I returned to South Dakota in May. Found a dreamy apartment nestled above a used book store in a corner of the city.
For a few months, until my lease runs out, I can still hop in the car and visit with my siblings out in the country.
I’ve already been on a photography binge, taking in the beauty of the summer landscape. I secured a small writing gig, and today I got word that I am going to receive a small grant I applied for a few weeks ago.
The grant is the big news in this post. I was uneasy about applying for it because of course there is that monster within telling me I’m not good enough, clever enough, talented enough to consider myself an artist.
Fuck that monster.
I applied and I got the grant.
A government agency has recognized me as an artist.
Therefore I am.
A special thank you to the @BushFoundation who provided most of the funding for the Arts South Dakota Artist Emergency Relief Fund program.
The opening track of David Bowie’s 1972 seminal masterpiece, Ziggy Stardust is an eery dystopian ballad, “Five Years.” In short, the song is about how the earth finds out it only has five more years left to live.
High school came up for me a couple weeks ago when I was writing to a friend. I told her it would take “a barstool, an attendant bartender, and copious amounts of good wine” to begin to explain what went wrong with my high school experience around the time we were rocking out to Mr. Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust.
One thing that’s easy to explain is what we had in common in that email thread. We were conversing about our shared interest in domestic abuse. Today, she consults with one of her favorite clients who happens to be in the Midwest where I was writing to her, and I of course, can’t seem to stop working on this.
Five Years to Change the World?
I always loved Bowie’s song, “Five Years.” Today, I’m going to turn the tables on it and instead of interpreting that song to be five years until the end of the world, I’ll rewrite the story to become five years to… change the world for the better.
This week, I sat in on a webinar of well-intentioned professionals who were joking about how those with mental health challenges oftentimes have “unrealistic expectations.” I was saddened a bit by this, mostly because of the othering, but primarily because those of us who embrace our mad identities are often capable of delivering some fairly amazing accomplishments. The evidence is everywhere.
For instance, when I launched The 2.0 Adoption Council or Change Agents Worldwide, all I had was a vision of what could be. A dream. An idea about the end state. That vision caught on and hundreds, literally hundreds, of people bought into it, and paid good money to be a part of it, and eventually for it. Crazy? Maybe. Riffing on Forrest’s loving Mom, Crazy is as crazy does.
By Far, My Toughest Challenge
It was an insane and dangerous idea to take on domestic abuse and violence against women. I had no credentials, no formal education, no field training, no power relationships, no funding, no nothing– except my lived experience and a desire to make a difference.
Every connection was hard-earned. Every project was a risk.
Nevertheless I persisted.
I’m proud to say, after five years, that hard work has paid off. An award-winning investigative journalist was researching domestic violence for years, and she came across my writing. She discovered the case study that I helped bring to life in a film.* She included the case study in her new book that is flying off the shelves in the Australian market. A U.S. version is in the works. The case study, the High Point model, is saving lives every day. More people are learning about the success of the High Point model than ever before.
In my small way, starting from nothing, I changed the world for the better several times, but this time, and in this way, I think even Mr. Bowie would be singing my praises.**
*The film unfortunately never got finished, even though I put six figures into it. It is available, however, as a training film for private audiences.
**A little mad humor. Once when I was quoted top of the fold in the WSJ, I sent the clip to my shrink with this note: “It’s hard to be a recovering manic when your delusions of grandeur keep coming true.” (He laughed.)
UPDATE: As it turns out, Jess’ book will be turned into a 3-part documentary series by the fabulous filmmaker Tosca Looby whom I’ve been working with on the High Point story.
Read about it below:
ORIGINAL AUSTRALIAN DOCUMENTARIES
SBS is also a leader in original documentaries that inform, entertain and capture the national conversation around issues central to its Charter; exploring ideas that no other network could or would pursue. Next year, SBS will explore immigration, aviation, identity, homelessness, addiction and domestic violence with a powerful slate of new and returning Australian commissioned documentaries.
See What You Made Me Do
It’s a shocking statistic that on average, one woman is killed by a man she knows every week*. Announced today, See What You Made Me Do is a ground-breaking new documentary series presented by Jess Hill, the author of the critically acclaimed book by the same name, which will trace how a love story can end in murder and which will seek out solutions in Australia and from across the globe to see how we can tackle this epidemic. Source: SBS