It is my great pleasure to announce that i am now the Communications Director for an essential theater company, Ragged Wing Ensemble, which has established a flourishing creative community in Downtown Oakland, called The Flight Deck, that is home to several other theater companies and organizations. The Flight Deck is also home to Association Building Community, for instance, which continues to offer my Peace Practices curriculum in the heart of Oakland and in schools and professional environments around the SF Bay Area.
I call this creative community "essential" because their continued existence and work is a success story that can inspire anyone. They ignore the odds against them, and rely on creativity and solidarity to make the everyday world a more humane and generous place to live together. Any theater, all theater has unique potential to work this way in the world, but these people continually bring the potential of theater to life, and I'm in love with them, so please allow me to gush for a moment.
Someday, the powerful and rising alike will agree that the Ragged Wing - Flight Deck community has moved from hopeful experiment to institution, a jewel in Oakland's crown, like Chicago's Goodman, Houston's Alley, or the Dallas Theater Center. That transition to sustainability could happen something like this: more and more people from around the Bay Area open their hearts, wallets, and networks to Executive Diretor, Anna Shneiderman, and Artistic Director, Amy Sass, to ensure that the throngs who already launch their creative work at the Flight Deck will continue to do so. So many more people of every age, level of capability, and from every possible background and orientation will benefit from working with or near this innovative company. For many, they will find here the very first opportunity to unfurl their ragged wings, initiating creative and sympathetic explorations of human dilemmas and being. The companies at the Flight Deck do the impossible but essential work of waking us all to the world and skins we live in; and they do on a tiny and always tenuous budget. You know the story, and how it usually ends.
The next chapter in this story must be Lift Off. We are due for a cultural renaissance, a developmental transformation, a next step into flight, rising up from the deck of organizational birth, wings shaken dry in the sun so that everyone around can point to and participate in beauty nearby, local and mature artistry, name and proudly claim admirable friends, and invest time and treasure in building a city and people ready to be known for rising up and taking wing.
Ragged Wing Ensemble is proud to welcome to The Flight Deck a new Communications Director, Brandon Williamscraig. In 2015, he brought his Peace Practices project and non-pofit, Association Building Community, to live at The Flight Deck, and has stepped into the rather difficult to fill shoes of Lisa Drostova, who will continue to be a beloved part of our creative community. Brandon brings a twenty year career in the professional regional theater, a Ph.D. in psychology and mythology, many years of leadership, communications, and development work in the nonprofit sector, as well as an internationally recognized, all-ages communication curriculum, called Peace Practices, that teaches children and adults Conflict Done Well through aikido, improvisation, and facilitation. Please welcome and help him spread the good word about our work together!
A thought experiment and creative fiction/ritual of resistance to "That's Just The Way Things Are"
What if a well-known design team, known professionally as The Creator"™, contacted you and asked you to join them for an interview? What if, surprising you with an offer of full partnership, they recommended that you study some of their work and influences while making your decision, at least a collection of ancient stories and current tropes, significant images and songs, earlier relationships and projects that changed their way of working together?
As you look into it, you discover that they have been asking a huge number of other people across the globe to work together for years following a hidden agenda to morph daily life as we know it to fit their social change agenda. Faced by you with this information, they present results from hundreds of years of study: neither giving in to nor fighting popular obsessions seems to work, simply causing compulsions to become more entrenched. Few people seem to take the team up on their offer, because the only way to keep up with them is to identify as Creative and collaborate to make truly and deeply beautiful changes, both individually and collectively, so that that way of doing things becomes a new habit.
If you decide to go the distance, how will you stay relevant alongside your new colleagues as the design team continually innovates? What would your daily creative rituals look like, if all of this were true?
"Emotions are not something that happen to people, but rather, emotions are constructed in our brains" seems to dodge the autonomy of soul, the work of metaphorical gods, but "often with much more nuance than we readily acknowledge" opens the door again to multiplicity in this very interesting recording. You may be interested, in particular, in the sense of certainty about brain as network--no function belonging exclusively to any particular region, but almost always tracing the interaction of several. - Brandon WilliamsCraig
Emotions Are a Construct of the Brain, Says Psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett
Imagine that you’re driving South on 101 when you see blue and red highway patrol lights flashing behind you. Do you feel worried? How about anxious, horrified or scared? According to psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett, emotions are not something that happen to people, but rather, emotions are constructed in our brains, often with much more nuance than we readily acknowledge. Feldman Barrett joins us to talk about how emotions are made, the link between language and feelings and why assigning emotion to facial expressions has negative effects on everything from childcare to the justice system.
