THE LARAMIE PROJECT Project (LPP) - International Theatre Advocacy Initiative

A Peacemaking Project by Alyssa S.

What is the injustice we are solving?

The LPP unites and catalyzes worldwide productions and readings of the acclaimed Tectonic Theater Project play to honor victims of hate crimes. The play we are promoting, The Laramie Project, uses found texts and interviews to chronicle the response of the Wyoming university town after the 1998 hate crime and murder of Matthew Shepard, a young advocate and gay college student. The LPP utilizes Matthew's story in the name of love and education, raising awareness about the persisting hate crimes that ravage minority communities. The LPP began with a mission to unite 49 Laramies in honor of the 49 victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting. This terrible 2016 tragedy made clear that no matter the level of "outness" an LGBTQ+ person has, or the history of the safe space they insert themselves into, there is no such thing as guaranteed safety for the members queer community. This is an injustice that harms the potentials of LGBTQ+ lives. By performing Laramie, a theatre piece about an Anytown USA, we remind audiences that its up to all of us to call out hateful behavior and accept others. As of the new year 2018, we connect 66 LPP events from 23 states and 3 other countries. Our LPP Family is constituted of high schools (Thespian troupes and Gay-Straight Alliances), colleges and universities, professional and regional theatres, and community advocacy/religious groups.

Our Compassionate Solution:

To solve this injustice of hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community
we will address the normalization of violence
by sharing stories of hate crime victims through theatre advocacy in order to create advocates out of audience and cast members.

Our Project Plan:

Goals

  • Unite and catalyze worldwide productions and readings of the acclaimed Tectonic Theater Project play to honor hate crime victims
  • Recall Matthew’s story in the name of love and education and teaching others the stories of under-reported hate crimes, and give a loving and active tribute to those we have lost to violence
  • Connect LPP groups (which are largely high school theatre departments) to advocacy organizations like The Matthew Shepard Foundation and The Dru Project
  • Create arts-advocates out of casts and audiences, to ultimately inspire them to make arts-advocacy initiatives of their own

We will increase my / our compassion by...

...contacting groups from across the countries and the seas, breaking regional and cultural barriers by finding common groundーthe necessity to make art and express truths for safety and equality.

How will you show courage?

I will be constantly on the lookout for probable LPP groupsーonline and in-person at events where artists and advocates (and future artists and advocates) are present. I will have to exhibit persistence in regularly and consistently contacting these prospective groups, since very rarely is one email enough to yield a registration. I will also provide resources to make mounting an LPP event as accessible as possible, and I will also have to navigate how I obtain these resources, since many I will have to purchase (scripts and promotional materials.)

How will you collaborate with others?

The LPP is rooted in collaboration, so I will work with students, teachers, and other theatre leaders to develop their own unique LPP events that serve their community and audience and honor a hate crime victim in the most compassionate way. And, through their LPP events of others, I will learn how to make the LPP better.

How will you know you are moving in the right direction? (What are specific ways you can measure your impact?)

By constantly communicating with our groups currently on board, checking back in with past LPPs, and reaching out to prospective partners, I can see if the impact of the LPP is long-lasting, and if our mission (and how we articulate it) reads as pressing. I will learn from groups what are the most common roadblocks to registration and participation and see if I can easily and quickly provide solutions or if I have to take some time to explore. Also, I will regularly seek the advice of more experience advocatesーI often bounce ideas off my contacts from the Matthew Shepard Foundation, The Dru Project, Tectonic Theater Project, and International Thespian Society.

Key Steps

  • Attain a script library (8 scripts of The Laramie Project, and 8 scripts of Laramie: Ten Years Later) to augment the pre-existing script library (8 scripts of Laramie) so that we can get groups with financial limitations on board to hold informal readings
  • Resolve to “pitch the LPP” in-person to as many likely participants as possible, at events like Thespian Festivals, by handing out LPP pins and info cards
  • Continue to electronically reach out to current productions of Laramie and get them on board, and reach out to other groups (Thespian Troupes, advocacy organizations, etc.) to encourage them to mount readings
  • Continue to check in with these groups and the aforementioned guidance-providing organizations to see if the LPP is on the right track, and keep our website updated so we keep the #LPPFamily engaged
  • Find a source of funds to keep an inventory of our promotional materials (so that they can be available at any LPP event, for interested participants within the those audiences)

Reflection:

How did the project deepen your team's understanding of the injustice?

One of the most important things I’ve learned through redevelopment of the LPP is that hate crimes and general violence against the queer community are remarkably complex issues, created by building blocks of microaggressions and other seemingly “small” showings of discrimination that contribute to a culture of queerphobia. One of the best ways a young person who may not be involved in spaces that have a lot of impact on hate crimes and the responses to them--as in, I’m not a policy-maker neither a government member who can actively change laws and convictions--is address the root causes of this violence. Queerphobia can be found in any and all environments, and so the LPP can become a tool to help people spot queerphobic actions and speak out against them. By partnering with local organizations and theatre groups, we are reaching into communities, sharing a queer narrative, and really working to make a statement that “hate has no home here.” That can plant the seed of inclusivity, and uproot any discriminatory attitudes that could lead to tragedies like hate crimes. I now see LPP as a tool that can jumpstart these conversations about how to create safe, healing, and meaningful spaces--which is an advocate tool our participants will take with them in projects beyond this.

How did your community change as a result of your project?

Since the LPP is an ongoing project, some of the groups have yet to perform, but I have been able to keep in contact with our participants and have heard their positive feedback. This is what I can garner, though, at this time: -Our LPP students at Milton High School (VT) were so inspired to perform Laramie at their state drama festival, and felt so close to the story and the LPP Phase 3 that once they stopped advancing in the competition, they requested the scripts of TLP:10 so they could have a reunion reading and join in another Phase of the LPP. They were kind enough to write and send me a card which shared how much the LPP meant to them. I was also able to chat with their teacher about what stood out to them about the play: -They connected very deeply to the characters within the play, especially the activists Catherine Connolly and Romaine Patterson, the defense attorney Rob DeBree, and Matt’s mother, Judy -Since they had a tragedy a few years back in their community, the part of the play where a character notes that few people know Matthew’s story anymore, even within Laramie, struck a chord with them -They felt gratitude for these real life characters, and expressed their concern that if not for their continuous fight for LGBTQ+ rights, if the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act would have ever been passed -One student in particular expressed to the teacher that they were so glad that Laramie and Laramie: 10 Years Later were the first plays they were involved with, since they were so meaningful, and that they are “forever grateful to have shared this story.” That made me tear up a bit! -While they felt more connected with the first play, they appreciated how the second play “leads to even more conversation that could lead to more advocacy among students” Part of the LPP’s goal is to empower and inspire students. I certainly feel both LPP events were able to make at least a little bit of that happen with these incredible young people. These students are actively fighting to implement a GSA at their school, so I am confident this powerful story is something they can return to as they go on this journey. -The LPP students at Cedar Creek High School (NJ) are going to have their reading of Laramie on June 5th, so after then, I’ll chat with them and post an update about their responses.

