An NBA Team With A Kind Voice

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A Kind Voice on Sports was honored to talk with Dan Mahoney, Vice President of Corporate Communications and Community Relations with the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team. In his interview with host Demetrius Means, Dan shared the remarkable story of Lorelei Decker and her victory in her battle with cancer. Please click here to read the full story of how she has been inspired by the Oklahoma City Thunder and how she has inspired them. You don’t want to miss the very touching video at the bottom of the story.

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He also discussed the wonderful community of Oklahoma City and their special relationship with the team. To spite being the third smallest market in the NBA, their season ticket sales and renewals are among the highest in the league. The organization is never satisfied with where they are and is always trying to get better. As a community Oklahoma City has been through a lot of disasters, which have helped bring the community closer together.

What jumped out at me, during the interview is his desire to get every detail right and give credit to others. When discussing the Lorelei Decker story, Dan was quick to point out that all the other NBA teams do great work and talked about the NBA Cares program. As we work to tell the stories of people and organizations doing positive work, we have invited other professional sports teams to come on our program and tell us about how they help in their community. A few have accepted our invitation, but the Thunder was the first. If you listen to the interview (below) you will hear an authentic kind voice who is part of an amazing organization that is a source of positive energy both on and off the court.

Thanks to Dan Mahoney and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

 

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The Alchemy of Kindness

Alchemy is to separate and to join together. Alchemists combined common metals into gold. The transmutation of common metals into gold symbolized evolution from an imperfect state towards a perfect state. At A Kind Voice we believe in the Alchemy of Kindness. Two strangers joining in a conversation, with the intention of sharing and being kind to the other are practicing the Alchemy of Kindness.

Alchemy is turning common metals into gold. Kindness on Russian Dashboard Cameras contains examples of people who responded to the odd shaped circumstances life offers us, with the kindness in their hearts and created something better than gold.

 

If there was an Anthem that captured the spirit of The Alchemy of Kindness this would be it.

It is inspiring how one lone kind voice can transform an entire arena into a beautiful symphony of kind voices. Using the kindness in our hearts to connect with strangers in their moment of need, large or small, could have an amazing impact on that moment as well as a ripple effect impacting future moments.

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The Alchemy of Kindness
 

 

Games

Games are played for fun and the challenge of doing our best. The processes used by games, such as Scrabble, can be transplanted into other endeavors making those endeavors more fun and efficient. In Scrabble the objective of each turn is to take the random letters on your tray and create a word that connects with the pattern on the Scrabble board in a way that scores the most points.

The tiles on each player’s tray can be metaphor for the thoughts and energy that live inside him or her. Each day we try to connect those thoughts and energy with other patterns, say business patterns, just as the Scrabble players try to connect his tiles with the pattern on Scrabble board.
 
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By connecting with a business pattern we get dollars instead of points. Learning new skills places higher valued tiles on our trays, that when connected with a business patterns will get us more money. More lucrative businesses leverage our energy, as placing ones tiles on a triple word score multiples ones points in Scrabble. IBM’s Serious Games uses processes found in games to make businesses more efficient.

At A Kind Voice we are creating a kind of Scrabble board. The shared experiences of movies, books, sports, music, etc… create a common frame of reference for people to connect their tiles with. Volunteers available to discuss personal issues or experiences also create a place for those who need to talk, to connect with. Our game has been designed to create a bridge allowing callers to connect with a pattern of hope, love and kind energy.

It also has the randomness of some of our favorite games. A call can connect a school teacher in Portland with a construction worker in Albuquerque. Speaking with a stranger from a different place, can be both fun and a good learning experience.

When people connect to share the kindness in their heart, no individual scores need to be kept as the objective is to create community prosperity, so that everyone who plays wins. Each call fulfills our mission of making the world a kinder, more connected place, one conversation at a time.

A Kind Voice is just getting started, each conversation, radio program, song created, piece of social media content shared, is helping to create a web of kind voices. The end game is for there to be a kind voice will be available whenever and wherever one is needed.
 

