?

a slow learner’s bill of rights (draft 1.0)

You have the right*

To learn

  1. To learn about how you learn
  2. To learn as slow and as fast as you choose
  3. To rearrange your room (house, garage, life) to make room for your learning
  4. To claim space, time, and money for your own learning
  5. To learn from people who fascinate you
  6. To learn beyond school
  7. To be challenged
  8. To learn from people who fascinate you
  9. To ask for and to receive help
  10. To learn in quiet and without interruption with serious intent
  11. To learn in noise and mess with playful possibility
  12. To make a mess and not have to clean up right away
  13. To learn what is valuable and to value your learning
  14. To choose your own team of teachers, coaches, mentors, advisors
  15. To work with people who find you and your visions fascinating
  16. To work with people who are fascinated by your brilliant visions and will hold you accountable to do what you said you would do
  17. To be witnessed
  18. To focus
  19. To make a difference
  20. To make media
  21. To invent media
  22. To study with your heroes
  23. To experiment
  24. To experience
  25. To test your limits
  26. To contribute
  27. To change the world
  28. To create your own curriculum and to stick with it
  29. To change your mind when it doesn’t work and start again
  30. To study in community both near and distant, familiar and exotic
  31. To savor the erotic nature of learning
  32. To learn from mistakes
  33. To join the community of practice of your choice
  34. To join the professional network of your choice as a contributor
  35. To make learning a priority in your life
  36. To pay your dues
  37. To incubate and hibernate
  38. To be in action and produce measurable concrete results
  39. To learn how to discern between the time for #38 and #39
  40. To work with people who have some distance and perspective and can help you with #40
  41. To dabble
  42. To dive in deep
  43. To cross disciplines
  44. To learn what no one can teach
  45. To learn so that you might teach others to learn
  46. To learn new ways of learning that work for you
  47. To practice

* I know this list is incomplete and much is redundant. Comment, and help make it more better.

what do you want to learn?

Calling on makers, designers, healers, dancers, musicians, poets, writers, inventors, entrepreneurs, activists, anarchists, filmmakers, philosophers, students, artists, corporate stiffs, and slow learning geniuses.

I’m looking for a few brilliant and creative people who are interested in joining me in this adventure I call Slow Learning. The following is a list of some of the possible actions we might create together. Look it over. What calls to you?

To respond, use the comment box or email me patricia@playthink.com.
1. Join a community of learners. Meet regularly with other people who are on a self-styled learning path. Discuss. Support. Question.

2. Create individual learning plans. This is a plan you would create with support from an individual or team. Your learning plan is a flexible document that includes goals, focuses, deadlines, timelines, incentives. Updates regularly with a coach, mentor or other witness.

3. Attend workshops, retreats, and intensives. Determined by interest of the group. May be led by other learners or hired  from outside. May or may not be open to the public. May be didactic and specific, or may use democratic forms of facilitation such as Open Space Technology.

4. Learn and work in real-world settings with support: mentoring, shadowing, and apprenticeships. Finding and maintaining relationships with expert practitioners in areas of interest. Breaking and entering into the insider network of established communities of practice. May be paid for directly, brokered by a coach, bartered, or gifted.

5. Engage in learning exchanges: Bartering arrangements made within the Slow Learning community. Example: I teach you how to knit, in exchange, you teach me how to use Photoshop. Or I coach you on your public speaking and, in exchange, you fix my bike tire.

6. Give or receive learning gifts: Offers or requests for learning/ teaching with no expectation for return. Example: I edit your drafts because I want to. Or I update your Wiki because I know more than you do.

7. Set goals, refine goals, support for accountability: Part of your learning plan Revisited often.

8. Refine your social networking: The real kind, with meaningful exchanges and face-to-face meetings. More than FB friends and Linked-in acquaintences.

9. Learn about yourself: Enneagrams, dream work, expressive arts, healing circles, divination. Who am I, anyway? What’s so special about me? What’s my purpose/calling in life? What is my most important work?

10. Coach and receive coaching: one-on-one listening and learning from a committed, disinterested (not your bff) listener. Somebody who can offer you some tough love (call you on your shit) from time to time. Offer the same for someone else in the community.

