The Artist as Social Scientist ( a bit of a rant)

I’m not proud to admit it, but I have spent a great deal of my time and energy as an artist and an artist/educator seeking validation of my artform/craft to….[you name it]…schools, funders, organisations, my family….etc etc etc. And this validation seems to always need to come in the form of quantifiable results. How many, how much, how long…numbers numbers numbers. It’s incredibly frustrating and any artist will tell you that our work —the true impact of our work —is NOT quantifiable. And yet – to stay in the game, to play the game, we go through these motions of this neoliberal approach to push pre-imposed outcomes and assess those things. And yet – those are not the things that make our work, our practice, impactful and meaningful.

I would like to reframe this structure. I would like to propose viewing artists as a type of social scientist. Now, while social scientists DO incorporate qualitative measures into their analysis and findings (which brings us a step closer to the arts), the means by which most social scientists share their finding is still (from my knowledge – and I could be wrong) in the form of papers, etc. Within the social sciences you have ethnographers, anthropologists, geographers, archeologists, historians, etc etc etc – why not ADD artists? The only real difference would be that the artists share their findings aesthetically —through their artform. It must be experienced, lived, embodied by the recipient. The knowledge gained is not only about the world, but about the self and engage the entire being in the creation of this knowledge, doing away with any Cartesian dualism (mind/body separation). This method of sharing work and discoveries should be as valid as any other.

Artists, and especially theatre artists (speaking from what I know personally), engage with the big questions of the world and society. Theatre practice rigorously interrogates, explores, transforms, places into new contexts, sits with, reflects upon, and makes demands of the material explored within it. Further, it brings people together in a collaborative effort to do so. What is shared with the public is not simply frivolous entertainment (even if sometimes it is quite enjoyable) —it is a sharing and a revealing of what was discovered through the process and what that says about an event, a moment in time, a person or group of people, a place, a concept.

Artists should be included in the field of social scientists, while also remaining in their own discipline. Cross-disciplinarity is a plus – it is the reason why the arts have reflected and created culture around the world throughout time.

And stop making artists jump through hoops to fit into a box that can be neatly ticked. Art isn’t neat. It’s messy. So is life —and living —and negotiating the beautiful complexities that exist in the world. View artists as the legitimate social scientists that we are and respect the methodologies and skills that artists have rigorously honed.


Taking Issue with the Theatre Metaphor

I find it interesting (and extremely frustrating) that my art is often used as a means of speaking in a derogative manner about the state of politics —or the way politicians behave. The theatre metaphor is bandied about to describe what we see happening in our legislatures and to describe disingenuous behaviour by politicians. They usually allude to images of drama/theatre as being cheap spectacle or as deception. Just take a few recent headlines, for example: this one from the Associated Press “Trump’s trial starting: ‘Grievous crime’ or just ‘theater’?”, this one from the New York Times: “For Trump, Impeachment is a Show,” and this one from the Evening Standard “Biden’s Inauguration was a nicely judged piece of political theatre after Trump’s four years of garish horror.” There are many more, but I imagine that you, dear reader, can already think of a few headlines or phrases from or about political bodies and persons where you are located that capture the same sentiment.

There are two main things that annoy me about this use of the theatre metaphor: Firstly, it is usually fairly superficial and casts my artform in a negative light; and Secondly, in an atmosphere in which artists are constantly told to “stay in their lane” and out of politics, why is it okay for those in the political field to use the most craven and shallow metaphors referring to my artform that lack depth and cast it in a negative light? This is insulting in so many ways, not the least of which is that politics within liberal democracies could learn a lot about communication, community-building, empathy, and creative problem-solving from my field.

I have to admit that sometimes writers in the political arena will seek to develop the theatre metaphor beyond a headline —perhaps they have some personal experience with the artform, but, in my opinion it still usually casts drama/theatre in the light of being false, deceptive, etc. This narrative is not new and is not only used by those within the political field, but that is what I’m addressing at the moment. Theatre artists spend a great deal of time, energy, and thought to stage each moment in a certain way because they are working to reveal whatever the underlying thought/message that is motivating the piece of theatre to begin with. The careful thought of how an actor delivers a line, where, what else is on the stage, how it is lit, etc. is more about working to reveal more to the audience – not the hide or deceive. Can these same processes that theatre artists use be employed for deception? Absolutely – but to cast all theatre artists as doing this and to paint the entire field with that broad brush is deceitful and harmful not only to artists working in the field, but to people outside of the theatre field who may not know much about it, but are constantly bombarded with this negative imagery so they may never give it a chance.

