Quimby Colony 769 Congress St Portland, ME
Nancy Andrews Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome
Add Verb The Thin Line
Pull-Start Pictures Farm to Table
Art at Work/Terra Moto Civic Engagement
Beehive Collective Environmental Issues
Last winter (2011) I saw a number of coyote at close quarters—in the yard, by the compost, and by the side of the road. The ones by the roadside were eating a deer carcass. I thought maybe they were appearing to me for a reason so I began research by watching some “werewolf” movies. My favorite, The Wolf Man, 1941, touches on psychological topics of madness and predestination. Another film of interest is She-Wolf of London, 1946, presenting a young woman who is convinced by physical evidence and individuals who want to destroy her, that she is a werewolf, committing nighttime murders that she does not recall. There is a legend in her family that werewolfism is a family trait. Again the themes of insanity and destiny were fore- grounded in this film, and added aspect of genetics. When I began to research werewolfism, the term hypertrichosis appeared.
From wikipedia: Hypertrichosis is an abnormal amount of hair growth on the body; extensive cases of hypertrichosis have informally been called werewolf syndrome. Several circus sideshow perform- ers in the 19th and early 20th centuries, such as Julia Pastrana, had hypertrichosis. Many of them worked as freaks and were promoted as having distinct human and animal traits.
With hypertrichosis, the idea of genetics linked with the idea of destiny. A person with certain genetic traits will be able or unable to function in certain aspects of society. On a personal level, this reso- nates as I have Marfan syndrome, an inherited (genetic) disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue. The disease can affect the heart, blood vessels, bones, eyes and lungs. Although in my particular case, I did not inherit this, but rather my body has a genetic mutation.
People with Marfan tend to be tall with spidery hands and I would guess that at some point some might have worked as circus freaks as the human skeleton or giants. This genetic condition has impacted my life in huge ways that are not within my control. I had open-heart surgery at age 21 to replace the aortic valve and root, and when I was 44 years old I underwent emergency surgeries to repair 18 inches of my descending aorta. I have been fortunate to be diagnosed and to undergo surgeries in some of the best hospitals in the world. Already I have probably gotten at least 25 years increased life span due to these interventions.
Despite the great benefit to me of my increased life span, there have been many additional challenges in my life. For instance, after the surgeries when I was 44, the weeks in Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) and many days on a ventilator resulted in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I use art as a way to better understand my mind and things that disturb (and/or interest me) and to help diminish some of my PTSD symptoms. People are just beginning to bring PTSD caused by medical experiences into the popular press and I hope this will help individuals, their doctors and families recognize PTSD and help people get treatment for what can be a life shattering condition.
And so, the character of Loupette emerges and ideas around the mind, sanity and perception also enter into this story, based in my own experience and representing the ways our minds can change “reality”, often in frightening directions.
Currently, I hope in some small way, my work raises awareness of PTSD related to medical experiences. Additionally, I am collaborating with a neurologist, Dr. Barry Kosofsky to design a trial study that would explore providing recorded music through headphones to pediatric trauma and surgical patients with stays longer than four days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and measure the effects on the brain. Dr. Barry Kosofsky is the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Professor of Pediatrics and Chief, Division of Pediatric Neurology at NewYork- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and the Director of the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Laboratory of Molecular and Developmental Neuroscience. My hope is that some low cost services and more attention to the experience of patients in ICUs could pre- vent or reduce PTSD as an outcome after life saving interventions.
Add Verb – Kris Hall & Cathy Plourde
I’ve been asked for a short essay for co-conspirators and colleagues who use arts for change. Add Verb is an entity that holds artistry as a core value along side a desire to instigate action—to “add” the “verb”. In thinking about how to probe across disciplines, across mediums, and across borders, what came to mind was a question or two that I have about doing this work, which of course only lead to more questions. It occurred to me that what I think might be less interesting or less useful than what I wonder. So my essay takes the form of questions. As you consider these questions, I’d invite you add other questions and join me in listening in their wake.