Seeds + Pattern

 
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Travels with Charley

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Travels with Charley was one of John Steinbeck’s final novels. It’s about a journey he made across America with his dog named Charley in a vehicle called Rocinante, named after Don Quixote’s horse. He wanted to see America first hand, so he could write from experience. He aimed to “tell the small diagnostic truths which are the foundations of the larger truth.”

His journey starts in New York, heads up to Maine, then West to Washington State. He is a master story teller, telling us of the colorful people he met along the way, brilliantly mixing interesting conversation with insightful narration. It is a warm book, with some humor mixed in.
 
One of the most thought provoking sections of the book occurs in New Orleans. He arrived there during the Fall of 1960 to attend a demonstration against Ruby Bridges, a six year old girl who was courageously becoming the first African American to attend an all white elementary school in the South. He was sickened by the hateful words and actions during the demonstration, but would “not let illness blind me after I came so far to look and to hear”.

He acknowledged that there are many haters in the world, but asked “Where were the others?” and concluded “I don’t know where they were. Perhaps they felt as helpless as I did, but they left New Orleans misrepresented to the world. The crowd, no doubt rushed home to see themselves on television, and what they saw went out all over the world, unchallenged by the other things I know are there.”
 
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Writing so beautifully in the America of 1960, was his way of challenging the hatred, that was left unchallenged on that day in New Orleans. His words inspired some of the other things he “knew were there” to materialize.
 
His words continue to inspire today and are one of the inspirations for starting A Kind Voice. His question, ‘Where were the others?’, can be extracted from the circumstance he was writing about and placed into the circumstances many of us encounter in our everyday lives.
 
At A Kind Voice we share stories about people using their kind voice to make our world a kinder, more connected place, one act at a time. We share these stories to honor those who lived them and to inspire others to use their stories as source material, to create their own stories.

 

John Steinbeck Travels

John Steinbeck and his Travels with Charlie are there for all to read. Rocinante and some of the authentic articles from their journey are in a museum. His thoughts, their journey, live on and continue to inspire new stories. The story of A Kind Voice is one of the living stories their journey has inspired. We hope that you join us on this journey.

 
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A True Fairytale

You can’t change the past. It is what it was. But you can change what it means by the things that you do in the time that comes afterwards.

Our guest on yesterday’s episode of A Kind Voice on Movies, Angie Kupper, is mixing the raw materials of tragic and joyful events from her past and creating a new rich soil where good stuff can grow.

Her documentary, Finding Your Fairytale, is about a space where people connect their struggles and stories with that of fairytale characters from stories like Sleeping Beauty and Alice in Wonderland to create their own happy endings. In the interview below she shares the beautiful story she and her collaborators are creating.

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The documentary is just the beginning, the core idea behind the project, can be taken in many different directions and Angie has created a non-profit organization to do just that.

Every journey has a first step or phase and in this journey the first phase is to get this documentary made and then to expose it to as large an audience as possible. For more information about how you can help and to see a beautiful video of the project please check out Angie’s Kickstarter video.

 

 

Creating New Currents of Kindness

In 1960, John Steinbeck set off on a 10,000 mile journey across America in a camper with his dog, Charley. He knew he did not have long to live and he wished to see America up close, one last time. He felt that as a writer, he was no longer familiar with the country he wrote about and he wished to change that. Travels with Charley: In Search of America tells the story of this journey, and it would be one of Steinbeck’s last books.

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Towards the end of his journey, Steinbeck arrived in New Orleans just in time to witness history. A six year old African-American girl, Ruby Bridges, was attending an all white school; this was the first time this had occurred anywhere in the South. Quite a number of people were unhappy about this and staged a demonstration. There, in front of TV cameras, they threw tomatoes and shouted insults at a young girl who did not understand what people were so angry about.

The incident troubled Steinbeck. He knew not everyone agreed with the actions of the crowd on that day, but people watching it on TV would see only hate.

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Steinbeck was left wondering, “Where were the others?” The others being those who did not agree with the crowd. He decided that they probably felt frustrated and powerless, so they did not show up to the demonstration.