Lisa Feldman Barrett, distinguished professor of psychology, Northeastern University; author, "How Emotions are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain"
In the rich imaginal ground that is the winter holidays, I give you one of my favorite and most lucid senior colleagues, Dr. @Mary Watkins:
"[Knowledge] picks an argument where there is no need. Myth speaks about an imaginal reality using aspects of his material reality. Her statements are not meant to be mere literal, concrete descriptions and opinions about this world. She wants to convey her reality. When he takes some aspects away from her, she must chose others. The more he denies her expressions the more she must use his own words. Though he can discredit her means of expression and make her look foolish to his friends he cannot destroy that which she seeks to express. His inability to distinguish between the concrete level of the symbol and what the symbol refers to leaves him open to her use. It leaves her totally misunderstood. She hides in what and how he studies and her reality begins to come from his own mouth, although he does not hear her inclination.
In our confusion we, as students of Knowledge, have tried to separate the scientific from the metaphorical, matter from spirit, behavior from psyche, the real from the imaginal. They pretend to yield, and in so doing trick us. They have not separated at all, these lovers. What we find flowing down our sinks is our awareness of our participation in myth at every moment of our being in reality, of psyche in our every action. We mistake our confusion for straightforwardness and clarity. What we have packed away in those boxes is not the imagination and the mythical but our recognition, acceptance and conscious valuing of it."
She has most generously provided access to her book, Waking Dreams (where this quote appears on page six) here:
The 45th precedent is an extremist, but not in the way the term is usually meant, as this implies idealism of some kind. He has taken to the extreme the cynical position that the President need not be interested or even relevant in any of the ways usually associated with presidency - care for constituents, policy success, coordination of allies, leadership, inspiration, vision, etc. The #DistractionInChief has only one real purpose, unrelated to delivering on any promises made to members of the public that supported him. By his fruits ye shall know him, and there ain't been none beyond #RazzleDazzle. He is a child in a break-away adult suit who isn't enough in contact with reality to realize he is incompetent, especially at the things he thinks are his unique gifts. As a result, he spins on whatever axis he finds himself, desperately in need of and spouting superlatives about himself, and desperately determined to externalize and prop up his internal monologue, because there is nothing else there.(1)
As long as 45 can #KeepEmSpinning, the individuals around the world who worked to put him in place are well served by his service to increase their private power and wealth. The cycle is: bluster cynically/incoherently (it only takes 140 characters or less), vacation/golf and spend, threaten something sacred/essential to those who need government to function in some way, fail publicly and egregiously so that The Opposition will at least try to continue holding things together and the pattern can continue, shift target so the abused will treat themselves briefly to a sense of relief, repeat.
His every tweet points at the sky and screams "#LOOKTheHindenburg!" We throw our hands in the air, and then onto our keyboards; we waste the life energy we could be using to work together for our children. Every time we follow the media into the serial orgy of hot-air disasters the bar is lowered and the real work behind the scenes is successfully submerged. Legislation is being passed without consultation, and often without any attention at all beyond a small circle of wonks, democratically essential institutions are being gutted as skilled staff are being jettisoned or replaced by unqualified partisans, and ecocidal projects are being pushed through without review or oversight. We help to make this the new normal because it is a culture-making ritual, each repetition of which re-writes a part of our brains, resetting expectations so that we will expect the process of government to be corrupt, exploitative, and worthy of ridicule, a loss, in short, and not worth protecting from those who are inconvenienced by the needs of the individually less powerful.
This is death, literally. Thousands of cuts to government protections make even more vulnerable those who must work to satisfy the needs they share with all humans. The "middle class" many people believed they were in is gone, if it ever truly existed. We pay life blood into a system which fails to regulate bottom(line)-feeders who scoop up public resources for private enrichment without return on our civic investment. Where is the humane concern for fellow creatures without which public service is a lethal fantasy?
