Preventing Another Oakland Tragedy

Celebrate people who look and think differently, don’t marginalize them

Artwork by Katie Beecher

I found an article published in the July 19, 2008 issue of Brooklyn Daily titled Starving For Space about the lack of affordable, safe space for musicians and artists in the New York City area. The artists interviewed called it a “crisis” and then Councilmember, later Mayor Bill de Blasio said “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the City Council to find the best way to address the issue of affordability, as this is a problem not just in Brooklyn but city-wide.” I’m not sure exactly what he meant or if it happened but I found other similar articles from other parts of the country, including San Francisco as recent as the Summer of 2016.

Creativity is an essential part of life. Without creativity we get sick and die. I have experienced this myself and seen it over and over again in my counseling and medical intuitive clients. Unfortunately in our society, some forms of creativity are more widely accepted and so are the people who create these art forms, thus some are given more funding, space, press coverage and political clout. My point is that creative people will find space to create, even if it means jeopardizing their safety to do so. Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Jung said “The biographies of great artists make it abundantly clear that the creative urge is often so imperious that it battens on their humanity and yokes everything to the service of the work, even at the cost of health and ordinary human happiness.”

People with colored hair, tattoos, holes and piercings, from the LGBTQ community, who play loud, different music or create unconventional art are often looked down upon. I saw it happen in my own small, New England town and with my own kids and their friends. People who were supposedly advocates for young people wrote letters to prevent them from hanging out at a local coffee house, where they weren’t bothering anyone. After my middle school age daughter came to an event with part of her hair dyed green, a parent who commented about what I thought of it was speechless and shocked to learn that I helped my daughter dye it. Someone else, a person who made a big deal about being Christian and attending church, criticized my daughter for her individual choice of wardrobe, which wasn’t even that unusual. I’m not going to repeat what I said to her.

My daughters and their friends are the people who could have attended events at The Ghost Ship in Oakland. They are talented musicians, gifted artists, loving, accepting and intelligent beings. They care about the planet and about how we treat each other. They don’t care as much about material things as they do about expressing themselves and being good people. They can’t exist without music, art and companionship. I love spending time with them and some of my very best memories are of hanging out with my daughters and their friends at our home, at concerts (I was the mom who liked the music all of the other parents hated) or just in the car.

I can’t relate to stereotypes I have heard about younger generations feeling entitled or being lazy. The majority of the members I know are hard workers, grateful, polite, educated and informed. We engage in intelligent, timely discussions and I learn from them every time.

We can’t afford to lose anymore of these lovely souls, especially to such preventable tragedies. These people are your children and grandchildren and their friends and loved ones. They matter and you should take the time to get to know them, even if you think you don’t have anything in common. I think you would be pleasantly surprised. Also, creative people with different ways of thinking and viewing the world than your own can expand your horizons and push you to face your fears.

Non profit funding and space should be available for all types of music and art, not just the select few. Be part of the solution and help this happen if you have the opportunity. If you are part of local or state government, you can make a difference. If you are involved in non profits or charity work involving the arts, keep projects like these in mind. Perhaps you own real estate that isn’t being used or is being under utilized and you might be able to offer it as practice space for a low fee. Let your leaders know that you care about the arts in your community and volunteer if you have the time.

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