It is that time of year again. The time where we try to make time to see those that we hold dear. With the fast paced American life, some of us only have this time to see family. This brings up an interesting question about our roots and why some of us drift so far apart that the only interaction we have with those that we used to see everyday is through social media. It is so easy to become detached from your roots because that is what is expected of you in independent America. But we also need to remember that everyone has an extremely limited amount of time on this Earth. So how do we balance the family that we take for granted with the expectations of society.
We are becoming very busy and this leads to time flying by. It is hard to believe that the next generation in my family are already in grade school learning societal norms. They go to school and come home then race to the tablets and televisions to get their afternoon fix. The holidays were a time where we watch "Santa Clause is Coming to Town" and help bake cookies while exploring what we were grateful for before the year came to a close. Now I notice all the youngsters on their electronics while Santa Clause is on and the texts are flying during cookie time. In a world of growing technology, how do we break the new status quo and reconnect with our loved ones. Time is already limited enough and the ever changing world is shortening it even more.
Life always has a way of keeping us from our family. It is either because of work, an activity we have been planning, or distance between our old life and new. During this holiday time I challenge you to set aside 24 hours of being disconnected from the man made barriers and spend time with family members that you may not have seen in awhile. Cook together, play interactive holiday board or card games, build that snowman so that we can reestablish the bonds and stop the growing abyss.
The Internet & Me
Growing up as a Millennial, my evolution into adulthood paralleled the evolution of social media. As an 11 year old, I had my brother’s old “hand-me-down” computer in my bedroom and most exciting, it was a Gateway. This meant that all the cool computer games, like “Sims,” were available for hours of play. My mom’s Macintosh only had educational games. Unfortunately, the computer games weren’t enough once I discovered where all the cool kids were. The cool kids were on the Internet. I went over to a friend’s house one day after school and discovered how much I was missing out on. There was AOL Instant Messaging (AIM), Xanga, Limewire and more. The Internet seemed like a place of possibility for discoveries; a place of mystery and salvation from my awkwardness. My super cool Gateway did not have Internet as I wasn’t allowed to explore this new world. Another problem was, my mom grounded me every single time she caught me on the Internet. Still, mom couldn’t touch me while at a friend’s.
Some of the screen names I created for myself are quite embarrassing. Of course I wanted to create something mature, cool, unique… like puppydoglover38, twinkletoes8960 and I can’t forget hottiehot38 and lilbebephat38. All saying I’m a little girl, trying to be a cool, big girl. There was Xanga, an online journal, which we call a blog today. I spilled the beans about crushes, happenings at school, fights with my parents, talked about my day or whatever else consuming my thoughts in Middle School. Then came MySpace and then eventually Facebook. One cooler than the next and I trying to personify my online coolness with each page design and posting. Gradually, I began to realize I was trying to create and portray a life that I wanted people to see. That life wasn’t authentic. I saw postings from friends and felt envious. There lives seemed fun and carefree. My middle and high school years were not like others my age. I went to dance class six days out of the week. My friends and I hung out in my basement with a frozen pizza, two liter of pop and a rented movie. We sometimes even made videos off my mom’s digital camera, too. There were no high school parties. I was, what us Millennials would say, a square.
A square I am and that’s ok. I’m grateful for my squareness because my squareness allowed me to question why. Why do I work so hard to create this online version of Sara that meets the criteria of others? Despite feeling slightly envious, I realized I had bigger fish to fry and better parties to attend. I realized I was not my online life I worked diligently to create. My life is my physical form. Because honestly, who really cares what restaurant I’m eating at, that I’m drinking coffee or how cute I look. Posting is a choice. Being online is choice. The beauty of our relationship with the Internet is a choice, like any other relationship. We can share our worlds and we can keep them private. I personally, love keeping my life private. I love being able to share when I choose and live presently. I also love being able to share my thoughts or experiences when I find them relevant or worth sharing. There’s a power to the Internet and the social media worlds we have accounts with. It’s the way our organization is able to connect and engage with our audiences. The Internet has something for everyone if you go looking for it. While I appreciate the positives of social media use and appreciate how it’s evolved as a tool in social justice, I want to be present in my world and create change here. If you want to get to know me, let’s have a face-to-face conversation.
Let’s go out and do stuff!
No Man is an Island
Collaboration is key to making effective change. The proverb “no man is an island” rings true in these turbulent times as it falls onto us to initiate that change. Joined together, we create a persuasive voice that is hard to ignore with the power to influence nations. Most believe that these voices can begin in the Arts community. But as was said, “no man is an island”.
The end of the year giving is an important sustainable facet of our Arts community. The audience of these organizations may not understand the price that we pay to bring quality productions to them at a bargain price. Donations are an extremely massive portion of the funds that allow us to operate and tell our stories. Without them, we are unable to fill the void that is needed in the city of Chicago.
At this time, it is vitally important to explore the reality of how much we rely on donations and how they keep us contributed to the community. According to the 2015 Charity Navigator, about $373.25 billion is made available to all non-profit organizations total. Arts organizations only see 5% of that number or $18.66 billion spread amongst ALL arts organizations. Here’s a breakdown of how contributed income supports a standard arts organization:
Corporations - 5%
Bequests – 9%
Foundations – 16%
Individual Donations – 71%
That is why there would be no Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble without the continued support of our current donors and the gracious gifts of from our new donors. 81% of our budget goes towards funding our programming. Our audience should know the major impact that they have on the accessibility of our stories and what it takes to keep them alive. In order to grow and ask the bigger questions, we need to take action in spreading our tales to those who have yet to see them.
In Chicago, we are the only multidisciplinary arts organization that engages in social justice material that gives the community tools to challenge the status quo. We are living in an important moment where we stand on the precipice of change. We can join hands and take a leap of faith together into a bright future or we may stay standing, watching the events unfold before us without challenging what comes next.
This is the reason why we need to grow and join our voices to make sure we are heard. CDE has many communication outlets for you to come and engage in conversation about the society we live in. There you can see what we are doing to take a stand and maybe after some time getting to know us, you may join hands with us and leap into a brighter tomorrow.
Mitchell is a Junior at Depaul University working towards degrees in Theatre Management and Marketing. In his free time, he's an Actor, House Manager and Gamer. Mitchell joined CDE this past Fall as a Marketing Intern. He's excited to learn new facet of marketing techniques for the socio-political works that CDE creates.