Is it art?
Is it social work?
Is it reflective of real life?
Is it cliché?
Is it recognizable or is it stereotypical?
Is it essence of, or is it reductive?
Does it shed light?
Is it lightweight?
Is it okay to laugh, and are we laughing with or are we laughing at?
What is already being done?
What else is being done?
Who knows more than I do?
Is it important—to whom?
Why do I think that?
Is it—am I—too close?
Is it mine to take?
Is it medicinal, is it healing?
Is it distasteful, or is it unpalatable, or is it unspeakable?
Is it true? Is it too convenient?
What am I afraid to know? Afraid to ask?
What would be even better?
Does it empower or does it perpetuate?
Does it victimize? Pathologize? Validate? Legitimize? Does it educate, illuminate? Does it preach? Obscure? Is it indulgent? Is it clever? Is it a good first draft? Is it honest? Is there respect? Am I sure of that?
What will be different?
What do I want?
For some questions there are clear answers, if fleeting. For others the continuum between right and wrong, certainty and doubt, courage and fear, coy and shy is subject to conditional overlays.
Arts, health, peace, social justice—all of these are human rights. As we work together to claim our rights, to support each other in under- standing what those right are, we are called to action... to adding the verb. What’s the verb for today?
Add Verb Productions is a program of the University of New Eng- land’s InterProfessional Education Collaborative. Headquartered in Portland Maine, Add Verb Productions provides health and wellness education through provocative theatre performances. The ultimate goal is to build stronger, healthier communities.
Our focus is on providing health and wellness education to middle schools, high schools, colleges, and communities. Our programs are also used at professional conferences and as continuing education for the medical community.
There is more and more pressure to put our work on video or to find a way to work with distance learning. While I feel that we can use our theatre and arts training and tools to make engaging, effec- tive materials, what gets lost in this push is the fact there really is no replacement for live theatre. How do we meet the need, and hold onto a what I thought was a core value (live performance), especially in a time when the former model of fee-for-service is challenged by the economic realities?
Norma Bowles and her company Fringe Benefits Michael Rohd’s book Theatre for Community, Conflict and Dialogue. The Mukti Foundations’s Queer Youth Theatre Consortium Augusto Boal, and conversely, the purists who are dismissive of work that they feel are not singularly “Theatre of the Oppressed”... appar- ently there’s a litmus test... Power of One, The: The Solo Play for Playwrights, Actors, and Direc- tors by Louis E. Catron The girl named Sarah who said “So what?” The organizations in Maine (chronological order) and their founders: Mainely Girls, Mary Orear; Hardy Girls, Lyn Brown, Karen Heck, Lynn Cole; Boys to Men, Layne Gregory.
Perennially Add Verb’s wish list of things that would help us do our work better includes: medical education curriculum writers, publicists who know how to get books banned, graphic design support, and people who are good connectors or ambassadors for the programs, interns and things to support them (housing, gift cards, honorariums).
“Who needs another documentary?”
We are documentary filmmakers. Like many of our colleagues, we are regularly at a loss to explain exactly what that means.
We use a motion picture camera to capture—as faithfully as possible, but always imperfectly—the slowly unfurling canvas of life: one dairy farmer’s breakfast interrupted by a creditor threatening to repossess a tractor; a girl in her bedroom, singing in a whisper as she bottle-feeds two rescued baby birds; a field of Canada geese erupting into flight as if by some invisible signal.
We use these images to tell the story of what happened to these people while we were with them. But, more importantly, the story of why what happened to them matters. For all the challenges in making a film, it’s finding “the why” that is the hardest, and the most impor- tant.
In the case of most of our work, “the why” has something to do with a problem in the world, and a change we want to effect. It is an action—buying local food, thinking differently about the people that produce it—that we ask ourselves, and our audience, to take.
