Livestreamed on this page on Thursday 13 August 2020 at 4 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) 5 p.m. MDT (Colorado, UTC -6) / 6 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 7 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4).
Green New Theater Part 3: Y'all, we gotta fix all of it (ASL-interpreted)
hosted by Groundwater Arts
Groundwater Arts presented Green New Theater Part 3: Y'all, we gotta fix all of it livestreamed on the global, commons-based, peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Thursday 13 August 2020 at 4 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) 5 p.m. MDT (Colorado, UTC -6) / 6 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 7 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4).
The third call in our Green New Theatre (GNT) 2020 series will be centered around the next principle of the GNT: Sustainable Resources.
This call is in partnership with HowlRound Theatre Commons and First Peoples Fund! Accessibility for this call is being provided by First Peoples Fund and accessibility for the series is being partially supported by the New School Tishman Environment and Design Center.
Movement Generation's Just Transition Zine
These video calls are a series that you can opt into now, or join in three months when you have more capacity. We invite you to join the Groundwater team potluck-style - bring your dinner, hold your kid, and we can all break bread together and hold space.
Groundwater Arts is a half-Indigenous, predominantly POC, fully women-led artist collaborative. We will be centering decolonizing practices and relational ways of working during all of our GNT calls.
Annalisa Dias, Anna Lathrop, Ronee Penoi (Laguna Pueblo/Cherokee), and Tara Moses (Seminole/Mvskoke)
[Music plays as the video begins and the participants enter then Zoom call.]
Ronee Penoi: Hey, I think that was a nice little ending there to jump in on. All right, hello, everyone. I see a lot of faces out there. Welcome to Green New Theatre 2020, part three, affectionately titled Y'all, We Gotta Fix All of It. This session is being co-facilitated by Groundwater Arts in partnership with HowlRound and First People's Fund, many, many thanks. We're thrilled to shout out the work that First People's Fund does. We're hosting this call on Zoom and we got 16 folks here so far and I bet that that number's gonna go up as people join after they get some food. Yeah, so we're also live streaming on HowlRound and on Facebook Live. So hello to all of you who are joining us there. If you joined us on the first Green New Theatre calls throughout the summer, welcome back and thanks for joining us again. You'll notice that a lot of the language may sound familiar, especially in the beginning. So thanks for your patience as we create radical access points for everyone to join us. So let's get into it. This session will last approximately 90 minutes or so, and because we all know that digital fatigue is very real, please feel free to leave and come back, stand up, turn your camera off, do what you need to do to take care of yourself at any point, and as a heads up, let's see, we do have ASL today. So if you're in the Zoom call and need that support, please message us, specifically Annalisa, in the chat just so that if we do end up kind of breaking into smaller groups or anything, that we can keep you together. We hope folks will participate in the discussions that we have later on because so much of what we hope to do with Green New Theatre is based on relationship building and decentralized processes. So we encourage you to participate to whatever extent you have. For the first part of this call, we'll be talking a lot, but then at some point, we are going to open it up, and we'd love to hear from you. So we're gonna take a moment now to introduce ourselves as facilitators, and while we do that, please introduce yourself in the chat box using your name, pronouns, and any land acknowledgements you'd like to give. For those of you watching on HowlRound, please send us an email to introduce yourself, and to those of you on Facebook, please comment. Visibilizing our access needs to us is a method of accountability. So I want to take a moment to highlight, amplify, and shout out unsettling dramaturgy, which is a colloquium of mad, crypt, disabled, and Indigenous Dramaturge from across Turtle Island for modeling what you all will witness us do momentarily. The link to the unsettling Facebook page is about to be in the chat and in the comments as soon as Tara puts them there. She is our amazing link dropper, in the chat, extraordinaire. So I'm happy to go first for the team. My name is Ronee Penoi. My pronouns are she, her, hers. I am Laguna-Pueblo and Cherokee and live on the traditional lands of the Piscataway, also known as Washington, D. C. on the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. I am a light-skinned woman with long brown hair, wearing a black shirt with some embroidery on it that is white and pink. I am sitting in front of a black background with the Groundwater Arts logo and contact information on it, and at this moment, my access needs are met. I am producer at Octopus Theatricals, co-founder with my other teammates of Groundwater Arts. That is my dog, Penny. She says, "Hello" as well. I'm an advisor for the New England Foundation of the Arts National Theatre projects and a composer as well, and I'll pass it on to Anna.
Anna Lathrop: Thanks, Ronnie. Hi, everyone, my name is Anna Lathrop. My pronouns are she, her, hers. I live on the seeded lands of the Lenape Nation between upper New York Bay and Nyack Bay, colonially known as Gravesend Bay. As a visual description, I'm a white woman with blonde hair, wearing a blue and white dress, and I'm sitting in front of a black background with white text in the upper right hand corner with the Groundwater logo and contact information. At the moment my access needs are being met. I am a design research facilitator, a social services designer and co-founder of Groundwater Arts, and I will now pass it on to Annalisa.
Annalisa Diaz: Who can never find the unmute button. Hi, everyone, my name is Annalisa. My name is Annalisa Diaz. I use the pronouns she, her, and I'm calling from the traditional lands of Piscataway Nation, colonially known as Baltimore, Maryland by the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. These lands have also been cared for by the Susquehannock, Lumbee, and many indigenous nations who are still here today. As a visual description, I'm a brown-skin woman with long black hair. Today, I'm wearing glasses that are blue-light glasses because the Zoom situation is, I'm not having it. I'm sitting in front of a black background with the Groundwater Arts logo and contact information on it. At the moment, my access needs are met. I'm the director of Artistic Partnerships and Innovation at Baltimore Center Stage, co-founder of Groundwater Arts, and also an independent theatremaker. I'll pass it over to Tara now.
Tara Moses: So hello, everyone, my name is Tara Moses. I am a citizen of the Seminole nation of Oklahoma. I am also Muskogee Creek, I use she, her pronouns, and I am calling from the Muskogee Creek Reservation in the site of the 1921 burning of Black Wall Street. These lands are colonially known as Tulsa, Oklahoma, and I am just about one mile away from the Arkansas river. My access needs are that I will need extra time to respond as my attention is split in multiple areas because I'm monitoring the Facebook and the email. Also, today has been a day. So we a little slow over here, but that's all right. Other than that, my access needs are met. My visual description is that I have brown skin, I have very long, very dark hair that's pulled back today in a ponytail, and I have on my bright red glasses because again, it's been a day, and I am sitting in front of a virtual background that is black and it has the Groundwater Arts logo. For those who may not be able to see it as it is pretty small, it says Groundwater Arts on Facebook, email@example.com, and then hashtag Green New Theatre. So I am the artistic director of Telatulsa, co-founder of Groundwater Arts, a director, and a playwright, and so for everyone who is not with us on the Zoom account but tuning in on HowlRound or Facebook, you can participate by commenting on the Facebook Live. You can email us firstname.lastname@example.org. That's all one word, and I will drop that email into the boxes and on the Facebook, and so I'll be monitoring those channels, dropping all the links that we share here, also there, and then I will also be vocalizing what y'all share on the Facebook or through email, and if you are unable to get on Facebook, if you went on HowlRound and you want the link shared, please email us and I'll send them to you, and then tomorrow on our Facebook posts, we'll have a lovely Google doc with all the links we talked about today. Great, Anna.
