The Operating System


“It’s a new day and a new way…people are not waiting for approval.” – Trinidad and Tobago organizer Rachel Collymore
Perhaps the most exciting thing about the 100,000 Poets for Change series — and, we hope, about the work we do here at Exit Strata — is the manifestation of publication as not ends but means. As a dynamic tool for growth.
When I talk to people about what makes 100TPC different from other event organizers that catalyze people to come together in celebration or protest around a particular event or date, I explain that the strength of the organization is its constantly evolving, responsive network : that September 24th 2011 marked not the conclusion of event planning but the beginning of a movement.
On that day, the scale of international creative activism that a social media driven artists, poets, and musicians network could reach became undeniably clear. Perhaps, then, the annual event can be understood best as a birthday: as a yearly opportunity to celebrate the continued growth of a movement that exists, inspires, and empowers every day. That offers both support and community, as well as creative autonomy to all its international partners – many of whom have planted the seeds for ongoing local events under the 100TPC banner.

100TPC Organizer/Poetic Vibes founder Rachel Collymore, center, with renowned novelist/playwright/ Earl Lovelace (left) and Albert Laveau (right), actor and artistic director of Trinidad Theatre Workshop.

This is the case in Trinidad and Tobago, where passionate organizer Rachel Collymore found that there was such a groundswell of support for the original weekend of events (which included a structured open mic, photography exhibit, concert, and roundtable discussion) that her group, Poetic Vibes, came together with the Trinidad Theatre Workshop to plan additional 100TPC events, the next of which occurred on November 3rd. You can see her and co-organizer speaking about this on a CNMG nationally televised talk show at the video above — which gives a good sense of not only the conviction with which the organizers approached the events, but also the gravity with which the work is being handled by the public and the media in countries outside the US, where the onslaught of content can make the work of this organization seem like more of the same.
It is for this reason that Exit Strata has chosen to focus on the enormous impact of this movement on the international level before returning to the events and organizers in the United States — because sometimes it is important to step away from what’s happening at home to see that we are at our best, and have the most impact for lasting change, when a movement like this carries so much support, force, and love from other countries… countries that we can, in turn, have an enormous impact on via our attention, resources, and voices.
This moving text from Collymore represents her vision for this movement and beyond, in her own words, and is part of the beautiful digital publication Poetic Vibes put together in celebration of this work in collaboration with the participants from her country. I hope it inspires you and drives you to consider being part of this work – now, or on 100TPC day 2013… join us, here.

“For many years, we have been at the mercy of changing world paradigms. We have endured climate change, globalization, poverty, financial meltdowns and crime in all its ugly forms. Today, we are looking to find solutions to myriad problems, while trying to find the source or root of it all. Thanks to technology, the world is no longer vast and unreachable. This global village is closer to our doorsteps than we think and everything that we face, that we do, affects us all; one way or another.
Poetic Vibes hosted the Trinidad and Tobago arm of this initiative and themed the event, “Changing the Conversation for Peace”. We saw poets, artists, musicians and photographers joining the dialogue to confront the issues that needed to be addressed; even those that were seldom discussed. The conversation began… On Saturday 29th September, 2012, from NALIS Amphitheatre to Trinidad Theatre Workshop, the call for social, political and environmental change was answered. It was a moment of solidarity, where our ethnicity did not segregate us but brought us closer to tackle the real problems that affected us – as a people, as a country, as the world – in our quest for change. It was evident by our expression, the need for change. Marsha Pearce’s conversation with us, gave insight into a nation’s dilemma and the vital role art played in its rescue.  She quotes Ghanaian-born poet, Kwame Dawes: “Art teaches us how to empathize; it teaches us how to feel what  others are feeling and thus it allows us the capacity to resist the instinct to harm others… poetry can help us to find our  humanity and to find the humanity of others.”
“In her contribution she reflected, “…In Trinidad and Tobago, we desperately need to hear from poetry and other forms ofcreative expression. We are in urgent need of the arts to imbue our space with empathy. We need the arts to help us find our humanity. We need the arts to steer us in a direction of peace. Poetry, music and the other arts must serve as interlocutors in the present Section 34 conversation that has elevated public disquiet, and torn asunder a government that was already unraveling – a coalition ruling body riddled with dissension, disharmony and infighting… The artist’s work is the stuff of discussion and interchange. Reflecting the pretty or reproducing the picturesque in art has its place but more and more, the artist needs to engage and interrogate what is ugly and nauseating around us.”n the midst of the chaos, we have found a space to express ourselves. Our art must evoke a response or reaction to our present predicament. It must act as a mirror and moral compass to provoke our consciousness; for such is the power and purpose of the art, if understood.

So too in understanding our power, we see the correlation to nature, our environment. For what inspires us, if not our connection to and fellowship with the earth? According to John Stollmeyer, “We are bio-logical beings… subject to the laws that govern all life on Earth. Bio is life.” Therefore, in order for there to be environmental change, which ensures the continuity of life, the natural order must be restored. If this be true, we must take responsibility – as an individual and as a collective. Our action engenders the change we seek.
The conversation is just the fire-starter and must not end there, but must translate into action, first in our mind.  It was the late American essayist and poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson who said, “Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.” It is from this point we begin, for “darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”– Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches
Check out this piece to learn what organizer Nana Nestoros has been doing with 100,000 Poets for Change in Greece, and then visit México, where Pilar Rodriguez Aranda has been tirelessly organizing events nationwide for two years.
You can support 100TPC on their page via direct donation HERE, please consider helping this essential project thrive!

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