A birthday wish from little old (literally, ha!) me.

Dear Friends,

A week ago I celebrated a significant milestone – my 40th birthday. So far, it’s been looking like an exciting year. As one of my wishes, I’d like enlist your help.

I am on the board of directors for a truly unique and inspiring theatre program for young actors in our region. Portland Theatre Brigade provides professional theatre training for young people ages 7-14. Theatre Brigade not only teaches amazing acting skills (using improvisation through Spolin work – most of you know how important improv is to me!) – but it also empowers these young people to know their own voice and to be leaders and team players no matter their age and talent. I’ve seen first hand how transformational this program can be to these kids!

One of the most unique offerings in the program is the Portland Theatre Brigade School Tour. Our young actors tour to schools throughout the Portland metro area providing FREE theatre performances for 3,000 students each year. Not only is this an invaluable experience for the young members of Theatre Brigade, it also serves as an inspiring and lively experience for the student audiences they reach. And with the dwindling arts education resources in our schools, Theatre Brigade performances may be one of the few live theatre performances these students get all year.

As Portland Theatre Brigade gets their spring School Tour underway, I humbly ask

PLEASE HELP US RAISE $10,000 BY APRIL 23!

Through a grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council, as well as pledges from other donors, we’re already nearly halfway there.

Visit our website to donate online or send a check to Portland Theatre Brigade, PO Box 5823, Portland, OR 97228. Watch our thermometer fill up as donations come in!

As a special 40th birthday gift to me, I’m hoping that you’ll consider a gift of $40 or more towards this campaign. If 100 of you wonderful people pitched in $40 we’d be so close to our goal!! (Of course, we’ll be happy to accept donations of any size smaller or larger than $40.)

Anyone who donates to Theatre Brigade during this campaign will receive a link to a wonderful video about Portland Theatre Brigade created by one of the student alums.

Thanks for reading and thanks for all your support!!

Toni

PS – If you haven’t liked our Facebook page, do it now! Click here.

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Friday’s A to Z: the "Stinky" Edition

a – agism.
b – black friday.
c – comic sans.
d – “don’t ask, don’t tell.” repeal this already!!!
e – education in this country.
f – feet. stinky feet, literally. blech.
g – glenn beck. there’s even a comprehensive glenn-beck-sucks blog.
h – halitosis.
i – ice cream. actually, i love ice cream, but it stinks that i can’t have it after every meal.
j – jealousy.
k – ken buck. he recently received the douchebag decree over at bitchmedia‘s blog.
l – legalese.
m – model minority myth.
n – neo-nazi’s. my friends at circle a radio did a program about the rise of fascism in portland.
o – outsourced, the tv show. hear our commentary on the next apa compass fri dec 6th.
p – pickles. eew.
q – queer-bashing. aka homophobia.
r – racism.
s – sarah palin. here’s a recent blog from huffington post with leaks from her forthcoming book.
t – trafficking, of humans.
u – unemployment.
v – vermin.
w – war.
x – xenophobia.
y – yanni.
z – zealots. of any kind.

on creativity

Here’s a fascinating article by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman from Newsweek about the decline of creativity in the US:

The Creativity Crisis

The article uses reports from professor E. Paul Torrance’s creativity tests as a jumping off point about measuring creativity, how creativity manifests and why it’s important. Early on the author’s define creativity (not sure who has “accepted” the definition, as I might wordsmith it some myself):

“The accepted definition of creativity is production of something original and useful, and that’s what’s reflected in the tests. There is never one right answer. To be creative requires divergent thinking (generating many unique ideas) and then convergent thinking (combining those ideas into the best result).”

On the one hand, the authors posit that “creativity should be taken out of the art room and put into homeroom.”

“The age-old belief that the arts have a special claim to creativity is unfounded. When scholars gave creativity tasks to both engineering majors and music majors, their scores laid down on an identical spectrum, with the same high averages and standard deviations. Inside their brains, the same thing was happening—ideas were being generated and evaluated on the fly.”

On the flip side, it does seem that artists do have a leg up in the creativity category. Using an example of a study done at University of Western Ontario neuroscientist Daniel Ansari and Harvard’s Aaron Berkowitz, the article highlights the value of right-brain/left-brain process in creativity:

“They put Dartmouth music majors and nonmusicians in an fMRI scanner, giving participants a one-handed fiber-optic keyboard to play melodies on. Sometimes melodies were rehearsed; other times they were creatively improvised. During improvisation, the highly trained music majors used their brains in a way the nonmusicians could not: they deactivated their right-temporoparietal junction. Normally, the r-TPJ reads incoming stimuli, sorting the stream for relevance. By turning that off, the musicians blocked out all distraction. They hit an extra gear of concentration, allowing them to work with the notes and create music spontaneously.”

The whole article left me pondering creativity vs. arts and really how we can provide opportunities for more, more, more. This means rethinking everything: arts education, education reform, community development – all of it. To me empowering creativity is empowering individuals to be critically engaged in our world and our environment.