Sheila K. Collins Website



October  2012  

Masthead Sheila K. Collins from Website

 Dear ,


So close to our national election, the theme this month had to be related to politics. I've written some thoughts on how and why the systems we use to communicate on this issue don't work well with some suggestions for others that might work better. Take a look and let me know what you think.


As luck would have it, InterPlay co-founder Phil Porter will be in Pittsburgh leading a workshop and performance jam on the topic, "Playing Around With Politics". As our troupe has been practicing to prepare for Phil's visit, I've noticed the value of using InterPlay to explore this complex topic. Instead of debating back and forth how the opposition is wrong, improvisation requires that no energy be spent discounting or disagreeing with what someone else has contributed. This central agreement is known as "yes, and..." Yes, I accept what you have offered, and I add my contribution.


This system might not work for the larger "body politic" but we're planning to have fun with it, and who knows, we may discover some simple truths underlying the complex issues our nation and the world are grappling with. If you live nearby we'd love to have you join us. 





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Almost always the creative dedicated minority has made the made the world better. Upcoming Events
"Playing Around With Politics"

Twisted, spiky, almost grotesque appearing trees proliferate in the high desert where my new granddaughter lives. Mormon settlers named them when they spotted the trees in their migration west. To them, the trees appeared as the biblical character Joshua with his arms outstretched, urging them on.
October 1, 2012  
We're in the desert again, this time to attend a baby blessing for our granddaughter who lives here. There's something about deserts that call to the spiritual side of people.


We're just back from a Play conference where hardly anyone played. There were over one hundred sessions, and according to the topics, people talked about play, gave research papers about play, offered strategies for breaking down barriers to play, and suggestions for designing playgrounds for play.  


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Playing Around with Politics

 My sister's been working hard in her community in Michigan, encouraging people to register, trying to convince people to vote for her candidate, and on election day, she will be helping people actually get to the polls. She reminds me there's still time to contribute and at least do our civic duty. I've never wanted to miss out on exercising my right to vote, knowing what it cost our foremothers to gain the vote for women, which happened in this country, less than 100 years ago in 1920.


George Mcgovern QuoteBut I've been having more trouble than usual relating to the way the political conversation is currently being conducted. Most political campaigns seem like, with the help of the media, they're playing a game of "gottcha." Strategies in this game include catching someone using an awkward expression, digging up statements people made years ago when circumstances were different, and taking present statements out of context and replaying them dozens of times a day in negative television ads.


Is this the way to learn about a candidate and what kind actions he would take once in office? As David Brooks has pointed out in his column in the New York Time, the skills needed to run for office are different and often opposite of the skills needed to govern. "Campaign consciousness involves simplifying your own positions, exaggerating your opponent's weaknesses, and magnifying the differences between your relative positions. In governing mode, you have to do the reverse of all these things."


Rather than holding public debates, perhaps we should hold public dialogues to find out what someone actually believes and what they would want to accomplish if elected or returned to office. The debate form can't get us there because the debate form requires each person to listen with the question - How can I counter and make that person's idea wrong when it's my turn for rebuttal? In dialogue, each person listens with the question - What part of what the other person is saying seems right? On what do we agree so that we may someday be able to reach common ground?


Legislation is designed and passed on the basis of people being able to agree to some actions, either from deeply felt convictions, or by making a compromise, finding and exercising "the art of the possible," for the good of the whole. Without this, as we've seen recently, the system becomes gridlocked.    


Phil Porter-Co founder of Interplay

I'd like to recommend another creative way to explore the issues.

Sunday Oct. 28th in Pittsburgh we will be using InterPlay, a system of collaborative play, to explore and share our political beliefs and opinions. InterPlay co-founder Phil Porter will lead a workshop and Performance Jam titled; Playing Around With Politics. Phil was recently in Washington DC leading a two-day workshop on this topic. I don't know if any actual politicians were there, but I'm sure they would have enjoyed themselves and learned a great deal about their constituents if they were.

Jackie Mason Classic Political Comedy
Jackie Mason 
Classic Political Comedy
Joe Tex  - I Gotcha
Joe Tex - I Gotcha

Sheila K. Collins, PhD 
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