Give what you can

We all know that the global economy is in dire straits. I, for one, know that I’m counting my pennies and I certainly feel worried about what’s to come. When you’re thinking of cutting back, please consider maintaining or even increasing your giving to good non-profits. Supporting the work of non-profits is essential and you can consider it a worthy investment into your community. I always advocate supporting arts nonprofits because they tend to get left out of support despite the fact that the arts are proven to enhance learning in ALL areas. (Check out the awesome Right Brain Initiative.) Whatever you choose, just go and give what you can (say, $50 or $100) to an organization of your choosing.

If you need some ideas on who to give to this year, I’ve got some ideas.

Shameless solicitation of support for the organizations that pay my bills and orgs who I’ve committed myself to:

B-Word Worldwide/Bitch Magazine
– B-Word is the incredibly important and vital voice that brings you the most cutting and insightful feminist analysis of pop culture. I’m on the board and we’re currently looking at how to evolve as an organization and stay relevant in light of the changing media landscape. Join the Beehive!

Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center
– Wonderful, beautiful interdisciplinary arts center in North Portland that includes a gallery, theater, dance studio. The mission is to foster diversity in the arts and they support both emerging and established artists and serve the community at large with a range of education programs. I’ve admired IFCC since I arrived in Portland and am happy to report that I’m currently doing some contract work for them.

KBOO Community Radio – At 40, KBOO is one of the oldest community radio stations in the country. Portland is lucky to have such an amazing resource! KBOO has an eclectic, diverse programming lineup of news, public affairs, music and spoken word. Nearly all the programs are run by a dynamic group of volunteers. KBOO is powered by over 500 on-air and off-air volunteers, a member-elected board of directors and a small staff of 12 (full- and part-time). I work there part time and I’m also a volunteer with the radio collective APA Compass. (9am the first Friday each month!) Right now you can donate to KBOO through the Willamette Week’s Give! Guide and get lots of cool goodies!

Portland Theater Brigade – I grew up a drama geek and it certainly changed my life. PTB is an amazing young people’s theater program that not only teaches youth professional theater skills (using improvisation!! based on the work of the inimitable Viola Spolin), but empowers the students with opportunities for collaboration and leadership. I came on as Managing Director this year and it’s like I’ve come full circle.

Other cool orgs to consider supporting:

Beehive Collective – Another Beehive. The swarm’s mission: “To cross-pollinate the grassroots, by creating collaborative, anti-copyright images that can be used as educational and organizing tools.” Amazing mission, beautiful work.

Center for Asian American Media – My former stomping grounds. CAAM continues to do incredible work supporting Asian American media through funding, production, distribution and a dynamic festival.

In Other Words – A vibrant Portland feminist resource – bookstore, resource center and community space – is in trouble. They need to raise $11,000 by the end of the month to keep their doors open! Please support them if you can!

Oregon Cultural Trust – Did you know that you can match gifts to eligible cultural non-profits to the Trust and receive a 100% tax credit? That’s a tax CREDIT (way better than a tax deduction) and a great incentive to support Portland area nonprofit arts orgs. More info on the program here.

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Portland Theatre Brigade

I am super excited about the Portland Theatre Brigade. I just joined them as Managing Director (very part-time for the fledgling organization), one of two new staffers. Jennifer Lanier has also joined the staff as East Brigade Director and Touring Manager. Adrienne Flagg, who also serves as Creative Director at the IFCC, is the PTB Artistic Director. Along with the Board of Directors, we’ve begun this year with a blast, having just finished casting this year’s company of 40 young actors/creators.

I was a young theatre geek back in the day. I studied early on at Beck Center for the Arts, a community theater in Lakewood, OH. From there I was empowered to do high school plays and a college tv show, on and on. Theatre unlocked in me this incredible passion and confidence. I truly believe it was a guiding force that continues to allow me to do the things I do, all of which I hope is always giving back to community.

The wonderful thing about PTB, is that the youth are empowered to take on a lot of the control and responsibility. We have student stage managers and they young actors choose the stories and write the plays that they want to perform. The training is based on the work of Viola Spolin, the fairy godmother of improvisation and games in theatre. The beauty of being Spolin-based, is that the young actors are encouraged to be generous, curious, open-minded and ensemble-centered. We’re working with the kids to encourage them to be good humans in how they interact in rehearsal and onstage, which follows that they also become great performers.

We have a couple of students that need some additional help with tuition. If you’re reading this and feel like you’d like to contribute, just let me know at toni [at] theatrebrigade.org. Here’s a letter we sent last week:

This weekend we’d like to offer you a very easy way to make a very big difference.

Theatre Brigade is enrolling now a fabulous group of new students for the upcoming season. We are very excited about the talent and diversity of these young people and we know they will be putting on a great show for the Portland community next spring.

But this year we also have an large number of very deserving children who’s families need some extra help paying tuition. Some of these parents are in exceedingly difficult circumstances, but they are dedicated to their children and desparately want them to have this opporunity.

Our scholarship fund is simply not adequate to meet the need – yet we can not bear to have to turn any of these children away. You can help.

Your donation of any amount, if made this weekend, will go directly to scholarship funding for this year’s students, allowing you to create an immediate impact in this community.

As little as $5 will help us help these children experience the benefits of Portland Brigade Membership.

$15 pays for one week of Brigade
$66 pays for one month
$285 provides one standard partial scholarship
$600 allows a poverty-affected child to participate for the full year

These children can not wait for the economy to improve. But you don’t have to have a lot to spare to be able to make a big difference in their lives. Please help today in whatever way you can.

Something so RIGHT, and one RWONG


This week I’m writing to recommend two FABULOUS shows. The first is a wonderful, imaginative, hilarious, poignant clown show featuring my good friend Sarah in her company Nomadic Theatre Co. The show is called Running Into Walls. If you’ve never seen a clown show (and I’m NOT talking Ringling Brothers) this is a great introduction into that delightful world. The story follows two very close clown friends as they take a strange journey to confront mortality. Wonderful physical comedy, engaging performances, touching story. Plus, you’ll find out the origins of the word “muffin” and what the word “Himalaya” means. The show runs through April 27 at Theater! Theatre!, 3430 SE Belmont, Portland.

Next is Roberta Wong’s art exhibit at IFCC gallery in North Portland. If you’ve never been there it’s a pretty darn cool space. She’s showing some of her installation work from the past 2 decades and it’s all still extremely relevant stuff exploring race, gender, history and identity. I wrote about Roberta’s show in The Asian Reporter so check out my story. The exhibit runs through April 26.

hand2mouth at tba07

sadly i only got to see a couple of shows for this year’s tba:07 festival. it was a jam-packed impressive lineup of a wide variety of performance and media works. luckily i caught some goodies. of significant note: on saturday, i brought my out-of-town visitors (the annual SB2K trip with my childhood girlfriends from cleveland, who this year converged on me in pdx) to the interstate firehouse cultural center to see renowned local edgy theatre folk hand2mouth theatre company perform their new repeat after me, a show filled with american dreams, anthems and a dizzying array of american flag costumes. i love this company because of their enthusiasm and unabashed lack of inhibition. they’re not afraid to go there. yes, they open up the can of worms that is being an american. and they rode the line quite effectively – of poking fun, challenging, dissecting, complicating, blurring and even embracing some of those stereotypes that are so often mockingly simplified by the left. the first act took a bit of time to blossom, but by halftime, they hit their stride, pushing forward on an epic musical journey. can’t wait to see what they come up with next…