Archive for March, 2010

Waking up to our Collective Potential

March 30th, 2010

Most of the problems currently confronting our society are, in my judgment, a consequence of a sleeping (or at the very least, distracted) citizenry.  The  growing economic inequality, the crumbling of our physical infrastructure, the deplorable state of our access to an affordable health care system, the degree to which money (and those who have it) can influence social and political decisions, the cost of access to education, the number of our citizens  who are incarcerated in prisons, the obesity of our fellow citizens, the ongoing reliance on dwindling supplies of fossil fuels, the epidemic of reliance on mind altering substances, and on, and on, and on, are all manifestations of choices we have made together.   Like it or not, in a nominally Democratic society, what we see is what we have chosen.

I hold the opinion (supported by a wide array of scientific data from fields as diverse as neurobiology, psychology, anthropology, sociology, and biochemistry) that the “normal” human being would not intentionally choose to allow the consequences of the above problems to exist.  It is against our basic nature to watch a fellow human suffer without making some attempt to alleviate that suffering.  While the scientific understanding of ALL of the mechanisms involved may remain incomplete, it is largely accepted that we truly do “feel” a physical sense of discomfort when in the proximity of others in pain.  On a deep inner level we FEEL our connection with one another.

And yet we HAVE chosen to allow our broader community to devolve into a state where fear and distress and suffering are the norm.  There are many eloquent writers and speakers who have shared their considerable study (and consequent wisdom) about HOW and WHY we have chosen to allow our society to come to this point.  Many express the opinion that we have allowed ourselves to be hypnotized.  Like small furry creatures immobilized by the weavings and mesmerizing dance of the cobra, we have ceased to think for ourselves.  We choose to purchase and consume food that is bad for us, we have elected politicians who increase OUR taxes, while giving away the farm to people who already have more money than they will ever be able to spend, we have been lead into war under false pretexts. The single most important step we can make towards rectifying the problems we face is to become awake to the realities of those problems.  And having become awake, to realize that we HAVE THE FREEDOM TO MAKE DIFFERENT CHOICES.  If the critter can look away from the snake, it will see the hole into which it can scurry.

Project AWARE is about helping our youth see that there IS a choice.  And the the selection of a particular option has consequences.  And that those consequences in turn, offer more choices.  The POSITIVE, life and happiness affirming choices which are available to us are almost endless.   We need not be trapped into thinking that our only option is to say “NO” to things we do not like.  We can actively engage with one another to find GREAT options for solving our puzzles.   I believe that if we were all truly AWARE, we would reliably make choices which would support one another in creating a society which worked for ALL of our members, not merely the rich or powerful.

Please join with us by becoming AWARE… This is not just about supporting our youth, it is about learning a new way of social interaction alongside of our youth.  This is about learning together.

Submitted by Bill Creighton, Project AWARE Board Member

Tapping into the Creativity of Kids

March 22nd, 2010

The loss of hope, freedom and tapping into the creative inner life is a dilemma of our times. Luckily there are more forums encouraging people of all ages to connect with their inner wisdom and creative wellsprings. This is reflected in the explosion of interest in meditation, yoga, spirituality, alternative healing and opportunities for creative expression ranging from community theaters, open mics, music and art therapy, multitudes of free form dance and community art projects.

Unfortunately funding for the arts is being threatened. There is a misconception that the arts are expendable. In truth we are in the deepest need to free up creative thinking and develop minds that can help us evolve out of some HUGE challenges that we are facing on this planet. In order for us to successfully deal with issues like global warming, pollution, potable water shortages, overpopulation, hunger and war we need to think differently.

Genius comes in many forms that are not readily acknowledged in our current institutions. Imaginative, sensitive, energetic children are often demeaned or ‘corrected’ to fit into social situations better. It is a relatively new concept that young people have inherent wisdom that may in fact be what is needed for the future.

Empowering young people to lead is the mission of Project AWARE. We believe in the inherent goodness, wisdom and capacity of youth. When young people are listened to, respected and given support they can make a difference in the world. Project AWARE encourages youth to look at their lives, their community and the world and speak their truths about their hopes and concerns. Through the creation of skits, songs, dances, movies and more teens get to “do” something about their hopes and concerns.

Empowered young people are confident, know they have important perspectives and are willing to share their thinking. Most youth who feel good about themselves make healthy choices versus unhealthy choices that may endanger their lives and those of others. Young people who have been respected, listened to and supported are more able to share those skills with others.

We need to learn how to listen, be respectful and make the world a better place. Join this fun with Project AWARE!

 Submitted by Katey Branch, Project AWARE Co-Founder

A Parent’s Perspective

March 14th, 2010

My name is Mary Graham and I am the mother of 13 year old Aleah Graham, a member of Project AWARE. I am sincerely grateful to Project AWARE for the opportunities that it has given to my daughter. Aleah has been a member of Project AWARE for the past 3 years and has been able to take part in the Project AWARE players as well as the movie projects that the group has done. I have seen enormous growth in Aleah through her experiences. Project AWARE has given her the opportunity to speak out about issues that are important to her and her peers. She has been able to combine her love for acting with activism. Aleah has been able to look deeper at issues that she and her peers face on a daily basis and brainstorm how to cope with these issues. Aleah has been able to connect with other youth from surrounding communities and work together to create strength in facing issues such as bullying and drug use and abuse. I admire that Project AWARE has provided her a place to voice her thoughts and feelings as well as outlets to express these. I am thankful for the adults that Aleah has connected with who are positive role models and give her opportunities to create ideas and see them through to fruition. I believe that Project AWARE has helped to create in our teenager goals and direction as well as the belief that she is capable of big things!

(Aleah Graham’s blog appeared on March 6, 2010 in the previous post)

Aleah Graham, age 13, Writes about her Experience with Project AWARE

March 6th, 2010

Being a part of Project AWARE has given me a sense of independence and self-pride.

As co-creator of Project AWARE’s latest film, I can definitely say that Filming ‘Influenced’ was one of the greatest experiences of my life! There’s nothing like a positive group to guarantee an impressive outcome of a project! I am so grateful for the amount of work and creativity that everyone put into the movie, it has surely made everyone proud! The week of the film-shoot was so inspiring, positive, and fun. Influenced was a great success and it could not have been what it is without the help of everyone! I am so excited to go to Caribou for a screening of ‘Influenced’ and I think that it will have a strong impact of the community!

The Project AWARE players is another of my great accomplishments! I remember wanting so badly to be part of the Players that, when I graduated into the group as one of the youngest members, I was so proud. The Players haven’t let me down, either. I have had so much fun at all of the presentations and I have met so many wonderful people. I am so excited to go to Caribou for the screening of ‘Influenced’ and I think that it will have a strong impact of the community!

 It is interesting to be one of the youngest people so actively involved with Project AWARE. But as hard as it can be, I feel lucky to be able to learn from the older Players.

Doing presentations definitely makes me feel empowered. The skits we do impact so many people, the facts we give inform adults of what kids are really doing, and the help we dish out makes people feel a lot less hopeless. I am so glad to be able to help the community in such an important way. So all I have to say is; thank you Project AWARE and Mom and Dad for helping me to be part of such a great group of people.