Opening Doors

Opening Doors

This Human Interest Story goes back a few years. Somehow it just found its way to me via a share on Facebook. Maybe because it originates in Canada.

Like so many stories shared here, it involves a teen that has dealt with some adversity and ends up at the questionable point in their life road which can lead to two distinct outcomes; poor choices that are difficult to dig out from or a positive one that elevates all around them. Josh Yandt was struggling with the death of his father and a move from a simple rural life into a larger pool in Ontario. Also having a slight lisp and some bad blood from Bullying experiences, he made a bold choice not to retreat in this unfamiliar new world, but to approach it with authentic opportunity.

His simple action was to arrive to school early and open the door for students as they entered the building. Nothing more than a “hello” or “have a good day.” New classmates did not know how to react at first but came to know him as the Doorman. Over time his actions led to warm reception as many of the student body began to also Pay It Forward. He ended up winning over the entire school where he was accepted with open arms and validation. It took nothing more than an action and a desire to make change; both within and at large. Simple Story, Monumental Difference! Today he enjoys a career in Public Speaking.

Being Alive

Being Alive

As I am crafting some new language for Residency work in regard to Diversity and Anti-Bullying, I read this fabulous photo essay of Gay Youth across the globe. So often we hear the stories of tremendous loss because of sexuality issues. They happened years ago and continue recently with the loss of Leelah Alcorn. But this is great to see models of confidence and strength. These bold individuals are literally every color of the rainbow and uniquely themselves. Check out this great work of photog M. Sharkey and his panel of movers and shakers for the next generation.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/gabrielsanchez/queer-youth-of-today#.vsBZzpRD96

Mars, 18 - New York City

Faye, 21 - New York City

One Size Fits All

One Size Fits All

Moreso in theatre than in other fields, we realize the above statement to be not only false, but demeaning and simplistic. We are all colors of the rainbow and should embrace that rather than spending an entire lifetime trying to conform and adjust.

This very simple BuzzFeed demonstration communicates this in an obvious way. 6 models are asked to try on women’s basics that are advertised as One Size Fits All. These are different women not only in physique but in personality. It is comic to see their honest attempts at a wardrobe. But what is even sillier to me, is why would each of them want to be wearing the same things.

I know I can get gentle rubs for the choices I wear. I have always been attracted to bright colors and odd accessories like cuff links and bow ties. But they are another way of expressing who I am and how I want to be perceived by others. This last New Year’s I boldly ventured into a Forever 21 store when my eye caught the shirt on the display mannequin. “What was a 50 year old man doing buying a trendy shirt that a hipster would not even dare to don?” But I bought the shirt in the dusty rose floral and had a great time wearing it, and thought I looked great in it. Yeah for Me!

Teens React To Tyler Oakley

Teens React to Tyler Oakley

Teens React is a video blog where average teens are exposed to archaic inventions and contemporary trends. The responses can be very amusing to us adults as we observe just how “behind the times” we have become.

I found this installment especially telling in terms of the tolerance that we are constantly noting as upstanders here at YPC. Whether it is race or homophobia – there does seem to be a line in the sand that is becoming more faint and it is great to see that in the younger generation. All the teens were exposed to Tyler Oakley and his video blog entries. If you don’t know him, he is a flamboyant pixie with a colorful personality and opinions on all things large and small. The first impression is his cotton candy pompadour that changes colors from pink to lavender on a regular basis. The reactions from every teen who saw him – regardless of their gender or background – was that he had a great energy and positive spirit and they were drawn to him no matter what his sexual orientation. To note this, even the days of Will & Grace or Ugly Betty stereotypes seem long gone which is encouraging.

A Mighty Girl

A Mighty Girl

Never underestimate the power of a teenager with strong ideals and incentive. This great tale is the legacy of 13 yr old Trisha Prabhu from Chicago. In the spirit of being a proud “Upstander to Bullying”, she is introducing a new software called Rethink that encourages posters on Facebook to think twice before they hit send on nasty comments.