To my second issue —the effort to create a division between art and politics (especially in “western” liberal democracies, Yaron Ezrahi writes in his book, Imagined Democracies: Necessary Political Fictions, “the liberal democratic compartmentalization of politics has never been more than an illusion, a fiction useful enough to delegitimize the unauthorized manipulation of the arts to influence politics by means of emotions, passions, and aesthetic experience, while professing to contain it within the boundaries of reason, transparency, rational deliberation, and moderation.” Meanwhile those in the political realm have been cherry-picking and borrowing tools from our artform in efforts to craft their image/ideas in often very disingenuous ways —which is vile. At least for most of my lifetime, people in the political field have intentionally worked to discredit artists and what they have to say about the society we are living in as “frivolous” and unimportant. This view is wrong. Firstly —we ALL have important roles to play in our liberal democratic societies, regardless of our profession or lack of one. Secondly, artists especially have much to offer —and for my part, my PhD dissertation takes up the argument for applied drama artists. While all the nuances of my current research won’t quite fit into a short blog, suffice to say that the dialogic and community-building capacity of applied drama praxis could provide a model for community engagement in liberal democracies —and the collective knowledge-building that occurs within these settings holds promise for a reinvigoration of the public sphere.

While I know my rant won’t change the use of the theatre metaphor in the political arena, I do hope that it at least raises awareness of the hollowness with which it is often invoked and inspire people to investigate that idea further.

How Drama/Theatre Prepared Me for Living through a Pandemic while working on a PhD

The past few months as I have checked in with colleagues who are working toward their PhD, I have to admit I have done so with a feeling of guilt. So many intelligent and hardworking early career researchers I know have struggled over the past year due to the pandemic —struggled for access to resources needed for their research to continue and dealing with the frustration around that, struggled to focus on continuing to research and write while the world feels in such disarray, struggled with taking on the role of caring for elderly parents who needed to cocoon while continuing to produce research, stressed and worried over how their PhD might be funded if they have to extend because of the setbacks of COVID, and struggled emotionally and mentally with the toll and strain of it all. And in all of that struggling, many are behind on their research. I feel guilt because somehow, in the insanity of last year, I managed to not only continue my research, but produce the greatest amount of work in a given time period since my research began. 

A few times I have written this off as “luck” or finding solace/peace in my research while the chaos of the world reigned around me. Due to the pandemic I was separated from my partner for eleven months and watched my country struggle from across an ocean with our very democracy at stake. I’ll definitely say that it wasn’t un-stressful! However, I DID get lucky that I did not require the use of archived materials from museums and institutions that had shut down. I regained access to the library within three months of the initial lockdown and had stored away enough books prior to the lockdown that they had gotten me through. However, I had a huge issue to handle —the initial scope of my project included a series of in-person workshops that would have needed to be scheduled for autumn 2020. Even in March I felt there was little chance I would be able to accomplish this and knew that I wouldn’t be able to reach out to contacts to plan a series of workshops like that given the current crisis. I had to rethink my research. I had to adapt.

Happily, after much thought, I came to an answer that I not only liked —I now think it is actually far superior to my original idea. The solution I came up with was to survey and interview facilitators of applied drama in order to assess the deliberative and democratic qualities of the form in practice, in reality. I firmly believe this was actually the best route for my idea because I think it will give me vital information that will affect the way I will eventually (Post-doc?!) run the series of in-person workshops. I think in my initial eagerness to try out my idea, I overlooked this important step and I’m actually grateful that the pandemic forced me/gave me time to rethink it by making the first idea impossible without a HUGE delay.

With that problem solved – I began to write…and write…and write. I am amazed at the writing I produced last year —and all of it much better than writing I had done earlier…I was improving. Most of my days were spent reading, making notes, checking in on the news, writing, going outside for a walk/run, and then repeating those five things over and over again during the day. I didn’t force myself to do this – it is just what happened. Though somewhere in there I managed to rearrange my room to make it easier to work in. And no matter how upset I would get at missing my partner and despite the rage I felt after the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd…I continued to read, make notes, and write. Sometimes I needed to take time away for a day or two, like when peaceful protestors were attacked outside the White House to make way for Donald Trump to hold a Bible upside down in front of a church for a photoshoot…but then I was back at it. Perhaps because I earnestly feel in my heart that my research could make a difference with what is happening right now in democracies around the world where the communication has broken down so completely that people are not listening to one another, people are not empathising with those outside their personal bubbles, and rather than a spirit of collaborative problem-solving there is combativeness —the idea of one side winning or losing and no recognition that unless we all win, we all lose.

