Category Archives: Community

Community Building: Clowning Around San Diego

I met my new friend Kyle at the Maritime Museum. We got changed in the toilets (bathroom) of the restaurant nextdoor. I painted his face with blues, reds, whites and yellows. I put a nice colourful wig on him and he borrowed my indian clown suit. He looked great. I gave him some tips on clowning that we are not here to make people laugh but to be happy and share it. We are careful not to get people out of their comfort zones and to be in harmony with them. If we use the massager we make sure we have permission etc.

Diane a former clown gave more tips as she went to drop us off near the Convention Centre in downtown San Diego.

We waved at some people and said hello. I have to laugh at the lights this guy was standing with his bull dog and felt to say that my peace symbol was an upside devil symbol and gave it a name, he believed in Jesus Christ. I have no idea where he got that from but all I could say to him is that we are here to spread peace and love I understood it to be a nuclear disarmament symbol. Amazing some of the comments you get. Poor kyle got to hear this as a first introduction to clowning. He is a Christian, so it seemed funny a Christian saying this. He wasn’t that happy.

Anyway we moved on and were allowed into the Mardi gras. It turns out we were early but we said hello to the workers setting up. We taught a woman how to juggle. We saw some huge aliens on stilts, some belly dancers, pirates, pharaohs, rockers, dancers and all sorts. Kyle and I went for a cuppa at the pub. We were met with smiles from others. Often people ask for photos. I pulled out my fools tarot, basically I like to find out what sort of fool people are. It is really good. This guy pulled a card as a drunken fool and his mother and girlfriend laughed and said it was true. They liked the cards they got and it started some laughing which was nice.

My friend Kyle was great, he laughed with people, danced and dropped the doggy pool then got a tissue and picked it up, that brought a laugh. I recall one guy saying that people don’t listen and Kyle drifting off. He was actually a very funny clown.

We wound up getting some pizza. I saw a woman putting salt on her pizze and there were police there. I said to the policeman that the woman was assaulting her pizza, ha ha. Another guy I mentioned we had jumpers not sweaters. I should have said they were had to get on, can’t keep them down.

I was feeling tired clowning and not my usually bouncy self. I found the crowd was a bit thin. However, it was fine really. I love people and go with the flow.

I saw Kyle with a bunch of drummers and he was banging away at his peace tamborine and it looked great. He had courage and jumped in with people. I really felt him to be a natural.

I then asked if we could go out on the street. I actually felt better breaking out of the enclosure. We met people on the street, a lady trying to sell happy hour. Perhaps it should be every hour of the day. Funny how we equate alcohol to happy. Many on the street who are not that happy drinking.

We met a lovely African American guy who had a guitar and played for us. I tried to sing with him and dance. He liked me, me thinks, I gave him a hug and he wanted to get the pacifier out of the way (dummy). He was a nice guy.

We met another guy walking around, seemed like a retired academic. He had long grey hair and was interested in comedy. I thought he’d be good and lovely to see at his age living his dreams. I then saw a lady in a wheel chair and gave her $5. She looked cold and I tried to warm her up.

We also spoke to a lady on the street, the two of us sat down and she spoke of security intelligence agencies, much of which I didn’t understand but that she had been born on a military base secretly. She told us about identity theft of her identity. She even said that Steve Irwin (Ozzy) had sought a hit on her, I thought she meant amorous but she didn’t. She said a lot about the system and who knows which bits are true which are not. It is not my place to judge her just listen to her. I told her to write a book. After we left her we saw she had moved to another spot.

