Free Columbia is an initiative of artists, researchers, and educators working in different fields but with a shared commitment to contemplative inquiry, aesthetic experience, and action research. We offer an array of experiential learning through both full-time and low-residency courses and workshops.
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Among the many concerns facing the younger generation, mental health problems are on the rise in colleges and universities across the country. The prediction that these conditions will get worse and that college students will face a mental health epidemic is alarming. It is estimated that about 25% of students arrive on campus medicated on prescription drugs, even though the majority of students who suffer from anxiety or some form of mental disorder are in denial because of the stigma of mental illness.
Tonight we are gathered together to celebrate one hundred years of the Waldorf movement. I am so excited about the topic that I’m sharing, and I hope that by the end of this short presentation you’re able to receive some of this excitement. I’m going to speak about the history of the Waldorf school, but not from the perspective we might be used to hearing about it—which is a perspective that’s really focused on developmental psychology, child development, and pedagogy—but from a perspective of economic and social justice, including societal reform.
Growing up at the end of the 20th century I remember taking art classes and hearing that everything could be art. As a teenager I was inspired by this notion, as were many people my age, that all of life could be infused with a feeling of meaning and inspiration. “Everything can be Art,” like any slogan, is only as wise as the context in which it appears. And most of the contexts in which I have encountered this slogan have revealed its mind-numbing power, which amounts to the feeling: “If everything is art, then there is no discerning it.”
In the summer of 2015, I had the opportunity to visit the Chiemgau region in Southeast Germany that is home to the “Chiemgauer” currency project I had come across in The Guardian in 2011. Traveling to Salzburg and then westward toward Rosenheim, I enjoyed the landscapes and little village scenes opening outside the train window. Arriving in the village of Traunstein, I walked into a local bank to see about "purchasing" some Chiemgauer (exchanging it for Euros). The teller was well informed and happy to lead me through the details, offering me a small booklet that listed all the businesses that accepted the currency, and the not-for-profits that benefited from its use.
The 2018 Bread and Puppet Tour is coming through Hudson, NY, with The Basic Bye-bye Show. Peter Schumann has based it “on the fact that our culture is saying its basic bye-bye to Mother Earth by continuing the devastating effects of the global economy on our planet—which is why our show proclaims the Possibilitarian’s basic bye-bye to capitalism in order to welcome the 1000 alternatives to this rotten system.” How true and absurd at the same time, this cocktail of profundity and whimsicality we have come to expect from Bread and Puppet!