Monday, January 5, 2009

Dyana and Blaine - Community Psych Partners

7th European Congress of Community Psychology -Paris 2009!
They make great house guests.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

GRIT(S) in Portugal

An interview w/ Dyana Valentine
on The II International Community Psychology Conference in Lisbon- 2008

Ghetto Savant: What was the Lisbon conference like?
Dyana Valentine: It was well-run, hosted in the beautiful Gulbenkian Institute and the community psychologists who attended were remarkable. I arrived during the pre-conferences and attended a workshop on Youth Participation, run by Shep Zeldin from University of Wisconsin, Madison. It was a great introduction to the conference.

GS: What was the formula for you and Blaine Teamer's workshop presentation?
Our workshop "Using New Media and Social Networks to Promote Wellness" was structured very simply. Blaine produced a fantastic three minute DVD intro of the TRUE GRIT(s) project. I then introduced myself and told the participants about the "I'm In On It..." concept and that once I saw TRUE GRIT(s) the first time--I HAD to be part of the project, any way I could.

We then watched a short excerpt of the film, followed by a discussion and then small-group activity. The participants (all community psychologists from the US, New Zealand, Portugal and England, many of whom are PhD candidates) broke into groups of 4-6 people to discuss their own answers to the 5 questions:
How do you define cheating?
Have you ever cheated?
Have you ever been cheated on?
What did you learn from either/both experience? and
How did you heal?

GS: What did you take away from the other workshops?
I gained wonderful contacts around the world, inspiration to continue building my competencies in the practice of community psychology and the absolute calling to read more scholarly works to clarify and inform my own work and ensure that it aligned with and grounded to my field.

GS: How are other people in the field using media?
Community psychologists are using many forms of media in their work such as: theatre, music, film, photography, drawing and painting to reach their communities of practice. In Lisbon, I learned that use of social media sites such as Facebook and Myspace are more common than I thought in community psychology. There are also many professionals using intranet tools to gather their communities and peers to discuss issues and interface with other communities.

GS: Who did you meet and what were they doing in the field?
I met colleagues who specialize in: use of theatre in community education and advocacy; domestic violence prevention and intervention; homelessness; leadership; women and power; urban planning; hip-hop music and youth participation; photography; capitalism in university settings; heavy metal music communities, and the list goes on. I highly recommend looking at the conference catalog on and reaching out to the community psychologists doing something that you connect with. I can say confidently that, as a group, we are all open to sharing our work with others!

copyyright 2008

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What it Means to be Faithful Blurred in Modern World

By Sharon Jayson, USA TODAY

We used to know what infidelity was: sex with someone other than your mate.
But the 21st century seems to have blurred those clear-cut lines. Is having lunch every day with an opposite-sex work friend a breach of marital trust? What about a flirtation online? If there's no sex, is it really cheating?

Such questions arise as societal and psychological pressures challenge deep-rooted ideas about the nature of infidelity. "We are as a society finally coming to grips with what it means to be faithful," says Douglas Snyder, a psychologist at Texas A&M University-College Station. "It doesn't just mean to have sex with someone else."

What counts as infidelity?
Many psychologists and family experts say that infidelity today is not just about sex but about trust, betrayal and marital disloyalty, even if adultery is not part of the picture. They add that marriages are more vulnerable than they were decades ago: In tough economic times, couples work harder to make ends meet, which often leaves little time or energy to nurture the relationship. Movies and TV seem to glamorize affairs and make marriage appear dull. And the Internet offers a new frontier, with the pseudo-intimacy of cyber-relationships, as well as greater access to pornography.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Our Faux -Doc becomes Real Workshop in Portugal!

True Grit(s) - the workshop travels to the International Community
Psychology Conference
in Lisbon, Portugal
June 4-6, 2008

A lil' bit of Grit(s) goes a long way. The TG Method is shared in the Gulbenkian Building in Lisbon.

Participants from as far as New Zealand breakout into workgroups for "Using New Media & Social Networks To Promote Wellness."

Watch the video introduction and explanation
of the TG method on YOU TUBE. It'll all make sense!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

True Grit(s) in Brooklyn

Act Now Foundation Short Film Collective
In Conjunction with NY Perks Present:
True Grit(s)
Thursday June 12th At NY Perks
193 Smith Street
Align Center Between Warren & Baltic Street,
Brooklyn NYF or G Train to Bergen St

Reception 6:30
Film Screening: 7:30
After Party: 9:00

Monday, May 26, 2008

How Do You Define Cheating?

In the making of True Grit(s) we asked people in Los Angeles, NY, London and Paris 5 simple questions about cheating? Where are you from and how would you answer these questons?