It sounds easy enough, but she backs it up with scientific information about deductive logic that is not fully developed in young adults. This extra step in the process allows for reflection and consequences. Using Google analytics she found that this newly created software was able to impact 93% of the time. Amazing work as she continues into the Final round of the Google Science Fair.

A Mighty Girl FB page

Hand of Power

Hand of Power

I know Halloween is a great time for both families and youngsters to embrace our alter egos and tap into some of our creative sides – if not just for a single night. Especially with our mad-cap production of Dracula going on. (Shameless plug.)

But this query looks a few days ahead and give focus to some of our young adults as they enter into the legal age to vote. Election Day is just a few days after in the 1st week of November. It is the beginning of your very important electoral right and legacy. So remember to register, vote and that your vote does count.

A great recruiting tool being utilized by the #RocktheVote campaign. Empower yourself.

Being Bookish

Being Bookish – in honor of Banned Book Week

This is a great Human Interest story from our own ranks that strikes a personal note with me. Mary Petrie is a vital part of YPC as a parent. Her daughter Scarlett is a current president of YAC and Mary is a constant supporter of all we do. Mary is a writer by nature if not by trade, teaching at Inver Hills CC and has also been given a Loft Award and a MN State Arts Grant. But outside life and detours didn’t allow her the total life of a working author. Until this summer when her son self-published a tabled work for her by surprise.

Mary:StrykerThe book is titled “At the End of Magic” and deals with grief and loss between an angry young mother and a college student. It came close, but was never printed by a major publishing company. Enter her 18 year old son Stryker who stepped in with a bit of mischief and a lot of bravado. He asked for files of the draft to read and then set about the task of editing and publishing the book himself via CreateSpace. In June he presented her with a proof copy of the book wrapped in blue tissue paper. Mary says “I have been lit with desire to work,” “I wake up wondering, ‘What can I do next to promote my book?’ ”

What is ironic about this story, is that I just did the same exact thing for my mom Joanne Babay. She gave up dreams of writing and poetry years back to raise a family. Life took her other places but she always manages to stumble back into a class here and some new work there. Just like Styker, I am a loyal fan and gentle confidant. For her birthday last year, my partner and I spent our winter months collecting, editing and finding pictures to present her with a finished book. She feels the same way with a reignited passion and validation that at age 74 she has fulfilled a life long goal of being a published author. Any Dream Will Do!

 

Top High Schools 2014

Top High Schools 2014

First off, a very eager shout out to our local Minnesota Schools who were recently listed in the Daily Beast Top Schools survey. It is an interesting rubric that used 6 criteria to measure all public schools. Mixed in with stats like GPA and graduation are other factors like college placement and “rigor” which looks at extra curricular activity. I have no idea of the algorithms that are involved, but it certainly sounds like a somewhat valid method not all based on test scores which seems to be the “industry standard.”

Edina High School placed highest at 53rd. They were followed by Eagan, Orono, Chanhassen, Eden Prairie, Chaska & Eastview; with other districts like Apple Valley, Andover, Rosemount, Champlin & Blaine among the cut below 500. It is not surprising that states like Texas, New York and California seemed to dominate the list. But without taking any merit away from these fabulous schools – you can see that the issue of privilege and affluence continue to dominate. Just like the last blog post I made about Ivy League colleges. There is not a single school on this impressive roster coming from Minneapolis or St Paul. Other cities like Denver, Miami, Dallas, Chicago or even Buffalo managed to make an impact with at least a single school noted. What are we missing in the process in spite of our great business economy and employment rates in the Twin Cities? It would seem the socio-economic climate is right for success here. Is it a matter of priorities? A lack of leadership and vision? I have no answers and I assume that the puzzle is so big that any answer would be hard to suggest.

Again, I go back to what I know in my arts advocacy; And not that it is the answer that would solve all the gaps here. But we need to keep making our voice heard that the arts do have a measurable impact in students lives and the leadership legacy they continue after school. And I can vouch that each of the schools that did make this list have much to offer in the realm of theater and music programs; each and every one of them. I’m just saying!