This question is a major reason why A Kind Voice exists. We tell the stories of people using their kind voices so it’s never in doubt where the others are. They are all around us, and hearing their stories can help us connect and inspire others who need to hear a kind voice.

Using your kind voice does not require you to be a part of history, like Ruby Bridges was. Sometimes it just requires you to be an observer in life. Author Anne Riley and her husband started a program called play it forward, after they noticed that the park they lived across from was barely used. This was an opportunity to enact positive change. Their goal for the program was simple: if you live near a community park, leave basketballs, soccer balls, footballs, etc; with the stipulation that they are free to be used by anyone, as long as they remain in the park. The program was a success, but what really surprised Anne was how people adapted the program in ways that she had never envisioned, such as leaving a fishing rod by a lake or stream for anyone to use. Using your kind voice can produce unanticipated results.

Being an observer in life also lets you benefit from these unexpected opportunities. Artist Jennifer Chenoweth has experienced this many times. When writing proposals for grants or exhibitions, she discovered that sometimes receiving a no wasn’t necessarily a rejection. Occasionally, rejected proposals would find their way to people who actually offered her a more desirable opportunity. In her own words, “it’s kind of like the seed you planted in one place actually got picked up and took root somewhere else and sprouted.”

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When John Steinbeck set out across America he wanted to meet the kind of people who are seldom written about. In her essay Always Be Cool To The Pizza Dude, Sarah Adams is also writing about someone who usually isn’t written about. Although the essay is about her personal philosophy of why she is always kind to pizza delivery people, the pizza dude can be a metaphor for anyone: someone that needs a break, who is working hard for not a lot of money. We’ve all been there, that’s why it’s important to show them empathy. When we project our kind voice toward the pizza dude, we are creating currents of kindness that benefit us and those around us, sometimes in ways we can’t immediately fathom.

Steinbeck encountered many such people on his journey. The mission of A Kind Voice is to bring stories to light that we don’t often hear about in today’s world. Just as Steinbeck wanted to experience America first hand and write about what he saw, A Kind Voice wants to broadcast the stories that make us aware of the good going on around us. This inspires people to tell their own stories which can inspire even more people.

Helping Children

Through the connected efforts of Claire Bloom and her volunteer teams at “End 68 Hours of Hunger”, a care package of food is given to children to cover the 68 hours between Friday’s school lunch and Monday’s school breakfast. Without this food these kids will not have enough to eat. Claire’s goal is to end childhood hunger in America– one school at a time. The world of these children has become a kinder, more connected place.

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When Claire first heard about the children, in her local New Hampshire school, who did not have enough food to eat when not in school, she decided to DO SOMETHING! She used her kind voice to reach out to others. They joined together and in 2011 these volunteers gave 19 children the food they needed to cover the weekend hours. Two years later, they were serving 1300 children in different New England towns.

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How did their project grow so fast and help so many children? People who heard about what Claire and her team were doing started using their kind voices and actions to end hunger in their town– one school at a time.

Whenever positive things happen everyone involved can benefit. The children have been helped not only physically but also mentally and emotionally. Because they no longer have “food insecurity” on the weekends, their teachers see an increase in concentration and attention span. “End 68 Hours of Hunger” really impresses me because they are serving kids who are vulnerable and easily overlooked. This is a reminder to me of the importance of volunteering my time and resources to care for the needs of others who really need the help.

For the details about how your kind voice and actions can connect with others at a school near you to end 68 hours of hunger, go to: end68hoursofhunger.org. Check out the “How to Help” page. You, too, can make your world a kinder, more connected place.

Radio interview with Claire Bloom

 
 

Creating a new game…

During the program below with Professor John Velez of Texas Tech University we discussed gamifying the good. We used a visual “Bouncing Music” model to help illustrate how players interact with games and the idea of refining both the game and the way it is played to produce a better experience/result. For this post to be clear it would help to listen to the program.

Professor Velez has done brillant work in using gamification to get people to work/play together in cooperative ways. During this program we asked him to help explain how our work in bringing kind voices together connected with gamification concepts.