It’s a given for many in our profession that documentary films can change the world. And there are notable examples: reforms of labor laws, changes in care of the mentally handicapped, wrongly-convicted men freed from death row—all because of documentaries.
But we have to be realistic. For every famous example of a docu- mentary that spurred a social change, there are literally thousands of others that did not. And that’s not a surprise: if changing the world was easy, we’d have done so long ago, and without the help of a mere film.
So what is the point of this endeavor? Why spend the years and time and the considerable sums of money that it takes to make a film, when one could spend those years working for an organization, or rais- ing money for a cause, or organizing friends and neighbors to get out and vote? Who needs another documentary to watch, anyway?
But documentaries are not organizations, or causes, or candidates. They’re not journalism, either. They are works of art. And art—from cave paintings to Renaissance sculpture to punk rock—is the means by which we most readily express our fears, our dreams, and our aspira- tions for the world.
It’s not just that reaching an audience through art can be more ef- fective. It is that the art we make as a society is indicative of both who we are and who we want to be.
Art shows us who we love and who we hate. It reveals what turns us on, what makes us cringe, and, by their absence, the subjects of which we’re either afraid to talk or oblivious.
Art matters. Documentaries matter, even if producing them is inef- ficient at best.
The films we make are the postcards we send to ourselves from the future we imagine. We pin them to the wall and hope, one day, to visit.
Harlan County, USA and American Dream - both by Barbara Kopple
Iraq in Fragments - James Longley
Lalee’s Kin - Al Maysles and Susan Froemke
Brother’s Keeper - Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky
The War Room and Startup.com - D.A. Pennebaker & Chris Hegedus
Puisque Nous Sommes Nés (Because We Were Born) - Jean-Pierre Duret & Andrea Santana
The D-Word (www.d-word.com) is a message board devoted to the art and business of documentary film (and frequented by some of the best working documentary filmmakers in the world.)
We love good film festivals, in particular True/False in Columbia, MO and our own Camden International Film Festival (happening right now!)
We have benefited greatly from the kindness and expertise of grantors, advisors and more experienced producers throughout this process. If there was any one thing that would be most helpful to us in the future (and to people like us), it might be guidance on the legal, technical and financial side of the arts. Filmmakers have to be creative and resourceful when shooting and editing, but at the same time they need to master somewhat contradictory skills like bookkeeping, ac- counting, marketing and promotion at the same time. We have learned a lot in our few years in this business, but each new opportunity brings new challenges, both creatively and financially.
Art at Work/Terra Moto – Marty Pottenger
Art at Work is a national initiative to give municipal governments the powerful resource that comes from direct creative engagement. We begin by interviewing key stakeholders to identify critical chal- lenges. We then design a strategic arts project to address that issue, engaging the city workers, elected officials and union members that are connected to the issue. The process of making art – poetry, col- lages, photographs or music – dramatically increases participants’ abil- ity to actively engage, function as a team, envision a positive outcome, remember their connections and be willing to take inspired risks that lead to innovative solutions.
Art at Work employs creative intelligence as a vital tool for munici- palities to leverage the talents of their own workforce as well as the communities they serve. In the face of increasingly complex municipal challenges and diminishing resources.
Art at Work has successfully demonstrated that artmaking is a valuable, cost-effective, sustainable tool to both address intransigent municipal problems and deepen the public’s awareness and apprecia- tion of local government’s role in creating healthy, educated, engaged, economically vibrant communities.
Art at Work’s assets-based approach promotes an ingenuity that leads to concrete innovative solutions. In partnership with the City of Portland, Maine since 2007, Art at Work has put creativity to work de- livering measurable outcomes to improve police force morale, deepen cross-cultural understanding among Public Service workers and raise public awareness and appreciation for the role of government.
