I recently had the pleasure of connecting with Anne Basting, Founder of TimeSlips, about the power of creativity, how it enables us to be fully self-expressed, and its ability to revolutionize relationships. On May 3, Anne will open our 2018 Eden Alternative International Conference and offer us a taste of how creativity can transform how we come together and build community. Here is what Anne had to say about this amazing work…
LB: What inspired the work you do and how did it unfold for you?
AB: Way back in 1996, I volunteered in a nursing home, the kind that we all fear, and yet, we all have seen: pharmaceutical restraints, loud TVs, alarms going off. Staff were nowhere to be seen and residents in the common room tucked themselves deep inside. After many weeks of trying to engage people, I gave up on memory and invited people to imagine. Anything they offered, I would weave into a story. Sounds, songs, movements, words, facial expressions – anything they would offer, I would echo and enthusiastically weave them into a story. I’ve really been doing it ever since. Inviting, echoing, weaving, sharing with the public the miracle that is the joy and imagination of people the world has discarded.
LB: As your work has evolved, what has surprised you or touched you most deeply?
AB: I have been immeasurably moved by the response of staff and family members who suddenly realize that they can connect with someone they thought was “gone.” You can see it in their eyes – the shock — sometimes the embarrassment at having underestimated the person — but always the eagerness to try it themselves. I love when college students, who always start as hesitant and afraid, fall in love with working with elders and release themselves into the raw joy of creative engagement.
LB: What is the message you hope to share through your general session at the 2018 Conference?
AB: Our general session shares the story of an amazing project we did when we trained 50 nursing homes in WI in creative engagement and community building. The elders told stories, read them aloud, and choreographed the stories. We collaborated with a team of artists to bring those stories to you in what we call Keynote Karaoke – singing, moving along with, and generally marveling at their stories. We end by teaching you all the choreographic method, so you can take it home with you.
LB: As an advocate/activist/artist, how do you most want to effect change? What do you wish to rise up for ?
AB: At TimeSlips, we aim to inspire the creativity in everyone, and we turn that creativity outward – sharing it with others, so they too can be inspired. When people experience the joy of creativity engagement, they fight for its inclusion in the everyday lives of all elders. We aim to pour it into the water of care – so that meaningful engagement is part of the lives of every elder and every care partner. It is the connective tissue that brings them into meaningful relationship with their extended communities.