Category Archives: art

A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN: NONPROFITS & CREATIVE MATTERS


By Ryan Naghi
workingtogether Since I started working here at Creative Matters, I’ve heard many people tell me that despite our cutting-edge work, we are at an inherent disadvantage as a nonprofit ad agency. There’s a reason why no place like us exists—nonprofit and ad agency just don’t go together. Yet, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only are we surviving; we’re thriving. While bigger for profit companies like Fatburger and Wells Fargo are starting to put their brands in our hands, our work remains centered around other nonprofits. But why?

To understand this, I’ll put myself in the shoes of people who fund nonprofits, because they ultimately decide which missions to power. What do they want? They want to do as much good as efficiently as possible. And what does one nonprofit working with another such as ourselves do; more good per dollar spent. If a need is present, why not purchase it through another nonprofit’s earned income service? They will get the service they want, while allowing another organization to do what they specialize in, and the payments will go towards helping another cause. Working together gets better results, and makes both more worthy of support. As long as people know the extra good they are doing, funding will likely increase. But how you inform a support base is an art in itself, and smart non-profits hire outside support to maximize their impact.

That’s why Creative Matters makes the perfect fit. We are a nonprofit who provides marketing services to raise money for our mission. Since we are both the noteworthy partner and the marketers, our clients fully capitalize on the benefits of collaboration. Letting us manage their brand boosts their nonprofit’s credibility and appeal, because hiring us proves their commitment to bettering society. The beauty of this relationship is elegantly simple. They are more marketable by the very act of purchasing our marketing services, part of which goes towards promoting this new aspect of their brand to the public; it’s a perfect match!

And who exactly are they helping by hiring us? The same people designing the product, because our creative work not only funds our mission, it is our mission. Participating in the creative work itself helps people like me get the job skills, mentorship, and experience that make life exciting again, while making drugs now seem unappealing. Our innovative way of fighting addiction is proven to be 15 times more effective in maintaining sobriety than the dominant form of treatment. Our cause therefore, is one that spells out efficiency and societal impact as well as any, one that donors are more than happy to know they are supporting through our clients’ marketing needs.

Being a nonprofit gives us another advantage. It allows us to better understand their needs, goals, and values, giving the quality of our work a unique boost. For profit companies may still hold some advantages, but they can’t offer the symbiotic relationship that creates this kind of virtuous cycle we share with our clients.

So, here lies my answer to the people with doubts. We fill a tough niche, no doubt about that. It takes a lot for a place like this to exist. It takes persistence and outside support to start up, creativity and ingenuity to grow, and an intrinsic drive for meaning and purpose to manage. Above all else, it takes an understanding of the system at large and how we fit into it. That’s the reason we’re one of a kind. Since these things have all come together, our previous handicaps have transformed into competitive advantages that only we possess. The next step is to continue pointing this out to other nonprofits. It will take some great marketing on our part, but then again, great marketing is what we do.

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Filed under addiction, art, Beit T'Shuvah, BTS Communications, Charity Design Project, Community, Current Events, Dating, Education, Internet, Uncategorized

Digital Drugs: Cyberhigh


By Stephanie Lager and Matthew Greenwald

There is a current trend permeating today’s youth culture. It is alarming to some, and ridiculous to others. It’s not quite a drug epidemic, but it might be the next addictive, mind altering component on the minds of curious teenagers. But you can’t get it from a drug dealer; it’s digital. In a nutshell, digital drugs are 10-30 minute tracks of sound, music and white noise, which claim to be designed to induce states of altered consciousness, mirroring those of drugs such as Psychedelics, Ambien, Marijuana and others. For a fee (usually $10-20, but “the first one’s free”) tracks are available on sites such as I-doser. Unsurprisingly, the whole “first one’s free” marketing ploy effectively mirrors how kids experiment with drugs in the first place, with the unable to turn down offer of “just try it—it’s free!”

shutterstock_118236262 We decided to give these “digital drugs” a try and see what all the buzz, or lack there of, is about. We didn’t listen to a complete track, and this type of “high” may only be effective if listened to in its entirety, but all in all, we didn’t quite get it.

In some circles, however, it’s being taken as a potentially serious problem. “Kids are going to flock to these sites just to see what it is about and it can lead them to other places,” Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs spokesman Mark Woodward said according to Wired on-line. Oklahoma’s Mustang Public School district isn’t taking the threat lightly; they sent out a letter to parents warning them of the new craze. The educators have gone so far as to ban iPods at school, in hopes of preventing honor students from becoming cyber-drug fiends.

