A proverb for this time: If we don’t change direction we are likely to end up where we are headed.

Dear Friends and Colleagues,
On March 17th, I was among a few to receive an email from a dear friend and colleague, where she forwarded a message from one of her colleagues, that contained this letter written by Rebecca Hoffberger, the Founder and Executive Director of the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) of Baltimore, MD, offering invaluable perspective on the COVID 19 Pandemic. Because I wanted to share this letter publicly, I sought out Rebecca’s permission, noting that I had learned about her and AVAM while ED of the Rex Foundation, as one of our board members had participated in an AVAM program.  For about 2 hours of exhilarating emailing, forging all kinds of warm connections, I felt some invigorating release from pandemic-related worries and tensions. I also gained and now seek to share inspiration to look forward to what good can come out of this dire time, even as we grapple with current challenges.

AVAM Letter Excerpt

As Rebecca and I began communicating, she commented that our program name, The World As It Could Be, reminded her of AVAM’s Seven Educational Goals that she had documented in 1989.  She sent them to me, noting they included added commentary by Jim Rouse, who, among his many accomplishments, developed Columbia, MD as a model of what a city could be. I remember visiting Columbia shortly after its founding, as good friends were among the first to live there, and was immediately inspired and encouraged by its beauty and potential. Here are AVAM’s Educational Goals with Jim Rouse’s wisdoms in red print.

While each of the seven goals and added comments are worthy and compelling, I am finding Goal 5 particularly resonant at this time:

AVAM Educational Goal #5

Promote the use of innate intelligence, intuition, self-exploration, and creative self-reliance.

The best way to attack any problem is to ask what things would be like if they worked.

Rebecca notes, “This is a new time of realizing we could globally cooperate and shift values and positive, wise actions can be won for all. It was prophesied that by 2025 there will be a transformational and beautiful global evolutionary leap forward. I feel this time of pause and rewrite collective reality is the first step.”

Another term I recently learned about in an opinion piece by Jennifer Senior, is “Collective Resilience” described as the wide variety of strengths we’ll need to contend with the pandemic’s impacts.

With these wise and encouraging perspectives in mind, I’m wondering if we can begin to contemplate the best situations that could come from this crisis so that we can consider how to move toward them. Could we start by even writing poems or stories about them, or recording a song, or drawing a visual representation of what is possible, and sharing these during our various virtual get-togethers?

Another musical phrase running through my mind is, “There must be some way out of here” from Bob Dylan’s 1968 song All Along the Watchtower.  I do believe there is, and in its our collective spirit and resilience.  This collective concern and energy helped spur the adoption of the UDHR, seeing it as the way to a new way forward.  Where could we go from here?

With best wishes for everyone’s health, safety and resilience,

Sandy Sohcot, Director

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