Our rebroadcast of "Play, Spirit, and Character" allows me a natural entry point into sharing the incredible and unforeseen paths this program has taken over the past year. It also reminds me how important it is to get out, attend events, and experience what other people are imbibing. Doing this is one of the best ways of finding interesting program topics that are truly relevant in one's daily life.

Over the past year, this program has resulted in a strange and wonderful lifecycle, which I'll quickly recount with bullet points:

  • I attend the 2007 PUSH Conference at the Walker Art Center and hear Stuart Brown speak, then
  • Hearing the audience response to Stuart Brown's presentation, I recount my experience while speaking with Krista and the staff. Krista says book him, then
  • Krista interviews Dr. Brown. The conversation takes a rather serious tone to begin and rather dark by discussing mass murderers. We question whether it would make an interesting hour of radio since the conversation lacked the levity and playfulness we expected when thinking about a show on play, then
  • Mitch collects compelling audio of kids swimming, dogs frolicking, and immigrants playing softball that illustrate points made. A show is produced, then
  • I contact National Geographic photographer Norbert Rosing and pair his images with Stuart Brown's talk to produce a brief narrated slide show. Digg.com and other social sites pick up "Animals at Play" resulting in more than three million views on speakingoffaith.org and 125,000 views on YouTube and Vimeo, then
  • We partner with USC's Annenberg School of Communications and the News21 Initiative to present a student's production of young adults swinging on the rings in Santa Monica, then
  • I get a call from a documentary producer at the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) asking about the popularity of the polar bear/sled dog video for their documentary on polar bear fever, then
  • Photographer Norbert Rosing phones to tell me the traffic to his site has more than tripled and that he's moved his polar bear photography books and photos to the home page because they are selling so quickly, then
  • An editor from a London tabloid paper e-mails asking for the original scans of the polar bear/sled dog images for a feature piece, then
  • Paul Holdengraber from the New York Public Library on 42nd Street invites Krista and Stuart Brown to be part of their NYPL Live! series. The evening results in a sold-out house, then
  • The following week The New York Times Magazine's cover features an in-depth piece, "Taking Play Seriously," keying off of the event and Stuart Brown.

I attended an "ideas" conference with the thought that I would learn a little something new and meet a few people in the process; I had no intention of doing research for future SOF shows. That is, until I heard gasps of awe from the crowd during Stuart Brown's presentation of polar bears and sled dogs playing in the wilds of Canada, and passionate discussion about raising kids with a sense of play and bringing that same sense of lightheartedness to work.

The journalist in me kicked in; I'm supposed to act on behalf of you, of those who can't attend such events and share that information. Some of my colleagues were skeptical about the conference. They professed that the connection of ideas was nothing new or groundbreaking — but that wasn't the point.

We work in a rich media environment in which we're constantly bumping into other areas of discipline and making those connections. I get the privilege of actually sitting next to folks who work on documentaries, epicureans who write cookbooks and produce wonderful food shows, classical musicians and new media gurus, investigative journalists, and so on. Oh, and MPR brings in fabulous speakers like critic Terry Teachout, former CNN anchor Aaron Brown, classical musicians Trio Medieaval, and Ray Suarez to speak to us when they're in town.

Most people don't experience this panoply of big ideas on a daily basis; they work in very specialized industries making the numbers work and the products better. They may love their jobs, but they thirst for greater understanding and to simply play at the idea of an interconnected world of seemingly disparate ideas. I believe we did that with this show, and it makes me proud.

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5Reflections

Reflections

thank you for your openness to possibilites! I am currently working on helping people discover their dependable strengths in our congregation in cleveland, mn. in order to do that we collect good experiences, which are often memories from our childhood that are "play" related. It helps us see the choices available to us in the world of work, home, community and congregation in a different light. This approache encourages interconnectedness and imagination and fun, which i believe are all aspects of play. i will definitely share this video and program with my group. thanks for sharing your insight with us. pastor shelly olson

This SOF about play, talent and spirituality comes at exactly the time I'm delving into writing about different tools to inspire the creative spirit. Listening to the NPR program gave me more insight into the topic, as well as helping me fill in or begin to put together some puzzle pieces in my life. Thank you so much for following your intuition to follow that path to create the program.

Thank you for following your heart to take the path to production for this program. It comes at exactly the right time for me, providing valuable insight into the topic of play and creative spirit, as I've been delving into the area of what does inspire our talent and creativity and what tools we may discover or "recover" to open up that aspect of our lives.

Thank you for following your heart to take the path to production for this program. It comes at exactly the right time for me, providing valuable insight into the topic of play and creative spirit, as I've been delving into the area of what does inspire our talent and creativity and what tools we may discover or "recover" to open up that aspect of our lives.

The regenerating aspects of play to creativity is a known subject to those of us who rely on being inspired to perform in our daily pursuits. My most productive play takes me out of being in my head and into a place where I am allowed to safely let go and be spontaneous: Improvisational Dance, "Soul Motion", and "5 Rhythm's Dance" are movement based practices allowing one to explore their inner consciousness by being in the moment. Being spontaneous in movement becomes a transformative mediation that leads us to a explore a unique experience every time we engage in it.
Everyone has their own dance to dance. When we dance as a group we have the opportunity to reflect back our perception of those movements around us or to join like a flock of birds moving as one. Sometimes, our dance can turn us all back into children, given those that maybe witnessing what is transpiring, a sense of watching children run and play on the playground. Other times we become one entity uniting our movements to solve a problem of intent as a whole communicating only through our movements. Walls go down, confidence builds, our ability to see beyond what we thought was only true, fears dissolve, our hearts and minds open allowing our spirits to soar, our bodies no longer limited by the limitations of our physicality. Who engages in this dance? People of all ages, from those that love to move, to people who are limited by a disability; even those in wheelchairs have a inner dance to dance. We leave the dance relaxed, with a renewed state of awareness capable of perceiving the details of the world around us. Creativity flows when we are no longer inhibited and distracted by external pressures and stress, it flows when we allow it to discover the moment for what it is and then pursue the path it offers us to explore.

Go to these web sites to learn more: < www. ecstaticdance.com >, < 5rhythmsdance.com >,
< www.soulmotion.com >

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