Rage against the machine or work the system?

April must be my month of confessions, because here goes confession number two. I’m a change junkie. I love change. So many people say, “Everybody hates change.” Not I. I can’t get enough of it. I know this seems out of line with my last confession about being a planning junkie who fears moving into action. They actually balance each other out pretty nicely.

When I was first introduced to social change work, I took to it like a pump jockey to an oil-dry engine. Working to change systems to make them more egalitarian, efficient, purposeful, and productive gets me geeked out. This addiction I have also made a nice living out of both in my consulting and producing.

There comes a point, though, when focusing so much on changing systems shifts energy and focus away from fulfilling the task at hand – namely, manifesting one’s dreams. As we have been designing the vision, model, and projects of Chicago Lab and Urban Retreat, we have been asking arts creators would they like to have at their disposal. It has been a wonderful listening journey.

One recurring theme has been a living wage and more funding for artists. While I wholeheartedly agree, this is unfortunately not the society in which we live. When I was working heavily on social welfare policies, I fought for living wages for mothers – another job essential for social progress and well being. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a society that values that either.

So, at what point do we stop raging against the machine and working for a world that is different that the one we have? At what point do we start getting to know that machine and find ways to make it work for us? Hopefully, the answer lies in holding both simultaneously.

We met with our lawyer last week to kick off the outreach to rightsholders. The good news is that we chose the right person. I knew this when he texted someone while we were meeting (not usually a fan of that) and discovered that this friend’s daughter went to school with the daughter of one of the members of Queen. Score!

The bad news is that there are even more laws related to trademark and copyright than we knew. Whoever heard of synchronization rights? That’s okay. Pull down some videos, find new ways to get our message out there, and make the system work for us.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I do not rage against the copyright and trademark machine. It’s one of the tools in his country designed to help arts creators make a living – that is if they don’t get screwed out of their fair share of those rights by signing contracts written by vultures just so the artist can get their art made.

But that’s a rant for another time…

To close out, I will share a quote that will be my mantra as I ease my fear of moving from planning to action. This comes from Johann Wolfgang van Goethe.

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.”