Under the big top, along the midway, and through an eco-village demonstration project, an international crew of artists and activists offers theatrical productions, cultural programs, and interactive play throughout a two week residency. Dedicated to empowering and amplifying the work of local justice movements, crew members partner with community organizations to paint murals, work in gardens, teach classes, and engage in political actions.
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“Carnival is about hope and imagination; to shock us out of the compulsion of the ordinary, even if just for a minute.” – Rev Sara Irwin, radical feminist priest blogger.
“If the Carnival were in Baltimore I’d be striving to get all of my students to attend, to broaden their sense of how the scriptural imagination engages the crisis of climate change.” – Dr. Brent Laytham, Professor of Theology & Dean, St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute
“Carnival has taught me how powerful humor and absurdity can be as tools against a repressive culture. With my community, I learned to laugh, grieve and dance with wild abandon.” – Helen Collins, Carnival Crew member and activist in Minneapolis
The Canival Midway gets things started, offering clever twists on old carnival games, face painting, roving musicians, performers, side-shows and interactive installations. The featured event is the Carnival’s ceremonial theater productions that weave storytelling, live music, dance and ritual- to interact with the powerful symbols of Earth, Air, Water, and Fire. These lively performances also help us collectively grieve, celebrate, and strive together for justice. Throughout the productions and throughout our life together, the visual artists are almost always painting… enhancing the beauty of the Carnival world and leaving visually compelling gifts in our wake.
A group of courageous artists and activists form the Carnival Crew live communally together in a “Village Demonstration Project”. Shaped by a mindfulness around our environmental impact we experiment with alternatives in regard to waste, energy generation and consumption, transportation, gathering and cooking food. This is a holy game where labor is stitched together with song, making common work a spiritual practice. A bicycle-powered sound system provides our sound needs and we draw on local volunteers to generate power for our productions.
Weekday engagement focuses on creative embodiment, eco-justice and radical theology. Whether it’s mask-making with local children, helping out at local community gardens, painting a mural, leading drumming workshops, storytelling circles, open mics, potlatch events, leading worship, or teaching classes at the local college, and much more… we want to learn from and help revitalize the work of our local allies. When it’s possible, we bring in our mentors who provide even more depth of analysis and experience to bear. From liberating Bible study, to conversations around native rights and earth justice… From discussions about movement history to trainings on bike repair, primitivist and sustainability skills, the Carnival is a special place for learning.