I subscribed to the Crow’s Theatre newsletter in 2019 after watching two performances of Andrew Kushnir’s Towards Youth: A Play on Radical Hope and drinking half a beer too many while watching the Raptors in the lobby. In the fall, after the championship parade, I moved to Halifax to take a job with the HeartWood Centre for Community Youth Development, and thought about unsubscribing. It’s a big deal to unsubscribe right? You’ll never guess what happened next.
I didn’t unsubscribe. That’s not really the hook, I promise.
The moral of this slightly pained opening is that I subscribe to the Crow’s Theatre newsletter and, as a result, discovered a new podcast called “Soft Revolution” hosted by Ali Momen and Torquil Campbell. My first 42 minutes and 33 seconds of listening got me thinking about the value of involving artists and storytellers in public policy making.
This idea isn’t all that new or particularly revelatory, but it intersects with a question that I’m considering:
Why it is it important to be a creator (have a creative process, be telling stories, be creating, etc.) right now?
As I passively scrolled through Twitter on the weekend I discovered an article by Edward Riche. Riche takes a playfully positive stance on the Atlantic bubble and the possibilities for regional collaboration that it uncovers. He discusses a regional airline, greater regional food security, and even political integration. He imagines things in brighter, more conspiratorial terms than I just did, using the labels of Air Atlantic, Eatlantic, and Bloq Atlantique. When I read those, I can imagine the ideas; they have life.
I’d never heard of Riche before, but a quick click on his author profile with the CBC told me that he “writes for the stage, page, and screen.”
He’s one of those artists that Torquil and Ali had me thinking about.
As I decided to tweet out a link to the article, I thought about why I’d enjoyed reading it so much. As you can tell from my relatively passive tweet, I didn’t quite feel like taking a stance on why I liked it so much. I used words like “neat” and “fun.” I wasn’t quite hedging, but I was pretty close.
And herein, I think, lies the reason why I liked the article. I think that I liked it because it dared to do what I didn’t really want to do in my tweet — articulate a vision. Riche took a stance and said something clever, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, light, and yet worth taking seriously. How seriously? Well, seriously enough to let it frame some thinking, dreaming, and visioning. It isn’t a policy document, but it’s certainly a policy framework — a story that could frame an inspiring set of policy choices.
Riche’s article reminds me of the importance of visioning, a practice known elsewhere and otherwise as imagining or dreaming. Riche does these things in this article and I’m going to bet that he can do it, in part, because he practices storytelling and creating.
I think that we can all benefit from more regular practices of imagination and that more people in serious jobs and roles could benefit from the kind of process that artists go through to bring their work into being. What might happen if we used more creative process to come to serious decisions about our lives? I think, at minimum, we’d recognize different choices, design more generous actions, and discover more meaning in our lives.
That’d be okay, I think.