Growing New Wings
At age 23, I thought I had found my life’s calling. I had, in fact. As a curator and event producer, and Founding Director of an international youth arts project, I was traveling the globe, connecting artists and activists whose messages challenged war, consumption, racism, patriarchy, homophobia, violence, and all of the many social plagues confronting my generation. Simultaneously I was working as a producer and radio host for a progressive, national radio network, collaborating on documentary film projects, participating in the US anti-war movement, and beginning my own journey as an artist. I was in love with my life, and felt like I had wings. I literally- and figuratively- moved all the time, connecting people, teaching, and learning from every new person and experience.
Though all of this, I completed graduate school and worked as a consultant and advisor to various local and national organizations amidst the 2nd Bush presidency , and some of the most brutal economic, ideological, and military warfare. Many of my colleagues in community based organizations were struggling to maintain organizations that had taken 30 years to build. Cultural spaces born from the struggles of people of color and the poor in U.S., were shrinking or being deprived of critical resources.
Simultaneously, the innovative youth arts work that I was facilitating in collaboration with colleagues from around the world, was taking flight. Partnerships and collaborations were springing up in the most unexpected places, and simultaneously, a crop of ethical and moral dilemmas around cultural equity, privilege, and power. After several years of being both deeply moved and inspired by this work, I also faced a great ambivalence due to the seemingly divergent paths within the movement. I was without question, ready for a change.
The wings which I had unknowingly grown through my quest to help improve the lives of youth in my community, no longer served me. I retreated into myself and into a new life focused almost exclusively on serving my local community, giving me the invaluable opportunity to reflect and re-define my vision for myself. I realized in this time that my greatest gifts are- and have been- the ability to connect people and help carve out space for the voices on the margins. My life work has been about creating safe spaces- whether in schools, on stage, in films, or on the page- for people to tell their stories and express their truth.
I realized that I missed writing and producing.
I want to create and nurture spaces where marginalized voices can confront the dominant narrative, and contribute to a more elevated discourse on peace and justice for all. Writing our own histories ensures that our struggles are never forgotten, and that the resilience, creativity, and love with which we transform the world are honored. Anyone can help make the world beautiful for everyone. As a writer and media producer, I hope to carry that message far and wide. With VOF in my toolbox, I hope to grow new wings again.