Reserve your seats now for Sunday's Voice Box Session (July 16) with Jetty Rae. A native of Charlevoix, Jetty Rae is a singer- songwriter known for her powerful and melodic voice that’s just right for bluesy folk rock. Taking moving and meaningful lyrics and adding equal parts soul and indie rock carries her audience to a depth that few artists can. You can also hear Jetty’s music in a number of TV commercials for brands such as Microsoft, Petco, Ben & Jerry’s, and more. Reserve your seats by calling or texting 231.838.6460. Seating is limited and we can not guarantee seats for those who have not made reservations. Voice Box Sessions are held at Cycling Salamander Gallery at 2217 US31 South, Charlevoix, MI (7 miles south of Charlevoix) Doors open at 6:30, concert from 7-8pm and open mic from 8-9pm. Open mic participants should arrive 15 minutes early to sign up for the 5 open mic slots.
Singer-songwriter Jenny Thomas will be the featured performer for the season opener of the Voice Box Sessions on July 2. Established by Real People Media in 2013, the Voice Box Sessions features emerging and established singer-songwriters and musicians in a warm and supportive venue. Each session is recorded and shared on www.realpeoplemedia.org.
RPM welcomes back, Jenny Thomas, a Voice Box Sessions favorite. Jenny will delight you with her homespun voice, natural style, and heartfelt “slices of life” lyrics. Her personal songwriting style makes listeners grin and sometimes even cry. Jenny grew up in Elk Rapids and currently lives and performs in Traverse City at venues such as the Acoustic Tap Room, Shine Cafe, Left Foot Charlie and Taproot. Will Thomas, Jenny’s son, will accompany her on percussion.
Voice Box Sessions are open to the public by donation. Following the featured performer, RPM opens the mic to singer-songwriters, musicians, poets and performance artists. The audience is invited to come early on July 2nd to enjoy the opening reception of “Once Upon a Time,” an exhibit of paintings which share a story. The meet-the-artist reception is from 5:30pm-7pm, the concert begins at 7:00pm. Open Mic from 8:00-9:00pm.
Voice Box Sessions are held at the Cycling Salamander Gallery 7 miles south of Charlevoix on U.S. 31. The Summer schedule includes: Jenny Thomas, July 2; Kevin Johnson, July 9; Jetty Rae, July 16; Sean Miller, July 23; Lena Dorey, July 30; and Dwain Martin, August 13.
Some stories are hard to tell. Some stories are equally hard to hear, but they need to be shared. How does one begin to share a difficult story of abuse, neglect or the horrors and atrocities of war? It is well documented that people shut down or turn away when stories are too overwhelming. So how do you reach people when they don't want to listen or when words are too much?
Jeanne Hewell-Chambers, the founder of the 70,273 project shares a horrible story in a creative way. Her approach enticed me to learn about more about a difficult subject. I'll share how I learned about the project.
May is mental health awareness month and I recently attended a forum on Mental Health Awareness at the Traverse City governmental building (see earlier blog post). From across the room I spotted an artistic quilt display featuring bright red xx's on a white background with the caption, ""70,273 Project." Intrigued, I made my way to that information table. What I quickly learned was 70,273 was the number of "disabled" persons who were murdered by the Nazi's between 1940 and 1941. Doctors, working for the Nazis, were asked to read case studies about people with disabilities. They were asked to judge whether this person was an asset or detriment to society. Each case was read by three doctors. If two doctors put an X next to the person's file, this meant they were deemed not productive to society and were rounded up and murdered.
Jeanne Hewell-Chambers: writer, stitcher, and storyteller learned of this horrible crime while viewing the film Auschwitz: The Nazis and 'The Final Solution. She decided to share this story by creating Project 70,273. She is collecting a quilt block for each disabled person murdered by the Nazis between 1940-1941. Not only does it share this story in a way that can be heard, it also serves as a loving memorial to those who were murdered.
To learn more about this project and how you can participate, visit the facebook page or website at thebarefootheart.com. And yes please share this story!