11. Create alternative forms of accredation/ initiation/ certification.

Proud to be an aberration

“I consider myself part of an aberration on the planet.  A new, mobile, essentially rootless culture the likes of which the Earth has never seen before.  I live in a culture where community expression through artistic events is not normal; culture comes from “above” –from LosAngeles or New York or, if we are lucky Toronto.  It is very rare that non-artists in Canadian society get together and use art forms to express their own concerns or celebrate their own lives.  And yet that is what theatre, dance, music, etc. used to be –local people singing, painting, dancing, and telling stories. As an artist in this new mobile culture, I have a great hunger for the kind of rootedness that many Aboriginal people have through their cultures.  But I can’t have what they have.  I am who I am and I must take on the task of inventing my own culture–putting down my cultural roots and using artisitic toos to investigate, change and celebrate my community.  I must also face the certainty that this process will take many, many generations to bear fruit.”

–David Diamond,  from Out of the Silence: Headlines Theatre and Power Plays, in Playing Boal Theatre Therapy, Activism.

Celebrate Andy Warhol: Get Real by Being (inevitably) Plastic

For some of us, the best way to transform ourselves as authentic human beings is to recreate ourselves as something we’re not. Does this make us fake? Could be. And so what if it does? If nothing else, Warholian wisdom teaches us this:

Fake is the new real.

At Andy Warhol’s Birthday Celebration at Playthink Studio on 8.08.08 at 8, we invite you to come steep in the paradox of deep superficiality, superficial depth, false authenticity, and authentic falseness.

And now for your oxymoronic pleasure, I present eight more ways to celebrate the birth of Andy Warhol.

#25. Create a Warholian Portrait. And while you’re at it fake it up. Andy was sought after by celebrities as a portrait artist not only because he was so famous, but also because his graphic style (using highly contrasted, washed-out silkscreen prints) made everyone look really good. No wrinkles. No age spots. Try this nifty gadjet, and do it yourself digitally! See what I mean?

#26. Create a message for your own tombstone. Andy said, “I always thought I’d like my own tombstone to be blank. No epitaph, and no name. Well, actually, I’d like it to say ‘figment.’” What would your tombstone say?

#27. Play with plastic.Our participatory arts extravaganza will provide the plastic, you supply the imagination. At Playthink’s Silver factory on 8/08/08 you’re invited to use plastic to create yourself.“I love Los Angeles. I love Hollywood. They’re beautiful. Everybody’s plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic.” We challenge you to create yourself as a plastic icon. Recreate yourself. Reinvent yourself again and again and again. And, on this night of Andy’s birthday, you can be as fake as you wanna be.

#28. Change your name. Andrew Warhola not only changed his name, but he hung out with other name changers as well. Christa Päffgen became Nico. Truman Streckfus Persons became Truman Capote. Billy Linich became Billy Name. Ultra Violet was once Isabelle Collin. Candy Darling was born James Lawrence Slattery. Who will will you be?

#29. Confess your sins and admit how fake you are. “I am a deeply superficial person,” said Warhol. If Warhol can admit to the depth of his shallowness, we can, too. (Playthink Learning Studio is equipped with its own confessional booth for your reconciliatory indulgences.)

#30. Now that you’ve confessed, go to mass. Andy may have celebrated the fake, but he also seemed to have a deeply authentic religious side as well. According to James Romain in Transubstatiating the Culture,

With family roots in Byzantine-Slavic Catholicism, Warhol kept a homemade altar with a crucifix and well-worn prayer book beside his bed. He frequently visited Saint Vincent Ferrer’s Church on Lexington Avenue. The pastor of Saint Vincent’s confirmed that Warhol visited the church almost daily. He would come in mid-afternoon, light a candle, and pray for fifteen minutes, sometimes making use of the intimacy of the private chapels. The pastor described Warhol as intensely shy and private, especially regarding his religion. Warhol’s brother has characterized him as “really religious, but he didn’t want people to know about that because [it was] private.” For someone so bent on self-protection, Warhol’s efforts to keep his religious life a secret may indicate just how important his faith was to him.

#31. I don’t mean to nag, but have you bought your wig yet?

#32. And while you’re at it, don’t forget your brows. Andy said, “I had a lot of dates but I decided to stay home and dye my eyebrows.” You can dye your brows (here’s how), but don’t stay home on August 8. Come out and show them off!