We are expected to die from lack of adequate/preventative health care. We are expected to die from indirect conscription ("given the system, it's really my best/only chance for a better life") into wars for political control of other nations. We are expected to die from lack of education, which provides the tools for critical thinking and an imagination which can recognize how a system of stories works. We are expected to die early from polluted air and water force fed by The Way Things Are to each next generation, children whose only fault was to be born into families who have been raised to believe that abundance is something that only a Few can have. The truth that 45 brings is this: we are expected to die. A president doesn't even have to pretend to be a public servant anymore. All he has to do is #KeepEmSpinning.
Senators Kamala D. Harris and Dianne Feinstein,
I have not had the opportunity to make the acquaintance of Neil Gorsuch, so I must speak only to his record and the circumstances at the time of his nomination as I urge you to oppose his nomination with all the powers at your disposal.
His avowed statutory "textualism" and "originalism" are literalism in disguise, abandoning the full meaning and consequences of an idea in order to forward only the part that matches the agenda one wishes to dominate. This cherry-picking instead of harvesting understanding is not only the opposite of the discipline required to be an adequate jurist, but also abandons the equanimity that is the most central pre-requisite for public service, the lack of which leaves the dream of our United States rotting in a mire of partisanship.
I know you know that it is a perversion of the people's government, for instance, to re-interpret Free Speech to facilitate billionaires buying megaphones of unlimited size to effectively push elections in the directions that reinforce their grip on power. Likewise, corporations do not require advocacy from the very institutions established to check precisely the level of power they alone can wield.
We cannot know, but must fear that Gorsuch will be the tipping point in the movement toward ending a woman's right to choose, casting aside what remains of the Voting Rights Act, pretending clean water and clean air laws are not essential to our survival as a species, and multiplying the gerrymandering that allows those who do not represent the people to continue to pretend that they do.
The bar of what is commonplace has been re-set by the scope to which the agenda known as "Trump" is willing to wield power for its own sake, but a "ya gotta pick yer fights" approach does not work in a climate of media blitzkrieg designed to make long-view existential threats seem benign enough to accept. Please hold the line until their lightning offensive crumbles under the weight of its own unreality. We, your constituents, admire your resolve as we pray in one voice that you will struggle to make honest disagreement possible once more.
We profoundly misunderstand what is happening at the White House. Politics previously referred to as presidential have now become entirely precedential. Before this administration, there was some expectation that a chief executive would at least appear to be watching out for the interests of citizens in a way that befits a president, head-of-stately by definition, attempting to be worthy of respect, deliberate, unhurried, or in some way dignified. Even the appearance of presidentiality is no longer required.
Some would say that the power of the office is now, for the first time explicitly, entirely, publicly devoted to retaining power for its own sake. But even this is a diversion, pulling a cloak of the appearance of individual hubris, as with G.W. Bush before, over the cultural reformation happening. The office has been stripped even of its own definition in service to curating the mythology that allows a faction of the most powerful to control The People even more deeply by setting new precedents, controlling narratives that will be persuasive when making decisions about subsequent issues. The "president" is now only the Distraction-In-Chief. There is now not even a need to pretend that he has an interest in policy or service.
There were things Obama wouldn't do, purportedly because he found them distasteful. He was publicly admired by his opponents for applying with some frequency an archetypally coherent (appropriate to the role he was playing), conservative, public service code of ethics. The Current Occupant of the House That Is White, on the other hand, insists that every interaction is a game of high stakes, life and death deal-making, endlessly playing the one Card That Always Wins: he will go to any length to get what he wants. This will continue to cloak the destruction of the people's government as long as he is allowed to game with impunity the choices that make up what once was called Civil Society. Simply "fact-checking" or commenting on him does way too little, way too late, and supports his strategy in so far as it pretends that the ongoing media blitz resembles a civil discussion.
Flinging our hands over our heads and running about in dismay will not make us less desirable targets for manipulation. It is all well and good to point out that the person striking you in the face is being unfair, but this does little to make an epic beat-down less likely. Even if we can admit that we are in the mythological equivalent of a bar fight, we must admit to ourselves that stock outrage at opprobrium is as predictable as other Deary Me, What Have You Done operatics.
