Creative Action Team Brings Poetry, Energy and Reflection to the World We Make

dalai-lama-CAT693“Greet the sun, listen to the light.” 1000 voices came together as one at the Overture Center in Madison WI, as His Holiness the Dalai Lama sat, listening intently, at the edge of his chair. The Academy for the Love of Learning’s Creative Action Team (CAT) performed this 3 ½ minutes of joyful reflections at the culmination of a three-day meeting presented by the Center for Healthy Minds and in the end, His Holiness pronounced it “Wonderful, wonderful.”

The Academy’s CAT is a team of seasoned creative practitioners who design and facilitate joyful participatory processes and creative engagements for select groups around important topics. Developed by Academy Faculty Chrissie Orr, Molly Sturges and Founder & Faculty Lead Aaron Stern, CAT explores, practices and develops forms unearthing the stories we live by and reflects these forms back to create collective touchstones and shared experiences.

The World We Make, Well-Being in 2030 asked the question, how might the world look roughly 15 years from now if we choose well-being today? CAT engaged with this question beginning Monday evening when, that night, The Academy, in collaboration with SY/Partners, distributed question cards to 100 special guests of the Center for Healthy Minds. The questions on the cards included, “In five words, describe what well-being means to you.” and “What does well-being look like, sound like, taste like, feel like?” Aaron Stern brought the room into a silent reflection (quite a feat considering the atmosphere was a typical function room with clanking cutlery and bustling servers, just proof that contemplation can happen anywhere!). The participants went very deep in their responses and when we brought the beautiful thoughts back to our hotel and the team got to work we realized we had the beginnings of a beautiful creative engagement.

On Tuesday evening the CAT team, which on this trip included Vanessa Torres and Hakim Bellamy in addition to Molly, Chrissie and Aaron, presented the work in progress and Molly led attendees in a conduction, a type of structured free improvisation where Molly directs and conducts a group with a series of hand gestures and catalyzing prompts. Participants reflected on a day spent in community with His Holiness and brought forward one word each, words such as compassion, joy and community mixed with metaphor and sentiment as we all entered into this shared experience and began to feel a part of the overall composition. A community was being built and we entered into a shared experience that we will all remember when we meet in the future.

The public event on Wednesday night with His Holiness the Dalai Lama was moderated by ABC News anchor Dan Harris with a panel that included the Founder of Center for Healthy Minds Richie Davidson, scientist Sona Dimidjian and Soma Stout from “100 Million Healthier Lives.” The presentation was streamed live all over the world and the reaction was immediate. Thank you to those of you from Madison, Santa Fe and all over the world, who have already written and tweeted about the CAT team presentation to say things like:

“The piece was so simple, clean and lucid…a lovely blend of elements that struck just the right note for the start of the program,”

“Just listened to the MOST AMAZING song at ‘The World We Make’, Change Your Mind, Change The World symposium in Madison WI.”

“Greet the sun, listen to the light.” What a beautifully simple mantra”

“In everyone, I see myself. Shed a tear”

What an honor and a pleasure to have our work, work that is so intimate and intentional, scaled to this level while still retaining it’s depth of feeling and transformational intention.

The full presentation is now available to watch online and we will be continuing to share stories and pictures in the coming days. If you or your organization is interested in working with our Creative Action Team please contact us.

Read more about CAT at The World We Make: The Academy’s Creative Action Team brings the power of participatory story to The World We Make with His Holiness the Dalai Lama