How many people were impacted by your project?

35

Explain how you came up with the number of people impacted by the project?

I added the number of students from Milton who were a part of the reading. I didn’t include a number representing Cedar Creek because I’m still waiting to hear back about their final numbers. Also please know that the pins I had purchased with the grant money and had planned to give out at the Governor’s Awards were not counted, because I was not able to hand out very many. Instead, I plan to give them out at International Thespian Festival this June. There’s 150 pins, and I usually give people two pins (one for them, one for their drama teacher)...so that’s 150 people who could be affected!

How did your team learn more about the people affected by the injustice?

Thanks to my mentor Adrian, I did so much reading on the post-Pulse time, the narratives of queer and trans people of color, systems of oppression against QTPOC, and guidelines on how to create trauma-informed movements and projects. I sometimes say that “the LPP doesn’t have a guidebook,” but I’ve found that this reading and other mediums of communications that hand the microphone to the most affected communities is my handbook. I was able to see what are the issues that are of the most priority to the QTPOC community, and I’m going to work to make sure that the LPP serves these needs.

What did your team learn?

I learned how to be okay and excited about a project-in-progress. The LPP will always be in development, but I am not alone in crafting this--I have my LPP groups to guide me and inform me about what works and where to go next!

What challenges did your team overcome?

I think the ignorance of certain issues until this time has hindered the LPP from becoming what it truly can be--of course, that’s how all projects go, but me being stubborn, it takes me some time to be okay with this transition time, haha. Reading a lot about the issues QTPOC face can be very upsetting for an empathetic person, so I learned also to take my time with this reading and focus on the positive fact that there is learning available. I also had a hard time coordinating the return time of scripts--I didn’t set these up until after I sent them. Next time, I would clearly lay out the return date before I sent them off.

How have you involved others in designing, carrying out, or expanding this project?

The LPP is in process is formulating a “dream team” of people to run the social media and recruit groups. I started a Facebook group for students who have led LPPs at their schools--it’ll become a thinktank for me to work out some LPP ideas. My mentor Adrian was of course integral to this whole processing and helping me realize this expansion of the LPP is possible :) And, certainly, our groups currently on board help me see some things in a new light. Mentors from the Tectonic Theater Project and the Matthew Shepard Foundation were so generous in their looking over materials like the new handouts and team-agreement-documents I’ve made. Also...my mom helped me understand the grant money stuff...numbers aren’t my strong suit…but I’m getting better!

What advice would you give to someone starting a peacemaking project?

-If you have access to a mentor, go forth with that! The wisdom they provide you is invaluable! -Take your time and go about your advocacy healthily! -Read so so so much! About your topic and related topics! -Find the joy in it. Here’s an easy way to do that--try your best to remember how awesome it is that you want to fight for something! Go you! I am proud of you for doing that, and so is all of your advocate siblings.

Our Updates:

Pictures of our LPP Groups and what's coming up for LPP January

Alyssa S. 6 January 2018 15:39 LPP Leader Alyssa here!


As requested by Peacefirst Correspondent Abigail, I'd like to share some photos of our past LPP groups from around the world! They're attached to this update post.

This month for the LPP:
I am looking forward to meeting up with NJ Thespian Troupes next week at NJ Thespian Festival in Robbinsville.
There I will lead a workshop called The Laramie Project Project: Thespians as Artist-Activists, that will explore the benefits of production-companion projects and what we can do as Thespians to create real change.
 

January LPP Events:

Performance by Noblesville High School Thespian Troupe 8118
Noblesville, IN
January 23-28
a part of LPP Phase 2
educating audiences about the anonymous victim of a hate crime described on Page 11 of the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Report

Staged Reading by students at Cumberland County College
Cumberland, NJ
a part of LPP Phase 1
honoring Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez

A forthcoming update will cover the differences between our three phases of the LPP and the next one in development.

Thanks and love,
Alyssa

LPP in February

Alyssa S. 2 February 2018 18:12 At the end of January, we had our first two LPP events of the year.

First was with our Phase 2 group, Noblesville High School Troupe 8118, whose performed on multiple days throughout the end of January.  They are sharing the story of the anonymous victim of a homophobic hate crime found on page 11 of the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act Report.

After performing for NHS students and family, they took Laramie to Indiana State Thespian Conference this weekend. They won fourth place in the whole competition for their production!




Our second LPP of 2018 and one of our last Phase 1 Groups, Cumberland County College (NJ), performed their Laramie on Thursday, January 25, to honor Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez. Geraldo is remembered as super friendly and sweet. He was in town for a concert when he visited the Pulse nightclub on that fateful night of June 12th.



Also, in January I attended NJ ThesFest as a Thespian Student and was able to:
1) Meet with NJ Thespian Troupes that had done the LPP in the past year
2) Connect with so many new students and give out pins and info cards
3) Hold an LPP workshop in which I shared our project's story and discussed with students about their own advocacy in their troupe.



In February, LPP's social media will partake in Arts Ed Now's Photo-A-Day challenge to promote this awesome organization, have some February fun, and share more about our LPP Family!

We are also looking forward to promoting and following along the journey of our third LPP event of the year: a staged reading event titled Arts Activism: The Laramie Project, based at Baruch College in NYC. Students from surrounding NYC schools will share the story of Matthew while honoring Drew Leinonen as the premiere of our Phase 3: The Dru Project Project, which honors the young advocate’s 32 years of life and spreads awareness of the GSA-building organization created in his name.

The event will be held at the Engelman Recital Hall at the Baruch Performing Arts Center on March 2nd at 7:30pm. Here’s their Eventbrite page, so you can get your tickets for this event! Admission is free but all donations will benefit The Dru Project!

More LPP at NJ ThesFest Pics

Alyssa S. 21 February 2018 20:00 There is a small amount of pictures from the actual workshop, but here are some from the whole weekend.

Another update is coming soon about what's new for the LPP in March.

Note -- the picture with the students is of me and students from Tom's River North who participated in the LPP last year.

Sorry if the images are upside down!

LPP In March - More groups, pics, LPP developmental behind-the-scenes and more

Alyssa S. 11 March 2018 9:38 Since the LPP has finally started taking on new groups (effective Valentine's Day), we've been lucky enough to welcome aboard the following groups!

Milton High School in VT (performing this week!)
City of Glasgow College in Scotland (performing this week!)
University of Derby in UK (performing in April!)
Amplified Arts partnered with Rural Outright in NH (performing in April!)

