Saturday, October 31, 2015

ITLT on the Road

Hey team! Time has been moving so quickly lately and life has changed drastically; I definitely owe you a catch-up sesh. Hopefully, this post will explain the craziest decision I have ever made as well as my ambitious intentions this next year.

Last week, I packed up all of my belongings and left Los Angeles.

I am embarking on a year long, nationwide research project loosely based off my graduate work: Art as therapy. I'll be living for 1-3 months in different cities across the U.S. collecting information, conducting interviews, and following any organizations that use various arts to heal trauma; specifically, a) theatre companies that use new play development to address community issues, b) organizations that use the arts in response to natural disasters, social injustice, gun control, race relations, etc, and c) programs that bring the arts into juvenile detention centers, hospitals, senior centers, homeless shelters, etc. I know we can better use the Arts as a healing agent for communities in distress. I aim to identify these efforts, map these resources, and, eventually, create more.

This project has been heavy on my mind and heart for the last seven years or so, and I finally found myself in a position to pursue it. It's an ambitious project to say the least. Geographically, the plan is: Portland and the NW for two months, San Francisco and NorCal for three months, east coast (Boston, NY, Baltimore, maybe Philly & D.C.) for four months, and the midwest for three months (Chicago, Minneapolis) -- and hopefully more. Everything is super preliminary and flexible; I'll follow where the research takes me.

After an incredible five years in Los Angeles building an irreplaceable community (and I don't say that lightly), I'm ready to redefine my career as a dramaturg and expand my community with this exploration. For the last six months, I've spent one week in several major cities laying the groundwork with organizations I'll be following. I've also created a research group with about ten members across the country that will help me chart my journey. I'll be keeping a blog as I travel, so you'll be able to follow if you're interested.

(Photo taken on the train ride from Washington D.C. to Baltimore in September 2015.
If you follow on IG, you remember I was also color-doodling on the train!)

I have loved exploring different career avenues these past several years, and I have been blessed to experience so many: college student leadership advisor, elementary enrichment teacher, community organizer, etc. As you've followed the blog, you've seen these incredible members of my community, my fellow teachers, students, and friends that encouraged my wild whims and supported the silliest of creative philanthropic efforts. Enough things finally lined up, however, that I had to leave the day job to purse the day dream. This is just the beginning of what's going to be my craziest adventure yet. In my quietest moments, I'm just so fulfilled and overwhelmed with joy that I've found myself here; I almost can't believe I trusted myself to make it this far, and yet I have barely begun. The energy that courses through me when I think about this project is unlike anything I've ever felt. (And I'm a person who feels a lot of things most of the time.)

Anyway, I wanted to let you know that while it's the little things started out as a tiny, one-woman-operation, it has grown into something I couldn't have possibly imagined. This month, we celebrated 15,500 views on four different continents. Just typing that gives me chills.

In its own way, ITLT is one small facet of all that this new giant research project aims to be, so ITLT will continue to exist. Finding therapy in Art, either as the creator or recipient... from day one, that's been an underlying message of our mission. And luckily, we had such a busy last year that there are tons of projects we haven't shared with you yet! As usual, support from guest bloggers will also be a vital element of this upcoming year. (So if you're interested it joining the team, send an email!) 

As I spend this next year traveling around the United States, let me know where you are too! Maybe we can host an ITLT event! If you know of some organizations that sound like ones I detailed above, definitely drop a line. Community and collaboration are my two favorite words and I am so excited to learn about all the beautiful things offered in this field. I'll be sure to share my adventures, once I figure out the best way to do so; until then, keep up with our facebook and instagram

That's all for now -- many more updates to come soon! But while I have your attention...

Is anyone hosting an ITLT event this fall? We have a couple projects that are perfect for the chillier weather... If you do, let us know!! I can send you a high resolution image of our logo or any additional support you need. Also, we want to see and SHARE photos from your ITLT event!

Much love and fairy dust as usual,

Joan Marie