Creative by Heart

Today, a group of middle-school-aged students was given a pencil, a blank sheet of paper, and two minutes to complete the task of sketching the person sitting next to them.  Almost immediately, I heard sighs of frustration and embarrassed apologies.  “This is terrible, I know.  I’m very sorry.” 

I took interest in their angst and had to ask when this happened.  When did they lose the creative, innovative, think-out-of-the-box flair?  When did they begin to shave away their edges and seek the safety of middle ground?

I have a three-year-old goddaughter who delights in her creations.  Asked to draw a picture of a tree or her family or a kitten, she grabs a crayon and dives into her imagination with her whole heart.  “I made you this picture of love.  Isn’t it pretty?”  And, indeed it is. 

Kids need to live in a world where they are free to explore their hearts and minds and spirits in creative ways.  They need to trust that their inner voice will be met with compassion and encouragement.  Banged up by criticism and comparison, young people lose confidence and respect for the power and authenticity of their unique voice. 

We can help children stay connected to their creative intelligence by recognizing and revealing and reenforcing what is unique in them.  We can look beyond what is seen or heard to notice their special view of things.  We can reach for the real ideas behind their creation and point out to them their gifts and graces that they may otherwise miss.  We must share with them how they add to the common good in this world.

Della Ludwig
CGR Board member and Middle School English teacher

Posted at 7:41pm, on August 30th 2016 by Robin Blair

The Mission of Common Good Radio

Families in the 21st-century journey with fast paced technology and media programming which deliberately targets children to influence them as consumers.  Consumerism may be a fact of life, but the media that makes it real to children may also be something a parent chooses to monitor carefully.  Media is here to stay and is part of how we educate, communicate and entertain ourselves.  Parents who care about what influences the tenderest hearts of the youngest among us have to ask: How does media nurture rather than exploit? 

Kids need to live in a world where they are free to explore their hearts, minds, and spirits in creative and compassionate ways.  We make the choice to honor what connects us to the common good like love, peace, kindness, integrity, faith, respect and justice.  All programming is vetted (handcrafted) to leave behind the exploitation of young people common in culture today.  On Common Good Radio, hear kids speak to kids, with kids, as they give voice to their truths.

Posted at 4:25pm, on August 23rd 2016 by Robin Blair

How To Record Your Kids for Common Good Radio

Recording your kids/youth is as easy as using the voice memo on your smartphone.

Here is the simple process:

1. Have your kids/youth identify which spiritual fruit/positive character trait will be their focus.  A good place to start is to ask about one of the following: kindness, peace, love, integrity, justice, faith or respect.

2. You are welcome to frame your conversation using a line of scripture with that spiritual fruit/character trait. You may also use other kinds of story offering a moral as illustrative if desired. 

3. Read the scripture/story into the voice recorder of your smartphone, then ask your child(ren) to comment on what it means to them.  Try not to coach or edit, but let them speak their truth!

4. End the commentary with: thanks for listening to Common Good Radio, my name is xxxxxxx (child’s first name only) and I am xx (age) years old. If you want to name a country, state, city or town, that is fine.  Some folks like to name their religious or civic organization (i.e., Main Street Church, Boys Scouts, Girl Scouts etc.)

5. Send the file in MP3 or MP4 format to: commongoodradiokids@gmail.com

6. If the piece requires a great deal of editing, feel invited to donate to us on our homepage using the PayPal icon.  It helps us with the cost of editing and is tax deductible. Thank you in advance!

7. Then listen for your recording to be part of our global programming! It will be heard all over the planet, influencing how people hear all that kids have to say about what is true and real in their world.

We believe in developing voices of truth through young people.  We aim to empower them to believe in their own voice and to lay theirs beside voices that are both similar and different.  We believe that children who learn to listen and speak thoughtfully are developing leadership and articulation that will contribute to the common good of us all.

Thank you for participating in the journey for the common good.
If you add your child or group’s full name, we will not publish or sell it,  but will send a certificate via email reply of participation as a voice for the common good on Common Good Radio.

Posted at 3:24pm, on August 23rd 2016 by Robin Blair

Awards

Thank you, United Methodist Association of Communicators, for the Class VI Audio Production First Place and Best in Class, Awards.

We are humbled by the affirmation of a simple and faithful presentation to support and celebrate the good in life through faith against a world where the Good News is sometimes suffocated in a news cycle.  We believe the music and story you listen to, matters, especially when the ears upon which it falls are young and developing.  We like to say we are a friend for children and families, online, because you can be safe with us; you will have no worries about violent material or that which parents do not want to explain to their kids before they are old enough to take in ideas that are complex in the world around them.  This is a calling and a passion for those of us who make it happen, day by day, week by week.

We just try and offer a place where a child’s voice is spoken and listened to, where music and story support compassion and a faith in something bigger than self, and hope can be sung and talked about. 