Whether digital drugs is a mere consequence of the placebo effect, or actually capable of concrete changes in the human body, is hard to prove or disprove. What is possible though is the extensive power of the mind in conjunction with the often-underestimated power that music can produce, at producing altered mental states.

Most people can attest to the insane power of music—feeling transported, riding on a roller-coaster of emotions, or inspiring a piece of art. But can music also produce harmful consequences? Is it akin to a drug, and if used dangerously, might it lead to disastrous results? Clearly, that is an overreaching claim, but it’s important to remember that these digital drugs might not fit into the traditional “music” categorization. Digital drugs are more of a compilation of sounds, with no harmony, rhythm, musical instruments, or vocals. What digital drugs seem most effective at doing is capturing a part of the sensation one might feel on drugs. For example, the LSD soundtrack featured a ringing in your ear sensation, which parallels one of the sensations one might experience on psychedelics.

In our opinion, you don’t have to fear any real results. Yet, there is something to be said about our digital obsessed social world. If you over use anything, it can morph into an addiction and take over your entire life, effectively making it just as destructive as a real substance addiction. So, proceed with caution. See for yourself. Do you think digital drugs will rise as the new substance addiction plaguing our youth?

 

 

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Filed under addiction, art, Community, Current Events, Education, Internet, Sobriety

Judaism and The Arts: Freedom Song Update


 By Stephanie Lager

In writing our Judaism and the Arts blog we didn’t need to look far to find the perfect topic for our next post. Beit T’Shuvah’s very own creation, Freedom Song, has been exploring performance art as a way to engage audiences with the relatable feelings of addiction, family dysfunction, and personal slavery in a side-by-side musical presentation of an A.A. meeting and a Passover Seder. The three-act play’s cast is made up of Beit T’Shuvah residents, alumni, and staff members, which culminates in a Q & A session that ties the whole performance together.

freedomsongJessica Fischel, the show’s coordinator and an associate of Beit T’Shuvah’s Prevention department, weighs in on why she is so passionate about promoting Freedom Song. Even though Freedom Song performs for audiences as young as 7th graders Jessica says, “I’ve never spoken to a kid that didn’t relate to someone in the play. Everyone can see a bit of themselves and their family on that stage, regardless of being an addict or not.”

Jessica gets the most pleasure from witnessing firsthand the impact Freedom Song has on everyone that sees it, from people coming up to her after a show, seeing audience members’ eyes well up with tears, and receiving letters that attempt to put into words the profound impact it had on their life as they realize that they aren’t alone.

With a constantly changing cast, Laura Bagish, the show’s director, announces current updates and reflects on what we can expect from this profoundly moving performance.

With almost all new cast members, Freedom Song is preparing for their first new show on November 13th at 5:30 p.m. at the Jewish Federation, which is open to the public.

In response to the new cast, “It’s a process for me, starting over with a new cast each time. For me, to have new people that are enthusiastic, makes me enthusiastic, and helps me keep it fresh,” Laura says.

On being the director, “It’s taught me patience; I hadn’t a lot of acting experience before, and being the director for the last few years has taught me a lot of how to bring the best out of people, and how to be brave and overcome your fears.”

We also had the distinct pleasure of interviewing one of the newest cast members, Shayna Aken, and picked her brain as to why she decided to join the cast.

Eager to express her enthusiasm, Shayna explains, “I joined Freedom Song because I really want to stay sober, and do it by being connected to the community. I used to act in plays and theater when I was younger, and I also wanted to get back to that part of myself—the real me—while I’m at Beit T’Shuvah. It was like I forgot my passion, and what I really like to do, and how I define myself.

On how it helps her: “The play helps me in my recovery by being accountable, and having a commitment. The other people in the play count on me to be there, and that’s really important in terms of my recovery. In a way, it’s like having a smaller community within the Beit T’Shuvah community that I can have a connection and camaraderie with—we’re doing something in the real world together, a true team effort.”

On the character she plays: “It’s funny that I actually play a character that I have the same name as, and it’s a woman who’s really been through it: she’s had abusive relationships, and she’s working in recovery. She doesn’t have a lot of sober time, but she’s already helping the newcomer, and she stands up for herself. And I like that very, very much.  It certainly mirrors my life; I can relate to it a lot.”

We are thrilled to announce the upcoming performance from this new group of cast members on November 13th at 5:30 p.m. at the Jewish Federation. If you haven’t seen Freedom Song yet, you’re not just missing out on a part of our community, but a performance that will make you reflect on what you may be living as a slave to.

