ABUNDANCE: Money and America

About 5000 people around the United States have taken part in an ABUNDANCE civic dialogue. Some have been for small private gatherings, boards and leadership groups, others have been hosted by seminaries, universities, performing arts centers, conferences, theaters, community centers and foundations. The smallest group was probably 8 or 9 people, the largest was for over 450. They've taken place all over the United States Providence, Seattle, White River Junction, Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston, New York City - and every one is different. Each one is 2 to 3 hours and they create a chance for people from all along the spectrum of 'enoughedness' to explore together their individual and collective experiences and understanding about money.

Two transcripts of actual dialogues are posted below. One is from the Grantmakers in the Arts conference in Seattle WA in 2000. The other is from one of the NYC dialogues that met monthly during 2002.

A People's Dialogue: Patriotism, Citizenship and America

A People's Dialogue was conceived in the weeks right after 9.11 for a national Animating Democracy Learning Exchange. Attending were a few hundred artists, practitioners and community leaders working with arts-based civic dialogues around the United States. The dialogues have included as few as 14 and as many as 400. Always beginning with the individuals' experiences, questions are designed to give us a clearer understanding of the memories and connections we have constructed. From there, a series of questions - What is your earliest memory of the United States in any way at all? How would you describe your feelings about the U.S.? Where do you go to explore questions about citizenship, patriotism and the political changes since 9/11? What is one positive and one negative way that your life changed since September 11th? - are answered by participants through stories, poems, visual art and movement.

The events of September 11th, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the ongoing "War on Terrorism" have challenged people living in the U.S. to ask even deeper questions about their country, it's relationship in the world and their own roles as individuals. More than ever we are hungry for civic dialogues that welcome the passions as well as the opinions. Yet the opportunities for citizens to engage on these issues with people of differing ideologies are almost nowhere to be found. Arts-based civic dialogues are playing a critical role in making such exchanges possible. Understanding that people get smarter by telling their stories, that listening is powerful tool in creating community, and that art is essential to transformation - A People's Dialogue invites participants to examine their relationship to America post-September 11th through memory, storytelling, and facilitated performance.

Marty Pottenger, artist/playwright/director first conducted A People's Dialogue when Animating Democracy commissioned her to create an arts-based dialogue on the meaning of citizenship, identity and patriotism in the wake of September 11th. Since then, A People's Dialogue has been a part of the Americans for the Arts pARTicipate conference in Washington D.C., the Grantmakers In The Arts annual conference in Cleveland, Asian Arts Initiative in Philadelphia, New York University's Scholars Program in New York City and foundations, boards and community groups throughout the US.