Again, thank you UMAC, and we shall see you in Portland, OR, for the International gathering the UMC calls, General Conference, May 2016.

blessings with thanks,
Pastor Robin and our volunteer and paid staff

Posted at 11:29am, on April 18th 2016 by Robin Blair

Singing Along

      At Common Good Radio, we support singing.  Singing is an important activity for human living, not just for the sake of the song, but the song gives us a mystical grounding and focal point.  At Common Good Radio, we lift songs that many voices sing – so you can sing along.  Song offers us a moment of unity in the face of chaos and helps soothe a hurting soul. Music and song helps to build bridges and join hands, finding that which is common between us through our differences.
      Singing songs of a culture or family shares and preserves it stories, expresses ideas and feelings in ways that speaking them alone does not do, and further, singing is something that engages the whole body through its breath, a source of life, the ruach (spirit-breath) of Hebrew scripture.  Singing is something you can do without a metal mouthpiece, wooden instrument and strings or anyone else around you.  Your body produces the sound and you can shape it anyway you are compelled.
      Singing is a social activity that when sung in community of others –like in a faith community, shares a sense of something unique, together.  Singing in a faith community articulates an awareness of God and a relationship to/with God.  Singing binds people together.  It is like prayer spoken aloud by the body of faith in this way.
      There are many arguments about the growth of electronic transmission of music which suggest that we sing together far less often in community or home because we don’t have to – others do it for us and so we only have to listen to take it in.  And to a degree, this is true, I think.  However, we do and can sing along.  And it is important.
      I don’t think I could have ever learned to sing outside my specific cultural context of music that was flooded with acoustic, folk music if there had not been radio and records to bring to other songs that I have learned to sing and delight in my entire life.  My children will tell you that particular music ran from Stevie Wonder to Laura Nyro to Al Jarreau and Ella Fitzgerald, because I would play it really loud and sing full tilt while making dinner and the girls would sing and dance with me while setting the table.  Music, the listening to and singing of it, binds me to other people and cultures and sounds that I have learned to love. 
      This is one reason we play music you have never heard of before on Common Good Radio - to introduce you to sounds that are new, exciting, express the same notions of love, kindness or the actions of peace, with various rhythms and voices.  Music is a spiritual resonance with the world and it makes us happy – bringing that which is aching to expressed with melody, texture, rhythm and lyric – out of the body and into the world! Sing with us and know it is one of the great loves in your life!  We can and will find ways to live together with a sense of respect for our differences and joy in our unity!
     
      Blessings for the common good,
      Pastor Robin

P.S. Listen below to the podcast from Rabbi Joe Black, religious leader, husband and father,  as he explains a bit more about what brings us together as a human community.


Posted at 3:39pm, on September 4th 2014 by Robin Blair

Kids on TV Shows: Kid Nation

What was Kid Nation? The sound of it is pretty provocative, right?

In 2007 CBS quietly shot a “reality TV” series in New Mexico, called, Kid Nation.  Sort of a “Lord of the Flies with Hunger Games and the teachers have left the building”  school/living/survival - exploitation – for television.  What, you say?  As an adult who cares for the well being of the youngest among us – I was surprised at the premise of this program; and surprised at CBS network for attempting to exploit the kids.  The kids were intentionally left alone to fend for themselves – at the expense of the other kids.  The production crew staff was present of course - but this is really a head-scratcher of a premise. 

Kid Nation – yikes!!  I am a practical theologian, not a scientific researcher and though I suspect I will strangle this sentence, scientific community please forgive me, I think I understand certain things don’t get researched that effect children and their well being:  You would have to have the potential to intentionally harm a group of children to test whether or not something is harmful.  Rather than research how the program’s premise would harm or help - CBS appear to have thrown it together.

So what is this idea of Kid Nation?  It is about a product for television that can be sold to make a profit.  This is not a terrible thing, but why must a com pay sell children to make a profit   Can anyone say crazy greedy ratings at the expense of the well being of the children involved on the program and those who might (if you allowed it) watch the program?  In the real world, (remembering that programs like this are entertainment and NOT real world) whoever the adults in charge are that left children this age to their own devices like played out in Kid Nation, would be subject to scrutiny by authorities for not caring for the children.  Or, these kids would be called, homeless children; this is not an entertaining subject but a heart breaking subject. 

What is uncomfortable about this picture? Exploitation of children and youth for the purposes of selling airtime by gaining an audience of young people.  Here is a link to the episodes: http://bit.ly/1kgTZMU

And here is a link for what one former participant, 14 years old at the time, was thinking: http://bit.ly/1rIhCA3

Do we as a culture and society need to preserve the idea that children are to be cared for and cherished by the adults who brought them into the world? If children are not regarded as precious*, how will they understand what precious is?

Here is another thought; when we intentionally damage children (the horrors of real world not withstanding), what harm ripples through the universe and how can we heal it?  How will the children of our souls and lives recover from the vicitmization of corporate greed, and , how are they shaped by it? 

As of this writing in late July 2014 there are bombs still dropping in Gaza and children are dying – there is starvation in Darfur and children are il, there are homeless children at our southern U.S> border without their parents; there is real harm in the world happening to children.  So, rather than exploit children for greed in TV shows, how about we teach them that we must have compassion for the suffering?
Scripture repeatedly tells us that children are precious:

Psalms: 127:3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.

Proverbs: 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Gospel: Matt 18:1-3 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Media can support compassion and love, hope and making things better. Let’s go with that.  CBS – you can do better.

Blessings for the common good,
Pastor Robin

Posted at 1:02pm, on July 24th 2014 by Robin Blair

We're depending on God; he's everything we need. What's more, our hearts brim with joy since we've taken for our own his holy name. Love us, God, with all you've got— that's what we're depending on.Psalm 33:20, The Message