By Laura Reddick (PCC '13) June 4, 2015
Like the city of San Francisco, CIIS Public Programs & Performances is in the midst of a dynamic moment.
We are creating conversations that expand the important issues of our time by hosting people who are making change through passionate pursuit of their work. Our focus on spotlighting creative, visionary voices pushes us into a world where all people and beings can thrive.
But even as we stretch toward the future, we honor our lineage and the leaders who have helped shape CIIS. Recently I noticed a full-page ad from a 1996 magazine posted to the community board in the back of CIIS's Conscious Café. Luminaries including Joanna Macy, Stan Grof, Angeles Arrien, Richard Tarnas, and Brian Swimme appear in the ad.
Though the publication predates Public Programs & Performances, we still regularly feature many of these great teachers. This spring we hosted Joanna Macy as the keynote speaker of the Active Hope ecopsychology conference, and in fall 2014, we hosted the Expanding and Re-enchanting the Psyche Conference, a large, yet intimate, gathering in honor of Stan Grof 's life.
Just as many of the presenters whom we've hosted over the past 25 years continue to grow, CIIS grows as well. We constantly innovate through our programming, hosting people whose work is shifting worldviews, holding the tension between mainstream popularity and society's radical reinvention. These are the people speaking truth, powerfully and without hesitation.
In late February, we welcomed Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York (HONY) fame. The HONY Facebook page has more than 12 million followers world- wide, and Brandon has met President Obama and traveled the world with the United Nations to raise awareness of its Millennium Development Goals.
His presentation to 1,300 people at the Nourse Theater showed that Stanton is a gifted storyteller and interviewer, who has a knack for identifying and highlighting the poignant details in the stories of each person he meets. Social media is as much a medium as his photography in revealing these stories to the world.
Malian musician, dancer, and actress Fatoumata Diawara, who graced the stage at the Nourse Theater in spring 2013, is another example of the up-and-coming world changers that Public Programs is courting. Diawara, with her powerful music, facilitated the conversation "Let's Talk About Africa." Through her candid lyrics and energetic stage presence, she opened a space for the audience to connect with issues such as female circumcision, forced marriage, and the persecution of musicians in Mali.
This May, Malaysian singer, songwriter, and fashion entrepreneur Yuna brought a bright pop sound to our stage. Her songs are powerful calls to individual agency for women, and her can-do attitude is infectious. Her career started with a strong following on MySpace, and Yuna is now redefining the image of an Islamic artist in the pop genre.
In April 2015, Levi Felix invited us to remember how to play. His Camp Grounded summer camp for adults and Digital Detox both encourage participants to leave their devices at the door in order to forge true personal connections (and embrace their inner silliness). Fidgit Wigglesworth, as he is called at camp, ushers us toward moments, days, and weeks of connection not with a screen, but with one another.
Public Programs & Performances is maintaining a tradition of bringing changemakers to our community to impact us and be impacted by CIIS. "We constantly want to be featuring cultural provocateurs, change makers, and social disruptors, both embedded in the University and new voices, who are re-examining the world we live in and how we relate to one another," says Director Karim Baer.
By hosting people like Brandon Stanton, Fatoumata Diawara, Yuna, and Levi Felix, Public Programs & Performances is amplifying diverse voices of a new generation that is deeply committed to pursuing their work and telling their stories.