Archive for October, 2013

Wesleyan student wins award at College National Poetry Slam and bears witness to societal repression of women

Lily Myers, a student at Wesleyan University, performed “Shrinking Women” at the 2013 College National Poetry Slam Invitational at Barnard College and was awarded with Best Love Poem at the competition.  Her poem, which has gone viral,  passionately and movingly articulates in three minutes the societal repression of women and the power of spoken word poetry to bear witness to truth.  Finger snapping heard in the background replaces applause in the slam poetry world, so we can hear more.

Excerpt from the Huffington Post:

“Women in my family have been shrinking for decades,” declares Lily Myers.

Her slam poem, “Shrinking Women,” which won Best Love Poem at the 2013 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational in April, perfectly expresses the pressure women feel to take up less and less space, to be quiet, to be small and to eat sparingly.

She explains the difference between the ways men and women are socialized to her brother:

You have been taught to grow out, I have been taught to grow in. You learn from our father how to emit, how to produce, to roll each thought off your tongue with confidence. You used to lose your voice every other week from shouting so much. I learned to absorb. I took lessons from our mother in creating space around myself. I learned to read the knots in her forehead while the guys went out for oysters.

Founder of Invisible People captures stories of the homeless for social change, using only social media and iphone

Caution: Some content may be offensive. Our hope is you’ll get mad enough to do something.

Mark Horvath refers to himself as “Invisible People Founder, Chief Evangelistic Officer, Do-Gooder and Loud Mouth”.  Since its launch in November 2008, Invisible People has leveraged the power of video and the massive reach of social media to share the compelling, gritty, and unfiltered stories of homeless people from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. The vlog (video blog) gets up close and personal with veterans, mothers, children, layoff victims and others who have been forced onto the streets by a variety of circumstances. A former Hollywood producer,  Mark took to the streets to give the homeless a voice, after becoming homeless himself.

Mark was a featured panelist at a UCLA presentation on Transmedia Storytelling for Good on September 23, 2013.  He is an inspiring, dynamic, and larger-than-life character who interviews homeless people and captures them on video.  He likes to ask: What would your three wishes be? If he gets into an interesting conversation with someone online, he invites them to coffee to build the conversation and develop some trust before asking permission to film them.  He says that photo releases don’t help build relationships.  After he meets with people, he gives them a business card and promises them that at any point if they want their video removed, he will remove it.

Mark captured such a compelling interview with a homeless woman in Great Britain (where she explains that she can’t find work because of homeless-related medical condition but she doesn’t qualify for assistance because she isn’t pregnant and so forth) that attracted so many viewers that it ultimately led to a revamping of British homeless policy.  He says that when he walks the streets, real homeless people will take his socks, gladly.

According to Mark, we over-think stuff when it comes to capturing stories on film; that we think we need special equipment to do the job. He launched his successful campaign with $45, a laptop and an iphone.  “Just do it.,”  he says.  He calls this kind of work “life casting” or “reality twittering” and believes that authenticity replaces production values.  Tumblr syncs to Twitter and Facebook, and so on.  That is the concept behind Transmedia storytelling.  He uses Instagram to link to all the other social media platforms.  He says to post where your people use the media.  He thinks that social media will turn into cable TV and suggests purchasing all possible user names as soon as possible.  His website allows homeless people to post comments and have a voice.

For more information, see: – This link has clips of his interviews with homeless people.  To see some of his other blog posts, go to

Transmedia Storytelling for Good, was an innovative panel presentation at UCLA on 9/23/13 that demonstrated ways to promote health, create social change, and educate through storytelling via multiple social media channels.  The event was sponsored by the UCLA Department of Community Health Sciences and MPH for Health Professionals Program, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health,  Weinreich Communications, and  Transmedia for Good SoCal29. 

Click here to view the panel presentation.
Mark was the second presenter.

Most of the information in this blog post was contributed by Ping Ho, MA, MPH – Founding Director of UCLArts and Healing, who attended the panel presentation.

Violence prevention through movement for kids


Disarming the Playground: Violence Prevention through Movement teaches protective and proactive behaviors tailored for aggressors, targets, and witnesses of aggression through interactive movement games.  This is a comprehensive curriculum that engages body and mind as equal partners in developing skills for creating a safe world.

Author Rena Kornblum, MCAT, BC-DMT, DTRL is a dance-movement therapist with unique expertise in developing such strategies for children.  I attended her workshop at the 2012 Conference of the American Dance Therapy Association and was blown away by not only the insights that emerged from such engaging and fun activities but also the practical value of this work.  Ping Ho, MA, MPH Founding Director UCLArts and Healing

Click here for information on how to purchase the two-book set curriculum and companion training DVDs.

Click on the link below to view the published evaluation of this body-based violence prevention curriculum.  This article also serves as a good example of a variety of ways to measure outcomes of an arts-based intervention with children.

Hervey and Kornblum – 2006 – Evaluation of Body Based Violence Prevention Curriculum for Children.pdf

On another website, Kornblum and associate Jeanine Kiss, MA, BC-DMT, DTRL offer several metaphorical movement activities for teaching Balance of Power and Resisting Temptation.  They also offer the following additional downloadable activities for Disarming the Playground:

Passing Scaves by Jeanine Kiss

String Project by Jeanine Kiss

Trade Places, Trade Spaces by Jeanine Kiss

Laughter through improvisational games with brief instructional videos

Tug O'War

In Anatomy of an Illness, UCLA professor Norman Cousins (author, medical humanitarian and bearer of over 70 honorary medical degrees) documented his remarkable recovery from the incurable connective tissue disease called ankylosing spondylitis, using laughter and massive injections of vitamin C.  Before he passed away in 1990, he used to say that laughter was a metaphor for the full range of positive emotions.  He dedicated the last part of his life to documenting the neuroimmune effects of positive emotions.  His Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at UCLA lives on as his legacy.

Laughter for a Change offers brief video clips that demonstrate a variety of improvisational theater games.  It is easy to see in these clips how improvisational art forms have team and community building value, in addition to fostering self-expression and creativity.  These art forms are rooted in the principle of synchrony, involving mirroring or affirmation of what is delivered (as in the principle of “yes-and” in the theater world).  Synchrony is a form of empathy, which is associated with positive or prosocial behavior.

An interesting neuroscientific study showed a link between synchrony and positive behavior.

In 2011, Kokal and colleagues showed that subjects in a magnetic resonance imaging machine who had an in-sync vs. out-of-sync rhythmic experience with an experimenter showed greater activity in the part of the brain that responds to a monetary reward (caudate) as well as greater measurable helpful behavior after the experiment was over.

Click here to view the study.