Anna: All right, Zoom, the platform that we're using today and many, many days is headquartered in what is now called San Jose, California on the traditional lands of the Ohlone and Tamien peoples. We acknowledge the land Zoom resides on because the work we create together on a digital platform does not exist in an aether or in an imaginary void, but is made possible because of physical land and the Indigenous people who steward it.
Ronee: Finding the unmute button myself too. Groundwater Arts is an artist collaborative working together to reimagine the field through a climate justice lens. We do this through many different kinds of projects, and we're here today to talk about our key project right now, Green New Theatre. Green New Theatre is a movement building tool that outlines ideas, strategies, and principles that will help individual artists and arts institutions working in the American theatre change how they work in order to adapt in the face of the climate crisis. You can find the full document on our website at groundwaterarts.com, which are already dropped in the chat, yes. The document consists of six principles. They are community accountability, decolonized leadership practices, publicly transparent budgeting, right relationship to land in history, sustainable resources, oh, that's what we're talking about today, and immediate divestment from fossil fuels.
Annalisa: This call is the third in a series of six calls that will span nine months. As those of you who have joined us for more than one call already know, the calls are intentionally spaced out so that everyone has the ability to opt in and opt out as their personal bandwidth permits and because deep change requires the capaciousness of time and care. We hope that over the course of these calls, we as a field will feel more equipped to move toward justice, both at an individual and institutional levels as we look to rebuild. The Green New Theatre document itself was created in collaboration with a wide array of perspectives that center Black, Indigenous, people of color, and disabled people as those are the folks who are on the front lines of climate change and have been leading climate justice movements for decades. The document itself models community accountability, and you can read all the names of the wonderful, wonderful people who volunteered their time and expertise to the document. Each call model a different principle of the Green New Theatre, and our call today will be centered on the third principle, sustainable resources. We'll post a full link to the document in the chat now.
Anna: It’s already there.
Tara: Already there. So for today's call, we are super proud, myself especially, to partner with First People's Fund. So what they do, they do a lot of things. They are magical, wonderful people, but at the core of their work is investing in native artists in cultural bearers, and one of the wonderful ways they do that is through their fellowships, and so applications are open right now for the 2021 Artists and Business Leadership Fellowship and the Cultural Capital Fellowship. So I am a 2020 Cultural Capitol Fellow, very excited about that, and what I really love about First People's Fund and how they are investing in individual artists who create work in myriads of mediums is that whenever we're talking about sustainability, right? We're also talking about not just resources, but also being sustainable as a person, as a human, having those access to resources, to support, to funding, to bandwidth, to tax knowledge like what are taxes? That's good to know and all of these resources play into sustainability. So not to give too much away about our conversation coming up forward, but First People's Fund does that by investing in people and giving us the ability to create sustainable work as well lots of natives have been doing work since the sun has been in the sky, but also to have that support that is well-rounded and holistic, and so through these fellowships, First People's Funds partners with native artists and cultural bearers, strengthens business skills ensuring that art, culture, and ancestral knowledge will continue to be passed from one generation to the next. I can go on and on and on. I am their biggest fan, but what I'm going to drop into the website is their fellowships, and so if you are a native person and very interested, please check it out. The deadline to apply is August 31st at 5:00 PM Mountain time, 6:00 PM Central, 7:00 PM Eastern. Also, to take a brief moment to shout out once again the Lakota land protectors who are demanding their land back in sovereignty over the sacred Black Hills, and we are demanding that is being recognized. So continue to shout out amplify. Awesome, thank you so much First People's Fund! I can't thank you enough, and with that, I'm gonna hand it over back to Ronee.
Ronee: So when we were working on this call and thinking about the structure of it, we found ourselves having robust conversations about sustainability, frameworks, the anti-Indigenous ideas that plague a many sustainability conversation. So our plan for today is that we're gonna have a more free formed conversation, which is a different structure than we've had in previous calls for those who are tuning back in. This conversation portion will last about 25 minutes or so. We will try to speak at a speed that our captioners and interpreters can catch up with. I'm clocking myself because I talk so fast, sorry, but if we are speaking too quickly, please let us know, yeah. So, Annalisa, will you please launch us into the conversation?
Annalisa: Oh, this is my favorite. Yeah, I think maybe a way to start the conversation is sort of like a birds eye view of when we hear the words, sustainable resources, what are we actually talking about? And I just want to offer a little thing and then whoever else wants to jump in, please, please jump in, but so I've been recently thinking quite a lot about this idea of sustainability and what exactly is it that we're trying to sustain when we talk about sustainable anything, and like so often, if you really interrogate it, what people are talking about is sustaining institutions or sustaining the status quo and if you go a layer underneath that, then what are we actually talking about is we're talking about sustaining white supremacy and institutions that were built and ways of working that were built for the purpose of, whether explicit or implicit, but the purpose of cultural genocide, the purpose of extracting wealth, the purpose of accumulating wealth in the hands of predominantly rich white men, and if we're trying to incorporate goals around sustainability into our ways of working, how often does that then sort of implicitly become language of sustaining white supremacy, and what are the ways that we can trouble that even on this call where one of our core principles of the Green New Theatre is sustainable resources. So how do we even trouble that language?
Anna: Yeah, and I think when we are thinking about sustainability has evolved since we wrote this document almost, what, two years ago, and at that point, sustainable resources, even then, we were thinking of sustainability as more than environmental and material sustainability which is a very narrow lens, but a very common one, but now, I think that our thinking has sort of evolved towards a need of regeneration versus sustainability, which in the zine which Tara has already dropped the link to because she's lightening fast, they talk about the need to move from extraction to regeneration. So that's a great question. What are we sustaining and why and are these things that we even want to sustain? I would argue that right now, if we're looking only environmentally, only at the status of the planet taking this very, very narrow, tiny part, we can't actually sustain anything that we're doing right now, and if we were to stop all extraction in all of the bad things, the planet cannot sustain people at that level. So we have to regenerate. We have to heal the planet and ourselves.
Ronee: Yeah, and I think what that brings up for me so much is this notion of the planet and humans being not the same thing because our environment and our world includes humans and includes us on it. So we can't kind of say, "Oh, this is human needs, "and this has the needs of, you know, the planet rich large, "and we have to save the water, save the plants." It's like, no, we need to take a holistic view, and I find that so often with the sustainability conversation, it's either very narrowly on greening a process that has to do with stuff and I feel like where I kind of tend to pop off is around institutions, but it's true of individuals as well. It really connects with another one of our Green New Theatre principles, community accountability, because if you're an institution and you're thinking about sustainability, you can't just be thinking about the sustainability of your organization. You have to be thinking about the sustainability of the planet through the lens of your organization, sustainability of the humans that you are accountable to as part of that organization. So if you're accountable to a community, it means that you're thinking about the sustainability of that community that you're a part of hopefully. So, yeah, I think that so many of these things are woven into each other, and yet, when we see that language, sustainable resources, we think about, okay, great. How can I recycle something rather than buy plywood right out of the gate, which, yes, that is a thing that should be considered. Like, of course, no more plastic water bottles backstage. Yes, of course, that is also important, but I think it's part of the white supremacy capitalistic machine that no one wants you to look deeper than that. It's, yeah, of course, think about greening your processes, but we're preserving a kind of status quo by not demanding that our larger structures hold that commitment to sustainability as well.
