Letters from the Directors
As COVID-19 wears on, it is becoming ever-more-apparent that people around our globe are affected differently. Some refuse to acknowledge that the pandemic exists. Others refuse to wear a mask in public. And still others are creating and caretaking and grocery shopping for vulnerable friends.
To a certain extent, people all over our planet are evaluating their core values and what drives them in the world. Movements such as Black Lives Matter are gathering much-needed support and vitality. There have also been increased reports of abuse, suicide and disrupted services, especially for those in higher-risk categories such as people with disabilities. These dynamics do not negate one another. They complexify the story.
So many of our news outlets and content on social media platforms are simplified for quick, consumable info bites. We do things differently at The Kaleidoscapes. Here, we are most interested in that complexity.
We are also convicted by the idea that the arts and sciences go together like PB&J on a summer afternoon. Science gives us insight into the undercurrents of life on Earth. And good art makes us grapple with those subtleties. Art is the arena for meaning-making in life.
We’ve watched climate-deniers complexifying the work of activists for years, and we’ve seen many people lose stamina and face burn-out. But this is not the time to isolate or grow overwhelmed! An article headline from 2017 recently went viral, saying “I Don’t Know How to Explain To You That You Should Care About Other People (HuffPost, Kayla Chadwick, Contributor).” These days, the sentiment can feel extremely relevant. Our society has misconstrued care for our surroundings as partisan.
Now is the time to reach deep into our pockets and energy reserves to sustain the things we care about. Now is the time to consider: What narratives do you want to remember from this moment in history, and how were you involved?
We know it’s a complex story, and access plays a key role, but we hope you may gain some endurance and repose from the environment where you live—whether through birdsong, a trusted trail or getting caught in a summer thunderstorm. Please, continue to wear your mask. And we’ll continue to produce work that attempts to hold the complexity of human experience at its core.
Gail Tierney, Artistic Director
Clean and White follows the historical conflation of whiteness and cleanliness across every aspect of society. As a reader, we see archival evidence of advertising techniques—postcards that claim a soap will wash a Black person’s skin so clean that it becomes white. We are invited to approach the inscription on the Statue of Liberty with new eyes, correlating immigrants to refuse even in an invitation to enter the land. We hear about public health and perception—including the former belief that disease was caused solely by bad odors rather than bacteria as scientists later came to understand. We are also shown statistics about the risk and illness associated with managing industrial society’s waste and how BIPOC are disproportionately affected. We see formative examples that are distilled down to the root sources of environmental racism. In doing so, we are equipped to view living dynamics in our current society with more nuance.
With many of our books on this list, The Kaleidoscapes are asserting that all people deserve an environment where they may thrive. But if the cleanliness of our biosphere is intermingled with the ideals of white supremacy, that future cannot be possible.
Even if you don’t choose to read this book, ask yourself: Who does your “dirty work?” And do you afford them full personhood or might your underlying beliefs consider them dirtier than you?
Our very first Book Club meeting will be held on August 4th at 5pm EST! Fill out this RSVP to join. There’s no expectation that you’ve already read one of the books.
A few years ago, as the dream for this company was taking shape and I was recovering from a serious illness, I reached for this book. Florence Williams shares some of the physiological benefits of spending time outside. Her chapters travel around the world, sharing different perspectives that she witnessed firsthand. Her words became foundational to our team as we became emboldened to get audiences outside for our plays--however that may look in the different communities we engage.
Williams says it best, but if you are facing stress, get outside! It will lower your cortisol levels. It will fuel your work. It will remind you just how extraordinary this planet is that we get to call home.
Are you reading our book club suggestions and interested in continuing the dialogue? Get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org! And stay tuned for an upcoming project about The Kaleidoscapes’ interpretation of traces during the pandemic.
Dive into our journal pages to expand your knowledge and follow our journey into the backcountry.