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  • Charlie Ranken

2. [reconfigure the pieces]

Updated: Apr 22, 2022

I wouldn't say I was a saint or the perfect role model but I do have a fierce sense of justice. It is an inescapable, and sometimes annoying, trait. It has always been with me and sometimes, on occasion, it has been misplaced, especially when I was younger and I used to see the world as very 'black and white.' If you weren't doing something a particular way, "why the hell?" not was my response.

Luckily, age and experience have taught me that life is a chaotic mess of people being human. I think a lot of us are like this in theatre or the arts. In a roundtable aired on Youtube for the Hollywood Reporter, Jim Carrey was asked why he was an actor; his reply 'because I'm broken in lots of pieces and acting gives me the chance to reconfigure those pieces.' He goes onto to say that acting helps him sort those human pieces into something positive for others and himself. He found an art form that can do this. Some people don't find that positive way of exploring life, gathering the crap with the joy and allocating time to acknowledge and make sense of it. I suspect this process, in whatever method we choose, helps us move forward. Whether that's crafting, sports, cinema, theatre, swimming, making lists, poetry.

Maslow's Hierarchy makes it very clear that we need our non-negotiable physiological needs met before we can even think about creative art forms. Food, water, warmth and rest comes before everything else. Security and protection are next. Part of our community, where ever you live, struggles to even tick off the foundational levels. Human existence for them is just that, surviving. Those that don't have adequate food, water, warmth and rest can't explore creatively what it means to be human if they don't have the opportunity to treat themselves as one.

In Plymouth, according to an article in the Plymouth Herald in 2018, more than 700 people across Plymouth are homeless. Most are in temporary accommodation, 26 are sleeping rough. I wish I could find more recent relevant figures. The strategic covid operation from the government 'Everyone In' saw street homelessness almost disappear overnight. A blip in the system that soon recovered and went back to normal, (a Crisis document below highlights the support for rough sleepers) with many saying if the government can enable this to happen so quickly why can't it be sustained.

And that's the important word; sustained. A sense of justice needs to be followed by a sustained healthy approach.

This month, I will be sharing my crowdfund. That irritating, inescapable sense of justice means I need to proactively make it tangible and I have done so, through the use of sanitary products. Really simple. Women who are homeless, in hostels, sofa surfing or working on the streets do not have the means or the opportunity to access sanitary products. How can a human being start to piece themselves back together, find ways of exploring positive mental health practices and realise full potential, if they can't rest in the knowledge that they can safely protect themselves from natural cycles?

I don't think I'm alone. Many creatives reach out in different ways to a whole plethora of people and offer their skills to help. When participants can take part they are usually past the first two levels of Maslow's Needs and are ready to belong. I'm tackling the very first level because this is just something I can do right now which means my creativity is wrapped up in being practical. If you wish to support the community, it is undeniable that there are many ways to help reconfigure the pieces of being human. Research has shown the creative industry has a 'powerful and lasting effect on health.' (Mental Health Foundation 2019, see link below) It is also true that we all are trying to work out the puzzle and just like Jim Carrey we all deserve to discover how we do that.

Want to know more:

  • The photo below was taken whilst wrapping up over 20 sports bras for the women who receive kits. Many don't have any or only have 1 bra or pair of pants. You can learn more by visiting @offthegrounddance on Facebook

  • If you would like to support my crowdfund for sanitary products please see the last link below or click here

If you are a creative artist, what makes you proud of your practice? Where does that sense of justice ignite and can your creative path do anything about it? Artist or not, what creative paths are embedded in your life that enable you to climb Maslow's pyramid? How do you reconfigure your pieces? Comedy Actors Roundtable (1:22) Why Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Matters

Photographer Angie Owiti - October 2021 Plymouth

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