Tara: So the question then that comes up for me is, okay, so what does that mean exactly? What does that mean prioritizing sustainability within people and not just physical material things? Well, there's lots of things to do. Number one is land back. Let's give the land back. So 80% of all biodiversity on this planet is located within Indigenous people's lands. However, only a quarter to about 20% of that is actually controlled by Indigenous people, and so I love that statistic for multiple reasons because it just illustrates what keeps our planet living is being stewarded by human hands and by specifically Indigenous people's hands, and then but also how that has a direct correlation to the undermining of sovereignty of Indigenous people not being able to have control over their lands and by proxy, of course, of biodiversity and then also translating that to marginalized communities from the front lines. I like to look at the New Orleans area and how there are so many Black activists there on the front lines who are stewarding that land and that water, but again, are being denied the ability to, oh my God, the word just left me. I told you all it was a day. Anyway, but being denied the ability to actually care for lands as it needs to do because again, we're stuck in this white supremacy culture, like capitalistic structure, and so give the land back, that's a wonderful way. Let's get rid of this wilderness myth. That's another way because whenever we talk about like I think about the Amazonian rainforest as an example. I don't know about y'all, but I remember in sixth grade, we always had this raise money for the rainforest. The rainforest is dying. Oh, no.
Anna: The Rainforest Cafe.
Tara: Right? Anyway, but I also remember, not once, anyone mentioning the Indigenous people who live there, who have been taking care of the rainforest through sustainable practices that go back a millennium and why is that? Well.
Anna: I just want to throw out, people can feel free to turn on their video. This is a smaller group than the past calls have been. It's a little bit more of an intimate group. So feel free to turn on your camera if you'd like. Of course, internet bandwidth is also a reality. So there's that. No, I think, Tara, my favorite subject, which is economic justice and how it's all connected. I was just watching a thing about the Diego Luna's new show, Pan y Circo, where they talked about Mexico is one of the most biodiverse places in the entire planet as is most of Central and South America is incredibly biodiverse and being destroyed because where the money goes is to extractive industries that ask for mono farming, I mean, even the drug trade is using Indigenous land to grow poppies, and to bring it a little bit back to theatre, I guess if we have to, things like wealth redistribution within your institution. Pay people a living wage, pay your interns, pay your fellows. No one should be making 5000% more than the intern. I mean, I don't understand how we think that there can be a regenerative theatrical ecosystem when the wealth is as inequitably distributed as it is in the entire United States of America, and who are the people at the top in the majority of our theatre institutions, white men. Who are the people who have the most money in the United States of America? Oh, I think it's white men. I don't know, maybe there's a pattern here. Call me crazy.
Annalisa: I want to tease out something that Tara and Ronee were getting at, and Tara sort of glossed over this idea of the myth of the wilderness because she always assume is that people just know what that is, which, I know, it shocks me too sometimes when I'm like, "Wait, you people don't, oh, right. "People don't know." The myth of the wilderness, for those for whom this might be the first or even second time that you're hearing it, just to tease out what that's referring to, is this notion that any land is a wilderness, and so therefore, is uninhabited by humans or untouched by humans. Virgin forest is like another sort of a way of talking about this kind of thing, and A of all, it's false, full-stop. That's why it's called the myth of the wilderness, and B of all, it's used as a tool for colonization. It has been, for 500 years, used as this mythology of any land being a wilderness is a tool to justify taking over land because the idea is that the land is there to be conquered by the white man, and just to say the myth of the wilderness has also deeply, deeply influenced movements for sustainability or eco-conservation ideology. So things like Henry David Thoreau and all of his friends sort of talking about the national parks and the landscapes of the United States being in need of conservation or in need of preservation, and if you just do some basic Googling and look at the sort of federal legislation that was put into place and that is still today being contested at national parks and national monuments like Bears Ears, but the founding of the national park system, which was in many ways about conservation of natural environment, in the founding of it was also the dispossession of native peoples and the forced removal of native peoples from their homelands. So that's deeply why the history of the conservation movement has been so, so troubled and so, I mean, frankly genocidal, and now the question about to Tara's point earlier that 80%, what was the statistic, Tara? 80% of the biodiversity is in—
Tara: Is within native lands with the native people, but only you got 20 to 25% of those lands are actually controlled and managed by those Indigenous people.
Annalisa: Right, so thank you, and I'm just trying to tease that out for folks to make the link very explicit that the strategy of give the land back is scientifically proven to be a strategy, not only for saving the planet and saving it's ability to take care of us as we take care of it, oh my God. My brain just went in seven directions at the same time. I think I feel like I've said enough though.
Anna: I think also you see a lot of that language in theatres. There's a lot of language about going into communities that are underserved or unserved. There's this manifest destiny, white man's burden that you see in a lot of this language of, oh, we're gonna go, and we're gonna save these poor people by bringing them the theatre and ignoring the fact that one, they probably already have their own performance rituals that don't involve you, and two, they don't necessarily need what you're bringing them, but this language is so encoded in white supremacy and in art, which has included into our institutions that we don't connect them half the time.
Ronee: Yeah, and so it kind of feels like we're always, to give a theatre reference, I guess, six degrees of separation away from decolonization again because just in the way that Anna was saying that theatres kind of take on this, well, we somehow have this thing that we need to be kind of given this, not Maleficent, wow, Disney just kinda went right in my head, in this, oh, I'm gonna give this to all of you. It's the same thing with first world and developing countries, it's the same as settlers and Indigenous people. It's that same dynamic, and you just see it playing over and over and over again, and this is just another way that we're seeing it, and so if we're gonna say the word, sustainable and resources, we have to actually decolonize those words to actually get at, okay, so what does it actually mean to build sustainability and what are the resources that we're talking about? Because no, it's not this pure virgin myth of the wilderness. It's everything from land to people to sky to time, and maybe this is a great segue for Tara to talk about time as a relative.
Tara: Well, well, well, look at that. So those of y'all who know me in real life outside the Zoom squares or have come to some events where I've been in a Zoom square, you've probably heard me say that time is a relative, and so by that I mean that time is how my people refer to it and many other Indigenous peoples is like an auntie, like a grandmother, like an actual relation who you take care of, and so just like I would never get mad at my auntie needing more time to get in and out of the car, why would I be upset with time itself if it needs a little bit more to get something done, and so this, from what I've been told, is like a radical departure of capitalism in our relationship to time where time equals money equals productivity equals how can that turn into a product or like in the theatre. I think of our 10 out of 12s. Every single one of those minutes has to be used to turn out this product, but what happens whenever we think of time as this resource that isn't infinite, that needs to be fed into, like another human being, to be regenerative, and so whenever we think that way and adding that within to this concept of sustainability, how we currently think about time is not sustainable. I mean, it's evidenced by the myriads of articles about burnout, about Zoom fatigue. Right now with the we see you white in American theatre and then within those lists of demands, there are a lot of talk about how these long work days and these six day work weeks are not sustainable for ourselves as humans for our families, for the art itself, and so we don't need to keep doing that. There is nobody saying we have to do it. So let's not, and as we're thinking about capital S, Sustainability, which I like to say, that it's more than just the wood, resources, plants, air, but also people, time, relationships, capital J Justice, so I like to say, with economic justice—
Annalisa: Patronization, hope.