A few nights ago I had a thought —as I was thinking once again about my colleagues who were/are struggling and why I just don’t feel like I am…I began to think about why I seemed to be adjusting and finding the flexibility to keep digging into my research and as things with me usually do, it came back to my exposure to and continuous involvement in the arts as a child and through my adulthood. In drama/theatre you are constantly being told to find new solutions, a new way of working…I heard “try something different” from directors so many times I can’t count – and then I became a director and would encourage my actors to do the same. Try a different tactic to accomplish that task. And sometimes it felt so impossible that I couldn’t move, I would be paralyzed with fear/shame/guilt and tears would roll down my face… but I eventually did it, I would try something and the world didn’t end and I wasn’t mocked for the new tactic for being “wrong,” I was encouraged to continue experimenting. This is true in unscripted theatre work as well, anyone who has ever participated in or witnessed improvisation…well, its ALL about being flexible, adjusting, and making the scene work.

Whenever you’re working to put together a production it always seems like some emergency or other pops up and whether you’re part of the crew onstage or off, you have to adapt, find a new way, find a solution, but keep the show going. Take time to take a break and reflect on what happened afterward and forgive yourself for things that may have gone wrong and think about how to improve upon it in the future, but in the moment, figure out a solution. I know some actors who LOVE when things go wrong on stage, they have shared that they feel a thrill when the scene needs to be saved and they must think on their feet and adjust. Now, I never loved when something like that happened, but sometimes when I thought back on a moment that had gone awry —and yes the audience didn’t know it because we all adjusted well together— I felt a sense of pride. We didn’t adjust and keep going simply because “the show must go on.” We did it because we cared about what we were doing and felt passionately the production brought value to our lives and to those in our audience. It wasn’t something imposed on us that we were threatened with, it was something we wanted because we cared so much about what we were doing. I feel that way with my research. I feel passionately about my research and I genuinely want it to go on, to keep on, to get out into the world and make a difference. With all my heart that is what I want, and so there is my focus. I think that I have been involved in this field for so long that this spirit of adaptability has become one of the ways I cope with or handle bizarre situations in real life.

So…yeah…in a weird way, the art of drama/theatre prepared me for handling life during a global pandemic in the middle of my PhD research.

Thoughts for a sunny, windy March day in Ireland from an artist, researcher, and global citizen

Are online communities and social media responsible, in part, for the decline of democracy? The impression we are given is that it has helped to democratize and lift up voices  – though this is done with individuals isolated in their physical space and acting, often times, anonymously into the interwebs. The online platform has so inundated our society, that it is almost impossible to discern fact from opinion. It has created the perfect void for people to shout into without a care whether or not people are actually listening or engaging – so long as it gets “hits” or “views”…a simple click to provide credence to the thought expressed – no way to discern the level of engagement of the receiver.

It has sought to replace dialogue that takes place live, person-to-person. In live settings, we are able to take in so much more information regarding the information exchange: facial expression, body language, tone, pitch, volume, inflection, and that unnameable energy ever-present in live exchanges. We are able to sense each participants’ level of engagement and we are able to clarify our points. We are often much more civil because we are representing ourselves in the flesh, rather than a digital persona for whom there are little to no consequences for incivility. It is easy to name-call and insult when your physical person is alone sitting in front of the computer, far from whomever you are insulting.

As “connected” as we are today – I have the sense that, as a community, we have become more disconnected than ever from one another. Look around when you’re out in public – on a train, subway, or in a restaurant or café…how many people are engaging with those around them? How many have their phones or laptops out and are ignoring the people in their company? I’m reminded of a phrase I heard almost 10 years ago now – I honestly can’t remember where – but it was “give those around you a give – be present” …I think we could all work on that more. I think we NEED to work on that more if we are to work through this current crisis in democracy we are experiencing…

Recognizing and Embracing The Other

The TYA Blog

The transcript of a conversation between

Courtney Helen Grile and Khary Jackson. 

