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April 14, 2016


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What a wonderful and moving tribute to a mentor and friend.
All of us retired educators hope we have at least one former student who might remember us as fondly.

Well done!

Last week I got a piece of mail addressed to Occupant. I normally throw away stuff like that but it was from the City of Portland so I opened it up, assuming it was some informational tidbit about a street closure or tree trimming. Instead it was a bill for $35, a tax that supports arts programs in city schools. It then detailed the good things the tax is doing, offering kids actual arts programs in their fiscally stressed schools. You don't have to pay this tax if your net incomes is less than $1000 a year (!!) and I wondered how stringent the city was if they didn't even have a data base with the names of citizens in it. The doubt last 30 seconds before I went online and paid the fee.

Most of us boomers who grew up in post-war America don't know how lucky we had it. We blame current problems on various unpopular groups (liberals! Mexicans! environmentalists!) all the time skipping over the evidence that society itself is a project we either support or let wither away in our pique with reality. Everyone has a theory why things don't work or kids dye their hair in order to look like Easter eggs or spend all their time playing video games. Here's my theory: the magic of creation is the greatest thing any of ever experience. Kids in particular need this to thrive and grow. If they don't get it in school, they'll do whatever they can given their limited autonomy to stand out and shine. Art, be it music, dance, theater, or visual creation is the greatest gift we can give them and, through the alchemy of engagement, ourselves.

Most students never become famous but everyone who has ever sung in a chorus or acted in a play gets a sense of wonder that might otherwise stay buried in a pauper's graveyard of dull necessity. The moral dimension alone is worth the freight. The spiritual reward, on the other hand, is the connection that lives forever in a creative society.

The theatre has saved many people's lives.

Ultimately, it is a place for misfits. Who, to their amazement, find that they are not alone after all.

And, whether or not they stay in the theatre, they at least can carry that knowledge with them.

To neglect the arts is to neglect one of things that separates us from the other animals.

What a great tribute, Jon. I think you captured what it meant to be in the arts during our high school days in the '70s.
And thanks to soleri for his spot-on words.

"Ultimately,it's a place for misfits"-B.Franklin

I never understood why so many people idolize hollywood types-they spend their lives pretending to be someone else- a sure prescription for mental illness.

R.C. Your post reminds me of the time I went back to Illinois after 30 years and my brother,his best friend and I met with our coach from junior high.When my bother cursed in front of
"Coach",I was mortified as I still remembered him as a giant among men.Some things never change I guess.

I didn't mean "misfits" in a pejorative way. More as a description of people who don't fit nicely into the round holes that society often insists on for its worker drones.

99.9% of creative types are "misfits".

Most of the people I cherish, and wish to spend my time with, fit into that category.

Did I say most? I meant all.

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