Tara: Hope! It matches all of those things. It encompasses all of those, and whenever we think holistically and we move through this relationally instead of transactionally, but yeah, and so I was going to also add on to something that Anna said earlier, and what can theatres do right now in regards to thinking about justice and sustainability and absolutely economic justice, a hundred percent, but also, think about the language that you're using whenever you speak about sustainability within your theatre. Do you find yourself moving into that myth of the wilderness situation? Do you find yourself neglecting Indigenous people in those conversations, neglecting frontline communities in those conversations? Do you find yourself thinking, “Oh, no. Any use of animal fur is wrong and bad.” I like to think of this as the white vegan argument. Whereas, there are Indigenous people from across the world who have been sustainably and ethically using and sourcing animals for their resources in those sustainable ways for a millennium. So that's always one that usually gets people when I ask them to do that, but yeah, taking that moment to really think about your language and how you speak about the earth and the earth's resources and the depletion of resources, and are you forgetting those vital intersections of justice that have to do with people in predominantly Black, Indigenous and people of color at that?
Anna: Well, there's also schedule flexibility is an example of regenerative practice. Working conditions that allow people to be parents is an example. I mean, the disability justice movement has crafted whole worlds of working and working conditions and ways of working together that are regenerative. I mean, so much of this work has already been done by so many people out there. It's just not widely adopted because these people have been misrepresented and marginalized by, to come back to it, white supremacy, but I think it's really important to acknowledge that the ways that we work within the theatre have to be regenerative because what is theatre without any people.
Ronee: Yeah, and I find so many times that a lot of these conversations about capital way access, about childcare, about people being able to be parents, about schedule flexibility. All of these things are seen in a lot of theatre institutions as being bonus, as being things that we wish we could do if we had the money, but it's so hard, but when you actually think about, okay, what is the real purpose? And I guess I should back up and say, the reason that I'm really motivated to say this is that this is a really hard moment for a lot of institutions where I hope that there are a lot of conversations about, okay, what are we really trying to do? Why are we crucial? Why are we essential? Why is the work we do important? And I feel like that's where a holistic approach about why you exist is so important because if you're not actually allowing the people who work for your institution to be sustainable, then how could you ever be sustainable as an institution? This narrow-minded focus of, well, only this bit is my problem, is not going to really allow us to unlock our full potential because I think for a lot of people, this idea of, well, sustainability is something that you can only do if you actually have the time and energy and extra resources, or you've got that grant to do it, and that's not true, and when you actually make these changes, and I think something that's been so exciting about working on the Green New Theatre document is seeing all of these institutions and individuals across the world who are doing this already and who are thriving because of it. It's not something you do because you can. It's something that you do in order to thrive. This is like such a healthier, better way of working, and I think that that just is really the blinders are on and coming at this from a holistic lens is only gonna help everyone.
Tara: So that's also another thing is is that moving your theatre, whether it's your individual practice or your institution towards a just future, towards sustainability, towards capital S Sustainability does not have to be a very scary journey or embarkment because people have already done this work, and I find that very comforting that there are myriads of experts of Indigenous people, of Black people, of disabled people who've been doing this work and creating theatre in ways that are regenerative and not just sustainable, and we can follow their example. We can give them our dollars to help us if they want to. We can move our practices that way, not unguided or unfounded, and I always find that to be very comforting to keep in mind. The path has already been laid down. Some path's been there for thousands of years ready to walk on. So, you don't need to bushwhack the trails. Is that what they say?
Analisa: Yeah, Tara, I want to also shout out the work that Sarah Bellamy and Penumbra Theatre are doing. I don't know if folks saw their recent announcement, but I was thinking of them in relation to the sort of thinking about A, people who have been doing the work for a long time and B, also, this idea of imagination as a resource and how capitalism and colonialism work to dampen imagination, and at Penumbra, if you just Google, you'll find their recent announcement that they're radically reinvisioning what they think their company does. So they are now a center for racial healing where, I mean, I don't want to speak for Penumbra. So please go look at how they're framing these words themselves, but they're historically a theatre of color, and now, what they're saying they're doing is acknowledging the work that they've been doing all along, which is providing space for racial healing, and so I just think that there's so many examples of organizations and individuals who have been leading this way for so long, and why not follow their lead? The other thing I wanted to just sort of tease out a little bit, and then maybe it's time to open it up for larger conversation, but just to tease out, we've been kind of skirting around the Just Transition framework, which we had suggested reading or taking a look at the movement generation, Just Transition Zine, and if you didn't have a chance to do it, no problem. Please feel free to make time to look at that later, but in a nutshell, the idea of a Just Transition, for those who might not know this language yet, is that the dominant economies that we live inside of right now are extractive. So they function to pull resources out of the ground and turn people into resources and labor. Like we're extracting resources from the earth and accumulating wealth. That's the dominant economy that we live inside of now and what is it leading to? Climate collapse. So if that's the sort of framework we live in now, the question then is how do we get to a more just and regenerative economy? How do we transition to an economy where all people and more than human people can thrive and live together in harmony and in symbiosis? And the question of how do we go from extractive to regenerative has been thought about and strategized for decades, and again, always being led by Indigenous, Black, people of color, people on the front line. So please take a look at the movement generation Zine for many, many wonderful people who are way smarter than me and have been doing the work way longer than me, but just to sort of tease out that how does this relate to theatres? It's like when we're thinking of, especially now when we're trying to rebuild or recover or transition in some way to a different way of working, how do we do that with justice at the center? There are sort of in the climate conversations about Just Transition, an example of injustice that happens frequently is like, "Okay, we're gonna go "from extractive to regenerative. "How do we do that?" We have to stop carbon emissions. Cool, okay, if everybody stops carbon emissions, actually, what does that mean? That means that the United States, predominantly, and Europe, who've been pouring carbon into the atmosphere for a century now, extracted all the wealth from the entire world and accumulated all the wealth, and now we just get to keep it, and guess what? India, China, all that, quote-unquote, developing countries, guess what? You have to stop pouring carbon into the atmosphere and growing your economies. So the question then is, actually, shouldn't the nations that are most responsible for the climate crisis have a different responsibility to stopping it and to regenerating the world that we live in, and so, anyway, my point is those kinds of questions also apply to theatre as we're thinking about how do we recover, how do we regenerate and who bears the most responsibility for fronting the money, for making the change, for doing the emotional labor of undoing white supremacy and undoing colonization. I just offer that as a way of summing up a little bit what Just Transition is about, but I have, by no means, said it all. Is now the time to invite our friends to join us and have a bigger conversation?
Ronee: I think it's a good stopping point. You did the thing.
Anna: Yeah, let's do it, everybody.
Ronee: Yeah, so I think, yes, we got a video, more videos. I want to see more! No, [laughs]. Hey, thanks for being here so.
Annalisa: The awkwardness here is that we had planned a little bit to do a breakout, but we're gonna not do breakouts because our group is a little intimate today. So we might just stay in this bigger group and have the conversation together.
Tara: Yeah, so we had a couple thoughts for jumping off points. The first one being anything that's coming up for any of you right now that you want to share, any questions or feedbacks. Anything unsettling, I always love those kinds of conversations, especially as we're talking about regenerative theatre and justice and what all of that entails, but also, we have some questions from Facebook that we can also throw into the chat right here. So this comes from Kimberly Sky. Thank you, Kimberly, and they ask, "Do you distinguish between regenerative and resurgence? "Also, the language of care has been used a lot recently "in the climate justice movement and COVID recovery. "Do you distinguish between a care economy "and a regenerative one, "or are they synonyms working towards similar, decolonial, "anti-racist, sustainable goals?" So again, some wonderful thoughts and questions from Kimberly. Thank you, Kimberly.