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Filed under addiction, Family Wellness, 12-Steps, Beit T'Shuvah, Judaism, Sobriety, Current Events, Freedom Song, Spirituality, Alcoholics Anonymous, Community, art

Judaism and The Blues


By Matthew Greenwald and Stephanie Lager

“It’s a natural. Black people suffer externally in this country, Jewish people suffer internally. The suffering’s the fulcrum of the blues…”

This quote is from the late blues legend, Michael Bloomfield, who was a musical expeditionary, and a pioneer in the electric blues rock that was such an important part of the zeitgeist that was going on in the 1960’s. Bloomfield’s slant on Judaism and The Blues was thought-provoking to us; so much so that we decided to sit down with Rabbi Mark Borovitz and pick his brain the subject. The Rabbi had his own unique insight on all of this, both as a member of the clergy as well as a fan of  blues  music (he had even seen Bloomfield perform in the mid-60’s) and as a keen sociological observer.

 

bloomfield_candid

A: This quote by Bloomfield is an interesting thought to me…I’m not sure that Blues is just about suffering. I think that blues is just another expression of life. I would say that the blues is the Yetzer Hara, the negative inclination, coming out in a way that’s healthy and holy. So here again, we’re having what’s happening in life help us, rather than have it beat us down…we’re using it to raise ourselves up. Because, if you listen to the blues – really listen – it’s about people sayin’, ‘Man, it’s really fucked up, and I’m singin’ about it, because I know there’s a way out.’ And one of the ways out is just the music. But I think that it’s not suffering as much as its just pain.  And if you don’t have pain, you don’t have any gain. And that’s when real transformation happens. When everything’s fine, they don’t give a flying’ fuck, and they don’t take care of anything…

Q: Nobody’s calling when everything’s wonderful…

A: Right! This is really saying, ‘You know what? It’s all what it is…we gotta stop lying to ourselves. So the blues to me is a statement that the lies we’ve told ourselves just don’t work anymore, and the blues is the breakout of the truth.

Q: I think the fact that you used the word ‘truth’ in there hits home, because that’s what this music has always said to people…it draws this out from anyone who listens to it…and people hear it and intrinsically feel it as music that is truth.

Rabbi Mark ShadesA: Yes, and I would also add the word experience, because that what you have to have with this music, and all great music pushes us to have an experience, and I think that blues is great music, and pushes us to have an experience. We forget that; it’s not just about us havin’ a good time with it. It’s really about ‘what’s the experience? What’s the experience that the blues is the answer for?’ To me, it’s the experience of living life fully, knowing that there’s pain, and that pain is ultimately good, because it’s going to save my ass, and without it, when everything’s good it’s all good, and when everything’s bad, it’s terrible and I want to kill myself. It’s all bullshit; all the things I’ve told myself that are lies. So, the blues says, ‘Stop lying to yourself, man…and stop lying to everyone else. There it is: I see myself, and I see the pain, and now I’m going to get rid of it, and I can move forward, into the light, into the solution, and the rest of the story, because you see, the negativity of the blues is only half the story – or 49% of the story. You’ve got to be able to see the whole story, because that’s the way you’re going to learn how to live. That’s what Torah is, and that’s why blues is such Jewish music. If you notice how here at Beit T’Shuvah how many prayers we can put into that genre, and they just fit. That’s because the prayer is a pleading of what’s wrong. So the pleading is just saying, ‘God, let me know what’s wrong…I’m in the shit.’ As soon as I say it, God or the spirit of the universe, and my community and my guides and the people around me bring me back to the light, so that I can see the rest of the solution and tell the story; that’s what I believe.

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Filed under art, Beit T'Shuvah, BTS Communications, Judaism, Spirituality

Judaism and The Arts


Jud:arts blog photoBTS Communications is excited to announce our new Judaism and The Arts Blog series. Posts in this series will cover various aspects of visual, musical and written art as it pertains to Judaism, and specifically, Beit T’Shuvah. Through historical and current examples, we hope to give a panoramic view of the arts in the Jewish community

The articles will feature historical and critical points of view from figures in the entertainment world, as well as staff and residents of Beit T’Shuvah who are working closely with the arts. With this series, we hope to encourage dialogue with our readers, provide engaging insight on the subject of Judaism and blues music, and help familiarize the reader with the personalities that are the driving forces in this area of recovery and art.

The series will be spearheaded by two BTS staff copywriters, Stephanie Lager, a graduate of UCLA’s English Department, and Matthew Greenwald, an L.A.-based musician and journalist. This is a multi-part, bi-monthly blog, and we look forward to sharing some unique insights and hearing what you, our readers, have to say.  See you in October…

 

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Filed under art, Beit T'Shuvah, Community, Education, Freedom Song, Judaism