In these features, 5enses highlights individuals and organizations in the community that are making a difference. They were inspired by Alert Reader Aarti Pani and community leaders Sadira DeMarino and John Duncan. Thank you, Aarti, Sadira, and John.
Want to nominate a do-gooder or a doing-gooder group? Email tips to 5ensesMag@Gmail.Com with “Do Good” in the subject line. Don’t like who we feature? Do some good deeds or start your own group and tell us about it. Remember, our community is whatever we make it.
Get Involved: Why Not? Bellydance
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Lisa Hendrickson and I’m a visual art teacher at Skyview School, a visual artist, and a dancer. I’ve been a member of Why Not? Bellydance since their inception about two years and eight months ago. We grew out of a local belly dance troupe called Troupe Salamat, headed up by Terri Walden for 16 years. We’re six members, all told. We’re a largely improvisational group, so our dancing is not so much on choreography as it is a response to the music. So, what we’ve done is established a kind of dance language where we are learning combinations of movements that we lead each other through. The leadership changes multiple times during a dance, so you aren’t always looking toward the same person for an entire dance. We’re also informed by a lot of different kinds of music. A lot of people think that belly dance is just Middle Eastern or Egyptian music. We do appropriate movements from folkloric traditions from Egypt and other parts of the world, but we’re also informed by Balkan music, hip hop music, Northern African music, Indian music and more. Our dancing and performances have evolved into a fusion of these things.
How can we get involved?
If you want to dance, one of our members, Sarah Hinson, teaches two beginning classes at The Nest on Gurley Street. They’re both six-week classes. If you want to see us, we’ve traditionally performed at things like Acker Night, Day of the Dead at the Smoki, Ghost Talk at Prescott Center for the Arts, and the Earth Day celebration downtown. This is our second year running the Beat the Heat belly dance festival, which is the last weekend in August, Aug. 25-27. For that, we have more than 20 other belly dance troupes and solo artists from around the state. We organize different belly dance workshops and have a big performance at the end of the second day at 7 p.m. in the Holiday Courtyard on Whiskey Row. Saturday, we have workshops all day, and then there are a couple of workshops on Sunday, as well. There’s themed: one is Egyptian cabaret, one is Latin-fusion based, like that. We ask that people register for those online, though some are already full. There’s a $10 registration fee to take part and each class is $5 apiece. Some of them are meant to be accessible for beginners, and if you have any questions you can email us. So, that second day, for the big performance, we’re selling the first two rows of seats for $1o apiece, but subsequent rows and standing room will be for free.
Visit Why Not? Bellydance and find out more about the Beat the Heat festival at WhyNotBellydance.Com and Facebook.
Get Involved: Boys to Men Northern Arizona
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Charles Matheus, and I’m the executive director of Boys to Men Mentoring Network of North Central Arizona. For the last six years here in Prescott we’ve provided rights of passage and long-term mentoring for teenage boys. We know that young men need to be embedded in the community and involved with adults and often times they get a little separated. As far as rights of passage go, it’s a modern right of passage based on the ancient rights of passage of separating boys from the village and taking them somewhere and providing them with challenges and allowing them to discover new things about themselves and more ways of being an adult and returning to the village with newfound respect. It’s a weekend event at a camp with really specific activities and a lot of attention of adult men. We have one of the highest ratios of adult men to boys, one-to-one, and have a lot of volunteers who help. There’s a lot involved, and we tell the parents exactly what’s going to happen, but we keep the activities of the weekend under wraps from the boys so there’s some surprise.
We’re nonsectarian and only spiritual to the extent that we believe that young men need to have some sort of spiritual path that helps keep them humble, connected, and hopeful. We also do weekend activities every two weeks, for example going to the Highlands Center to clean up trails, the Prescott Creek clean up, art activities, health and wellness, rock climbing, hiking, and other adventure outings. And we do weekly programs in four different schools, mentoring circles where we facilitate discussions, usually three men with 8-15 boys. The goal is to keep them engaged with school and connect with adults outside of their families.
How can we help?
For men, become a mentor. We have about 80 volunteers a year and it’s a very easy process to get involved. Because we keep the adult to boy ratio as even as possible, it’s easy and fun, not as daunting as being, say, one adult in a classroom of 30 kids. We’re looking to expand the school-based circles, so that’s one thing we need help with. For some volunteers, the right of passage weekends are their first time with the group. The next one of those is at the end of September into October. Any young man 13 or older is welcome. We do an enrollment meeting with parents or guardians and that’s that. For teens, some of them do the weekend first, but there are multiple points of entry.
If you want to contribute to the group, we are a 501(c)(3), so you can get part or all of your Arizona state tax credit by donating — $400 for individual, $800 for married. You know, some men don’t think they know how to be a mentor, but it’s not that difficult. Really, just showing up and listening makes a big difference.
Find out more about Boys to Men Northern Arizona at BoysToMenAZ.Org and Facebook.