Anna: I have a quick thought about regeneration and resurgence, and then I need to get some water. It reminds me, Tara, you talk about this a lot. It was part of Unsettling Dramaturgy about the difference between reconciled and conciled spaces and how you cannot reconcile when it was never good to begin with. It was never conciled, therefore, you cannot reconcile. So actually, you have to build something new and the regenerative and resurgence, I think it's not true that no one has been doing regenerative economic regenerative resource practices. That's not true at all. I think actually what we're saying is that there are a lot of people who have been doing it for a really long time, but if we're gonna maintain a globalized economy and a globalized production, that, I think, cannot be a resurgence because I don't think it existed in the first place. I think globalization is a natural offshoot of industrialization and capitalism because the whole reason why you outsource your labor to the other side of the world is because they don't have labor protection and it's cheaper. So I think, for me, that part of the frame has to be transitioned to become regenerative because I don't think it's not growing from something it can return to, I think, but I'm gonna grab some water.
Annalisa: I was just gonna mention, again, because I'm a fan girl of movement generation. If you Google their course correction series that they just did this summer and have a moment to go back and listen to some of those, I think they also may be putting out resources on course correction, but they talk in some of those about systems of bioregional governance. So I was just gonna trouble a little bit of what Anna was saying about an assumption. Like if we're gonna stay in a globalized economy then this, that, and the other thing, and I'm like, "But are we? "Maybe we're not. "Maybe we do not need to stay in a globalized economy," and a different way of thinking about how economies could work, as suggested by movement generation and many other people, is this idea of bioregional governance. So it's doing away with globalization as a structure and doing a way with nations and arbitrary borders and refocusing our ways of relating to each other on bioregions. So what that might mean like a watershed area that shares an ecology, and therefore, also an economy. These are very close to the ways that many Indigenous communities have always organized themselves with bioregions that they inhabit, and that's all I want to say. I've been talking too much and I want to hear from other people.
Ronee: Yeah, and what I was just going to offer in terms of the conversation is that I think it's a small enough group. Please, just hop in, but if you feel like you're having trouble kind of finding your way into the conversation, please message me or use the raise hand function, and I can interrupt and kind of get you a spot to come in. So please, if someone wants to start us off, that'd be great.
Anna: Tara, can you also drop that language into the… actually, I can do it. Why did I ask you, nevermind.
[A participant raises their hand.]
Michael Francis: Hi, there, I'm Michael Francis. I work with Ronee at Octopus Theatricals and I'm business manager for Fiasco Theatre. I think that what I have come up against in the past week, specifically in a function of Octopus Theatricals that facilitates fiscal sponsorship and a support for organizations, is that when I use terminology specific to sustainability and EDI, I get baffled responses from people, and I want to educate people and I have bipack members of my team part of it, but there seems to be, and the only way I can say it, is a branding conflict between terminology and people's acceptance of terminology, and I've been fine with words because I think words are things, but you come up against people that are confronted by words in a way that is so antagonistic that you spend 30 minutes just getting around a work, and I can't believe that I've been confronted by this as much just in this last two weeks after a huge racial justice reform movement, but it's something I'm coming up against, so.
Annalisa: Can I just check for my own understanding of what you said? I think I might've like spaced for a moment. So I apologize. Are you saying that you're coming up against a perceived conflict between ED and I stuff and sustainability stuff as though they're separate?
Michael: No, the weirder thing is I think fundamentally these organizations understand EDI sustainability, but then you say terminology to them, and as a colleague of mine, Adam, who I know a lot of Groundwater folks know, Adam has reminded us as a group when we're in these conversations, that these are no longer breakout conversations. These are conversations that are organic to the general operational structure of any brick and mortar company, organization, or movement. So I guess more of what I'm saying is the branding of words has become something that people are pushing out against, and part of me wants to be like, get over it. This is what we're calling it. This is what we've identified it to be, and then the other part of it is how do I just move things along for some people that are catching up?
Anna: I think, I think a lot of things. One of the things I will say is I think right now in discourse in the United States, words are particularly charged and our language is evolving very, very quickly, and I think a lot of people have come to realize that a lot of our language is perhaps rooted in interlocking systems of oppression that we didn't realize, and so we actually have to go back to our vocabulary. I mean, even when we were discussing this call, we were like, "Is it sustainable? "Is that our word? "Is it resources? "Is the word, resources, like prefiguring extraction?" So I do think we're in a moment right now that is really critically looking at language and asking our language to evolve, and I think when that happens, you do run into people, I think, when people are faced with their words being wrong, it feels like a personal judgment. I'm in grad school right now. So that's like my entire life. So maybe that's just my observation, but I do feel like that's something I'm seeing.
Ronee: Yeah and for me, I think a lot of it is people are at different points on their work of actually bringing... Yeah, so like putting words aside for a second, there's a way of operating and being with each other that you could look at and you could say, Oh, that's actually decentralized. Oh, that's decolonized leadership. Oh, that's publicly transparent budgeting. Oh, they actually are really thinking smartly about sustainability and regenerative practices, but in the actual practice of that organization, that's not what people are talking about. They are just doing it, and there are some folks that are doing that and some folks that aren't, and a lot of times when two organizations come together and I think that fiscal sponsorship is kind of such a, oh, great and specific example of how these butt up together is what one organization is doing and how they talk about it, which are often not the same thing, and another organization, what they do, and how they talk about it are very different, and it almost feels like a little bit of a, okay, here's my values, one sheet. This is how we operate, and if this is not how your values operate, maybe it's not the right fit, and with fiscal sponsorship, the kind of rubric that you're kind of saying to someone is we're going to offer you fiscal sponsorship if we believe that you are a charitable organization that we understand that you are transparent about your practices and what you're doing and we'll support you in this way, but it's gonna be tough to figure out that relationship if one step further, the values aren't in sync, and then it's just gonna be really hard to work together because if you're seeing that, huh, and you're paying everyone a terrible wages and we can see what the donations that are coming in and yet the checks that are going out are strangely, you know, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see when something isn't right with an organization. So I think that it can be as it could be as simple as saying, here's our values, and if you're gonna work with us, these are the values we expect you to hold with our team and that we hope that you're gonna hold within your organization, and if that is creating some discomfort, we should talk about it, and within the words, even define what they mean, which I feel like, frankly, is half of the Green New Theatre calls is really saying. So when we say decolonized, what are we actually talking about? I'll just leave it there. I don't know if that's helpful, but that's just what's come to mind for me.
Tara: I mean, what's also something to keep in mind, and then we can transition or who knows what comes up, is that English as a colonized language. The whole point of the language in the first place was to put us all in little boxes is what they wanted to do, and so when now, whenever we're talking about things that don't fit in with any colonial framework, which , Annalisa, regenerative practices and justice does not fit within a colonial framework, we have these butts heads because we don't know what these words mean. We have different definitions of things. We're thinking again, Michael, you talked about the branding of this language, and I know within Groundwater, we've had these discussions of like, well, how do we make the Green New Theatre sexy and palatable for the people, whereas I'm sitting over here in my little room of flames. I don't care if it's palatable or not because what we're trying to do is take something that is inherently decolonial and try to make it fit into a colonized box. So why do we want to do that? And so I like to welcome those points of friction and just call it what it is. It's, okay, do you want me to make this more colonized for you? Is that the problem here? And if that's what you want, let's talk about it and let's figure out where that's coming from and then how we can all bring up to the same page.
