reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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exit. stage right. [merely-a-thought monday]

exit

metaphorically speaking, the gravel hadn’t even settled after we pulled out of the parking lot and our newly-created-recently-released website had already been changed.  david warned me about this, telling me how tom m used to tell him this very thing about the moments – even just mere moments – after you leave a position.  you are forgotten, your ideas are left behind in the dust; you are the person who used to do the job.

i had spent hours and hours and hours and weeks and months designing, branding, carefully trying to portray this unique place in a fresh, interesting, vital-to-the-community way.  i painstakingly chose fonts and always included “xoxo” in posts.  i pored over hundreds of pictures i had taken there, looking for the right imagery to represent this performing arts center to which, just over a year ago, i had felt an instant attachment.  TPAC, a beautiful 253-seat theatre on a tiny island.  i added a small heart to advertising, social media posts, communications.  my heart was attached and it seemed apropos to subtly include love from TPAC in everything to the residents who have shared their island with it.

for the last year – until the end of the day yesterday – we, two people with lifelong immersion in the arts, have been the co-managing directors of this theatre.  on this island-you-cannot-drive-to, across death’s door from the mainland of door county, we weathered our way through waves of challenges.  we were brought there to create, to bring TPAC into next, to carefully elicit change in a place that pushed back against change.  we made dear new friends; we gauged our days and our progress by the greetings at the grocery store.  my fondness grew.

managing a performing arts center is not for the weak of heart.  it is not, as some would think, simply about booking performers into the space.  instead, it is weaving the place in which it exists into its very fabric, acknowledging the importance of the local arts organizations and forging relationships with their people, listening, working together to make the theatre accessible and intrinsic – necessary – to all.  it is fundraising, addressing personality issues, graphic design, ad sponsorship, strategizing, gently and firmly guiding.  for us, it was seeing the infinite details (i’m the detail one) and the arcing scope into the future (he’s the big picture one).  it was sitting-on-the-edge-of-the-wooden-stage-dreaming at its best and cleaning-the-backstage-refrigerator at its most practical.

we lived in the littlehouse on the water, a place we still cherish.  every morning i took a photograph over the lake; every night we marveled at the million stars in the sky.  we walked on quiet roads and hung out laundry to dry.  in the middle of enacting progressive forward-moving dreams, we had also returned to a simpler place, a simpler time.  washington island is indeed away-away and the ferry that makes it possible to come and go dictated our few comings and goings.

there were moments, as you would suspect, of difficulty, for no tiny place is immune to that, to agenda or powerplay.  indeed, no dense urban city is immune, so a somewhat homogeneous island with generations-long-standing residents proves no different.  when we accepted this position we put on our ‘what’s best for TPAC?’ hats and, with more objectivity than those who have been immersed in the politics and life of a place for most of its tenure, we were determined to leave those hats on, despite all odds, regardless of any pressure to bow differently.  we brought heart to TPAC and we leave pieces of our hearts behind in it.

every journey has meaning.  today i grieve the inevitable exit from this place.  they will continue on, outsiders-be-gone, with one of their own at the helm to take them into next, the island way.  TPAC will continue to grow and change; there is so much potential there.  we can see it.

and today, as i close my eyes and see the traditional red-cushioned theatre seating of the house and feel the wooden stage under my boots, i know my heart will mend a bit as the dust settles.  and the key sticks in the lock of the backstage door just as it always has.

(a farewell video post to TPAC)

read DAVID’s post this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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©️ 2020 kerri sherwood & david robinson

 


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“agree to disagree.” a country of hats. [merely-a-thought monday]

agree to disagree

the contagion is not merely the virus, although that is more than enough for this tenuous world to handle.  the contagion is seeping into relationship, into communities, into cities and states.  it exhibits as an inability for people to have conversation about this pandemic.  it is a pestilence that hovers over the virtual aisle between us, waiting to swarm in locust fashion.  it is pervasive.  it is contention.

