Us Can Do It – Video by Gill Sotu

Q&A With Creator Gill Sotu  

Q:  How long have you been creating spoken word poetry? How did you break into the genre?

A: I have been a writer pretty much all of my life. But the spoken word, in general, I have been doing for close to twenty years, ever since I got out of the Navy.

Q:  Tell us a little bit about what inspired Us CAN Do it.

A: I started the poem and what I was going to say as honestly as I could.  “A part of me was scared to write this…” TEDxSanDiego asked me to speak on something that is affecting the entire world and I really felt the pressure to speak honestly and powerfully on the subject. What does one say to a world that is temporarily unraveling before our very eyes?  My answer is the response I always give when I feel I am in a crisis…How can I bless someone else so I am not so worried about my problems?  When I do that, the things that weighed me down magically begin to lift.

Q:  Walk us through the creative process when you’re putting together a piece like this.

A: I took in all of the input from my collaborators.  What did they want this poem to feel like?  What is the important thing we want people to know…things like that.   Then you just sit with it for a while and let whatever comes out come out.  Not to get too spiritual, but at that moment something magical happens and you let it flow WITHOUT JUDGMENT.  That is the important part.  Anything that comes out can be fixed in the editing process.  Then Jack introduced me to two amazing performers, Mandi and Jamie, we got together, and again, I just felt where the piece needed to go musically.  The final piece of the puzzle was bringing on Enjet Media to film and add their vision, and the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation to lend us their space.  The timing of the way everything came about was quite serendipitous.  If anything in the process happened a day later, we would most likely not have been able to shoot the video.

Q:  What do you hope audiences extract from experiencing your work?

A:  The feeling that they are not just observers to this pandemic, that we are all in this together.  That we all have a role to play. And if that role is not apparent, it is up to each and every one of us to make one up for the betterment of all.

Q:  Tell us about the #UsCANDoIt challenge!  How can people keep the conversation going?

A:  This #UsCANDoIt challenge is to find and nominate someone who you know is stepping up and going above and beyond for other people during this crisis.  We want to feature and celebrate them through TEDxSanDiego.  Our hope is that acts of kindness beget more acts of kindness. We are looking for short songs, poems, raps, prose, or really just a heartfelt video of you talking and sharing who you are nominating, what they are doing and what that means to you.  It is only together that “us CAN do it!”

Making Peace with the Portrait – Kelly Mellos at TEDxSanDiego 2016

What is it about the human face that is so engaging and powerful?

You often hear that someone is the face of a movement, or the face of change. But what does that really mean? Does simply looking someone in the face, really taking a moment to study that person’s face – at the surface and beyond – have the power to bring about peace?

Artist Kelly Mellos, who left her life in the corporate business world to pursue a career in portraiture, toyed with this concept when she brought together a group of Palestinian and Israeli students and asked them to sit face-to-face and draw portraits of each other.

For Mellos, painting brings about a presence. When she runs her pencil or paintbrush over a face, she “softens into feelings of lucidity and deep reverence within the light of (her) subject.” Could the same feelings be stirred up in those who have been taught to be enemies?

“I thought there might be a possibility of transforming helplessness into hope,” she said. In a portrait workshop group through a peace program called Hands of Peace, Mellos got to test out her theory among teens who rarely get to meet and get to know one another.

The resulting workshop was an intriguing look into the power of humanity and the human face.

Kelly Mellos Website

Hands of Peace

Simple LIne Break