Ronee: Great, I think with that, yeah, I would love to hear from someone else as well. Like what is this conversation bringing up for you. Allison, yeah?
Allison Hicks: I, first of all, thank you. This is such a great discussion. You all are so, so smart. As a Native person, decolonization of theatre, I've been thinking about that a lot and I am very hopeful about it, but I'm seeing a lot of theatres releasing their seasons and I'm disappointed. I mean, there's a Christmas Carol that's being produced again over and over again, and it just seems as though white American theatre is just kind of waiting. Okay, let's let them have their moment, and we can all move on and do what we're doing anyway. So, I mean, in terms of what you're talking about today with, I guess, healing things. I mean, we're trying to fit into a Western construct in theatre, but we want to take charge, and we want to have some kind of voice in it too. So it was just interesting listening to these discussions. I just have so many questions to ask you guys. I can't articulate it right now, but yeah, that's just what's coming up for me now is, wow. I don't see native people being put on boards of major theatre organizations. We had Larissa. It's like we should have two or three on every major theatrical board in my mind to make up for what's been happening. So I'll just leave that there.
Anna: I just want to throw out, also, not everyone likes Zoom discussions and some people formulate their thoughts after. Feel free to send us an email with your thoughts or your questions because this is all amazing.
Ronee: Yeah, and also using the chat as well is also great. Yeah, I was just gonna say, Allison, that I'm internally nodding and shouting. I'm just trying to kind of fit in the box. I mean, all four of us have been in and around predominantly white institutions and felt that friction of what we were trying to do and what was possible and how much to work within, to change, how much to say screw it and do something else. Even within people who you share values with, there's going to be disagreements about what to do, but I find a lot of healing energy in finding a few people who, oh, okay, great. So you see the same thing I see. I think I've just been so heartened with this crew of people at Groundwater to see just how many people are thinking about this and working on this, and it's just a matter of numbers and time and doing that push, but it's yeah, it's hard and that friction has real, yeah. Yeah, Julie?
Julie M.: Hi, everyone, I just wanted to say something I've been thinking about a lot today is scarcity and abundance and that operating from an abundance mindset can be a lot more fruitful, and how many people and organizations see scarcity where there is none, but I, at the same time, this is a moment of scarcity for the theatre world in some respects. It's much harder to bring in income for shows and new expenses and all of that. So there's the opportunity of having more time and space to reflect, but then there's also, there's just actually less money coming in the door. So how, I don't know, I guess I've just been turning around. How do we take the first few steps forward, the first baby step? And what does abundance look like in this moment and not just emotional abundance, but also actual abundance? I know very few people who still have their jobs. So thinking expansively and creatively about compensation is nice, and also, what do I do? Federal unemployment is gone and my theatre is not gonna help me. So anyway, that's a bunch of stuff. There we go.
Ronee: Yeah, no, and I would love to weigh in on the real kind of pain and, I mean, this moment right now has just frozen so much activity exactly and just made it so that live theatre, the way that we've known it, can't happen, and all of the structures that have been set in place, for good or for bad, are not operating, and money's not coming in the door in the same way. I think that when you're talking about an institutional level, I think it's different than on an individual level. So as something I've been really heartened by that's been happening in this moment is the way that people are pivoting, not always because you want to pivot, but because this is part of this moment, but partnership with different art forms that aren't as strongly affected like film or with organizations that have a mission that are, how can I say this, that are less affected by this, either in the corporate world or there are nonprofits that are operating differently, and thinking about, okay, how can partnering with this organization advance both of us? I've seen a lot of great work happening from turning around to those around you and finding ways to make something and to turn that into income for families on an individual level. On an institutional level, I often think that there's knowing a lot of the kind of nine nineties of a lot of institutions. There's a lot of different forms of wealth that are tied up in different ways that, I don't mean to sound callous and insensitive to the plight of institutions right now because that is very real, and I know a lot of leaders of those organizations who are really struggling, I will say that I know that there are choices and that I've seen leaders who really show their stripes when times are hard, and I think you have values when you follow those values even when shit gets hard.
Anna: Arguably, that's what leadership is, but we don't have to get into, or we can get into that. I don't know. All I want to say is that I was on the phone to someone from Seattle Rep., and she said that they've basically turned into a community service organization because they're donating labor, they're donating they're building to community partners who aren't delivering meals and things like that, and it's really changed how they see themselves within their communities because now, in this moment, they can't produce theatre, but they do still have things to offer. I'm also curious to turn to this conversation in the chat. I think that there's something really inherent in the five—
Annalisa: Can I interrupt before we get to that and just offer Julie, I don't know if I heard this in what you were saying, and I don't know what community geographically you're located in, but if you are having real needs, you might look into mutual aid networks that are in your geographic region because often, to make this point again, disability justice, movements for racial justice have been doing this work because the systems are not set up for us, and the systems are working just the way they're designed to, and so it's no shock that in a pandemic, the many of the dominant responses were like, well, just fire everyone. I think you know preserve the institutions, forget the people, but I just wanted to say, like offer that. Maybe if you do some Googling of mutual aid networks that are probably already in existence in your community, that might be a place to turn to.
Julie: Thank you, I'm in the bay, and I don't know if anybody else is in the bay area. It seemed like folks were mostly in Midwest and East coast, but I'm happy to drop some links that I know of in the chat in case that's useful to anyone.
Michael: Can I just quickly, I'm sorry. I'm just gonna, as far as, I don't know organizations that are 501C3s or LLCs or LLPs, but what I will say is that regardless if you're on the East coast, Central, Pacific, what I have found with the two organizations that I run, which is Octopus Theatricals and then another 501C3, is that local banks are being incredibly responsive to you right now. I was with Chase for my 501C3, Fiasco Theater, and with Octopus Theatricals, which is for profit but also has a fiscal sponsorship wing, we're with Bank of Princeton. Now, the thing is I do have a relationship with Bank of Princeton, but I started an account for a Fiasco that's based in Brooklyn with Bank of Princeton because they process PPP immediately. They didn't do the things that had happened to me when I was applying initially, which was trying to make 501C3 organizations and fiscal sponsorships have to claim ownership because we don't have ownership. That was one of those big flaws in the application. We'd always have to put an ownership, and it would sort of bounce us back, but I will just say that look for a local bank and most local banks, even if you aren't necessarily in their jurisdiction, will take you on for an account and will process PPP loans and relief quicker.
Ronee: Super helpful, thank you.
Annalisa: Anna, I interrupted you. You wanted to say something about the conversation in the chat.
Anna: Well, Sherrine, I think, was about to say something. Do you want to jump in, Sherrine?
Sherrine Azab: No, we should have that conversation first because I was actually gonna ask about something else even though I've been talking in the chat about that systemic thing.
Tara: Well, don't forget your question. Don't forget it.
Anna: Yeah, the only thing I wanted to say, well, we don't have to talk about it, but there is a conversation happening in the chat about how there are structures in place, things that are required for 501C3 organizations, for example, board governance, that then create systems of oppression within our institutions, and something we've talked about a ton at Groundwater as we grow is that 501C3 doesn't really work for us, and LLC doesn't totally work for us, and being a Corp, that doesn't really work for us. There is no third model that bridges these gaps, and part of the reason why there isn't this third model, there are iterations of it, but part of the reason is actually the federal tax code. So when we talk about things like sustainability, we have to keep in mind these larger forces at play that maybe we don't think to turn to like the tax code or these other types of federal regulation that we maybe don't think of.