Contacted all these groups from Instagram. Facebook, or Twitter.

Sadly there were multiple groups that I had contacted, received a response from, followed up, but did not register and their performance has passed. I accredit this to the busy-ness of show week! So I'm going to contact them again in a week or so to see if they'd like to do a reunion reading or a reading of LARAMIE: 10 YEARS LATER so they can join the LPP and honor a hate crime victim.

My goal for the year was to add at least one more country to our list, (this goal is so low because it's just a toss-up if there are going to be international Laramies being put on), so it's good to know we've already reached and breached that!

Three LPPs have performed since January: Kaiser High School (CA), Winter Springs High School (FL), Arts Activism: The Laramie Project at Baruch College.

Kaiser:


Winter Springs:



AATLP at Baruch



I was lucky to attend the reading at Baruch, as it's been a labor of love created by my best friend Christina and will serve as my model for how to build readings with groups. Throughout the AATLP process I was included in group chats and email updates with the creative team which was such a neat experience.

I am still in conversation with five groups from the NJ/PA area about how we can make an LPP event happen for them.

I'm still in conversation with my two Hungarian friends about how we can build their production...and I just got in contact with a South Korean group and am communicating with them about how their Laramie production could become an LPP!

For about a month, there will be a bit of a hold on accepting groups due to personal responsibilities and taking time to develop some LPP structure materials, but once we hit May we should be back in the full swing of things.

I may have mentioned that it was our year goal for 150 groups. However, I've reformed that, because I really want this year to be for work that moves the LPP away from its start-up identity and establishes structures that
1) allow me to run this in college as easily and as meaningfully as possible
2) get us more groups because we have more of a name
3) create more of an LPP network between our groups and keep the conversation going beyond the performance!
So, instead, I'm aiming for 125 groups this year.

Still planning to contact some old LPP groups to see if they'd like to do another reading as a part of Phases 2 or 3--starting to work on building an "annual event" identity of the LPP.

I've set up Google Alerts on my LPP Gmail Account, so now I receive notification whenever anyone talks about Laramie or Tectonic online! It's already come in handy multiple times, but still waiting to hear a substantial response from any of these groups I've pitched to. 

First group to be using our scripts from the mini-grant!

Alyssa S. 31 March 2018 18:29 Pleased to share that Garland High School's Thespian Troupe 3072 from Garland, TX will be using our scripts for a reading event of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later.

As a part of LPP Phase 1: The Pulse Memory Project, and one of the final groups to perform in this phase, they will be honoring Alejandro Barrios Martinez.

The tentative date for this reading is at the start of May. I am currently in touch with a student there and will be sending the scripts to them within the next two weeks.

This event has been months in the making and the ability to provide scripts for this group for free was a big push for a date finally to be planned and our first TX LPP to come to fruition before my student contact there graduates.

There is a strong likelihood that a group in NJ will be using these scripts as well for an end of May event.

I am in conversation with about 3 other groups who could potentially be using our The Laramie Project scripts for their event.

Happy spring holidays to all! :)

Found a group to use our Laramie scripts!

Alyssa S. 17 April 2018 18:18 Cedar Creek High School in Egg Harbor City, NJ, will be using our Laramie scripts (the original play) to honor Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon at the end of May!

NEW RECIPIENTS FOR TLP:10 SCRIPTS

Alyssa S. 12 May 2018 12:50 Since the LPP event at Garland HS 9TX) fell through, the scripts were sent today to Milton HS (VT.) Milton joined the LPP as a part of Phase 3 with their performance of the first play, and now will join Phase 2 and do a reunion reading of The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later.

The last of the grant money was spent today--it turns out we were able to purchase more with it than the initial budget had planned for--I was able to pay for a shipment of pins to a customer and well as cut the costs of another shipment I purchased for International Thespian Festival.

I learned so much about what works and doesn't work for me when it comes to keeping track of money! As always, so grateful that Peace First assisted me in making these LPPs happen.

Thanks to chatting a lot with Adrian, the LPP is going through much more revolutionary development that I suspect will take me through college to see through. I'm so excited to see how this plays out and involve my LPP groups, since their takes on the LPP inform me so much about the future of this project!

Looking forward to working on my mini-grant reflection!

Edit about number used in reflection

Alyssa S. 28 May 2018 9:47 Was actually 11 involved in the reunion reading of TLP:10 that used our scripts...not 35! Sorry, got my numbers mixed up with the cast size of their orignal LPP event.

Comments:

Amani A.
6 June 2018 15:53

Dear Alyssa,

Congratulations to you and your team on finishing your peacemaking project, well done!

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your work during the project implementation and what you have learned so far! I am on the Peace First team and wanted to say thank you for your amazing work and for taking time to share your work.

I would like to provide you with some feedback based on your Reflection, which we hope will help you to celebrate your incredible accomplishment and reflect on how to grow and develop your project in the future:
I really appreciate how much you value your role as a peacemaker in addressing the root causes of this issue. I also enjoyed reading the participants' positive feedback, which proves that your project has a great impact on them. Since the LPP is an ongoing project and it will always be in development, it may be helpful to think of how to add other components based on the students' feedback.
It was inspiring to read your advices for the one who wants to start a peacemaking project; I really appreciate that you shared about the important to find joy! This is a great reminder because, in peacemaking field, we usually tend to forget, to find the joy and have fun in what we are doing. Thank you!

We hope you will stay in touch and keep us up to date as you continue your work to create change!

Amani  

Adrian B.
5 March 2018 17:19

Looking forward to talking tomorrow, Alyssa--if there's more to think through on this page after our call, I'm happy to dig into it with you. :)  

Alyssa S.
2 March 2018 22:32

Thanks so much!

Looking forward to hearing from Adrian.  

Jenny L.
2 March 2018 19:24

Hi Alyssa,

No problem at all - I can see you put some really deep thought into your responses and I'm really excited to see how much work you've already done, particularly on thinking about how to reach new and, perhaps, 'unfriendly' audiences. The research and outreach you've been doing to open up dialogues with organizations that represent queer people of color is fantastic too. Adrian will be back in touch with you soon with some more on this, including specific suggestions of groups you could reach out to.

I'm excited to see how your project progresses over the next couple of months!  

Alyssa S.
26 February 2018 19:18

Hi Jenny! Sorry it took me a couple days to respond to your great news and encouraging words about our Project. Looking forward to utilizing the minigrant to make more LPPs happen!

I just wanted to throw some things out there as I begin to outline how I strengthen this project through the minigrant, and answer some questions that you posed so that I know which steps to take first.