The KQED radio Forum program of March 16, 2017, for instance, worked to put in context the federal budget put forward by the White House, which proposed redirecting the majority of funding devoted to public service toward hostilities both foreign and domestic. A deputy director for external affairs at the California Department of Finance, H.D. Palmer, put the process in the context of theater, as "the opening act of a multi-act play". It is time to acknowledge that our politics are no longer like theater. They have become theater but without qualification, non-stop vaudeville, Vegas vagueries, burlesque from sea to shining sea.
Honest theater requires voluntary participation in pretending. When pretending becomes pretense, suspension of disbelief becomes both unnatural and required, insisted upon on pain of media assault and the removal of federal money. Is some sense of reality required to move from the Reality TV metaphors of the campaign into the literal Oval Office? Now the players entirely lacking relevant qualifications must insist on being treated like The Real Thing, stuffing the derisive art form that mocks by imitation into the suit of actual governance wherein the parody bares real teeth at anyone who doesn't join the pretense. A royal family of paid and unpaid federal "employee" consultants is setting up camp on ground made secularly holy by the sacrifice of generations who struggled to keep us a constitutional democracy.
The adult entertainment show continues to titillate through news-cycle infotainment, stripteasing the public with alt-facts: how far will He go today? When he moves next toward more expansive War President Powers, will he drop his literal pants, having been metaphorically pantsed so frequently already, and wave his actual genitals toward the cameras, so the ensuing tabloidal orgasm will be big enough to dominate the "news" cycle for long enough to thrust legislation through? When the metaphors of the ludicrous imitation campaign are forced into being literal policy, the caricature, travesty, and gross perversion is of the office, and then of justice. Thus is the boundary crossed into the overt manufacture of propaganda, grinding up the bones of good governance to feed the rooting feral pig of kleptocracy.
On the libertarian website Reason.com, Ira Stoll asked "This question—is it ritualistic theater, a kind of performance art, or is it real?—is one worth keeping in mind for all of [his] initiatives, not just his budget. Is, say, the effort to repeal ObamaCare real? Or is it, like the budget cuts, an elaborate show?" Our current political situation makes sense, if you've got the right stories (interpretive metaphors) in mind. Let's quit acting surprised, especially when the political weapons customarily used for stage combat are sharpened and turned on the most vulnerable. We knew they were weapons all along, but hoped we'd get to remain in The Audience. No more. Precedent Rump's Feral Government is rooting out the last truffles of hope.
Hitchhiking into the galaxy of cultural mythology, looking for guidance from a metaphorical world that relished being a parody, and thereby honest, when someone tries to knock your house down it may seem like courage to lie down in front of a bulldozer. This may seem, for a while, to have been an ironic choice, or at least beside the point, if the world continues to appear beyond saving and doomed by an always criminally expedient status quo that is Just Following Orders and Doing Its Job. But it is not too late if there is more to the story.
It is never too late to acknowledge that the positive possible future is as complex as the negative possible future, and equally beyond comprehensive predictive understanding. Despite the danger of looking pathetic, the Hero knows that humane and courageous individual action is not only its own soul-healing reward, but is also absolutely required to make a brighter tomorrow possible, along with organizing and strategic planning without certainty about outcome. Getting down into the mud and reclining in front of a bulldozer has been and can be a genius move that brings specific madness to a halt so that the story of the isolated and vulnerable may continue into tomorrow.
Returning to our climate of denial, however, bulldozer blocking is a less advisable tactic if the aim was to kill you outright or, at least if you live above the poverty line at the moment, roll over any bodies in the way of knocking down the People's house, the ownership of which was once the middle class bellwether of a free/civil society. The White Occupant published his plans for the Western Spiral Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy with every tweet and campaign tactic. If you didn't check the local planning office at Alpha Centauri for details of demolition plans in your sector, then that is not his fault. If you buy the idea that there never was/will be a government obligated to serve The People, then the Occupant is archetypally coherent--doing what he promised--as he is fond of tweeting. His poetry doesn't get better. He is known the universe over for enjoying torture of just this kind.
Promise-keeping, he made very clear, has very little to do with the content of what he says, and everything to do with the context, how and what he does, his every behavior up to this point. He has taught us carefully and made crystal clear through endless repetition that his words are entirely changeable in order to control what people expect and believe, while his behavior remains rigidly consistent. He forces high-speed news cycle-based change-ups to point attention away from substantive changes taking place, and instead on the latest outrage, while his team eliminates with bold strokes the parts of our system of government that check rather than facilitate the accumulation and deployment of power by the powerful and exploitative, especially as they sign-on with his team.