Tara: Yeah, because since most everyone who is here is affiliated with an institution or was affiliated with an institution or plans to be affiliated or hopes to be. I hope to be affiliated with an institution post-pandemic and such. I mean, that's really the million dollar question is the board of trustees because the theatre, as we know, is that hierarchical model, and it starts with who has the judiciary and the financial responsibility, the board. Who's on your board? Well, I don't know about y'all, but a lot of the boys I seen are a lot of older white men and then older white women and that's about it, and so whenever we're talking about sustainability and creating these massive structural changes, it has to come from the top down because unfortunately theatre does not work on a relational model, on a circular model, but it's still hierarchical as we currently know it. Again, not all theatres is wonderful examples of not, and so a question that I pose, or not a question, it's a challenge to pose for artistic leaders and for those who are in better than institutions, is what qualifies as someone as a good board fit whenever you're trying to do these massive structural changes? And I know because we're so often, myself included, stuck in that scarcity mindset. It's, oh, no. We definitely need the COO of AT and T on our board because they'll give us lots of money. We have to, but there's so many examples that we don't have to do that. We don't have to continue to center the money, but we can center capital R Resources. What can an individual give to an organization that can help move us forward into our goals? And so, as an example, there's a nonprofit here in Oklahoma, and they work with individuals who are unhoused, and so on their board is a board of 17. They have three people who have been and, or are currently unhoused individuals because who are the best individuals to move that organization towards justice? People who live within and experience what they're trying to do, and that also takes out that white saviorism issue, which that's a whole nother Zoom topic for a whole nother day in the nonprofits, or Allison dropped into the chat about being with this Estonian National Museum of American Indian, and also, I don't know if you want to talk about that briefly at all.
Allison: Yeah, sure, I'm pretty unlikely candidate for that board, I thought. I'm not a wealthy individual from a business or banking or a law background. Usually you find those types of people on our corporate background on those types of boards, but my friend was a tribal leader. She still is a tribal leader from San Manuel, and she invited me to be considered on that board because it's very important to the leadership of that museum that they have a native voice on their board. So much of our work is in repatriation, which is helping facilitate the transfer of sacred remains and sometimes, actually, people, people's bones, and our relatives, our ancestors back to the appropriate tribe where they originated from, and anything from the curation of objects, our educational programs, there has to be a native person. There has to be native voices involved in those decisions. So that's what I do. We don't get paid for it. We get our travel paid for when we have our meetings, but we're not compensated for our time. I consider it an honor to serve on something like that because I feel it's a very important thing to have. I think, going back to the discussion with the foundations, if a foundation, when they give to an organization, they can actually specify in their grant application, your board must consist of this amount of bipack folks in order for us to consider your application, and they can do that. I think that kind of change will help, but that's the way we function at NMAI. I'm not sure about the African American Museum. I know they have a lot of folks on that board as well. Well, we age off our board. We only serve for six years. So we're also trying to get other native folks on all these other boards. The Smithsonian, as you know, is a huge institution. So we're trying to get our folks on the Folk Art Museum, the American History Museum, all these museums. So that's kind of what it is in a nutshell.
Tara: Yeah, but I think the core that we've all been talking about is the nonprofit system itself is broken. It ain't working and it hasn't been. It's not regenerative, it's not centered on justice, and it's very colonial. So like whenever we have these conversations, and we hit those walls of frustration, it's like, yes, let's diversify our boards. That's definitely an access point, but what happens if, more like when, that's not enough? What happens when, although the nonprofits as though the theatres are coming together to move towards justice, but our funders aren't. So what are we going to do? I mean, I don't know if we can call it the Mellon Foundation and be like, yo bros let's have chit-chat. I mean, that's what I'm gonna do, but so we have to, again, think regenerative and think relationally with one another and who we're trying to work with to move forward, and that may or may not include funders. That may or may not include board of trustees. That may or may not include 501C3s, and that is fine, but again, I think where, for myself, I'm finding that struggle is taking something that's inherently a decolonial concept, not necessarily a concept, but it's very real. We can hold it, but a decolonial thing and trying to fit it into our colonial boxes, and so obviously there's friction, obviously it doesn't work. So we have, in my mind, one or two choices, number one, do we try to do some construction on this box to make it fit in there? Do we, I don't know, add another box, try to something or other? Or do we do something completely different? Just scrap that. Start with the land. Start with the roots. Start with the foundation and then build something new and something different in the ways that we're trying to head towards, and I think right now it's an interesting time because the theatre is on hiatus as it rightfully needs to be, but it's also a time where we can think about restructuring, think about change, think about what are the things that we are going to prioritize once we can come back together? What are the things that we can do right now? Because there are indeed things that we can do right now. Like Anna mentioned the example of a theatre opening its doors. There's multiple theatres opening their doors right now for people on the street who are protesting for their right to exist and live, and theatres are being part of that movement. There are, oh my gosh, I forget at the top of my brain what theatre it was, but there was a theatre that donated their building back to the Indigenous people of those lands, and now it's going to be used as a community center in a way to uplift the Indigenous people of that community. That's amazing, and they did it right now, COVID be damned. So this is just a very exciting time, I also want to keep there while also being very cognizant about how this is not an exciting time for a lot of people, and especially in my brain, thinking about Indian health services being 50% underfunded and disproportionately impacted. It's not a fun time, but it is, I think, a capital T Time, lots of times, lots of things.
Anna: I think also having income like wealth redistribution can happen within your institution. Someone had posted they fire everyone except for the people who have six-figure salaries working at the executive level. These people, maybe they shouldn't be making six-figure salaries. Maybe everyone should be making five figure salaries. If you aren't in a position to, if you have some amount of power or you have some amount of influence, pushing your institutions to have wealth redistribution within that will go far because the person who is an intern today, might end up on your board later if they can stay in the theatre because they can make a living doing it, which right now, they can't, and racism is not sustainable. I'm about to climb on the soap box. I'm a get down.
Ronee: I saw you dropping that mic. What I wanted to offer is that we have about six minutes left, and I want to make sure that anyone who didn't get a chance to jump in had a chance if you'd like. Yeah, Sherrine.
Sherrine: I’m gonna try to be fast, but I mean, and so this maybe is pretty specific, but we're a small ensemble, and we definitely put care sort of at the center of our work, and from the beginning, really because of how small our budgets were and that we make work over time, the flexibility model was always there from the start. We took everybody's schedules first and then made the rehearsal schedule over a long period of time so that people could still work, and we have been working really hard to get everybody up to $15 an hour for every hour that they are in rehearsal and performance, every meeting, because we believe in paying that, first of all, that it's a minimum wage, and also, but we just worked really hard to get there, and now if we're having a little bit of a growth challenging moment where we did that, everything feels great, and now everything is starting to, or some things, not everything is starting to feel really transactional. So for if I do five social media posts, does that equal $15 an hour? So there's been a lot of this which feels like we're reinforcing a capitalist structure when it was the spirit of what we were doing was the opposite of that, and so we brought this up for the first time at our core ensemble meetings and everybody was like, "Yeah, that feels that way, "and we don't have a solution for it." So we don't have to solve it in the next four minutes, but I just wanted to say that was a challenge that are currently struggling with, and if anybody has any ideas, open to them, or just wanted to put it out there in the world that even in the moments where you're really putting care, and folks, there's still gonna be your hurdles and challenges that come along the way.