In thinking about this idea of otherness in the classroom and what we as teachings artists can do/should do to address it, I had the great fortune to spend a little bit of time on the phone with Khary Jackson, an old colleague of mine from when I was working in Minneapolis. Khary is a teaching artist that I greatly respect and looked up to in many ways when we were working together for his ability to use his great artistry in the classroom with young people in a powerful and effective way. We only had a short time to chat together, but our conversation has given me many things to think about going forward not only as a teaching artist, but now as an administrator as well.

C: I’ve been thinking quite a lot lately of how…

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The Process AS the Product

The TYA Blog

There is a lot of talk about process and product when we plan theatre/drama activities for young people. I’ve always aligned myself with the “process” way of thinking – in that I strongly feel that a focus on the process of creation and exploration is far more important than putting young people onstage, under bright lights, and in pretty costumes. Being product-oriented is focusing more on putting young people into a show and selling tickets to an audience; there is a product to view. This approach definitely brings in much more money for the theatre and often gives that immediate gratification of wanting to be in a show! Though I have often witnessed young people being turned off from the art of theatre by being placed in such a high stakes situation too soon.


What benefits does the “process” approach provide? Through the process of theatre/drama activities young people are…

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“You can’t fake passion.” -Barbara Corcoran

Today I had the opportunity to speak with a group of high school students studying theatre. My goal was to motivate them to get involved! To audition for a show, to spent their required volunteer/service hours at the theatre, to participate in ARTiculate, a youth performing company that I am in the process of forming that focuses on building ensemble and developing their voices as artists and creators of theatre.

After leading them in a rousing game of Bippity Bippity Bop, I began my little speech……during which I veered off somewhere to talk about the merits of TYA and its importance, validity, and great artistry.

THAT is what this blog is about. I’ve identified for quite some time now as a strong advocate for Theatre for Young Audiences (TYA), but never fully understood how profoundly deep my passion for TYA is. The reason for this? Because my passion for THEATRE as an artform is so strong. Advocating good, high quality theatre for EVERYONE of every age, place, profession, race, culture…ALL people of this world. That is precisely what makes me such a strong advocate for TYA. Theatre is not innately “better” or “worse” because of the audience it targets or the professional or amateur status of those creating it.

It is the ATTITUDE with which the art is approached by a Director, Actor, Producer, Designer, Technician, ARTIST, audience that can make something higher quality or lower quality.

Where do these attitudes come from – that a piece of theatre isn’t deemed “good” unless it graces the Great White Way or the West End? Where do these presuppositions come from that theatre created for younger audiences is inferior? Perhaps some opinions are formed based on experience of lower quality performances by/for young people – they’re out there….but lets be honest, there are examples, pro and con, of lower quality theatre in every single genre/subset of theatre…devised, theatre for social change, musicals, TYA, TVY, Theatre for Mature Audiences, and so on and so on…I’ve seen a lot of bad performances of Shakespeare (intended for a wide range of audiences) that were poorly done – I don’t blame Shakespeare.

Okay – enough of that tirade.

Here is what I propose – ARTISTS! Theatre Artists! Take pride in your work – push yourself to create high quality performances that continue to experiment and honor your art form with any type of theatre you CHOOSE to be a part of. Give it your all, create work of a high caliber that you are proud to put your name on no matter who the audience is. If you are lucky enough to make a living in your passion – BE PASSIONATE! Don’t “accept” a job you feel is beneath you and then cheat yourself, your ensemble, your audience by only giving 30% or 60% – put yourself 100% into your work! …and if you participate in the art of theatre as a hobby because you are passionate about it….why would you waste your time by not producing the best you are capable of?

Theatre has the power to create dialogue, inspire empathy, spark debate, delight, amaze, and connect us all. ALL types of theatre. So…be an advocate for your art please – lets stop with the attitude that some genres are innately “better” – sure, you can have a preference, thats human 🙂 …but lets stop with the talking down and patronizing…lets do what we all started out to do when we first began walking this path – lets create good art. lets share the stories of the world we live in.