May is National Mental Health month and last night I attended a free mental health educational forum called "In Our Own Voices" presented by the Traverse City Human Rights Commission. The evening included the showing of the film “Embracing the Paradox” by Steve Morris followed by people with varied mental health issues sharing their personal stories. Susan Odgers, board member of both the Traverse City Human Rights Commission and Real People Media, facilitated the event. Susan, who has used a wheelchair for the past 41 years, also writes a monthly column about people living with disabilities for the Traverse City Record Eagle. Below is May's article.
Every one of us loves someone living with a mental illness
BY SUSAN ODGERS Local columnist
At the age of three, standing in the hallway outside of her bedroom, I remember hearing my great-grandmother, a tall, big-boned Appalachian woman, moaning from her bed, “Harv, please, another pill.”
My great-grandpa, Harvey, began his childhood working in the Kentucky coal mines. By the time I was born, he owned hundreds of acres of farmland and numerous downstate apartment rentals. In our family, no one worked harder nor was wiser than Harvey. Confused, I asked my mother why grandpa wouldn't help great-grandma. In a whispered voice weighted with shame, my mother said “Great-grandma Mina is having one of her spells. Grandpa isn't supposed to give her any more medicine.”
Much later I'd realize that Grandma Mina's suffering was due to a mental illness. It was also one of the few challenges my great-grandfather felt ill-equipped to meet.
I often think of my relatives, where I came from and our particular psychology. I believe that's part of the reason I became a teacher, writer, activist and therapist. The wedding ring I've worn for 35 years was also worn by five generations of women in my mother's family. I'm a part of that circle around my finger; their history is my history.
Jack, my firstborn nephew, was the eldest of four siblings. A sweet, tall blond haired young man, he was a thinker with an eagerness to please. Nearly 20 years ago, as a 17-year-old senior, Jack committed suicide. In a short period of time, several students at his high school also committed suicide; earning it the nickname "Suicide High."
From his younger siblings to his grandparents, I never saw my family in more pain. Jack's death changed us all.
Every one of us loves someone living with a mental illness — military veterans with PTSD, college students with eating disorders and anxiety, older adults with depression, various addictions, schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder, children with learning issues and spouses with suicidal ideation. These illnesses impact thinking, mood and behavior. They also can be treated.
Just the other day, my friend, Satya, a family practice resident, was telling me that many physicians know beyond any doubt, that a patient's mental and physical health must be addressed together. To do otherwise is to not treat the whole person.
We live in a region with a former state mental institution, yet many of us know little about our neighbors who lived there. Currently, we worry that people with mental illness are violent, criminal and dangerous. However, according to the American Psychological Association, research doesn't bear this out. By far, the majority of people with mental illness are more likely to be the victims of crime, not the perpetrators. Funding parity for mental health and physical health programs has yet to be achieved. There's much more that we all need to know about mental illness.
Susan Odgers is a 30-year resident of Traverse City and has been using a wheelchair for 41 years. She is a faculty member of Northwestern Michigan College and Grand Valley State University. She can be reached by contacting the Record-Eagle.
How can storytelling help us to better communicate? That is a question which we are constantly asking ourselves at Real People Media. A good storyteller succeeds when he/she captures our attention and entices us to really listen. Good storytelling enables us to empathize with the characters and their struggles, fears and dreams.
Below is a video project which I refer to as a digital dialogue between Americans and Palestinians. For me it was an experiment in storytelling. Normally we think that a really meaningful dialogue between people would happen face to face, but I believe this dialogue is successful because it happened over time and distance. Sometimes when people are upset or very emotional, have conflicting views, etc. it can be difficult for them to really listen to each other. This project enabled Palestinians to discover American view points in a nonthreatening environment (their university) It allowed Americans to safely express their views without judgement. Americans from different backgrounds and view points participated. Students and staff at An Najah University in Nablus, Palestine were able to read the American comments (in English and Arabic) and then respond. I hope you'll take time to watch this 20-minute video and share it with others. We welcome your comments! Perhaps you would like to start your own project? We would be happy to help you!.
Real People Media is excited to bring back our singer/songwriter performance series called the Voice Box Sessions. First established in 2013, the Voice Box Sessions allows emerging And established singer/songwriters and musicians to perform in a warm and supportive venue. The series is professionally recorded and presented on our youtube channel. The program assists performers by creating professional content which they can use to promote themselves to music venues and festivals. Following the one-hour performance by our featured performer, RPM opens the stage to poets, storytellers, singer/songwriters and musicians. Voice Box Sessions are open to the public by donation. Voice Box Sessions will be held at the Cycling Salamander Gallery located 7 miles south of Charlevoix on U.S. 31 South. 2017 Voice Box Session Dates are: July 2, July 16, July 30, and August 13.