we took the helm of a performing arts center last year.  when we started, we sat with the board of directors at our first official board meeting and told them that, in all things, we would be wearing our ‘what’s best for TPAC?’ hats.  we would ask questions:  what is best for the whole?  what is best to move the organization in a progressive way?  what is best to open the organization’s heart to embrace ideas in an equitable way, in a forward-thinking way, in a way that will keep the organization safe from harm and pushing toward better health.  we have worn the ‘what’s best for TPAC?’ hats proudly, through thick and thin, for it is in the organization-as-a-whole that we are invested.  we haven’t always been popular, and in fact at times have been shunned in silence by this same board,  but we have stayed steady in our quest to keep the performing arts center and its needs central and not to get lost in self-serving contention that exhibits as peripheral arguments or sidelined motives.  the possibilities of grand health and as a wildly successful place artists wish to be are all within reach for TPAC; all personal agenda need be left at the door and the wooden stage of this beautiful performing arts center will be filled with creating, performing, reaching audiences of all manner, flourishing, as the mission statement tagline reads.

our country sits smack in the middle of a global pandemic that demands we put on our ‘what’s best for ALL of us?’ hats.  we are seeking health.  and, though we as a world have not garnered all the information about this specific covid-19 disease that we need, it seems that the brilliant scientists and doctors, epidemiologists, researchers and public health experts have asked an abundance of questions and given us some guidelines.  these guidelines, put in place and central, are not the stuff of popularity contests.  they are the stuff of those ‘what’s best?’ hats, the stuff of steady leadership, the stuff of keeping people safe from harm and pushing toward bettering health.  through thick and thin, and with sacrifice, it doesn’t seem too much to adhere to these guidelines as a means to an end.

but cavalier complaint, unrest and protest are rampant.  and contention ensues.  ‘we’ll have to agree to disagree’ we hear time and again.  i wonder what it is we are disagreeing on?  can we ask questions:  is it the wish for all people to be well?  is it cooperation with each other to that end?  is it communal responsibility?  is it adhering to recommended guidelines, among others: to stay home, maintain social distancing, wear a mask?  these are not difficult asks and have proven to be effective at flattening the curve of this disease, a disease whose myriad symptoms exhibit in so many ways, in which dying is devastatingly painful and lonely, and one is suffocated with the pansy words ‘agree to disagree’, tentacles of irony and shameful smugness killing any chance of conversation.  misinformation begets misinformation.  it encourages loud dissension, infighting, uprisings bearing arms, people basing decisions on erroneous reports; it misguides.  instead, misinformation guides people down paths of complacency, lazy inaction, self-serving-disregard-for-others the hat of choice.

we are living in a state of ‘agree to disagree’ and where has it gotten us?  agree to disagree.  at what cost?  over 1.1 million americans have already contracted this virus and over 65,000 have died.

is there a chance we could agree to agree?  can we ask questions:  that perhaps over 64,000 in two months is too many deaths?  that humanity – each of us – is not dispensable?  that we cannot move anything forward without health, without living and breathing people, including an economy of any value to humankind?

what’s really ‘best for ALL of us’?  can we ask questions:  in this country touting that it is helping each of us, might it be possible to actually help each of us, instead of the not-so-hidden inequity sorely apparent even in the structure of stimulus bills and tax packages? might it be possible to recognize that goading people into angry protest is not a responsible re-election campaign strategy? might it be possible that angrily and aggressively bearing automatic weapons in public venues is unacceptable?  might it be possible that bullying should not be seen as a substitute for incompetent leadership?   that division is not a cure; it will neither heal or stimulate.  division will further divide this indivisible-one-nation-under-God. “the ‘invisible enemy’, as the so-called leader of this country refers to coronavirus, is not the pandemic, but, rather, the malignancy in this current administration.  in this country of hats, can we please wear the ‘what’s best for ALL of us?’ hats?

the wooden stage waits ad nauseam for all of us to have conversation, to ask questions, to work together, to agree to agree;  it waits while we heal, while we ensure people can be well, while we take steps forward-thinking, while we leave personal agenda at the door, escape from the grasp of this viral pandemic and, maybe even more, from this corrupt nation-destructing contagion.

and then, bathed in a spotlight aimed at our ‘what’s best for ALL?’ hats, we will flourish.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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