Strengths: Thank you so much for every kind word! I agree with everything you have to say about theater and art :)

Things to consider: Yes, how we can reach audiences that need to hear this story the most—those who have not yet accepted the LGBTQ+ community—is one of the most pertinent things about the LPP, and I think the trickiest part! Come to think of it, there's some indirect ways we try our best to expand our audience and ensure our reach is effective:
1.) placing a focus on getting LPPs in high schools, where kids are learning more about themselves and must be able to lead truthful lives...we hope that the kids in the show who had not been entirely accepting before learn something new from Laramie, and that parents/teachers in the audience/process get that reinforcement of how important it is to demonstrate compassion to their kids for a better community.
2.) doing our best to get at least one LPP in every state...using these milestones to ensure our mission is far-reaching...and an LPP in every state opens up the doors for more LPPs...
3.) working as directly as I can with international groups to make their LPP-dedication unique...even if that means having several victims to honor, or a victim from their own country. (Working with a Hungarian group right now to build their event and we think we may honor a Hungarian hate crime victim as well as an American one so we can shine a light on the universality of these issues and do as much as we can to bring this Matthew Shepard story to European audiences...)
4.) resolving to pitch to every single group we ever come across that is either already putting on Laramie or we think would be a good partner. Eventually I quite literally want to be able to say that I have pitched to every high school in the USA. Seeing an opportunity to be seized as a sign that someone in that community needs to hear Matt’s story is something I trust in.

Thinking about how our script library comes into play with this...I can ensure that these scripts are going to schools that definitely need it to make their LPP, because of funding or time constraints. I can also be in discussion with my contact from these groups to see what the makeup of their community to see if an LPP would have a certain kind of effect there. I'm also going to aim to get these scripts to high schools. Of course, if another group of another kind demonstrates need, I would let them use the scripts, but I think the vein of getting Laramie to schools is one of the more direct ways I can maximize the impact. There's a bit more likelihood of theatre spaces being queer-friendly. Less so with high schools.

Some ways I can deepen this concept of purposeful-LPPs...perhaps I can:
1) research the areas of the USA in which are in most need of an LPP. These states could be clarified by their amount of legislative LPP protections, and if there's statistics out there about the amount of GSAs in their state schools...maybe even statistics about their high school arts funding can reveal things about a state's queer policies...seeing how long it took for their state to legalize marriage equality...
And I can zero in on these states and make LPPs happen.
I can do the same with other countries and first connect with their theatres, pitch the LPP, see where to go next...
I guess the equation goes as: I need to initially strike a chord with a member or an ally of the community to create the prospect of an LPP happening in their community. But all I really do need is one ally--after that the LPP can reach any population with any level of acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community.

How the LPP can address fighting for queer and trans people of color: Thanks to Adrian's mention of QLatinx, I've since reached out to that organization and am seeing if there's a possible LPP x QLatinx friendship in the future! We've since briefly corresponded and I'll be chatting more with one of their reps soon.

I think one of the first steps I have to take is have discussions with these organizations about their own strategies and considering how I can infuse them into the LPP. While I am a queer person, I am not a person of color, so I definitely have that experience missing from my own narrative...I need to go straight to the source.

A note: Our Phase 2 of the LPP addresses some of this (this phase assigns cases of hate crimes discussed in the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Report), and since the Hate Crimes Act coivers instances of violence of not only sexuality but race and disability too. So I do believe the majority of hate crimes in this report that LPP groups are educating about are racially motivated hate crimes...there are a few cases in which the victim was a queer POC. The truths that violence is still rampant amount minority communities is made clear when Laramie, about a homophobic hate crime, is clarified even more so when we share the stories of the recent hate crimes...but that doesn't always make a clear-cut statement about the QPOC and TPOC (especially TWOC) narratives that are constantly silenced and trampled on. LPP must stand as a mission that highlights these experiences.

So I've made a google search for organizations that fight for queer people of color and plan to reach out to them like I did with QLatinx! So grateful for this HuffPost masterpost that had a wonderful list...
-GetEQUAL - Based in Arkansas, works with queer and trans people of color living in the rural south!
-The Brown Boi Project - based in California to work with young POC masc womyn and trans men, serving as a springboard for participants' involvements with other social justice initiatives...
-National Queer Trans Therapists of Color Network - also in CA, a nationwide network for our POC queer STEM community members...
-El/La Para TransLatinas - also in CA, their awesome name explains it all
-API Equality - CA, for Asian and Pacific Islander LGBTQ+ people!
-QPOC Affinity - name says it all...based in Connecticut (yay New England!)
- Southerners On New Ground - Georgia based project for LGBTQ+ people AND people of color AND immigrants AND people with disabilities...in love with them already.
- Civil Rights and Social Justice Advocacy for African-American Same Gender Loving Black LGBTQ People- Chicago, Illinois based!

There are maybe 50 more groups on this list...I'm jumping out of my seat to email them all!

I know you said you may have a few organizations up your sleeve...would you mind sharing them with me if they haven't been mentioned here already?

Measuring our impact:
So far we have three modes of this, and they definitely need expansion
-Survey - I do have a survey that I send out to groups after their event, but my yield of results are low...the survey moreso concerns the logistics of the LPP (as in what kind of reading did you hold, when did we register you), but there are things included about the perceived community impact. I think moving forward I need to update the survey and keep the conversations with our groups going even after they've performed, something I've been lucky enough to see progress in.
-Pre-made Discussion questions - We provide these to groups to ask their audiences and casts and I've received a small amount of responses. However with the increasing number of events we are involved in the creation of and the increased relationship with our groups, these numbers can improve...
-Pulling from the email trails and social media to see what our groups are saying during the registration process - I can observe how easy/hard the getting-on-board process is, and then their opinions about the project! The amount of kind words the groups have shared is something that keeps me going :)
-Paying mind to the amount of engagement post-the LPP - As aforementioned, this is something that has been improving, with a better handle on our social media and early on-set communication with our groups/acquiring a student contact. Then I can see what their troupe is up to next and if this has been impacting by their participation in an advocacy theatre project!

As for the numbers of the LPP, we have lists on our website to show all the registered groups. To date we unite 72 events from 24 states and 3 other countries, and this is across three phases, representing a multitude of groups like high schools, theatre companies, and religious groups. Right now they're in list form (sharing which victim they're honoring) but I am currently working on implementing more interactive infographics/a new method of displaying our groups. My vision is a gallery of pictures in which you can click through and see the information about the group.

And we have a number of each cast on our registration form, so I can at least manage to ID a number of people that have been onstage for LPPs. As for audiences, I would have to backtrack about that for our past groups, and start asking that for our current and future groups... I'd like to definitely differentiate the numbers of our audiences that were exposed to Laramie and thanks our coming to them to mount this event, and the audiences that had watched Laramies already in production before we came...

Since these scripts have to be used within the next three months, I'm looking to send them to two of the groups I've been in conversation with so that we can make their events happen!

