After we worked feverishly on the website leading up to the KBBAL ‘blastoff’ I looked over the astounding responses that have come my way since launching just 5 short days ago. I am tearful on a regular basis. It is truly the culmination of a lifelong pursuit of seeking ways to connect humanity with itself; my gratitude has carried me to the deepest sense of purpose I have ever known. I wrote this last night and wanted to share it with you. It came like several bursts of insight.
Today, like so many days this year, has been remarkable. I live in the front row of this cosmic classroom getting a crash course on the importance of vulnerability. Being emotionally available with a modicum of balance is utterly foreign to the unpracticed. Being suspicious of happiness is the norm. Contentment is kept in the pantry with the salt.
One of my friends who is a skilled writer, said: “I never really heard ‘ability’ in the word vulnerability until you spoke about it”. I said vulnerability is my greatest strength! Along with that sudden epiphany, my vision of a purpose rose to an unfamiliar height. My enthusiasm for life majestically expanded at a time when ‘the world’ seemed to be shrinking into fear. I see how hard it is for people to believe in themselves. How suspicious some are of an open heart, unafraid to express itself and the joy it contains. My heart exudes heaviness when looking outward to heal the ‘real’ world so I meditate and pray to the source of my breath that I may bring forth my hope instead . My lifetime has proven that knowing oneself requires center stage. It is not a liberal fantasy. Jesus, a fellow jew, taught the Holy Spirit lives within.
One pandemic lesson is that hugging is one of the few things that makes sense. Without embracing, without compassion going to the core – we flounder and eventually sink.
Oh life! My friend! Your giving breath forges comfort I wish to share. Life, long life of flame and wind
Each day has spun to thread and weaves a blanket
Shelter to my spirit.
In that lives freedom.
Mindy Yanish January 20, 2021
It has been, and continues to be a tumultuous time. For some it started four years ago, for others it commenced with a lock down, and for yet others it has been the most recent presidential election.
What I have found most difficult about all of this is the isolation these experiences have created. Not just the physical isolation created by Covid-19, but the isolation created by fear and revealed in anger and hatred.
In our community I have seen and heard of conduct so foreign to the community I entered in 2009, and I keep asking myself why, and I keep returning to one answer- fear. People are afraid- they’re afraid of change, of the unknown, of political positions they don’t understand, of cultures and people they don’t share a similar background with. They’re afraid of what they might lose, of what opportunities they might miss, of the future their children might not see and so they lash out in anger at all those who oppose or challenge them. And yet, what they fail to remember is that we are a community. We rise and fall together. One person’s economic success can open the door for others to succeed. Where one child excels in school, athletics or the arts the reputation of our schools at large benefit. Somewhere in the midst of the last few years our ability to relish in, and cherish the success of our neighbors has given way to selfishness and fear. We, as a community, need an opportunity to connect with our friends and neighbors. We need a space and forum in which we can meet others and connect on equal footing. The arts provide that forum- whether in music, dance, theatre, poetry, painting, or photography- the arts give us a neutral plane on which to meet, talk, learn, discuss and grow. It is very easy to fear the unknown and direct anger at those you don’t know, but it’s much harder to carry those same emotions and direct them at an individual who shares your love of Ella Fitzgerald. KBBAL is a new entity, but it is one that has the ability to help our community heal from the fear and anger that has languished in our community for too long. As an organization rooted in the arts and devoted to community building I hope that it will bring friends and neighbors of all backgrounds and interests together to learn and grow from one another, and maybe even sow the seeds of compassion, understanding, empathy, and friendship in our community at large.
Nov. 18, 2020
Public art, no matter its form, brings a community to life. The arts are for everyone. They don’t discriminate. They build community and improve our quality of life. When art is public, it is accessible to people who might never have crossed its path. Through art we share our ideas; we share our values. Art unifies. If we want art FOR everyone, we need art created BY everyone.
Last winter, I visited Austin, TX and was pleasantly surprised to see murals at every turn. I discovered self-guided mural tours and people queueing up to take photos with, and of them. Murals were funny, sad, abstract, retro, meaningful. You’d see them from the highway or from your seat at a restaurant. You pull into a parking lot and there is one in front of you and another across the street. They were diverse and thought-provoking.
Public art revitalizes communities. Visitors travel to see it. They will linger and watch, look or listen. Naturally, they’ll get hungry, so they’ll stay awhile, and visit our restaurants. Maybe they’ll shop, or visit Bedford’s historical sites. Providing public art creates jobs and promotes community engagement. These bring strong communities, and strong communities are resilient.
Bobbi M. Bittker
Bedford Hills, NY
(pronouns she, her, hers)
Oct. 2, 2020
Dear friends and fellow travelers,
In the blinding clouds of a sandstorm it is vitally important to reach out to one another. To be reminded that even though we may not all be in the same boat, we are all in the same storm. We need to share our experiences, including our feelings of profound uncertainty. Connecting to others is a source of great strength; the heart of humanity on which we can place our resurgent hope.
Once the sands settle over our new landscape, we have a profound opportunity to reevaluate and recalibrate everything. Among other things, simple inner contentment begs to be rediscovered. Our deepest selves tell us that our longstanding disconnect from nature can no longer be tolerated by the human heart, or the planet itself. And certainly, for the survival of humanity, we must unite under the banner ‘black lives matter’ because we are family.
Life is an exquisite manifestation of creativity and the inherent wisdom of nature is breaking apart our misguided, toxic constructs of the past. Everything is rife with radical change and our attempts at control are proving feudal. We can no longer be disconnected and survive.
Visionaries are stepping forward now; healers, artists, poets, musicians, philosophers, dreamers; whoever understands that our future is only worth envisioning if we awaken to our humble place in nature by honoring, not exploiting Mother Earth. Our efforts to envision a community, a world, for our children must be born from our hope of equity and harmony. Woven with the understanding that our inherent freedom can only exist if all are demonstrably free. Our visions for community are inexorably intertwined with kindness toward the earth and love of neighbor. Our inborn, yearning to be free and at peace resides at the core of everything we desire. It is buried in our words, our hopes, our quest for more. But no matter how much any of us has, no one is free and safe until we all are.
Mindy Yanish July 23, 2020