by Pana Columbus
As our theatre company’s work is dedicated to community transformation, community-decision making is an essential component to what we do. We need to know what changes our friends and neighbors want and to hear how they think those changes could transpire.
Our company works in three-year cycles. The first year we identify the new transformation we want to embark on. The second year we seek to participate in catalyzing the transformation through our festivals and children’s outreach programs. Finally the third year culminates, in addition to our other programs, with an original theatrical production which is designed with one purpose:?to facilitate that transformation.
As we are in the first year of that cycle, we are listening to what is happening in our community. We are receptive and open. Based on recent input and our own observations about our community, we will soon be posting a survey about our next objectives on our website and on our next newsletter. We enthusiastically welcome your input!
A simple example of how we use community-based decisions can be illustrated by our children’s outreach program, Pebble Theatre. In 2009, one of our elementary school partners told us they wanted to start a music program. So in our after-school theatre program, we rehearsed their children in an original musical we wrote for them. The play was about a group of kids who wanted to start a music program. Simultaneously, we worked with a student from Muhlenberg College to run an instrument donation campaign. At the children’s performance, the kids held up the 15 instruments (including saxophones, clarinets, trumpets, and flutes) that were donated to their school.
Our friends at the Alliance asked us what challenges we face with community-based decisions. Transformation, by its very nature, means embracing the possibility of something new. We recognize that the new can create fear because it is yet unknown. Thusly, even the most brilliant ideas require a certain amount of insane optimism to carry them into manifestation. When one opens their decision-making process into the community, sometimes one has to dance with others’ doubts about what is possible. Luckily, our organization has plenty of insane optimism such that we can remain receptive to people’s concerns, while staying focused and energized.
We find great value in the Alliance’s own objective of uniting people and organizations. Along with our process of holding focus groups, our next step in community-based decision making includes the formation of a council composed of leaders and representatives from the different cultural groups in our community.
Thank you to the Alliance for annually publishing this directory and for all the other ways they bring organizations that promote sustainable communities together.
Producing Artistic Director, Circle of Stones Ritual Theatre Ensemble.
(Essays express the ideas of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Alliance.)
(Published in the 2010 edition of Sustainable Lehigh Valley)