How To Change the World: A discovery & Questions

Instinctively I’ve always felt that theatre has the power to change the world. Theatre being collaborative, reflective, and capable of teaching and inspiring empathy. I am constantly referring to practices of applied theatre to seek answers, solve problems, and generate awareness of issues/ideas. Sometimes I am told when I go in to work with a group that this group is “stubborn, unwilling, uncooperative, etc.” and I just smile…because I know, that while it may take time…given time, the groups I work with become cooperative and invested in working together to create, question, and explore. They can’t help it! Thats the power of theatre! While the exercises and games we utilize may look on the outside like silly games, they are truly complex and deserving of more time and thought. I also walk into those rooms with the firm belief that people are inherently good and want to contribute to the communities they are a part of. I’m often labeled optimistic and naive for this belief, and once again, I just smile…

This writing is prompted by some reading I have been doing recently for an online course through Coursera entitled How to Change the World. A great task to be sure. I’ve been reading about the commons and the tragedy of the commons…and a great deal of about the philosophies of Hobbes and Smith regarding the selfishness of mankind. It’s been a tough pill to swallow as I read through and learn about the systems and organizations over the past hundred years or so that are based on the Leviathan or Invisible Hand models. Thats not to say that there aren’t philosophers like Rousseau that make cases for the human capacity for empathy that inspire cooperation and selflessness without the need for incentives or punishments. Needless to say, its all been very educational.

This morning I read the first chapter of The Penguin & The Leviathan by Yochai Benkler and while reading his introductory arguments for social/political/economic/educational systems based on the practices of collaboration built on trust and cooperation I thought, “this is what theatre for social change/applied theatre does best!” He goes on to talk about the overwhelming evidence that the idea that human beings are inherently selfish and act purely out of self-motivation is incorrect! Accord to Mr. Benkler, the studies show that only 30% of human beings act MORE out of selfishness than not (again, more – not SOLELY out of self-interest) and that more than half of the population in all of the various studies and experiments acted MOSTLY in the best interest of others and the larger community. That is significant. Firstly, it is not so black and white. There is no clear-cut and simple answer. We all act out of self-interest at times, we all act out of a self-less desire to help others and the communities we are a part of. According to the research compiled by Benkler, however, more often thank not human beings tend toward serving the collective good. So, why are most of our systems and structures based on a theory that is incorrect? What can we do to change the current systems we are working in…and more importantly, how can theatre for social chance and applied theatre contribute to this shift in the way the world functions?

Another Op’nin, Side by Side and Day by Day

Recently I began teaching a Musical Theatre class for 3-6th grades, so young people around 8-12 years of age. The idea to create the class for this age group was simply inspired by the fact that in the community I am in, this age group showed GREAT interest in the subject. Perhaps inspired by the recent skyrocketing popularity of Frozen, and Idina Menzel (a well-known performer who has graced the Broadway stage for well over a decade.) At any rate, when you’re in the position of creating programming – give the people what they want, right? The class was created and is our most populated class – well…it ties with the Creative Dramatics class with the Frozen theme 😉

Being that my initial interest in the arts was music – I’ve been singing for as long as I’ve been talking, and my first experience in theatre was in the musical Gypsy at the age of 12. Musical Theatre is at my core being. I love it! – and I LOVE sharing it! Thus I began my lesson planning…and suddenly I hit a wall. How would I focus this class? Would we simply focus on the singing, dancing, and acting part – developing those skills? That in and of it self is a BIG task…but something felt lacking to me. You can learn about singing, dancing, and acting in other classes – why take a MUSICAL THEATRE class?! It struck me in my thinking and planning, that this could be an opportunity to also teach these young people about the art of Musical Theatre. This idea, that this class would not just be about singing, dancing, and acting (all things I love dearly), but would also incorporate knowledge of the art form pierced right through me and I was immediately charged with my new responsibility.

I put together lessons that would cover 3 well-known Musical Theatre composers over the course of 10 weeks. For this first class (I am hoping to have many more) I chose Cole Porter, Stephen Sondheim, and Stephen Schwartz – making sure to pick someone from the early 1900’s and then spanning to current composers. The truth is, I’d love to make a class about each of these composers individually, but I also liked the idea of giving the students the opportunity to compare/contrast the different sounds and styles.

