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Project Description

Creating Abundance:Telling Stories

New York City Dialogue Workshops

Documentary Film

ABUNDANCE (1998 - 03)

Abundance is a community arts performance project about money as told through the stories of people in the United States. Culminating in an Off-Broadway production in the Spring of 2003, Abundance is written and directed by Marty Pottenger and produced by The Working Theatre. After a month-run in NYC, Abundance will tour the United States. A film about money will include excerpts from the project and the theater production, as well as cartoon and documentary footage. The website brings the issues and exploration of Abundance to an even larger audience of participants.

Through interviews with billionaires and minimum wage workers and ongoing civic dialogues with people from across the economic spectrum, Abundance initiates a conversation in which people from across this particularly American spectrum of economic difference can gather and begin to communicate their personal and collective experiences as players on the economic field. Fundamental to Pottenger's creative perspective is the hypothesis that there is already enough resource for everyone on the planet, and that the choices we, as individuals, consumers, wage-earners, and philanthropists make, can have a significant impact.

Through these one-on-one interviews across the United States with billionaires and minimum wage workers and ongoing arts-based civic dialogues in NYC where the same group of people meet monthly, bringing undocumented workers, homecare health aides, union vice presidents, receptionists, formerly homeless, architects and millionaires together to explore their economic lives. A series of ongoing, inclusive, private and public conversations forms the spine of Abundance, with the possibility to move us toward a new paradigm by paying attention to the emotional and practical influences, information, assumptions and reasoning which determine the choices of billionaires and undocumented workers alike. Each person involved in these conversations, including interviewees, workshop participants, website visitors and audiences, will be asked to consider questions such as:

What is enough for you? For your children? Have you ever had enough? How would your life be different if you knew, from this moment on, that you would always have enough? To gather information about people's daily relationship to money questions will focus on budgets, expenses, debt, as well as: What do you own? Who do you give money to? Who would you not? When did you first realize that someone had more than you? Less? What would you want to leave for your children? What most scares you about being broke? What was your experience of money as a child at home? What dreams do you have about money?

Amidst best-sellers on how to make and manage money, talk shows, radio spots announcing and analyzing economic reports every 20 minutes 24/7, a daily deluge of governmental studies and indicators and constant advertisements in every medium for goods, services and bargains, the silence around our individual experiences of money is both odd and interesting. Here in a country that offers possibility and promise to immigrants the world over, most of us live in a permanent undercurrent of worry and upset, regardless of our personal wealth. Where visitors listening in from a galaxy far far away from here might expect to hear conversations about rent arrears or year-end bonuses - they would hear the hum of a charged silence, among family members and close neighbors alike. Where do we share the details of our economic lives?
Do you give money to panhandlers? Why?
What do you go without so that your children can go with?
Do money worries keep you up at night?

As workers, investors, consumers and producers, we are all bound together in an economic partnership. And this profoundly interdependent relationship is most often characterized as either widely similar or deeply adversarial. Yet our daily experience of money remains collectively and individually unexamined. Such a silence serves no one. We are a social species that thrives on conversation and connection. We think better together than on our own. Abundance takes as its starting point the premise that we each have unique valuable stories about money, stories that the telling of would ease some of the worry and actually engender new thoughts and insights as to where we are and where we'd like to go. Our ability as individuals to arrive at our own thinking is severely compromised by the absence of any ongoing national dialogue about money whether focused on giving, getting, saving or spending. This silence extends to our own psyches, families, workplaces and com munities, making it near to impossible to reach the clarity that allows for coherent action or analysis.

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