I thought about mental health and the vulnerability of homeless people. I was told by Kyle that there are around 30,000 homeless, apparently they come to san Diego because it is not as cold. You can imagine on the east coast where it is snowing, they would freeze to death. I had a debate with another guy earlier in the week, he was a clown but he felt they were using the system. He said some make a lot of money. I’ve heard this before and maybe it is so, but ultimately money does not solve the problem. It can give an excuse to people to ignore them and do nothing. I recalled yesterday when I was in Macchu Picchu in Peru that the Inca’s had no homeless people. So it can happen in societies when there is a will. I do feel all of us have to look at the problem. When you have people erecting tents on the sidewalk it is a problem. Are the slack or bludgers? Well the protestant work ethic which is drummed into us from childhood would lead you to believe they are losers. In my worldview and having not had a home for 2 years, it is not easy trying to focuson survival and finding a place to stay. Socially it can affect your friendships, family, if the person has substance abuse, poor communication, mental health issues, aggression etc. they will be more vulnerable. I met another guy a few days before that and he had black skin but it was peeling off and you could see white skin, he had a skin condition. He was trying to sell paintings to survive. He said his family didn’t pay him for work, so how many seek monetary help from family. If we look at ethnic, cultural differences it is clear that there are people in the United States who are seen differently. I saw more Afro American’s riding the buses (as they say). I saw many Mexican’s working in servant roles. When in England it was the Mediterranean’s that worked the taxi’s, the Pakistani’s in the newsagents and there was a homeless problem in the London Underground, I understand around a few thousand were homeless and seeking warmth there. In San Diego 30,000 is a big number and I sat today thinking – how do you solve that? I wondered at public investment in public housing. We have that problem in Australia where the government housing stock got sold off so they have a shortage. i thought about people allowing you to stay in their home. Most people won’t do that, they would eventually expect you to pay your way, philanthropic assistance as service for as long as needed would be rare, unless you have a spiritual dimension. We live in a world where there are powerful beliefs around paying your way, users pay, ownership, entitlement without a great deal of understanding of structural violence (racial inequality, gender, age, education) which erodes equality for all. These days people have to get an education, not everyone is scholastic, we have artists and drifters and a range of different types of people that must fit in the box. We live in a world of winners and losers and typically white privilege is an issue. My friend is studying as a counsellor and she was reading a paper on it. I heard it again from a peace studies student. It is essentially the advantage of being white (or what I term in truth pink bit of humour there). Anyway, I can relate to this idea and know travelling the world I was given special treatment as a white person from Australia. It was the perceived beliefs about white people and largely coming out of the American movie industry. Moreover, as a woman I am also given certain privileges I am not seen as a threat. If I am attractive then doors open more and if I had money, wide open. So yes we do discriminate we do it unconsciously and consciously. I must say I sat on the bus looking at an Afro American and looking at her and thinking about her talents, the fact she was riding the bus, her life and that it was my loss if the system didn’t see her as equal. I find it incredible that we look at skin complexion, racial background, handicap and so on and alter our behaviour. Yes I’ve done it but I am conscious now so I look at the conditioning and see it for what it is, untrue.

So going out on the street as a clown gives me the opportunity to tell an Afro American man that he is gorgeous, to encourage him to find what makes him happy, to let his talents shine and heal the past. He nearly cried when I said these words. Kyle said ‘words are powerful’ and he is right. I tried to show this guy that we can create our own pathway out of poverty. I know it is not easy but it is not impossible, as there is a tad of magic to this world as I know. I’ve been able to survive for 2 years now without a house or job, yet I work for peace full time. I am following my passion and just going with life as it takes me. I can understand the feeling of uncertainty plaguing your every step, I know what it feels like to feel alone, to have no money etc. but I also know the magic that comes when you dare to reach for your truth and to bring a smile to another, costs nothing. This guy said he was hungry so Kyle agreed to drop me at a shop to get him a burger. We came back and I gave it to him to help him see life is kind.

Kyle took me home and gave me a video ‘women of faith’. He told me earlier he had been part of this group, I joked with him wondering if he wore a dress, but he supported them which I thought was great. Kyle had drug issues in his past which makes him a good person to talk to on the street, he has been there. He prays for people and he said some like it some don’t want it. He is respectful of both. I guess some just feel that someone cares enough to ask. Kyle is a good person and goes to a local church. He wants to live the message of peace.

He took off the clown gear and we hugged and off he went. I was deeply grateful that he had the courage to give it a go and I was glad I got out in the public at least once here. I was tired but it is better than nothing.

Clowning is community building because we love unconditionally. It is not about helping others, it is about meeting others where they are. It is about showing them their greatness, not trying to be great through helping underprivileged. It is about seeing people and giving something for nothing, that inspires trust and peace. These to me are the tools to peace. It has to have no agenda, just for the sheer joy of meeting people. People never disappoint me as they are unique and interesting. I am never bored with them and realise people need to be heard. We are indeed equal whether you are in a business suit or daggy pants on the street. The challenge is for us to look further than the perceived image which is not who people are. The same applies for the rich guy, there are many beautiful people in disguise just seeking peace like you and I.

 

Sending love and peace to you. Everyone is gorgeous in their own way.