We invite performers of all ages to fill out a performer application under Programs, Voice Box Sessions. Open mic participants need not fill out an application but they should come 15 minutes early to sign up for the open mic.
For those of you who love to make music but are not interested in performing, you can come join our summer jam sessions at the Cycling Salamander on Tuesday nights from 7-9pm. Jams begin on June 20!
Often referred to as "The Tunnel of Trees," M-119 is considered by many to be one of Michigan's most beautiful drives. Starting at Bay View in Petoskey, the road winds through Harbor Springs and up the coast for 28 miles until it ends in the peaceful little community of Cross Village. The idea to do a audio tour of this heritage highway came to me from a friend who had taken an audio tour in Hawaii called The Road to Hana. The idea congealed for a couple of years before the project got underway. The result is an 80-minute tour which includes stories and songs from the people who work, live and play along this beautiful stretch of road. This project is a few years old so we do not recommend that you rely on it for business information, but the stories and the history are timeless.
Real People Media wants to share this wonderful road with you by offering the tour as a free audio download or on your computer. Enjoy this beautiful drive in early May when the woods are full of trillium and the ponds are alive with the sound of spring peepers. If you like the program, please consider making a donation to Real People Media. Real People Media recorded all the interviews and narration, edited the program and completed all graphic design work with no compensation. We did this because we value the stories and history of this scenic highway and feel it is important to record and share this with the community. However, this is not without cost. We spent nearly $8,000 on this production. Your donation allows us to produce future works and to help others share their stories. We invite you to share your thoughts about the project below or in a private email message. For more information about the project, visit our Success Stories at the tab above.
Congratulations to Real People Media Board President Susan Odgers for being one of the four finalists selected to present at the 2017 TEDxTraverse City! Susan and 18 other individuals (who were selected from a pool of 80 applicants!) gave a three-minute presentation for Pitch Night at the Milliken Auditorium in Traverse City. This year's theme is "......There's something more." Finalists were selected based on audience reaction (voting via ballot) and panel review.
Susan and the other finalists will present a six-minute presentation at TEDxTraverse City on May 17, 2017. Tickets go on sale April 12 (and sell out almost immediately) Congratulations to all the finalists (below) and we hope you'll join us in celebrating the art of storytelling in May!
Are you curious about starting a podcast, or would you like to learn to create better audio tracks for your videos? Sign up for our Introduction to Audio Editing Workshop presented by Sean Twomey. This 3-hour crash course will teach you the basics of audio production––beginning with interviewing techniques that capture clean audio and ending with learning to edit interview segments into a seamless, flowing narrative. Workshop participants will learn to edit audio using the Hindenburg Journalist Digital Audio Workstation. This software is quickly becoming a industry standard for broadcast radio and podcast production. Hindenburg Systems offers a free 30-day software trial, so this workshop is a cost effective way to dive into audio production and see what you can create. Real People Media receives no compensation for promoting Hindenburg Journalist. We teach it because we use it ourselves.
The workshop will be held in Charlevoix on Thursday, March 23rd, from 6–9pm. The cost is $45. You can sign up online Here.
Instructor, Sean Twomey, has an MFA in writing and Poetics and taught the writing of fiction and nonfiction prose to university students for 7 years while pursuing his PhD. An avid podcast and radio junkie, he was a participant in Transom's first Traveling Workshop on audio storytelling sponsored by Interlochen Public Radio.
Twice this past week I have heard people quote studies which suggest that when a person entrenched in a personal ideology is presented with facts contradicting his/her beliefs, they rarely change their minds but in fact usually become more steadfast in their belief.
For the past 15 years in my video production classes I've "preached" that "facts don't change people. Ironically, In the past six months I have found myself trying to do just that, use facts to change people's minds. I have been putting together what I believed to be well-crafted arguments (full of facts) in response to someone's single sentence diatribe. Surely, when people have all the facts and are educated on the issues, they will "see the light." Studies demonstrate that this is not the case. I have found that this is not the case. You can conduct your own study. Let me know if your findings are different.
