The grass is always greener (…or is it?)

 

FullSizeRender 16First, let me clarify one thing, the grass is indeed greener here in Ireland! Their lush green landscape is stunning. However, when it comes to our greatest challenges and opportunities in the arts, the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side of the pond. In fact, some of our core issues are pretty universal.

I’m wrapping up several wonderful days in Dublin, Ireland, and heading back to St. Louis today. I met with 19 different leaders across this grand city, and consumed plenty of coffee and tea in the process!  Continue reading

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Takin’ it to the streets

When you walk into the heart of the city, you feel as if you are entering a giant party.  It is packed with activity – people everywhere, musicians sharing their craft with the masses, FullSizeRender 9food and drink galore. Quickly, your spirit starts to lift and a smile sneaks across your face.  It’s eclectic, lively, and social. It’s Galway, Ireland. Continue reading

From Bloody Sunday to Star Wars

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Peace Bridge in Derry

There is so much history, politics and art packed in Derry-Londonderry, a city of just over 100,000 people. We packed a lot into our two days! This incredibly beautiful place on the western edge of Northern Ireland sits on the River Foyle. It has an old-world European charm, with narrow, steep streets that meander in and out of the quaint village. Continue reading

Art is about connecting with another human being.

1263f76a-a680-4833-ae02-ebf06fdb29ffBelfast was a whirlwind –  meetings and visits with more than 20 people working in a variety of arts, education and community-based organizations. I don’t know where to begin, there are so many take-aways. The people are genuine, passionate and determined. The city has a beautiful grit and colorful character, but enough polish and shine to mark their optimistic outlook. When you reflect on the decades of violence and conflict that they experienced, you come to fully appreciate the magnitude of the statement they are making with their harbor – lined with new, gleaming glass buildings. The glass may be fragile, but the city seems unbreakable. They are not the city they once were, and they are ready to move forward. Continue reading

Corrymeela: If you can’t go straight, go crooked.

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As you drive into Corrymeela in Ballycastle at Northern Ireland’s northern tip, an amazing calm washes over you. The serene landscape and beautiful sea view may have something to do with that. Corrymeela is Northern Ireland’s oldest peace and reconciliation organization. Its founding was not a reaction to the Troubles, rather it grew out of post-World War II vision for how we could build communities based on equity, diversity, interdependence and sustainability. Its founder, Ray Davey, experienced the brutality of combat and prisoner of war camps in WWII and upon emerging as a survivor, wanted to imagine a new way of being. Corrymeela was founded in 1965 and soon after, the Troubles erupted in Northern Ireland. It was a seminal period for the organization. They were right where they needed to be when they were needed most. Describing their work today, Corrymeela’s Executive Director Colin Craig says they “work at the fracture lines in people’s lives and in the world.”  How inspiring and how courageous.

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Belfast: community engagement + arts = holy grail

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3,981 miles, 3 hours of sleep, 4 cups of coffee, and we made it to Belfast, Northern Ireland. We hit the ground running. Day 1 was filled with conversations, walking, sunshine and a pan European rock-n-roll band. Not a bad start. I am instantly struck by the authenticity and warmth of the people in Ireland. After a 2-hour conversation with my extraordinary in-country coordinators (and now friends!) Siobhan McGuigan and Esther Haller-Clarke from type AB to review my robust itinerary for my time in Ireland, I was off for my first meeting. First up, I had the pleasure of talking with Emma Jordan, Artistic Director, Prime  Cut Productions. An accomplished actress and director, Emma recently received 2015 Spirit of Festival Award at the Belfast International Arts Festival and her production of Scorch was the 2015 winner of the Irish Times Best New Play. Quite impressive. Continue reading

Come in!

IMG_4299If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!

–  Invitation by Shel Silverstein

This is my invitation to you to “come in” and join me on my Eisenhower Fellowship journey this year. As a 2016 USA Eisenhower Fellow, I have the honor of traveling on a five-week transformational, international experience in which I will meet with experts in my field, and beyond, to help me achieve consequential outcomes in my region as well as across borders. I will admit that the mission feels a bit daunting at times, but I am completely and utterly inspired by the Eisenhower Fellowships’ simple yet bold premise – create a global network of leaders where dialogue and collaboration can be used to make the world more prosperous, just and peaceful. That simple…and that challenging, especially in today’s world. Continue reading