Tara: So this is my favorite time, real quick, to yell about capitalism, but whenever we think of goods and services relationally, not transactionally, I find that these does my five posts equal $15 goes away. So it's like, what else are we giving one another? So to that individual, are they just giving you those five posts and they're done? Or are they giving you their wealth of knowledge? Are they giving you their energy, their positivity, their optimism, that's helping you then fuel? And then what are you giving them also in return? Are you connecting them to other opportunities? Are you, every now and then, baking them some bread? I don't know. Are we past the bread baking point of COVID? I don't know, Anna, you'd know. Anyway, do we just drop off and do those nice things? Because we're talking about each other relationally. We're not thinking of as in employee-contractor, I collect said services. I mean, I'm gonna quote smoke signals here in terms of Luxembourg's problematic, but Alison, you'll appreciate this, but I always like to say all the time, "Hey, we're Indians, we barter." It's a lot more than money. There's a lot more things that we can give to one another because was we're thinking regenerative, is we're thinking sustainably, a little green piece of paper ain't it. We've already talked about that. It ain't gonna work. We ain't gonna have enough trees to print those little pieces of paper, ain't not gonna happen. So we just have to completely reframe how we create things, and I like to go back to the root of what theatre was. So back to Greece for those who come from the European area, back to our story circles, back to fire, whatever it is. Your Indigenous roots, go back to those, and is that story telling? What are those rituals? It's about being in community with one another, being in relationship to the person sitting next to you with a fire in the center of the circle, whatever that is, and then it's not transactional. We lose all those questions about, well, how do I support an individual and get that back? How do we create regenerative things? How do we create sustainability? Because this is the root of just everything that we do, and so if there's one last little nugget I could leave is going back to your Indigenous roots of storytelling, whatever that is, capital I Indigenous, and how that is prioritizing the people and starting our brains there versus our brains in the, this is capitalism, I don't know what's going on, could be a way to spark some cool things, some creativity? I don't know, to be determined.
Ronee: And I'm gonna pause you there for Sherrine's response.
Anna: Well, hold on. Actually, I want to ask Travis, our HowlRound producer, if we can stay on a few minutes beyond. Our ASL interpreters and capture may have to leave, but I know that, Susan, I believe you had a thing you wanted to say, and then Sherrine had a response. I just don't want the feed to cut out, and Travis says, "Yes" so, go ahead.
Ronee: Sherrine, go ahead.
Sherrine: Okay, I'll go first. So I just want to say we already just we embed ensemble care days into our rehearsal process where we share sound baths and do where that's like a part of our exchange relationally, but we're paying them for those as like because there is a certain sense of like, yes, they also need to eat at the same time like all of our ensemble members. So I totally agree with everything that you're saying, and at the same time, I want to try to, especially in this moment where all of our folks are really strapped for cash. What is every single way that we can get money in their hands? And so that's the tension that we're constantly cause I do think we have a very strong relational practice in our ensemble, but at the same time, I know that, okay, we have this project budget, and I'm gonna change some of this rehearsal money into money that I can use to pay them to do a yoga class for everybody or do a sound bath for everybody, but it's still that, here's that transaction now. So I just wanted to add that level, but there's still a tension there, even if there's really strong relational practice happening.
Ronee: Yeah, and I can vouch that Sherrine's company is extraordinary cause I got to learn a little bit about them. So you should go check out what they do. Susan, you had something to share, yeah?
Susan Stroupe: Yeah, thank you. Hi, this has been so great. Thank you so much. So many things to think about. My brain is just on fire in a good way, but I had typed into the chat a second ago something that just came back into my mind, Tara, what you were talking about is that I once had a student, and it was in a Gen Ed class, it was a non-major, and we were talking about the origins of theatre, and she raised her hand kind of timidly, and then she was like, "So theatre is enacting what we believe." And I was like, "Yeah, that's the whole thing." I was like, "do you mind if I use that forever." And she's like, "Yeah, go ahead." So shout out to that student whose name I don't remember because it was many years ago, but it was something that Annalisa said a while back about, was it bioregional systems? Was that the word for it?
Annalisa: Governance, bioregional governance.
Susan: Bioregional governance, and something that struck me just a few minutes ago was thinking about theatres as bioregional governments, like theatre communities. Something that I've really been contemplating and wrestling with and realizing that I've really been wrestling with it my whole career is that the hierarchy within each theatre, very white supremacist, but then the hierarchy of the whole system of theatre that leads us all to New York as like this golden capitol of theatre and that every other theatre that you work with is a stepping stone to become famous in New York and that it bothers me and it's never really appealed to me, and so most of my work doesn't reflect that, but it's something that I feel like is this is a good moment to think about dismantling that larger system, and I think it's wonderful to be able to connect nationally with theatres around the country, but to think about bioregional governance for theatre as in-theatre communities so that we're not all literally stepping on each other to get to this one place. So that was coming through my mind, but I also wanted to shout out about time because we think about that a lot lately, and just that Rebecca Solnit wrote this great book "River of shadows" and she talks about being on time was a construct. Time zones were created for the railroad. So our whole system of being on time was for capitalism and for railroads, and so it doesn't mean like—
Annalisa: Colonization, it's about the railroads colonizing the American West.
Susan: Exactly and so all of the local time got wiped, even for white people just living their lives, no more local time. Everybody had to get rid of it. So you don't have time, it's construct.
Tara: Shout out to Arizona because they said, "Fuck your time zones. "We're not doing it."
Susan: And that one quarter of Indiana also.
Anna: I will say all of these discussions we've been having about money will be continued in our next call on publicly transparent budgeting in which we will talk about money and rant, and it'll be great.
Ronee: With that, Groundwater, is it going to be okay if I wrap this sucker up? All right, so beautiful. Thank you all for taking the time and making space to be with us and each other today. A big thank you to our friends at HowlRound. Thank you, Travis, for staying late and at First Peoples Fund for your support during this third chapter of Green New Theatre 2020. Huge thanks to our ASL interpreters and our captioner for today also for staying late. It has taken an entire village to make this series happen, as you can see. We already mentioned that this is the third chapter of a series of Green New Theatre calls, and we'd really appreciate feedback from y'all. Our goal with these calls is to create low stress generative space for relationship building and connection across the field about what a Green New Theatre could look like. So if you have a moment to email us at email@example.com with any feedback on the format of this session, what worked for you, what didn't, what you think we could do better, or what you'd love to experience in a future Green New Theatre call. So the fourth chapter of Green New Theatre 2020, will take place in late September or early October. We will be talking, as Anna mentioned, about publicly transparent budgeting, and we will be partnering with Flux Theatre and creating new futures. So if you'd like to stay in touch with us, you can email us, join the Goundwater Arts slack at groundwaterarts.slack.com or follow us on Facebook, and lastly, we'd like to leave you with one final quote by Edward Galeano. Did I say that right? Okay, highlighted a movement generation's, Just Transition Zine, "The rights of human beings "and the rights of nature are two names "of the same dignity." Thank you all and have a wonderful evening and thank you so much for an awesome discussion.
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