I’ll be attending the Governor’s Awards in Arts Education on May 22nd and I’ll be handing out LPP pins to students and teachers from surrounding NJ schools who could possibly develop an LPP event in the near future!

Okay, I think that's all...thanks so much for walking through this long update! Best wishes and thank you again for this fabulous mingrant!  

Alyssa S.
24 February 2018 23:14

Thank you SO MUCH Jenny! This is such awesome news!

I’ll be getting back to you with answers to your questions tomorrow!

Cheers!  

Jenny L.
23 February 2018 17:13

Congratulations LPP Team! Your project has been selected to receive a Peace First Challenge mini-grant. We will be in touch soon with details about this payment.

The mini-grant process is also a space for you to get feedback on your peacemaking project. We hope you will use this feedback to further strengthen your project. Please see the feedback on your mini-grant below:

Strengths: This is a wonderful project that is addressing a very real injustice! Your compassionate insight is strong--we love that you're focusing on the normalization of violence as an issue, and you have a clear theory of change for addressing hate crimes. Theater and art is a transformational way to have conversations about violence and shift perspectives, and we love that it's been performed so many places, and your intentions on focusing on bringing this message across cultural barriers. It sounds like you're working really effectively with the partners you already have, and that you're doing excellent outreach work with groups and individuals to increase your impact.

Things to consider: One thing we're curious about is how you are broadening your audience to people who may not be as friendly to the idea of eliminating violence against LGBTQ people. This may be a challenge, but it's important to think about as you grow your impact--what does that look like for you right now, and what are some ideas you have about how this could be deepened? Another thing to think about is increasing your collaboration with organizations that focus on queer and trans people of color, as the Pulse nightclub shootings were specifically racialized violence. What are ways you can lift up their experiences and voices? We love that you're already working directly with the Dru Project---connecting with people who are direct Pulse survivors is so important! Let us know if you'd like ideas about other organizations that could be useful to connect with.

One other thing that may support your project as it grows is being able to measure your impact in specific ways, for example, how many performances are there and how many people have seen these performances? You also could collect qualitative feedback about the power of this work and how it deepens people’s commitment and understanding around these issues. Are there other tangible ideas you have around indicators of your success? And just a reminder--this is an ongoing project, but this grant is through May when we'll be asking you to reflect on the project and your impact--the indicators may help with this! So excited for this project to continue forward! Let us know if you have any follow-up questions, or if you need any support! And congratulations again--this is tremendous work.

 

Alyssa S.
21 February 2018 19:51

Those goals you listed are 100% matching! Thank you for simplifying that, haha.

Volunteer process: looking forward to working on this more within the next couple of months. Definitely going to turn to my groups who have done LPP before, and chatting with those young people who had said "please keep in touch" and have expressed love for the initiative-- I better take advantage of their offers!

Sparking the new ones are such rewarding processes. While the connecting with Laramies already in rehearsal allows us to 1) expand our map 2) add something special to their already wonderful productions...when we build the Laramies, we are almost entirely dealing with people who never heard Matthew's story before we came in. That feels remarkably important to us. That's how our project started, completely mounting these events (well, we would usually pass off the project to schools and they would make it work...only recently have I been super active in the creation-of-the-event process). Then I realized how much we could grow by reaching out to Laramies already happening, and how I want as many hate crime victims honored as possible, and more Laramies = more dedication to these departed souls.

I love the switch around for the pitch... "honoring hate crime victims by uniting and catalyzing worldwide productions and readings of the acclaimed Tectonic Theater Project play." That even feels better to say!

All the things you mentioned about what we do beyond honoring hate crime victims -- 100% yes.
Let me see how I can broadly and comprehensively state this...

"building a culture..."
"building safe spaces..."
"fighting for LGBTQ+ safety with arts advocacy by honoring hate crime victims with worldwide performances of The Laramie Project"
^the double "with" can be messy but I feel like I need arts advocacy in there somehow...but even without it, it's so much cleaner. and I lose the messy "uniting/catalyzing" and "productions/readings."
The whole thing about connecting with/catalyzing can happen in the next sentence.

-About our name...I like the movement idea. It feels rough to think about it being something other than LPP because the name makes me connect back to what a scrappy and grassroots beginning we had...and the scrappy/grassroots identity we still maintain. I'm going to chat with my MSF contact about that tomorrow.  

Fish S.
20 February 2018 17:01

Alyssa -- love how thorough and tireless you are in pursuit of the change you want to see.

Let me see if I can summarize.

Sounds like your main goals are:
-Using the grant money to buy scripts
-Looking for/applying to more grants for scripts
-Designing/printing stickers
-Tightening your elevator pitch/the way you describe LPP to others
-Figuring out how to better streamline processes
-Setting up a mailchimp and sending your weekly newsletter to your list
-Building a team
-Creating a 1-pager info sheet

And where we can help is:
-Minigrant
-Preparing you for other grant opportunities
-Helping you think about messaging
-Helping you think about teambuilding

I think the most helpful thing for you in this process will be bringing in other folks. There are so many moving parts and it sounds like it's a lot to manage on your own -- and you're doing it capably but it seems to me like you may be able to focus more on pieces you're really interested in if you were able to divide and conquer. It seems to me like other folks could help with the outreach and onboarding process (the ones you mentioned wanting to spend less time on!) with very little training. Let me know if you want to brainstorm more about how to organize/manage volunteers.

Re: branding, love how clear and polished it is -- and how disciplined you are in staying consistent! I think it's really strong. A few things I'm wondering:
-You connect productions...but you catalyze them too, right? To me, that's the interesting part -- you support LPP readings that wouldn't otherwise happen, and you support all LPP productions to recognize victims of hate crimes. I think the idea that you are not just building a movement across existing LPP productions, but sparking new ones, is really neat.
-When I'm pitching, I like to frame things as "we [goal] by [project]" rather than "we [project] in order to [goal]" -- it gets people nodding along faster. I.e., "Peace First helps young people change the world by offering funding, coaching, and support for their social justice projects on a digital platform" -- as opposed to "Peace First runs a digital platform where young people can get funding, coaching, and support for their social justice projects, in order to help them change the world."
-'honoring victims of recent hate crimes is powerful' -- but my sense is that you're doing that & far more -- you're building a culture of tolerance by raising awareness about anti-LGBTQ violence (including honoring victims of recent hate crimes).
-You mentioned that the 'LPP' was confusing - have you thought about "The Laramie Movement" or "The Laramie Project Movement"? That's what your work feels like to me -- organizing a tidal wave of people, across lines of difference and geography, towards a common social goal - tolerance and awareness of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes.

Some initial thoughts. Let me know what else i can help with.  

