Uncomfortable.  Anxious. That was before I even got to the La Alma Center for the Civic Practice Development Workshop! I’m not a theater person and going into a workshop that focused on “Civic Practice” had me a little nervous.  However, all my anxiety was put to rest almost immediately.

With James Hart and Michael Rohd at the helm, the morning started off with great excitement! The day was then spent learning about theater and how it has evolved—information which was all very new to me. My key learning from the morning was the definition of Civic Practice and how we, Mirror Image Arts, will be applying it going forward.

CPCP defines Civic Practice as arts-based partnership work that is developed in service to the needs of a partner organization or agency that does not have an arts-centered mission.

In the afternoon, we spent time in groups, tackling the goals that we had set forth for the Denver Parks & Recreation and Mirror Image Arts as part of the Speak Up, Speak Out program. Some of the goals listed were large, like “Wipe out the gang and drug problem in the neighborhood.” I work in the private sector in business, focusing more specifically on Information Technology. I spend my days sitting behind a computer trying to find the best way to solve a technology problem. Brainstorming with a group of people about “wiping out gang and drug problems” was very uncomfortable. However, after listening to the various ideas our group had, the problem no longer seemed impossible to tackle.  What I learned through participating in this exercise was that, even though I spend my days behind a desk in a completely unrelated world, the gang and drug problem is, at its core, a human problem and a community problem. And I can contribute to being a part of resolving it.

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Discussing how we work

There were several things that struck me at the end of our day. The Teaching Artists at Mirror Image Arts are not only great theater actors, but also great thinkers, offering up amazing ideas as to how they want to use theater to help others.  Secondly, the fact that the Denver Parks & Recreation team has fully bought in and committed to our Speak Up, Speak Out project has been a true gift.  To have such an engaging partnership with this organization will help us develop an even stronger program.

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Finally, I was struck with this exciting belief: In just two years, we will see the La Alma community transformed through theater and hard work!