As we are only 3 weeks into the course, I cannot accurately speak to the success of my decision to include these educational components – and not just as a mention. In teaching before, I’ve always made sure that I let the students know the name of the person who wrote the song they were to learn and to mention the name of the show…but in THIS class, the students knowledge of the composer, song, and show are given EQUAL weight and importance. For the first 2 classes I was doing more of the sharing of information – after conversation around What is a composer? Why are they important? – which I’m happy to say the students eagerly engaged in dialogue and when one of their own was able to define composer it became that much more exciting – for me and them! We have conversations about Cole Porter and talk about how the music makes them feel, other shows he wrote, the plot of Kiss Me, Kate, etc. (They are learning “Another Op’nin, Another Show” from Kiss Me, Kate)

I was a little dismayed that yesterday, when we checked in at the beginning of class only ONE of them had looked up an interesting fact about Cole Porter and remembered it to share; that he had written over 800 songs! (I’ve since gone back to look into that fact discovered that he is credited with 881 compositions! WOW!) While I was delighted that this one student had brought in a fact to share, I began thinking of ways to get the other students as excited about their “homework.”

Next week they are all supposed to share an interesting fact about Stephen Sondheim as we begin our exploration of who he is and I’ve decided that its time to engage the parents as well! Emails have been sent out encouraging parents to help their little artists in this endeavor. I’m very interested to see what outcome this will have! I’m hoping, of course, that it not only further engages my students, but that it also further engages the parents to take part in learning about the arts…fingers crossed!

What happened to sitting out on the porch?

I had the pleasure of meeting a gentleman today who has no email, no cell phone, no TELEPHONE at all, no car, no cable television. He lives in St. Augustine, Florida in the home his family has been in for more than 50 years.

I had been trying to meet him for some time as I’d like to have him involved with a project I am working on.  The theatre company I work for was putting up a production of Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris ( a spin-off of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun) which deals with issues of gentrification. I had only been in St. Augustine for about 3 months, but I had heard about an area of town called Lincolnville and I knew that it was going through this very thing! I was determined to set up a panel discussion to take place prior to a performance in order to increase awareness and relevancy of this show – and to highlight that St. Augustine is dealing with many of the same issues. In my research, the same gentleman kept showing up in news articles over and over. A man who was born and raised in St. Augustine, in Lincolnville, who still lived in his family home and was very vocal about the community and all the issues surrounding it. I knew he had to be on the panel.

For a couple weeks I scoured for his phone number/email address…and at long last the only option I was left with was to show up at his door. Based on everything I’d read, he sits outside on his porch, usually with a great deal of his neighbors every evening. Talking. Sharing Stories. Laughing. Taking in the beauty that is his neighborhood and St. Augustine. From reading it seemed warm and inviting – as if, it would really be okay for me to pop in!

So…I showed up! And I WAS welcomed! I’m happy to say that he has agreed to be a part of my project.

The reason I am writing this blog is because he got me to thinking….about how I grew up. About community. About engaging and interacting with neighbors and those who lived on the same “block”…in the same area. I remember when I was younger that, where I grew up in Savannah/Pooler, GA – people used to sit out on their porch. All us kids would be out running around, playing – dashing from porch to porch. Our parents would sometimes stroll down to the neighbors a few houses down. Everybody knew everyone elses businesss! Hahaha…which was sometimes good – there was always someone to help if you were in trouble or needed a hand….sometimes bad – it could feel invasive and gossipy at times…but for better or worse, we were close.

I don’t see a lot of that in the US anymore. Not anywhere I’ve lived in the past 10-15 years….but in this little neighborhood in St. Augustine, here was a community where they just….ENJOYED each others company. Listened to each others daily trifles…

I think, that is one of the things that draws me strongly to Ireland. There IS that sense of community and socializing….granted – it takes place at pubs/bars…but it DOES take place, and while drinking does happen I truly believe that at the core of it…its about building community. It seemed in the small town I lived in last year there was that same sense of “everyone knows everyone” – for better or worse! Haha, but you knew you had a community you could depend on…a community that cared because you had shared stories and laughed and taken the time to truly engage, to truly be present in the moment you were living in. I think I yearn for that…

As wonderful as social media is for “connecting” us all…(and I use it A LOT – my best friend lives in NYC…I NEED to keep in touch with her!)…in a way it also keeps us disconnected. By checking my phone or clicking away on my computer…yes, I’m keeping in touch with friends and I’m able to read about what they are doing….is distracts me/pulls me out of the moment I’m living in to a certain extent.

Now, I don’t want to do away with social media 🙂 …and I don’t think I’m ready to go without cable, internet, phones, etc. – but…I sure do wish that there was a way to incorporate some of that porch conversation…as a community, as a society…for everyone…I’d like to see it return…neighbors talking to each other…empathizing with each other…sharing and giving just by simply BEING present.