Alyssa S.
19 February 2018 9:45

Thanks so much for your encouragement. Carrying out the LPP is something I love to do, and whenever I do hit those tough logistical challenges, it just takes me reading a bit of Laramie, a bit of the news, or seeing what other advocates are doing to align me back to my purpose. That is the ultimate goal -- jumpstart the broader movement for arts advocacy!

To continue on the debunking on the challenges:

-Finances
So happy to say that I submitted the minigrant on Thursday evening! This would help me purchase two more script libraries (and our first collection of Laramie: 10 Years Later scripts) to be used in informal LPP reading events. This will be so valuable to have because there are a large amount of groups coming to me of recent with a huge desire to take part but a concern about their funding.
Within the minigrant request I also factored in some money allocated for LPP pins to provide at The Governor's Award in Arts Education held in Trenton this May.
Also, factored in shipping to the grant request.
I definitely think I need to consider submitting to more grants. I used to be afraid of it earlier in the project because I lacked grant-writing skills. So now with two Peacefirst grants behind me, I feel a bit more confident about going into that world. So thank you to Peacefirst for that practice opportunity :)
I think it will always be easier to write grants for scripts rather than pins and promo materials. This is because the scripts go directly towards making an event happen, while the pins are not entirely an essential part of the reading. However, throughout the months, I've found how effective they are. They're something participants can keep to always remember the mission of the play and the project. They serve as conversation starters with prospective participants too. It's also just really nice and important to wear this pin and show everyone in the room that I can be a safe person to talk to about LGBTQ+ things. Within college audition rooms, that's been pretty apparent...I'll wear my backpack with a rainbow on it, and someone will comment, "I love your bag," and I'll respond, "You know what else you'll like?" And there appears a pin for them and their drama teacher back home, haha! There's been a decent amount of events I've been able to start thanks to someone seeing my pin and us striking up a conversation. I guess I have to make sure I express this and identify examples whenever I do start grant-writing for pins.
When it comes to curbing the price of our promo materials, I've been thinking about making some LPP logo stickers. They'll be cheaper, easier to carry around, but I'll always have at least some pins with me, of course.
A note that I'm unsure if I mentioned before: I do sell the pins on Etsy and ship them from home. All proceeds of the purchase simply go towards breaking even on our end and ordering the pins from the manufacturer. However, after having one instance in which I was able to ship pins directing from the manufacturer to my friend's house, I've see how inconvenient it is having to be the middleman, and how awesome it is just to ship it to them from the site. The ideal situation is just having these pins sitting at a warehouse and for someone to order them and not go through me at all. And I inherently have to charge people more when I ship them from our house, which becomes a vicious circle when funds are low for the group requesting them.
But I don't believe we're a big enough project for me to make this happen yet. I bet if we give ourselves five years, we can consider making this happen.

-Branding
Awesome, thanks so much for agreeing to take a look at this with me. Two things about this:
1) Here's what I usually say in person when I pitch the LPP.
Depending on the person, I usually ask if they're familiar with the story of Matthew Shepard and/The Laramie Project. If not, I explain both briefly, and here comes the info card....
"I'm the founder of an international theatre advocacy initiative that connects worldwide performances of Laramie to honor victims of recent hate crimes."
I've found that's one of the better ways I've put it in the last couple months...thoughts about this?

I think one of the biggest things I need to keep doing is making sure they know who Matt is and what Laramie is before I go into the third, which is the LPP. After I say that, usually comes the clarification (within our conversation) that:
1) I didn't write the play
2) I'm unaffiliated with Tectonic, but we have their endorsement
3) We connect with productions already in rehearsals, but not every Laramie is automatically an LPP event, they have to go through us first
#3 is an interesting one, because eventually, that is my goal, that every Laramie is and LPP event.

And here's what the first two paragraphs of my LPP email explanation look like (after I introduce myself as a student and founder of an international theare advocacy initiative that I would love for them to hear more about, and how I got their email, if it was from a student contact and so on).

"The Laramie Project Project's (LPP) mission is to unite and catalyze worldwide productions and readings of this show to honor victims of recent hate crimes. In case you are unfamiliar with the play, The Laramie Project is the award-winning Tectonic Theater Project play that chronicles a University Town’s response to the hate crime that took the life of openly gay college student, Matthew Shepard. We figure there is no better way than to utilize’s Matt’s memory in the name of love and education.

To date, we unite 71 LPP events from 24 states and 3 other countries, meaning 71 different groups of people of all kinds have brought (or will bring) this message to their communities, while honoring the life of someone we have lost to hate. High schools, colleges, professional and regional theatres, religious groups, and community LGBTQ+ groups have said yes to the statement that theatre is advocacy and advocacy is theatre."

I hope that hits the 1) what we are/do 2) why it matters.

I usually wait to describe things like the Phases of the projects until I hear a response back from the person...and whenever I do have to mention The Dru Project (our Phase 3 partner), I make sure to say that in parentheses "(this is an organization, not a play)." Haha.

And, to groups that initially pitch to on social media response/messaging, if they already are doing a Laramie and I find them in the tag and I want them on board, first I message/tweet:

"Hello (name of theatre/organization person tweeting)! So happy to hear you are putting on this production of LARAMIE! Wondering if you would like to become a part of our companion advocacy initiative that connects worldwide performances of this play to honor victims of recent hate crimes. So far, 71 performances from 24 states and three other countries have come on board, representing high schools, colleges, pro/amateur theatres, and non-theatre groups as well! (I usually say here if they would be the first of their state on board). If you have any questions at all, please don't hesitate to contact us at [email protected] Thanks for spreading peace, love, and compassion!"
^ That's a Laramie quote, haha.
I also share our FB page link.

Then when I get their email saying "tell me more!"

"To clarify what The Laramie Project Project is, we are a companion theatre advocacy and education initiative to the play, unaffiliated with the Tectonic Theater Project (but we do have their endorsement!), that unites and catalyzes productions and readings of Laramie to honor victims of recent hate crimes.

To join, you would just need to register here at this link, it's very quick.

Then we would ask that you most importantly, honor the hate crime victim that we would assign to you...:

2) I'm sitting down on Skype with the communications director of The Matthew Shepard Foundation this Thursday to rap more about this and do an identity check for the LPP...so I'll be sure to share all this with her and your responses as well...

