Wednesday, June 3, 2009

School for Designing a Society & Patch Adams

I'm currently researching Paulo Freire's concept of radical love in relation to teaching the arts, specifically in relation to facilitating applied theatre. Patch Adams, doctor, health care activist and clown, conducts a workshop called "What is your love strategy?"

His organization also pairs with The School for Designing a Society. Every school (for little kids and big kids) should have something like this. Amazing--I want to go!

The School for Designing a Society, established in 1991, is a project of teachers, performers, artists, and activists. It is an ongoing experiment in making temporary living environments where the question "What would I consider a desirable society?" is given serious playful thought, and taken as an input to creative projects.

Why a desirable society?

We want to address people: our neighbors and our distant neighbors who, living in the current social system, find that this system maintains itself at the expense of its members so that misery, poverty, hopelessness, violence, and human degradation are daily occurrences. Our social system tells us that human beings are the problem, and that it, the current system, is the solution. We have taken long looks at this system, and we do not want it. As any social system is humanly created, not natural, and is maintained daily by human action, we wish to create new social systems, and to change our daily patterns of action.

Why design?

Criticisms of the problems of the present society are often met with justifications. Once these justifications fail, many a conversation of hopeful intention is stopped with the (final) statement: "The present organization of society is the best we have", or the question: "Do you have a better idea?"

This is a moment of possibility and not one to be left speechless. Indeed, many a time, the respondent finds herself sputtering, filled with a spirit of rebellion which unfortunately gets watered down to the mere language of complaint.

Having had the time and opportunity to create--in conjunction with others of diverse experiences--detailed maps, dreams, plans, scripts, scores, videos, and blueprints of her desirable society, we imagine the situation could go differently.

Imagine an atmosphere of audacity: She's asked the question: "Do you have a better idea?" Everyone taking a coffeebreak looks at her or their shoes. She looks the interlocutor in the eye and reaches into her purse? knapsack? briefcase? kitchen drawer? for a booklet of proposals, slaps it on the table scattering cigarette butts, and answers: "Here, read this--this will give you an idea of what I want."

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