What Have I Been Up to?

A lot actually, which is why my website hasn’t seen any postings in awhile. My main focus has been completing a new book, Horsemen of the Apocalypse, with details and a link below. This summer, I’ll be returning to volume two of The Life and Ideas of James Hillman, which is scheduled for publication in the fall of 2017. Last winter, I took Franklin (My Mysterious Son), accompanied by Malidoma Somé, to Burkina Faso in West Africa for a healing journey that has proven remarkably successful. I’ll be writing about this powerful experience in the future. I’ve also been mentoring several African-American and Hispanic youth from south-central Los Angeles, a challenging and rewarding experience. One of these is a remarkable writer, whose article about how mythology has shaped his life will be appearing this fall in a new journal called Immanence. Click here: Immanence | The Journal of Applied Mythology, Legend, and Folklore And I’ve become very involved in helping a Waldorf-inspired public charter school get off the ground in Watts. Here is what I’ve been sending out to friends and colleagues:

Can I tell you a story?

“Inner City Schools.” The phrase itself almost seems disheartening. At “Inner City Schools,” kids are at-risk and they fail. The future, theirs and ours, withers on the vine.

The two most common reasons for the failure are chronic absenteeism and suspension. The seven elementary schools and five middle schools with the lowest academic performances in Los Angeles are in the primarily low-income neighborhoods of South L.A. It all seems so hopeless. And our society tends to forget what seems hopeless. We avoid what we feel powerless to change.

It’s not hopeless, and I have come to believe that we are not powerless to change this situation. As a mentor, I have recently come to know a number of young people from this area. They are African-American and Hispanic. Many of them are brilliant. Some I would call geniuses. Yet they may never have the opportunity to fulfill their potential. They so easily fall through the cracks of a society that seems to have forgotten them.

In 2016, a friend approached a small group of us with an idea. Orland Bishop is the founder/director of the ShadeTree Multicultural Foundation, where he has pioneered approaches to mentoring at-risk youth that combine new ideas with traditional ways of knowledge. Together, might we conceive of planning and opening a tuition-free Public Waldorf program to serve LA’s inner-city community of Watts?

The Waldorf educational model, conceived a century ago by the renowned German philosopher Rudolf Steiner, emphasizes integration of the arts into every classroom activity as a way to help students overcome patterns of failure. It maintains continuity by providing the same teacher to stay with the children through all of the early grades. At the nearly fifty public school members of the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education currently existing across the U.S., the success rate has been dramatic – especially among at-risk children. This type of education presents a unique opportunity to mine the hidden talents, the gold within countless inner-city kids that’s been ignored for so long. The need is great, and we are asking for your help in getting the ShadeTree School up-and-running in Watts by the 2018-19 school year. Whatever you might be able to contribute through Orland Bishop’s tax-deductible non-profit would be deeply appreciated. A fifteen-month pre-authorization plan will take us up to submitting the charter, applying for substantial foundation grants, and eventual funding from the L.A. Unified School District. Please send your charitable donation designated “ShadeTree School Project” and made out to:

ShadeTree Multicultural Foundation

c/o Andress Walker, 3322 Hollypark Drive, Apt. 3

Inglewood, CA 90305

A letter of acknowledgment will be sent to you, for tax purposes. Should you wish to learn more, a detailed prospectus is available. Thank you so much.

– Dick Russell