The gloves came off in the era of Dubbya, and are now not only off but have been tossed over the shoulder of the grinning gamesman who has managed to occupy the mightiest position from which to truly be himself, the Randiest individual unfettered and unrestrained. Each time we rend our garments on Facebook decrying his duplicity, we enter a net designed to catch us with the prerequisite that the Emperor if Fully Clothed. He showed us what he would do and be, campaigned explicitly on a history of naked ambition, and now is Trumphantly true to himself. Admirable! It is a most American of triumphs, over which many will not be able to help but swoon. Raw power is ravishing, even as one is being devoured.
The problem, as always, is in the deadly consequences for everybody attempting to live in the fact-based world that will not see the importance of mythological study and expertise. What happens when you elect to head the government someone who has promised to destroy it? If he is a man of his word and a man of action, then he destroys it. All he needs for Mission Accomplished is enough conflict-averse people to depend on invisibility or his approval for their livelihood, or believe that he wouldn't really go as far as he is obviously ready to go, or react to his provocations instead of responding by organizing themselves to enact and insist on the myth of civil society.
We have a massive developmental leap before us, which The Occupant's team counts on The People failing to make. To survive we must now become mythologists, liberal artists (freely and expertly metaphor-proficient) working with mythologies, the way narrative shapes belief and thereby controls action, so that we will be less controlled by media we consume. We must behave like adults, able to put aside products, both media and industrial, which we have come to depend on consuming uncritically and in great quantity.
Even beyond this, we must become martial artists of nonviolence, expecting and practicing conflict on our way to an honorable peace, opting out of violence, systemic oppression, retribution, and even revolution, all of which take too much time and don't satisfy the requirements of civilization. Insted, it is time for coordinated enaction of a truly civil order in which our primary goal and success metric is humane treatment at every level of decision-making and in every connection we make. We can't simply object or resist; we must make Politics As Usual obsolete, an historical artifact like slavery will be someday.
America has always only ever been Great when it has responded to inhumanity at home and abroad by enacting change that works toward the humane light of compassion and dignity shining on every one alike. Lesser goals will stink of Business As Usual. We won't enact this change perfectly, because that is not how human beings have ever worked, but we must set about it and do our very best. It is now, quite literally, a survival necessity. Let us quit acting surprised that the adversary is up in our face, especially when he jumped out of the back alley of street-fight deal-making, promised the world that he was coming for our children, and then ran 83 blocks toward us shouting epithets all the way.
Brandon WilliamsCraig Ph.D.
This sends a message of desperation and mercenary political interest, rather than good leadership and conservative management of public funds. The humane choice will always be better to both draw support against extremism and demonstrate capable political sense. Please consider signing the petition.
From The Care2 Petition Site
Natacha Bouchart, the mayor of Calais, is on a rampage against refugees fleeing persecution, political turmoil, and civil war. She will do almost anything to prevent migrants from finding a safe haven in Calais.
In October, Mayor Bouchart ordered the demolition of the local refugee camp, displacing hundreds of people from shelter, food, clean water, and safety as winter approached.
Now, as refugees are returning and rebuilding the camp, Bouchart has issued a mayoral decree forbidding any charitable organization or agency from distributing food to migrants and their families.
Immediately before the decree was issued on 2 March, one charity -- Utopia56 -- was distributing 250 hot meals a night. Another agency -- Refugee Community Kitchen and Help Refugees -- were making about 400 meals a day, up from about 50 in February. Now, Mayor Bouchart is digging in her heels and ordering these organisations and others to stop providing food to starving people. Officials are also preventing charities from providing showers for the hundreds of desperate refugees seeking shelter.
The goal of the policy is to drive out refugees in need by denying the basics for human survival -- shelter, food, clean water, safety. Policies like these will not help address the refugee crisis, it will only leave more people starving and desperate for a safe place to call home.
Please take a moment to sign our petition and protest the inhumane actions of Natacha Bouchart, mayor of Calais. Her despicable decree is a blight on the good name of France.