Wednesday, June 17, 2020

How Creativity Helps

This month we usually celebrate Pride with a rainbow of colors, with festivity and a profusion of sparkle and creativity. But just this week, on Tuesday the body of George Floyd was finally laid to rest. We have been observing a time of mourning for Mr. Floyd, for his family, for the black community, and for all those who have experienced police brutality. Protestors have been encouraged to wear black in solidarity with and respect for that mourning. It has been a pride month without sparkles and parades out of respect for the pandemic and for black life.
Jill Worthington- from a series during treatment

But even in this time of grief and anger, creativity has been life giving. Jill’s reflection on how coloring mandalas supported her during her cancer treatment is a clear demonstration of that. We Dance by the  Alvin Ailey dancers is a beautiful expression of how creativity helps us move through and make meaning during difficult times.

My teacher, Don Bisson, says creativity is an instinctive function; that everyone has that instinct whether they think of themselves as “creative” or not. Our natural drive for creativity helps us survive and thrive in new situations. We saw some beautiful and delightful examples of this at the beginning of our shelter at home- no bread in the store? Make your own. No yeast at the store? Make sourdough. I asked folks to tell us about how their families were being creative during this time. Judy Moore told me about making toilet paper tube finger puppets to Facetime with her grandson. Laura Rusk, from the Cortland congregation told us that “Back in April, the kids made puppets (unicorns of course) out of paper bags. Then they played with them by putting on a puppet show - we had put a tension rod in a doorway with a scarf draped over it for a makeshift theater. The play that they scripted was about how to get two warring kingdoms to get along and be kind to each other.” Our creativity helps us not only find practical solutions to novel situations, but helps us imagine a better world.

Here are the Facts You Requested live at Maritime Hall
My husband, a musician himself, theorized that independent music, independent low budget art is often more creative by necessity- when we don’t have all the latest and greatest gadgets, we must find new solutions use whatever is at hand. When I’m out at a protest, I can’t believe the creative profusion of masks- it seems like every mask is different- made from whatever people had at hand. As our counties start to reopen, I see so much creativity going into restructuring our society to allow for social distancing.
Right now many things in our lives are not quite what we are used to. While we long to put things back the way they used to be, more and more we can see that creating a new normal is not only necessary, but will also allow some vital change that we really need. We all must call forth our innate creativity to put together the pieces of our lives, of our society in a new way.

The creativity of the protests against police brutality expresses itself differently than rainbow creativity of Pride, unique for this moment in history: the big yellow letters on the streets of DC, the fence around the white house now decorated with protest art.

Protesters literally dancing in the streets in Oakland, peacefully holding the intersection of 14th and Broadway for more than 4 hours yelling out “one more song

When The Minneapolis City Council last Sunday announced plans to “disband its police department and invest in community-based public safety programs” they are calling for a profoundly creative act. That’s what we need right now- the creativity to re-imagine, to rebuild our communities into structures that are safe and life giving for everyone. There’s a program that’s been running for 30 years in Eugene, Ore. called the Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets, or CAHOOTS. This is a civilian team with a certified medic and a trained crisis worker. According to Tim Black, the program's operations coordinator, team members get extensive training and field experience on how to de-escalate situations, and bring folks struggling with mental illness into community-based treatment, not jail. Black says “we don't carry pepper spray. We don't carry a Taser or anything like that. You know, we just talk to folk. We proposed an opportunity to have one less police contact just because that person was having a bad day.” This idea is spreading to other cities around the country who want to re-imagine non-violent ways to take care of our communities. Sometimes the most creative acts don’t look fancy, they just look like common sense.

We don’t need to have special equipment or education to be creative, we already are; it’s in our DNA as humans. At this moment we need ALL that creativity to make something new out of whatever we have at hand- old sheets, toilet paper tubes, neighbors, the city council. Together we create a world where conflicts are resolved without brutality, a world where LGBTQ people of color have all the support and resources and safety they need to bloom into their own unique selves.

Let us create a world where each of us brings our whole self, knowing we need everyone’s creativity to stitch all those pieces together, into one whole beautiful quilt.

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