But do people change their minds? Yes! They do. I have. And I personally know people who have changed their minds on issues which were highly important to them. Not just minor changes, but they completely changed their world view. For example a radical Jewish American Zionist (self described) who now is a avid proponent of Palestinian rights and against Jewish occupation. Skeptical? What changed his mind and the minds of others?
Stories. Do not underestimate the power of the personal narrative!
I was having a conversation with an acquaintance when she shifted the conversation toward filmmaking and some of my past projects. "That film you did completely changed my viewpoint and understanding of that issue," she confided. I was taken aback. I had no idea that my film would have had any impact on this woman. I had always perceived this woman to be very educated and open to other people and cultures, so quit honestly, I didn't even have her in the category of someone who would have really benefitted from my film.
The film she was speaking of is not full of statistics and charts, rather it is a series of stories told by many different people regarding a social and political situation. There are a few gut-wrenching stories but many narratives simply speak to people's day-to-day struggles. What I have learned over the years, and especially during the making of that film, is that people relate to peoples' simple day-to-day struggles. They relate to lost dreams and opportunities and not to the unimaginable overwhelming (at least for most Americans) pain of war. We think that people will become involved when they witness the horror of war or great environmental devastation. But they don't. They shut down. What people react to and what they can empathize with are the small moments and the "small" stories.
As a filmmaker, I am a bridge between the people who I interview and the audience who views the film. I attempt to make connections between both peoples. It requires understanding and making a connection with both parties, which I'm not always able to make. Sometimes I don't Want to make it. That is usually when my own bias or ego gets in the way. There is also the question of what morsel of information will reach your audience. Sometimes it has been the most trivial thing in a film that will resonate with a person, but it may not resonate at all with me. For a filmmaker this makes the editing room terrifying. What will I cut out of this film that may potentially help another person understand this issue?
For one college age woman, it was a Louis Vuitton handbag (or rather an imitation of a Louis Vuitton handbag) In one of my films, I had recorded a Palestinian mother (in traditional Islamic dress) and her young son getting a hair cut at the barber parlor. I included the moment to show that Palestinian families are much like ours and that life at times is just "normal" What I didn't notice during editing was the mother was holding a Louis Vuitton (knockoff) hand bag. This didn't go unnoticed by the young American student watching the film who said, "I never imagined that they would be into fashion." What she was conveying is that she didn't think "they" would be like me. This moment humanized Palestinians for her. It was such a simple moment, coming very early on in the film, but it made an impact. The power of storytelling.
I never really know whether sharing these stories will make a difference. I'm hopeful, but I don't really know.
In 2003, I was hired to record stories for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians - Waaganakising Odawa. It was the first time in the tribes' history that their stories had been recorded and shared via video. Together we completed four programs on the tribes history and culture. One program was broadcast throughout Michigan via PBS affiliate stations. Another program "Journey to Sovereignty," chronicles the tribe's reaffirmation with the United States Government which led to their sovereign status. The film was shared locally among educators and local law enforcement. Six years of work was summed up in the statement by Tribal Chairman, Frank Ettawageshik. "This video has been the biggest aid in restoring relations between the local police department and the tribe." Storytelling changes minds.
When policeman listed to stories told by tribal members, they began to understand the effects of historical trauma on the community. They began to share the tribal members pain as well as their joy. Storytelling builds bridges.
Some may say that storytelling is just a form of propaganda. I submit that storytelling (people sharing their personal narratives) is not propaganda. Propaganda instills fear. Propaganda promotes divisions and exclusions. Storytelling on the other hand promotes empathy and understanding. Storytelling connects us to something inside ourselves which helps us connect with the other person.
I believe that by sharing personal narratives we can help people make the necessary connections to create meaning dialogue and make informed decisions. Everyone needs a voice. Everyone needs to be heard in a democracy. But more than being just "heard" people must make a connection. Sharing personal narratives builds these bridges.
If you'd like to read more about the study mentioned above. Visit this link. "How Facts Backfire" from the Boston Globe.
Real People Media provides services to people in northern Lower Michigan and the U.P. We are headquartered in Charlevoix and in Calumet.