Birth of an Idea: Inspiration, Reflection, & Creation

I wrote this poem last week:

by, David Theune

The playground is the coliseum.
The weak are torn to shreds
and the bystanders,
those kids who walk the
“be normal” tightrope,
put their thumbs up or down.

It’s the witnesses, not the lions,
who decide the fate
of the jailed.

The jailed who live in a prison
of their own unique qualities–
in a prison of leaving self-love behind:
at their old school
or at Grandma’s house
or with their real parents
or in the pill bottle.

The jailed
wail and cry.
They plea to the witnesses
but no one can hear it over the
laughs or quick look-aways,
granting permission for the
lion to devour.

So, Jill, with acned face
and dead spirit is
just meat

for vultures

This, along with last week’s blog titled “On Bullying, I Look in the Mirror First”, has actually turned into something: an idea–A COMMUNITY BOOK CLUB. 

I notice, though, an idea doesn’t just happen. For me, it’s a three-step process.

First, inspiration. The idea for a community book club started by being inspired by someone else’s art and creation. I watched the documentary Bully and read Emily Bazelon’s recent non-fiction book titled Sticks and Stones. So, those pieces mixed with two student pieces of writing–one, a journal entry on a personal experience and another, a formal letter to Governor Snyder of Michigan to make legislative changes to bullying in schools–inspired me to act, to move forward.

Second, reflection. I had to look in the mirror first before offering up a discussion with anyone else. As I mentioned last week, I’ve played all three roles in bullying: the bully, the victim, and the witness. I just had to realize my own positions and places on the spectrum. I had to think on the topic myself before making any presentations to a greater audience.

Third, creation. With the help of my superintendent, Dennis Furton (and I’m sure what will be many others by the time this is all done), Spring Lake Public Schools is going to host a community book club starting mid-September and finishing up by mid-November–a two month book club. I’ve already had two meetings with Mr. Furton, but there are many more to come in the next month or two. We have a lot of decisions to make: how will we get the information out to our community? how do we connect the community without an abundance of time which could scare people away? how do we communicate the format to all involved? how do we aim for a big audience but make it feel small? how do we celebrate the discussions, but push for open dialogue to difficult thoughts? (By the way, if you have ideas on these questions, I’d be open to hear from you.)

We’ve already made some decisions about formatting and I’m excited by those: we hope to have a large community discussing the topic of bullying on a website dedicated to the topic and we plan to utilize an original hashtag through Twitter to hold weekly conversations.  That said, we hope to get more intimate than just digital conversations. We are looking to divvy up the big community of readers into “Eat with Eight” teams where each reader will be matched up with seven other folks for dinner after the reading is done. It’s in these smaller groups where we hope community can really be built, where ideas for changes can be made.

Finally, we have a launch. (I already have to thank my friend and power teacher, Lindsey Boyle [@lindseycboyle] for the word usage here.) That’s right–a LAUNCH–at the END of a book club because this idea cannot be the end of a discussion, but the launch of action.

And that’s how an idea is born: inspiration, reflection, and creation.

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