-Lack of automation
"Do all parts of the process have to be manual?" I ask myself this on the daily...I think until we become a part of the Laramie cannon, I think a large part of this project will be manual or at least semi-manual...let me break this down...
We find most of our groups through
1) conversation
2) searching online (#TheLaramieProject tag and Facebok events)
So the act of getting them on board is largely in part thanks us reaching out.
Note: working with the Matthew Shepard Foundation recently on a model that gets more Laramie productions to us, thanks to their sharing of our mission whenever they contact productions to offer MSF resources to them. So that MSF and I can put our brains together and share who we know is doing what.
Thankfully we have some semi-automated parts of the project:
We have an online registration link, which is drop down menus and fill in the blanks that usually garner all of the information we need to get them on our site, add them to our personal stats, and send them the next steps.
I do have a lot of email models so thankfully there's a lot of copying and pasting going on. I've got usual similar pitches for 1) New to Project 2) Transitioning from messaging 3) After registration 4) Checking in 5) After the project (sharing our survey, etc.)
I think just 1) starting the conversation 2) keeping it going 3) answering unique questions are my most essential responsibilities.
Every LPP being different (as in, location, how I first reached them, their level of familiarity with me, even language barriers sometimes come into play), is what makes me usually go into every draft and add/delete things that do/don't pertain to some groups and their event.
Checking in with the groups is something that I intend to always be a case-by-case basis, and something that I don't mind having to work on manually.
Ever since I realized that some things make a lot more sense to put in a group email...that really helped with my time. :P
I definitely want to get an email-list going, like a Mailchimp...I do write an LPP weekly update on our Wordpress but that just goes out on our social media. The idea of the update really has been helping, I'm seeing how it's making the Project seem as active as it is. It's been difficult to reconnect with groups that had performed in the distant past. So to get them to sign up would be difficult...but I could keep trying, and what really is important to focus on is our current, active, and future groups.
The biggest problem I had in the early stages of the Project really was making sure I maintained the connection with our groups, but more and more I'm keeping a steady relationship with our partners by immediately/regularly reaching out, and that student connection is helping too.
When we expand to Phase 4, and our list of hate crime victims we'll honor expands considerably, automation may make the most sense...I'm expecting this Phase to start happening end of this year/start of next, I need huge prep time for that...

So, in sum, I want to be able to automate:
1) the finding groups process
2) the getting them entirely on board (like sending a welcome email as soon as they register)
3) getting out periodic information out to our groups/interested audience.

Will share info about the team member thing within my email!

-Being remote/communication with groups
Are there parts of the LPP's support that need to be delivered in person -- or is it just generally harder to communicate over email?

-Being remote/communication
Something I've recently started is having a student contact with my production--at registration I ask the director signing up if there's someone within the cast I can
I'm also building times into each month in which its my check-in, simply because I have about 15 events not registered yet and in still in the works...so I just go down the line and send a "Hi, circling back about the LPP!" text to everyone on that list and we're able to see where we are...
Videoconferencing isn't something I do too often, and now with a clearer schedule of senior year, it's something that would be a bit easier to set up! I phone call with students who are building their own LPPs a lot, but I rarely videoconference...it would be similar to the model that Matthew Shepard Foundation uses it for their off-site panels with Laramie...that's a great idea, I'm going to look into that!
When it comes to the ease factor of in person vs. email...I think just because of the nature of our project being basically remote and wide-reaching, I think email/any kind of online correspondence will be the bulk of my communication...but I do prefer to get at least ONE in-person interaction with most our groups...even if that's by phone call, or after the group performs. For example, I met the majority of our NJ Thespian groups at ThesFest, almost a year after most of them performed.
Note: I attend as many LPP local events as I can! I'm on my way to a one in NY in two weeks.
But, as time goes on, and as I go to college in an area where there's a lot of theatre going on and as I go into my career and I'm surrounded more by the people who are going to be doing what I'm doing, I think in-person is going be more likely and more frequent!

-Time and efficiency:
I have always said I would build in LPP time into my week, specifically for it...and I never follow it, haha! That's something I definitely will have to consider when I go off to college.
Having a team definitely would balance out things a whole lot.
Thankfully, my second semester schedule is nicer and allows me have more LPP time.
As for what happens for the LPP when I go off to college...it keeps going! I intend to work on this project as long as I live...and as long as I have an email address and a couple LPP pins, I think it can survive...

Note: Something I am going to work on during this long weekend is making a handout. I'll be attending some events within the next couple of months that will have tons of teachers and Thespian Troupe leaders, and usually their first question is "how can I make this happen?" And an info card doesn't always share it the logistics of the LPP. I've avoided making handouts for so long, haha, but I imagine it'll make life so much easier once I have them...I will have to make sure I have a large stock of them with color ink, haha.

Thank you so much for bearing with this long update!  

Alyssa S.
17 February 2018 19:20

Perfect — will do. Thanks so much.  

Kelsey T.
16 February 2018 13:49

Well articulated, and such a powerful concept! I think you could incorporate those thoughts into the third part of the insight... "by sharing stories of hate crime victims through theatre advocacy in order ..." and fill in with how you want to capture it! It is great that you are taking the time to continually refine your insight.  

Alyssa S.
15 February 2018 20:36

Hi Kelsey! Thank you so much for your thoughtful words.

De-normalization is definitely a perfect way to put it. We have become so desenstized to violence, but it can take something like a work of art, that is expressive and poignant and impactful, to wake us up to the reality that hate crimes are ruining lives and damaging communities.

I would love to include these new thoughts into my insight. Which part of the insight would you advise me to stick this in?

Best,
Alyssa  

Kelsey T.
14 February 2018 13:59

Hi LPP Team! I’m part of the Peace First team and wanted to provide you with Feedback for your Compassionate Insight. We provide insight feedback to help teams further strengthen their ideas as they head into the plan phase.

It is so exciting to read the updates about your work! Your compassionate insight is really strong-- I see a clear link between the normalization of violence and hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community. The way I understood your insight, sharing stories of hate crime victims through theatre advocacy would help put a human face on the victims and force people to think about the impact of violence -- thus working to de-normalize violence. Is this how you imagine it working?
I think it is really interesting that you've chosen the root cause of the normalization of violence to focus on -- this is an incredible insight about how hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community are connected to a larger culture of violence.

Your plan is also looking really strong-- so excited to hear how it goes as you continue to grow and adapt the program! Looking forward to supporting your work!

 

Fish S.
8 February 2018 14:21

Sure, Alyssa, you can email me at [email protected] if you have any questions, we're happy to help!  

Alyssa S.
8 February 2018 8:54

Thank you so much for all of us!

Would you mind sharing your email so we could perhaps chat more about this?  

Fish S.
5 February 2018 13:28

Hi Alyssa,

Thanks for the thorough and thoughtful update. I'm always so impressed about how willing you are to tackle tough logistical challenges, and your vision for how the action you are taking right now will be a piece of inspiring the broader movement!

Here are some thoughts on those challenges and how we might be able to help.

-Finances
You're right that it's not sustainable for you to be funding the project out of pocket! We can certainly help with a $250 mini-grant, but I know that's not all you need.

