Wednesday, April 29, 2009

off on a tangent

hi everyone, i was just thinking about this "off on a tangent" exercise, and man, it's so easily adaptable for anything. Like i would love to do this with anything every time we meet, like bring a song that is related to the text and explain it, or a poem, or a comic strip, or a piece of clothing, or a painting, photo, drawing, even a film clip - break down the connection we see, and see what other connections people dream up.

in addition to the analysis it encourages in participants, and the obvious benefits that come with exploring literary themes in both literary or non-literary artforms, it also helps us think and talk about ourselves in new ways, and to learn about each other some of the things we never would have known.

it's a busy day today. but nice outside.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Training 4 - April 25

OK, so I don't try to hide the fact that typing about something is my least favorite way to process stuff. But I guess luckily for me (unluckily for this blogging mechanism), after the session, theresa, chuck, leona, and myself - as well as some others - got drunk together. during that process, we did a lot of talking in and out of what we did that day and what we've done so far. let me try to put down some semi-coherent thoughts here.

we started with chuck's music activity - and i honestly feel like i could have done that all day. now i just want to randomly pick a book off the shelf at home and randomly pick a CD out of my case and try to match up each song with a place in the book. And I want to do that every single day - and then I want to ask everyone I know to do the same thing, and then we can spend all day Saturday talking about it. I think what was so gripping about doing music was that everyone has a fairly intimate relationship with music - but many of us don't feel we have the vocabulary to talk about it. Relating it to the text gave us permission to talk about music in the most accessible terms, which is how we receive it in the first place, so it kind of connected the listening and the analysis in a way that is natural - but for some reason, most of us don't do.

Leona's photography activity was also transcendent. I made my best effort to start the activity - like with every activity - with as clear an idea of what the tasks were as I could. Because we're workshopping these lesson plans, I've been wanting to try to do each activity with no preconceived notion of where we'll end up, and just trust that the work we end up doing will take us there. And I think I started this one very doubtful in my own ability to do anything special with it, but as luck would have it, each step opened us up a little more, right? When Leona put in that twist at the end - by having us hand the camera to someone in the scene - it was unexpected. I kind of assumed we might just look at different parts of the text and take a bunch more pictures, but we actually needed to take a picture of the same thing - and somehow convey a different story with it. that made a lot start to pop off in my brain.

Also, I think it was helpful to have Doris there offering help. Because we each only get one shot at running our lessons with each other, I think Doris was interrupting more than she wanted to - but it's better to have that happen early, than to wait until we've run an exercise that doesn't get us to a place we want to be. Part of me wishes she had been present when Gee and I did our pieces because she has the most experience with this specific method, and so she may have seen some things we didn't catch at the time. Although, I think by now, our cohort here at BCNC can look over each other's plans and offer helpful feedback. I think we were already doing that as early as the 2nd or 3rd session, and we'll certainly get better at it over the next several weeks.

One more to go! I think we're all looking forward to the one from Theresa.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Third Training - 4/23

April 23, 2009 / Training 3
today we eschewed icebreakers to get to the meat of it. we began with my poetry activties, i was hoping we'd get to 4, thought we'd probably get to 3, but ended up doing 2. that's alright, i think i learned a lot about how to run them. thanks guys.

gee then did one that started out like me thinking "oh no not this dude again" but when we actually started doing stuff, i really liked it. i have - in a way - turned myself off to analyzing or processing art - because you know, my field is poetry or spoken word, so i have strong ideas about what makes strong work in that field. so being encouraged to process elements of visual art was kind of new and very helpful for me.

what did you all think?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

training 2

April 21, 2009 / Training 2
Funny how fast time goes. By the time we had done warmups and had talked through the text and were ready to begin forum theater, we had already been at it for more than 90 minutes, which meant it was already getting kinda late.

I was one of the few who did not end up getting up and replacing either character in the scene because I had no idea how to make the situation better for them.

I liked that the conflict we chose to represent in the scene was not related so much to the text as it was related to the subtext within the text. We read the excerpt once again, but went behind it this time. I think a big difference from what we did in the first session. What's interesting to me is that in the first session, we were very much about reinterpreting what we could find on the "surface" of the reading - but in the second session, we were all about getting behind the reading, looking at it from the other side, and relating that to our lives.

I think both sessions encouraged us to think very deeply about what we had read, but from different directions. It's crazy that we've squeezed so much material out of 3 pages.

I think what's going to be ill about the trainings is that those of us who are leading these sessions are going to make an effort to bring everyone along with us. Does that make sense? I know as I've been writing lesson plans, I've done it differently than in the past. I don't just want everyone to do exercises and end up with "poems" - but I want to get through the exercises and have people feeling like it was really enjoyable to do that, to key into the energy inside me that can write poetry. Who knows how that will go.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Training 1

As a way to give and receive immediate - or close to immediate - feedback on the BCNC partnership with Cultural Agents, I'm starting this blog up. I'll post some thoughts after each training or work session or whatever, and people can offer their feedback in the comments section.

It would be great if we manage to be fairly active in this forum because I think having recorded comments is helpful for us in the planning as we look back as well as for Cultural Agents to have for future grant-writing and for their own edification. And I hope that we as a team can break down and process what we experience together, and since we can't always do that face-to-face, maybe here works.

If anyone ever has stuff to post that should be its own separate entry, then please let me know and I'll put it right up. Or, can I add another contributor to this blog? I dont' know anything...

So my reflects are as follows:

April 14, 2009 / Training 1
I'll admit I thought the first part when we were in the Board Room was kind of boring - and that's mostly my fault - but BCNC didn't ahve a room available for us to use at that time! Once we moved to the bigger space, everything was better.

What I liked best was that literally everything we did in this session could have been done with any age that was old enough to read. Everything was laid out as a list of tasks, yet in getting from one task to the next, we had to actually to be processing things at a pretty high level.

The big surprise for me was also that we had spent so much time trying to get our schedules in order to make sure everybody could be at every training, it had become a chore, like in the back of my mind, I was thinking "why do we need 5 trainings? It's hard enough to get everyone together for one!" But then Doris shared that the onus for planning the trainings was actually on us - the attendees - and it became such a different feeling. Instead of it being a chore, it became a privilege. Now we have a chance to share the things we love with each other. And really, all of us who have commited to leading a part of a session are going to be facilitating around passion, not just instructions.

What do you all think?