whew – it is deep to be up in the middle of something you’ve dreamed of.
the keynote last night was amazing if i do say so myself. i worked closely with jenny lee, the program director of the AMC, and dani mcclain (of colorofchange.org) to craft a multi-media, multi-directional event. our two major themes were moving from individualism (solo voices, celebrities, leading organizations) to many (paired or multiple voices, voices from people, networks and communities); moving from seeing this economic moment not as a dark and fearful time, but rather as a dark womb from which community-centered societies can be born.
we started with D. Blair, a performance poet who has done amazing pieces on michael jackson. he opened with poems about MJ, really brilliant complex poems about race, culture, influence, and how MJ is woven into the pop-cultural space our generation occupies. the he sang an a capella “Man In The Mirror” which was church.
then we had a cycling Welcome to Detroit panel, which started with Charles and Mama Sandra Simmons. they spoke in the spirit of che guevara – “true revolutionaries are guided by feelings of love.” their spirit, their energy, and their words (hope is delicious, love is community is relationship, we must think of love in terms of our partnerships and in terms of our work) were gentle, like being parented and supported and held. then shea howell, a historian and journalist who writes for the Michigan Citizen, and njia kai, a filmmaker and event organizer extraordinaire, took the stage. shea spoke to the statistics of crisis in detroit, but how up through the cracks of that are statistics of community-centered society. that society is grounded in arts and culture as a way of raising and holding and uplifting community.
then the room went dark, and out of the darkness we heard the voices of the SPEAK collective poets. it was powerful, though i wish the mics were a little clearer. but the women of SPEAK created the poem for this event. it was live streamed so hopefully you can hear it as we heard it.
then i came out and gave a little guidance to the keynote and how it was crafted, and honored the staff and board and organizers of the conference. i also shared this excerpt from the hopi elder’s prophecy which really guided me a lot in terms of dreaming this up:
This could be a good time! There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water.
And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey come to a halt.
The time of the one wolf is over. Gather yourselves!
Banish the word ‘struggle’ from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
after this, speakers flowed one to another. kyra johnson from people’s production house spoke from a very personal perspective about how important it is to fight to change media policy because it impacts how we reach and move our communities. kat aaron gave a listener friendly breakdown of this economic moment, and how important journalism is during it – given that this current moment came about because of stories untold over the last decade. scott kurashige used the simpsons and compelling images to show the lessons detroit has to offer to this moment. and then dani mcclain got on a skype call with ra from south africa to talke about community and media centered organizing over there. it was amazing.
then invincible and sterling got up and freestyled off the live texting and tweeting that was coming up on the screen throughout the keynote (thanks to VozMob!). we had asked tons of artists who couldn’t come through, so they represented brilliantly and soulfully, and were soon joined on stage by hardcore detroit.
chris lee and jenny lee saved us on the tech tip many times!
dj sicari of 5 Elements (open on Michigan and 14th from 1-9 daily) stepped in to DJ and held it down.
ive been beaming every since – and it was all live streaming and i believe you can still hear it at Prometheus Radio Project.