-Branding
I can see how the name might be confusing! But I think the most important thing is to find a way to make clear what you do -- and why it matters -- in a sentence or two. Just above, you've shared a lot of great and powerful ideas about how LPP works and why it matters -- condensing these down into a good sentence or two is a next step. Happy to kick ideas around!

-Lack of automation
Do all parts of the process have to be manual? Maybe this is a good time to check your assumptions about which pieces of the process need to be done case-by-case and which can be automated. It seems like another common thread in these responses is that you are reaching capacity for what you can do on your own. Have you thought about bringing on some other team members to help you? We can help you think about how to recruit them.

-Being remote/communication with groups
It is really hard to communicate over social media and email, especially with young people. Have you tried videoconferencing? Are there parts of the LPP's support that need to be delivered in person -- or is it just generally harder to communicate over email?

-Time and efficiency
It always seems like there's never enough time for the work we do, especially while you're a student (trust me - I know!). The best antidote to this is building a team -- and using this process of reflection to think about how you might "streamline" the work and give yourself fewer to-dos. Sounds like another question here is what happens to LPP when you head off to college -- and happy to help you think through those questions, whether you want to keep it going, hand it off, or aren't sure yet.
 

Alyssa S.
2 February 2018 17:56

Hello, Fish! I just got the notification for this comment, so sorry for the late response. Here is it all:

1) How we unite and catalyze:
Uniting involves reaching out to pre-existing productions of Laramie and explaining our initiative to them, and seeing if they want to add the element of dedicating their production to a recent hate crime victim. Most often we hear an enthusiastic yes (because theatre people are the best!) Then, we connect by email, and then deliver them all the need (the person they'll honor, and LPP links that they can share with their cast so they can connect with our team.)
Catalyzing a production/reading involves reaching out to groups who do not plan on performing Laramie until we step in! We usually reach out by email, or sometimes we connect thanks to an in-person meeting I make (at a Thespian gathering, for example.)
Then when they agree to take the plunge, we communicate with them the same we communicate with our groups already doing Laramie!

2) Support, resource, research (added this little one in there), and inspiration
Support: we post about all of our groups on social media which exposes them to whatever other programs/artists are following us; we feature them on our website in our pages of groups on board, as well as on our weekly blogs
Research: we provide some links about the person they will honor, as well as links to organizations like the Matthew Shepard Foundation and The Dru Project, our partners. Phase 2 of the LPP (utilization of the recent Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act Report to honor hate crimes victims) in particular provides our casts with an opportunity to see how Matthew's legacy is monumental--and how we all play a part in this legacy.
Resources: For groups are struggling in their funding, and are willing to hold an informal, closed reading, we will provide scripts of Laramie.
We also have LPP promo materials (heavily digital right now, working on making some physical ones) for them to provide at their event.
We also have LPP pins and info cards that we sell to our groups at the lowest price possible.
And, Matthew Shepard Foundation has resources for Laramie productions (from the real people that are portrayed in the show!), so we make sure our groups know this.
Inspiration: our daily social media presence means we're reposting articles about recent events in the LGBTQ+ community and arts advocacy. We expose new audiences and casts to this remarkable script that remains one of the most popular modern American drama because of its mastery and compelling story. By stressing the fact that this is an international project, and by joining with the LPP one is also standing with 23 other states and 4 other countries (to date, these stats will grow), and therefore, including audiences, thousands of LPPers, we make sure every participant is aware of the impact they're making on their communities!

3) How do we connect them?
I often connect groups that are happening to honor Laramie at the same time. I've also connected groups with Matthew Shepard Foundation and The Dru Project when I see an after-LPP project brewing (and especially with Phase 3, they are always put in contact with TDP).
There's also been cases in Phase 1 of the Project in which two groups honored victims of the Pulse shooting that were couples, so I've connected those groups by email.

4) How can Peacefirst help
Well, I am working on the minigrant, first-off, to purchase more scripts for more groups that come to us with a lack of funding but passion for the LPP!
I obtained some scripts from last year's Peacefirst minigrant and it has proven to be an incredible resource :)
I also am using this site as a way to find more groups to contact this summer to see if the LPP is in their future (because this project is without a deadline.)

5) Big projects this spring
-Contacting many groups (for the first time in a while, because my group research has been on a mandatory halt, due to personal college application responsibilities)
-Working on physical LPP promo materials
-A time I sit down with advocates I am friendly with to reconsider HOW we articulate the LPP's initiative/identity
-Seeing what more I can do as the LPP Founder to work with other arts advocacy start ups
-Working to seeing how I can fund the purchase of my merchandise
-Planning to attend the New Jersey Governor’s Awards in May and International Thespian Festival in June, event where I plan to provide a lot of LPP info/merchandise

6) Challenges we're facing
-Finances. Expenses for LPP merchandise (pins, info cards, and pencils) come out of my pocket. Having difficulties finding grants to write for something like merchandise (as well as the time to write them, being a full time student)
-Branding. I am finding that there’s a difficulty to communicate exactly what the LPP is. Much of this is due to the frequency of the word “project” in 1) the play 2) the playwrights of the play 3) our project 3) our partner organizations
-Lack of automation. Registration and getting groups acclimated to the LPP is a manual process, and being a (for the majority of a time) one-person team
-Being remote/communication with groups. Being based in NJ, without knowledge of my next location (for college), I can really only promise in-person communication with tri-state area groups. The amount of our groups’ comfortability with social media and email regularity affects our ability to ensure and confirm certain things.
-Time and efficiency. This is a challenge that I am going to simply attribute to still being shaky the first three challenges, and also, being a senior in high school.

Also, I will be posting a February update shortly.

Thank you so much for your kind words, and for the chance to take a look at this project and break down its functions/current state! This will certainly assist me in the branding reevaluation soon.  

Fish S.
10 January 2018 12:54

Hey Alyssa, this is amazing. I'm so inspired by your work to promote TPP and make sure everyone sees this important, powerful piece of theater.

I'd love to hear more about how you "unite and catalyze" productions. How have you built your movement so far? What kind of support and resources (or inspiration!) do you provide to productions -- and how do you connect them? Sounds really exciting and I really want to know more :)

And, most importantly, how can we help? What are some of your big projects for this spring? Any challenges you're facing?  

Alyssa S.
6 January 2018 15:45

Thanks for inspiring me to do this, Abigail: enjoy! https://www.peacefirst.org/projects/1916/dashboard/latest-updates  

Alyssa S.
6 January 2018 10:37

Thank you so much, Abigail! In fact, I do have some pictures, I would love to post them. -Alyssa  

Abigail S.
6 January 2018 9:02

WOW! This is an AMAZING project and completely innovative! If you have pictures from these events you've had around the country and any project updates to show, please post them! Would love to see your work in action!