Monday, August 20, 2012

I'm Worried


With only a few days to go, I have to admit, I’m getting worried. For the past three weeks, I’ve been trying to raise money for a project. I’ve raised about 10% so far, and that’s not without a bit of spamming and shaming my friends and family. I live in a reasonably stable section of the planet. The amount I’m trying to raise shouldn’t be too big a deal. I have two meetings coming up where I’m hoping to convince some people of the importance of my ideas, but, one never knows how those things will turn out.

Perhaps a little background is in order.

A few months ago, the local school district where I live hosted a meeting outlining the latest ruling from the state. It was actually bigger than that. A law had been passed, outlining the steps schools had to take to ensure that bullying, discrimination and general assholery would no longer be tolerated among the students. No more shoving the geek in a locker, no more marginalizing the fat kid. The real thrust of it, though, was tolerance. Kids that identified as gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual were to be treated as if they deserved basic human dignity. They were to be treated as if they should be judged by their actions instead of being judged by how far they were from “normal” or “typical”.

Excellent in theory. Impossible in practice.

Rules and laws, by their definition, require punishments and consequences. But, you can’t legislate intelligence. You can’t punish someone into believing something they don’t believe. If you have a kid who delights in pushing around a smaller kid, no amount of punishment will change that. The only option is to try and reach that kid through meaningful dialogue. The only chance to change that kid is to prove to him that there are no “groups” or “communities” of people except the one we all share.
Schools are going to need tools that they can use to get those kinds of conversations started.

So, I wrote a play. I plan to produce it and film it. I want to make the subsequent film available to schools to be used as a way to help get those conversations started.

After I wrote it, I took it to a school administration official. I asked him if he thought I’d hit the right tone. I asked him if I had gone too far, or not far enough. I picked his brain and made sure that what I had on paper was what was needed to make a difference. He assured me that this was a worthwhile idea, and my script was definitely something that could help.

My confidence bolstered, I sat down with some really creative people and asked them to help me. I asked them to read it and consider directing it and handling the musical direction. Gracefully, they agreed. So, I started a campaign on one of the online crowd funding websites. After a few fits and starts, I got my project up and running.

More creative people signed on. I secured the actress I wanted for the lead role, and another that I had written a pivotal role for as well. Through my director friend, I am excited about the choreographer that has agreed to be involved. My wife has agreed to manage the project, and no better project manager can be found. My friend who will be in charge of costumes is second to none in terms of tenacity and brilliance under fire. It is all coming together. Now I just need to secure the rest of the funding.

If I don’t make it, the project may be shelved for a while, while I try other sources of funding. More likely, though - this project will die.

Please help. Follow this link to contribute. Dance Play project.
I could tell you the story, I could tell you all about my childhood and how I got to where I am now. I could tell you why this is important to me and why it should be important to you. But, the bottom line is that these kids need to be able to go to school and learn without fear or having to smile through the indignities other kids visit upon them. I want to help make that happen.

I was telling a friend about this project and how worthy it is and he said to me, “Hey, what are you going to do? The world is a cruel place.” I thought about that for a minute, and replied, “No, it isn’t. It’s just full of cruel people.” But to his question, I indicated my project and said. “This is what I’m going to do. What are you going to do?”

And so, I ask you the same question. Will you help? If so, thanks. If not, thanks for reading this far. I hope you find a way to make a difference, too.