Art at Work/Portland has succeeded in fostering a culture of col- laboration that has directly involved over a hundred city employees and more than fifty local artists. City employees have created hundreds of original artworks, performances, poetry readings and civic dialogues that have engaged over 25,000 people in the region and reached over a million people through local and major media outlets. The city workers’ posters, photographs, prints and poems hang in galleries, city parking garages, lunchrooms, recycling centers, police stations, libraries, conference rooms and maintenance shops, increas- ing civic awareness, respect and pride.
Created by the arts non-profit Terra Moto Inc, and led by the award-winning theater artist Marty Pottenger, Art at Work has been selected by the National Endowment for the Arts for its national Our Town Initiative and nominated for a National League of Cities Best Practices award. art at work is currently focused on partnering with five more cities over this year and its two citywide Portland projects – Meeting Place and Portland Works.
The Beehive Design Collective Emily Simons, Kehben Grier, & Emma Hornback www.beehivecollective.org
The Beehive Design Collective is a wildly-motivated, all-volunteer, art-activist collective based in Machias, Maine. We “cross-pollinate the grassroots” with collaboratively-produced, anti-copyright graphics campaigns focused on stories of grassroots resistance to globalization, resource extraction, and climate change. Crafted in close dialogue with frontline communities, our graphics are educational and organiz- ing tools that transcend language, literacy, and cultural boundaries to illustrate the interconnectedness of global justice struggles while encouraging strategic action.
Centralization vs. Network. How can we be both place-based and locally engaged while maintaining an internationally accountable, informed presence in global social movements?
Developing Vision & Mission. What issues shall we work on, and how will we decide? What media shall we consider? How do we set a collective vision when different folks have very different relationships to the work? How shall we grow beyond personality-based leadership into a clear sense of organizational niche, mission & vision?
Membership & Participation. How can we organize our work to have many entry points and levels of participation that feel clear, articulatable, accountable, and mutually beneficial? Must all worker Bees relocate to Machias, and how can we provide for our collective and individual needs economically over the long term? How can we make our project vital, sustainable, and abundant enough that we can provide better for the changing needs of our participants?
Dissemination. How does the work live in the world without us? How can we continue to privilege face-to-face education while also increasing visibility of the graphics and stories? How shall we engage our audiences with the internet?
Education & Transmission. How do we train new people, and transmit our learnings internally? How do we simultaneously “give away” the posters, trainings, opportunity to work with the graphics and encourage people everywhere to use them, and also ensure the messaging is on-point, accountable, and of high quality?
Resources: Art & Media:
Rini Templeton (riniart.org). For 20 years, Rini Templeton made drawings of activists in the United States, Mexico and Central America while she joined them in their meetings, demonstrations, picket lines and other actions for social justice. She called her bold black-and- white images “xerox art” because activists and organizers could copy them easily for use in their banners, signs, leaflets, newsletters, etc, and gave her art away for free. Rini’s iconic images blazed the path the Beehive now walks.
Allied Media Project (www.alliedmedia.org): Based in Detroit, The Allied Media Project’s annual conference cultivates strategies for a more just and creative world. The Beehive joins our allies here to share tools and tactics for transforming our communities through media-based organizing.
Mexican Mural Tradition: While the Beehive draws inspiration and political lineage from such iconic figures as Diego Rivera, we intention- ally disrupt the “master maker with anonymous, uncredited appren- tices” model on which this tradition was founded. All Beehive graphics are anti-copyright and anonymously authored, ensuring that all labor required in the production, distribution, and promotion of our work is valued equally.
Story, Strategy & Education:
The Mind Map Book, by Tony & Barry Buzan (Penguin Books, 1996). The Bees use mind mapping to make sense of complex informa- tion. Organized associatively (rather than linearly) and reliant on color, content placement, and size to illustrate meaning, mind maps also help us learn collaboratively.
Cantastoria Tradition: (examples: here.org/shows/detail/630/, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kEVoCsgsS0). According to wiki- pedia, “cantastoria” comes from Italian for “sung story” or “singing history” and is known by many other names around the world. It is a theatrical form where a performer tells or sings a story while gesturing to a series of images. These images can be painted, printed or drawn on any sort of material. Any research into the cantastoria tradition will unearth clear links between this ancient artform and the Beehive’s practice.