The focus of the above program was how the work of some of our past guests connected with gamification. Now in this post I’d like to expand on a topic we just briefly discussed during the program. The topic is our telephone call in line. To illustrate this story of bringing kind voices together, I’d like you to visualize a blank canvas.

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On this canvas let’s place a sports or news call-in radio program, like the programs heard on radio stations across the United States.

These shows can be viewed as a game and the two main players in the game are the hosts and the callers. As demonstrated by the popularity of talk radio, there are many people who play and listen to this game. The goal from the callers perspective is to discuss their thoughts and the main goal of the host is to create an entertaining program.

Now, I’d like to de-construct this game and reconstruct it in a different way….a way that can create a kind of Bouncing Music video, which will allow the players to connect with the game and each other in ways that will create good experiences.

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Assumptions:

(1) Some of the people who call into these radio programs are just wanting to discuss their thoughts with another person and would welcome a conversation that was not cut short by the need to entertain an audience.

(2) There are people who would gladly volunteer their time to take calls and have conversations with people who have something they’d like to share, not just about sports, but news, movies, books, music and more.

Results:
We created a free call in line to connect these two groups of players. Here is a 2 minute montage of some of our volunteers discussing the call in line. Our very first radio program featured these volunteers as well as the music created by other volunteers.

What Next?
This iteration of the call-in line lasted for a over a year, took over a thousand calls and ended due to the need to better screen callers and promote the program. Like the games illustrated by the Bouncing Music Video discussed in the program with Professor Velez, adjustments need to be made to the way the game is designed and a new more refined iteration of our call-in line will emerge. If you’d like to lend your kind voice to making this happen, please email David@akindvoice.org.

Faith, Hope & Love Bags

We all know that 1 + 1 = 2. It’s a formula that we learned early in life and it has always proved to be true. There’s another formula that has proved to be true in the lives of Mark and Heather Lojeski and in the lives of the many children who have benefited from their kind, unselfish giving.

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The formula?
A passion for serving others + Giving to others when it is most needed = Making their world a better place.

A number of years ago Mark and Heather began passionately serving children through a project called “Faith, Hope & Love Bags”. They give duffel bags packed with personal “care” supplies and personal “comfort” supplies to children who are in crisis mode because of domestic violence, abandonment, or suddenly becoming homeless.

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The results?
The children each have something to own and to hold. Those who are very young can be comforted by holding onto and cuddling a stuffed toy and a soft blanket that really belongs only to them. For those who are older, having their own comb and brush and their own book or puzzle that no one is going to take away lets them know that somebody cares. For some of these kids the duffel bag and the gifts inside will be the first things in their lives that are truly just for them.

I was warmly touched by Mark and Heather’s decision to turn Heather’s own experience of childhood abuse into a determination for helping other children when they need help the most. Heather understood just what children need when suddenly life inside their household spirals out of control. She knows how children feel when the authorities step in to replace the parents. Children are afraid because they don’t know what will happen next. They don’t know if anyone cares.

Mark learned by listening to Heather, giving her the comfort and care she needed when the memories of her abuse became hard to bear. Together they decided to DO SOMETHING to make this kind of situation a little less trialsome for other children.

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How did their idea of Faith, Hope & Love Bags become a reality?
Using their kind voices, they reached out to their friends and others who responded with kind hearts by donating enough personal care, personal comfort and hygiene items to fill the first 20 bags. Mark and Heather bought the first 20 duffel bags, packed them and gave them to the local Sheriff’s department. The Sheriff and his officers were extremely supportive of the project. They put the 20 bags in the officers’ squad cars. When called to a domestic situation where children are involved, the Faith, Hope & Love bags are already with them to give out as needed. Donations continued to flow in. The first 20 bags quickly became 90 bags given to the Sheriff’s officers who in turn made sure they were given to children who needed them.

Mark & Heather, along with many who volunteer supplies and those who receive the duffel bags, agree that this project has been a win-win for all involved.

Their story helped me to see that it doesn’t take a lot from any one person when we join together and are determined to help others when they need it most.

And what can result?
Our city, town, village or neighborhood and become a better place.

