Archive for the ‘denver events’ tag
Community… from the Middle English comunete, Anglo-French communité, Latin communitat-, communitas, from communis, first appearing as a word in the 14th century. Defined as a unified body of individuals with common interests living in a particular area; an interacting population of various kinds of individuals in a common location; a group linked by a common policy; a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interests exercising joint ownership or participation, a common character, a social state or condition.
Over the last couple of months we have been sharing some of the more interesting ways communities around the country and the globe sustain their members and themselves. Grounding community is not just about gathering a group of people who have common interests, as we see in the definition above, but also about having those people share a common experience. It is the act of being together that keeps us together in some very fundamental ways.
Last week, Deborah discussed the ‘dinner with a stranger’ experience Franke James and Mark Shouldice of Toronto engaged in, getting to know each other, for a charitable purpose. This started me thinking about the other ways in which communities can come together around common experiences. Starting this week for example, our very own CoCOA (Colorado Coalition of Artists) will be hosting their annual 2 week members’ art event through to June 16at the Poudre River Arts Center Gallery on North College Ave. The event is open to all current and new members of CoCOA with a $15 entry fee for up to 3 pieces! There will be three “People’s Choice Awards.” If you are interested in participating, drop off your work tomorrow Wednesday, June 3 from 10:30 to 2pm. If that time does not work for you, please feel free to email CoCOA to make other arrangements — email@example.com. Even if you have no work to share, drop into the Gallery to see all the wonderful work people are doing in the community!
From art in the community to books in the community– for the last 5 years, Mayor Hickenlooper has supported the One Book, One Denver program where the entire city reads the same book over one month, September usually, followed by another month of events around the book’s theme. One Book, One Denver is a citywide book club. The goal of the program is to cultivate a culture of reading in Denver, with objectives to build community and stimulate people to read. Denver and Colorado citizens, young and old, are encouraged to join others in the shared experience of simultaneously reading the same book and participating in related events. This year, instead of the mayor choosing the book, the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs (DOCA) has created a list of 27 options, ranging across genres for the community to vote on as the Book for Denver in 2009. There is a website where voters can read a summary of each book, hear the first one or two paragraphs read by Denver’s own Poet Laureate (I didn’t know there was one!), Chris Ransick, learn about the authors and vote (voting is open until June 15). Once voting ends and the winning book is determined, the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs will begin laying out the 2009 One Book, One Denver program for a September 1 launch. On that date, Mayor Hickenlooper will announce the winning book at a news conference and the associated FREE and FUN programming that will carry through October.
Here in Fort Collins, Fort Collins Reads has selected Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle for its 2009 one-city, one-book program. Boyle has written 20 books and will be touring internationally to promote his latest work, The Women. His visit to Fort Collins on Nov. 7-8 will be the culmination of numerous events focusing on his book and its message about immigration. Pick up a copy of the book, take part in the discussion, and hear the author speak. Moreover, for the first time in 2009, there will be a companion book for this event — Red Glass — by Laura Resau (of Fort Collins!!). Contact Fort Collins Reads at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions and suggestions on how to get Fort Collins reading and talking. I am hoping to read both!
If book reading is not your scene, how about a Six Word Memoir? Yes, your story in 6 words! Apparently, Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in only 6 words. Here is what he wrote — “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.” In 2006, SMITH magazine reawakened the idea of 6 word memoirs and asked their readers to contribute their own. They sent in short life stories by the hundreds, culminating in a blog, a series of books and a huge community of aficionados. These memoirs ranged from the bittersweet (“Cursed with cancer, blessed with friends”) and poignant (“I still make coffee for two”) to the inspirational (“Business school? Bah! Pop music? Hurrah”) and hilarious (“I like big butts, can’t lie”). What would you write for your memoir if only given 6 words?
Finally, music. Last month, I was reading Dan Pink’s blog (the author of a Whole New Mind amongst others…) and he was discussing the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. Yes, YouTube, that web video mogul, has an orchestra! Basically, late last year YouTube issued a musical casting call to all professional and amateur musicians of all ages, locations and instruments to audition for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra by submitting a video performance of a new piece written for the occasion by the renowned Chinese composer Tan Dun. A panel of first-class musicians selected the finalists and the 90 winners, who come from more than 30 countries, assembled in New York City to perform together at Carnegie Hall. You can see the results here…. it’s a beautiful thing!
We hope to build from some of these ideas over the next few months to create an engaging and engaged Fort Collins community. We would love to hear any suggestions you may have for events and activities in which we could all participate – please feel free to share below!
Art for all, all for art!
Around my house we’ve been listening to Dan Zanes and Friends on compact discs for a while, thanks to a gift from great friends. On Sunday, my daughter and I had the thrill of singing along or as Zanes put it “belting it out,” live at the Lincoln Center in Fort Collins, where everyone was encouraged to sing out loud. Zanes confessed that he had originally been asked to do a “concert” in Fort Collins, but that his heart was set on having a house party with us. If you didn’t make it to the party, you missed hundreds of Zanes’ friends singing and dancing in the aisles. For his rendition of Catch That Train! we joined together to make a human train thattravelled through the auditorium. From the stage, Zanes pointed out that we represented all ages, sizes and temperaments—he didn’t have to point out that we were having a ball. A couple of times fans shouted requests for favorites and Zanes sweetly suggested that they might be songs we could sing together in the lobby after the show, but that he was here to raise the roof! Kids and grownups spontaneously sang and danced together—nobody risked standing out in the crowd by not joining in! Dan Zanes and Friends make music for families and people of all ages—not music to just listen to, but music you can make at home and with family and friends. This means you have to get involved—you have to sing along–even if you don’t know the words!