Story of Stuff (www.storyofstuff.com)- Another contemporary ver- sion of political cantastoria, Annie Leonard’s humble internet videos use simple cartoons and an engaging narrative to clearly explain the toxic production chain of our material world and complex contempo- rary issues, like carbon trading.
SmartMeme (www.smartmeme.org)- These folks are peers that create theoretical tools and trainings that come close to describing how and why the Beehive’s work works so well! Their recent book, Re:imagining Change, does an excellent job explaining “story-based strategy” for social change.
Global Justice Movement:
Indigenous Environmental Network (www.ienearth.org). “A net- work of Indigenous Peoples empowering Indigenous Nations and com- munities towards sustainable livelihoods, demanding environmental justice, and maintaining the Sacred Fire of [their] traditions,:” IEN is a leader in developing climate justice analysis and works extensively on resource extraction issues, which most Beehive graphics explore.
Zapatistas & La Otra Campana: The organized resistance of the rural Indigenous mayan communities in southern Mexico to state & corporate violence and displacement is an iconic example of the anti- globalization movement out of which the Beehive was born. Our new- est graphic, Mesoamerica Resiste, documents many aspects of this struggle, and the Beehive draws inspiration from the Zapatista’s use of international solidarity to sustain their struggle through “the other campaign/la otra campana.”
Vandana Shiva (www.vandanashiva.org). Dr. Shiva is a leading In- dian author, activist, farmer, and scientist whose writings and lectures on water, seeds, climate, and organic farming are rooted in the envi- ronmentalisms of the global south. Her writings understand violence, displacement, land theft, and resource privatization & extraction as the root causes of environmental degradation, and hold that true solu- tions must be led by grassroots movements of land-based people.
The Grange/Patrons of Husbandry (www.nationalgrange.org): This national fraternal organization encourages farm families to band together for their common economic and political well-being, while our local Grange building houses the Beehive’s community-building ac- tivities in Machias. With key roles for women & youth and an emphasis on rural self-reliance and local control of resources, the Beehive finds common ground with the Grange and enjoys a mutualistic relationship with our local chapter 360 in the Machias Valley Grange and Cultural Center.
The Highlander Center (www.highlandercenter.org): This popular education and research organization has been incubating US Southern social movements for over 75 years. Their organizing model centers cultural work in the form of stories, songs, and images drawn from the struggles of labor, civil rights, immigrant rights, and other social move- ments, and their 106 acre farm in Tennessee hosts strategy sessions and trainings that build analysis and relationships “for the long haul” of social change.
MOFGA & Commonground Fair: Each year, over 60,000 folks participate in visioning a future that draws on the technologies and lifeways of land-based folks and organic agriculture at the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners’ Association’s annual Commonground Country Fair. The Beehive has participated in the Fair since our incep- tion, and were nurtured, encouraged, and inspired by the network of Maine-based craftspeople brought together at this annual event.
Translation Assistance! As bridge-builders and shape-shifters, we are constantly in the position of falling through the cracks between the disciplines we are trying to cross. Over the past decade, we have had success framing our work clearly to activists, organizers, educa- tors, academics, and ecologists, but still struggle to translate our multi- pronged project to the “Art World” & many foundations and funders. Shared vocabulary, recommendations, references, and basic train- ings for art institutions that credential, visibilize, and validate socially engaged practice are urgently missing from the landscape in which we are working. AIC seems well poised to help Art institutions & funders understand what they are seeing when they look at socially engaged practices.
Scholarships for Further Training. Many of our collective members would benefit enormously from further training in social action, educa- tion, art practice, and socially engaged art. A fund for such training – everything from day-long events to multi-month residencies- that we cannot provide on our own and to which we could apply would help move our work forward.