To see what’s happening now with Faith, Hope & Love bags and learn how you can add your kind voice to these bags, please go to www.FHLforkids.org.
 
Mark & Heather Lojeski on Your Kind Voice
 

 

Creating Currents of Kindness

Musician Brian Eno once said that although The Velvet Underground’s first album didn’t sell well on release, everyone who bought a copy formed a band. Many people’s possibilities were awakened by hearing that record. Initially considered an obscure act, they are now viewed as one of the most influential bands of all time. They planted a seed of creativity in many people.

Kenny Fulton, in his radio broadcast, was examining ways in which we can awaken possibility by using our kind voice. He began his show with a quote which illustrates quite nicely a way to reach people. It’s by conductor Benjamin Zander, who said,“For me, success is measured by how many shining eyes are around me.”

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Kenny Fulton Benjamin Zander Velvet Underground

Benjamin Zander sees it as his job to awaken possibility in others and he knew he succeeded when he could see the shine in people’s eyes. Those shining eyes were set free and could now use their kind voice to nurture possibility in someone else. Kenny Fulton said something else poignant, ”You can never underestimate the currency of kindness. It circulates. Kindness flows in a current, kindness you share with someone can then be shared with someone else.” Once someone’s eyes are shining they are now able to inspire others. Creativity can flow together from many voices to form a rich tapestry.

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This is the essence of using your kind voice. It is at the heart of making the world a better place, a more connected place. When you create something, whether it’s music or not, you are sharing your inspiration. You are creating currents of kindness. Possibility can emerge from the joining of voices, the sharing of thoughts. We must always be able to recognize the need in others to hear a kind voice. From this sharing creativity springs, whether its hearing a new sound that inspires you or reworking something old into your own unique style, there is no limit to the possibilities of a kinder, more connected world.

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Table Grace Cafe

“I’m so happy I stumbled upon this place”, said one customer of Table Grace Cafe, located at 1611 Farnam Street in Omaha, Nebraska.


What did she see, hear and remember that left her with such a happy feeling?
At Table Grace Café, you too, will see delicious, healthy food with no set price; you will hear no cash register when you check out and you will remember that you were warmly welcomed and will never be turned away. What you have found is a Community Café owned by Matt and Simone Weber.


What makes it a “Community” Café?
No one from the community who wants to eat is turned away. Because of the neighborhood’s socio-economic diversity, some give a donation and some give their service for that day in exchange for their meal. Great food (soup, salad & pizza) is prepared daily and served in a graceful manner to anyone who walks through the door. Everyone is welcome to eat, greet and enjoy. But is it only “food for all” that is served here?


How do some of the customers at Table Grace Café experience “community”?
Kind hearts, minds and voices unite into an environment that supports others at a time when they really need it. The need maybe a meal, a job or even an apartment. Matt, Simone and their donors provide volunteer work , community service opportunities, job training and referrals, and when needed, interview and resume preparation. These services can give others stability in their lives and, just as important, they now become part of a place where they, in turn, can “give back” and “pay it forward”. Isn’t that what “community” is all about?


2016 marks the fifth year that the Webers have been “nourishing hungry bodies and souls”. They started with a passion TO SERVE all who entered their cafe and with the thought to jump into it and “see what happens”. What has happened is success.


Do they feel changed by their experience?
Matt feels grateful for the opportunity to serve others and the benefits that flow his way. Simone has learned that she can be there as a steady voice and presence for her patrons who may be stumbling about in their lives.


Their kind voices and presence have connected with the people in the neighborhood as they continue to make good things happen in the lives of others. The culture of Table Grace Cafe has produced a community that is ready daily from 11 am to 2pm to serve you. Come on in!


Matt & Simone Weber on A Kind Voice Radio talking about Table Grace Cafe.
 

 

Making Good Things Come Together

Our guest on last night’s radio program, Vanessa Vargas Wilson (aka Crafty Gemini), uses her kind voice to connect people with each other and the art of making good things. Her passion is for crafting, cooking and growing things in her organic garden. Then telling the stories about the things she makes/grows/does on her You Tube Channel, which now has hundreds of videos and millions of views.