The “Friends” part of Dan Zane and Friends are as eclectic as the music they make. They started out from all over the globe, just like the songs they perform. In Fort Collins, the band played ukeleles, an accordion, drums, fiddles, guitars, bass and more! On top of it all, they took turns singing! To truly understand the variety of music and instruments, you had to be there, but if you weren’t, take a look at the Dan Zanes and Friends website!
On Sunday, we didn’t gather to hear a group “play kids’ music,” we joined as new, old friends to play together and celebrate possibilities. Zanes acknowledged that we are living in “let’s just call it what it is—uncertainty.” But, even in uncertain times, we can come together and remember what makes us human. It is possible to imagine a world where everyone is part of a giant house party—you just have to start where you live. In Fort Collins, Dan Zanes and Friends illustrated that we don’t have to speak the same language, or even know the words to have fun together—some of his friends speak Spanish, and he’s learning, but that didn’t stop him from singing before he has all the pronunciation down. In his bright lime green jacket and pointy shoes, Zanes sang songs that celebrated the vibrant culture that comes with immigration, songs that represent our Spanish-speaking neighbors in the Americas. Zanes explained that making new friends, and learning from them, is a way to break out of categories based on ideas of age, language, and cultural difference. This is why his performance couldn’t just be what it’s “supposed to be,” people sitting quietly and listening at a concert.
Zanes also doesn’t want to stay quiet about immigration issues that affect our friends and neighbors. Before asking us to join him in singing “Welcome Table,” from his latest album, he shared his concern for the suffering of immigrant families trying to make their lives in the United States today. Proceeds from this album will support the work of the New Sanctuary Movement, a coalition of interfaith religious leaders and congregations that actively and publicly support immigrant families torn apart by deportation. The “Welcome Table,” is drawn from North American gospel traditions and poignantly reminds us that there are repercussions to how we treat each other.
On Zanes’ website it states that he sees himself as “the town conductor,” and after watching the faces of the singing audience he led out of the Lincoln Center auditorium, I think he has a point. Zanes and his collaborative band offered a model for playing together that can be applied not only to an auditorium, but to a street, a neighborhood, a town, a state, and beyond! What I’ll remember from Dan Zanes and Friends, is that if you gather together some accomplished musicians; some songs—new ones, and some you have heard before and forgotten; some local friends and neighbors; and if you are willing to join in, you can’t but have a house party! And, who doesn’t want to have a party? In Fort Collins, people who don’t look the same, sound the same, or even sing the same tune, proved that if we do it out loud, we can make music together. Zanes’ message is that some things are for certain, even when things are uncertain—good parties invite everyone to join in and don’t leave anyone out!
Home is where you feel free to dance!
“Education is the vaccine for violence.”
I remember at the end of a meeting, a colleague asked me once if I was an academic or an activist. I was struck by the question, for at the heart of it, there seems like there should be a separation of the two. That they are somehow incompatible or at the very least, capable of distorting each other so that neither can be truly a reliable performance or identity. I wonder what Edward James Olmos would say if asked whether he is an actor or activist? After all, do those two terms not come from the same linguistic root?
Olmos’ early life was framed by the forces of the barrio in which he lived in East LA and a passion for baseball which would teach him the values that he would need to escape a common fate of most of the barrio brothers – life in a gang. As Olmos told a reporter from Time, “Inside this world, everyone was the same. We were all poor. And the only way to survive it was through a constant struggle of trying to be better today than you were yesterday.” To improve his own chances of getting out of poverty, Olmos would form a successful rock band, attend East Los Angeles Community College during the day and study during set breaks when they played the clubs at night. He would also fall in love with acting and yet, start a business delivering antiques to make enough money to live. Once the band broke up, he would deliver furniture during the day while working in experimental theatre at night, building his path to the TV shows and movies — the actor –he would come to be known as — Zoot Suit, Miami Vice, Stand and Deliver, The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez, Selena, American Me and others as he continues his performative work. Much of this work would reflect his values and commitments to the Hispanic community, especially its youth, and their future (the activist). By his own account, 94% of his time is spend working for free – trying to make life better for others.
Named by Hispanic Magazine as the nation’s most influential Hispanic American, Olmos is a U.S. Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, a national spokesperson for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, and Executive Director of the Lives in Hazard Educational Project, a national gang prevention program funded by the U.S Department of Justice. As he recently told Hispanic’s Katherine Diaz, “I would hate to look back on my life and only see myself as a person who made lots of money and was a star and made Rambo and Terminator movies. I have made my body of work something that I am proud of and that in 100 years, my great-great-grandchildren will go and see my work and say, ‘well, grandpa really did some extraordinarily different kinds of work.’”
Actor or activist? It seems more important to commit yourself to causes in which you believe and work to make your work serve them. We hope you will join us for what promises to be an extraordinary evening with Edward James Olmos entitled, “We’re all in the same gang”, on Tuesday April 28th, at the Lincoln Center Performance Hall, starting at 7pm. Tickets are $10 adult, $8 students/seniors (60+). A limited number of seats are available for a special Meet the Speaker ticket which includes preferred seating and a reception with the speaker afterwards.
Wherever you go, there you are.