“Something happens ….and the story finds the something.” Julie Portman


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April, 2011, Unity Through Creativity Teams up with Youth in Arts

November 18

Cypress Singing Tree of Peace with Everest Middle School



“Seeking the Spark” is the first step in “Beating the Odds Now” because it allows you to know the talents and passions of the people you are serving.  It involves asking the questions “What brings you joy? and What makes you feel useful?” The AfterSchool University hired Unity Through Creativity to “seek the spark” in 24 of their students.  Laurie Marshall’s exploration, captured in colored pencil drawings, uncovered the passions and affinities of the children.  After School University is using the knowledge that emerged from the creative process to craft an exciting village for their students.  They celebrated the success of the young people on March 5, inviting professionals in the area of the children’s sparks to celebrate learning and skills and following a path with heart.  Here are a number of the Laurie’s drawing, which were displayed at the Celebration of Success:


Lili Lopez, 18, comments on the Bioneers Conference 10/17/10 San Rafael, CA

Lili and Laurie by the Fig Singing Tree of the Child at Bioneers

Each of the speakers at Bioneers was smart, but they were also wise in what they knew.  They had it figured out  – what we’re here for and what we need to do.  Nobody else has that.

Heart of Heaven from Hawaii had women in her life that took care of her. I didn’t know that there are still people who are not  influenced by our society, that have a relationship with the earth as if the earth was their mother.  She said that now we have GPS, but navigation used to be done by her people looking at the color of the sky, the shape of the clouds, the direction of the wind and the feel of the air.  Her people are close with their ancestors.  There are not a lot of ancestors left, especially ones who know the old ways.

OCTOBER 4: Singing Tree Pieces from the West Bank

PHD student Leilah Angod took pieces of the Fig Singing Tree of the Child to the West Bank.  Here’s what she has to say on her blog. READ MORE


OCTOBER 2: Redwood Singing Tree for 350 – First steps

Lili Lopez, Hassan Obibumni (otherwise knows as Detroit), and I at  Muir Woods.

After making art with the inspiring young people at Oak Hill School on Thursday and the Unity Through Creativity Team , we  drove the winding road down to Muir Woods.  Our visit to the Redwood trees, which grow only in California, officially begins the creation of the Redwood Singing Tree for 350. READ MORE


October 1: Uniontown, PA, Teachers Beating the Odds with Their Open Hearts

I had the privilege of giving a keynote speech for the opening of the Uniontown, Pennsylvania school district’s 2010-2011 year.  After sharing the ten steps of Beating the Odds Now!, I asked the teachers to write a story about a time when they beat the odds in their teaching career – when they were at the right place at the right time with a student or a class. READ MORE


OCTOBER 1: Oak Singing Tree for Autism – Growing

Unity Through Creativity staff Detroit, Lili and myself joined artist Mary Gow at Oak Hill School for autistic children in San Anselmo, CA.  How perfect that the first group of people to the add to  virtual mural – the Oak Singing Tree for Autism – is a parent-founded institution with the symbol of an OAK TREE. READ MORE

We made art with 12 children and 8 staff who answered the questions “What do I pay attention to in the world?” and “What do I want to change?”   Daniel pays attention to Algebra – x’s and y’s.  The principal, Mike McDonald, uses bar graphs to show what he wants to change:  ” What do I wish all people knew about those with learning differences?  Here’s a left-brain answer and image:  Different domains develop at different RATES – but they all DEVELOP!  On a sky-blue field, I re-interpreted the bar graph to show different domains at different stages, all moving UPWARD.  Get to know a person with learning differences and see their skyward movement.”

Alex pays attention to people he loves and cars.

Abe, 22, drew the horse he rides, named Pansy.

Oak Hill’s artwork can be seen on the growing photo-mosaic Oak Singing Tree for Autism at


SEPTEMBER 29:  Making the World – A Child Shall Lead Them

The resilience in young people never ceases to move me.  These images are from Laos, Thailand and Cambodia, made for the Fig Singing Tree of the Child. The girls and boys who made the drawings are survivors of sexual abuse, poverty, drug abuse and commercial sexual exploitation. They answered the question “What kind of childhood do you wish to see for children in your country?”  Cheryl Perera, warrior for the well-being of children and founder of One Child, brought them to the children.  She wrote “On behalf of the children, thank you so much for giving them the chance to share their message to the world – one of love, peace – in the world and of mind – and hope.”  They drew suns over mountains, houses on stilts, paths and plants, and families with their children. READ MORE

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