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Her unscripted videos do a beautiful job of explaining the topic at hand with an authentic voice and a natural enthusiasm which engages her viewers. We also discussed some of the nuances of being a video content provider, things like the importance of “Watch Time” in getting your video listed in a good place in searches and the You Tube Partner program that allows one to monetize their videos. She was one of the winners in a You Tube contest for up and coming video content providers and got great prizes and was flown up to the Google offices in New York where she met all kinds of people in the You Tube world, including the people who do search algorithms and learned more about building community and audience on You Tube.

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The most satisfying thing about her work is when she gets a joyful post with a picture of a wonderful thing one of her viewers created using one of her videos. She does not just use her kind voice to push content out. Sewing and quilting are very solitary types of hobbies, so Vanessa created an online quilting guild that has over 900 members to bring people together and create a sense of community. Within that club she randomly connects “swap partners” who make things for each other. Then last October she brought the online guild into “real life” by organizing a quilting retreat that attracted quilters from 15 different states and 2 Canadian provinces. It was a joyous experience, that Vanessa describes beautifully in the show below.

 

 

Making Good Things Come Together….

Our guest on last night’s radio program, Vanessa Vargas Wilson (aka Crafty Gemini), uses her kind voice to connect people with each other and the art of making good things. Her passion is for crafting, cooking and growing things in her organic garden. Then telling the stories about the things she makes/grows/does on her You Tube Channel, which now has hundreds of videos and millions of views.

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Her unscripted videos do a beautiful job of explaining the topic at hand with an authentic voice and a natural enthusiasm which engages her viewers. We also discussed some of the nuances of being a video content provider, things like the importance of “Watch Time” in getting your video listed in a good place in searches and the You Tube Partner program that allows one to monetize their videos. She was one of the winners in a You Tube contest for up and coming video content providers and got great prizes and was flown up to the Google offices in New York where she met all kinds of people in the You Tube world, including the people who do search algorithms and learned more about building community and audience on You Tube.

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The most satisfying thing about her work is when she gets a joyful post with a picture of a wonderful thing one of her viewers created using one of her videos. She does not just use her kind voice to push content out. Sewing and quilting are very solitary types of hobbies, so Vanessa created an online quilting guild that has over 900 members to bring people together and create a sense of community. Within that club she randomly connects “swap partners” who make things for each other. Then last October she brought the online guild into “real life” by organizing a quilting retreat that attracted quilters from 15 different states and 2 Canadian provinces. It was a joyous experience, that Vanessa describes beautifully in the show below.

 

 

Creating Spaces

We often hear about running out of spaces, resources, stuff… Which creates a feeling of scarcity. Last night our guests on A Kind Voice Radio, David Burns and Austin Young are working to create a story of abundance. Their Endless Orchard organizes things in imaginative ways, plants new seeds and facilitates people working together to create organic spaces where new life will grow. They are creating a sustainable, edible, living public artwork; fruit trees are planted in public spaces and mapped by the volunteers for everyone to share.

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The project started when the Journal of Aesthetics & Protest asked for proposals that use the agency of activism, to engage people in activities not to protest what they are against, rather create what they are for. And who wouldn’t be for fresh fruit right off the tree?

David and Austin view this Endless Orchard as a kind of art work, not as a static piece, but as a living mosaic created by a diverse community of individuals. To quote David Burns ”The point of the project is to change the way you experience the city or a place that you think you already know. It’s about groups of people coming together and using something and making something and changing it’s meaning over time and ultimately I think that’s what the job of art is, to capture our imagination as people.”

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The Endless Orchard creates a space for a wonderful fusion of nature, technology and the human spirit. The experience of people working together in this collaborative way, could be translated back into beautiful music, a painting or a meaningful story. And the beautiful trees that are a result of this story which will bare fruit over a long period of time, is a sustainable living art work that will continue to nourish a community.

Please click on the interview below to listen to the wonderful story they are creating and go to their Kickstarter project to learn how you get help.