How do you define cheating?
Have you ever cheated on someone?
Have you ever been cheated on?
What did you learn?
How did you heal from it?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Fuel to the Fire - A Hot New Ghetto Savant

The Ghetto Savant crew expands with the addition of my dear friend Dyana Valentine. A fellow Antioch University alumni, Dyana, like myself, holds a Master’s degree in Applied Community Psychology. She’s been a part of the True Grit(s) experience from the very beginning. So when I heard that the International Conference on Community Psychology in Lisbon was accepting proposals, I immediately asked Dyana if she would like to co-create a presentation. I knew she would bring new fuel to the project, and with fuel prices sky high -- she’s priceless!

Here is the proposal that we submitted describing what the True Grit(s) experience is all about. There is a method to the True Grit(s) madness.

Using New Media and Social Networks to Promote Wellness

Our session addresses how new media and social networks can be used for community consciousness-raising. The session is based on the work of community psychologist and co-presenter Blaine Teamer, who created a new genre of film that integrated citizen participation, social support and peer-to-peer problem solving.

He and his community of African-American artists in Los Angeles, frustrated about limited opportunities to make films and mass media’s role in creating social myths, decided to harness their various talents, skills and resources to make their first short film, addressing infidelity, entitled TRUE GRIT(S). The filmmaking and screenings were socially empowering for the artists.

Conversations sparked by the film after its release led to a documentary composed of interviews responding to the social issue. These conversations led to a deeper understanding of what infidelity means to community members, both personally and culturally. Insight into the interviews was provided by a mental health professional, whose input was combined with the original narrative and documentary footage. An emphasis on experiential knowledge helped to create a peer-to-peer relationship among all community participants.

The documentary is currently being circulated via screenings in diverse communities. These screenings serve as a springboard to further discuss the focal concern, capture more documentary footage, develop new social understandings, and strengthen community relationships.Our session will consist of a case study presentation, a five-minute film clip of the film and intentional conversation. Participants will be able to view the conversation initiated in Lisbon by joining an online community, and be invited to collaborate with their community psychology colleagues to develop similar social networks.

True Grit(s) and Community Psychology

What is community psychology?

Community psychology deals with the relationships of the individual to communities and the wider society. Community psychologists seek to understand the quality of life of individuals, communities, and society. Their aim is to enhance quality of life through collaborative research and action, and they seek to work with community members as partners. One of the goals of community psychology involves Empowerment of individuals and communities that have been marginalized by society.

“Empowerment is viewed as a process: the mechanism by which people, organizations, and communities gain mastery over their lives.”
- Julian Rappaport, PH.D.

Seven Core Values in Community Psychology:

Individual Wellness
Sense of Community
Social Justice
Citizen participation
Collaboration and community strengths
Respect for human diversity
Empirical Grounding

As an artist and ghetto savant with a M.A. in psychology, I was interested in applying the principles of community psychology to the art of filmmaking. So with this marriage of art and psychology, True Grit(s) was born. In June, the film and the psychology behind it will travel to Lisbon.

True Grit(s) Screened at Warner Bros.

Black Employees @ Warner Bros hosted a very special screening of TRUE GRIT(s): a faux cinéma-vérité docu-dramedy. History was made at the legendary studio, as the first film ever to deal with infidelity, healing and HOT GRITS graced the big screen, and the audience ate it up.

The evening consisted of a screening of the film, a panel discussion and a Q&A segment focusing on the issue of infidelity. Guests made there way through the outdoor sets of such TV classics as: 77 Sunset Strip, The Dukes of Hazzard, & Friends. Why there was never a storyline with Rachel throwing some grits on Ross, I’ll never know.

Unfortunately, no grits were allowed in the theatre; however, dessert and coffee was served in the lobby before the screening. Next the guests made their way into the beautiful theatre. Indira and I introduced the film, and sat in back and clutched our hands in prayer. “Dear Lord, it’s me, Blaine and Indira. I know you are so busy, but please let these people like our little movie.”

The film that asks the question “what is cheating to you?” received an enthusiastic response from the audience, and they were ready to respond to the question and ask the panel some questions.

The panel consisted of the “usual suspects” filmmakers Indira Gibson, Shawn Carter Peterson, yours truly, Blaine Teamer and our resident therapist Antonio LeMons; however, this marked the first time that Tonya Pinkins joined our panel discussion. The legendary stage diva did not disappoint and dived right in. Candid, charming and full of charisma, Tonya gave her perspective on the topic of infidelity. She shared lessons that she learned and how she healed from the experiences.

Fueled by the panel’s honesty and insight, the audience could not wait to have their say, and they did. The film opened up Pandora’s Box. As usual our resident therapist Antonio was on hand to help people work through what the film brings up. The film introduces the audience to therapy in a unique way, and the screenings give them direct access to one.

What amazed me about the audience discussion were the unsuspected viewpoints and the social myths that were deconstructed. Also, how audience member shared their perspectives in order to help other members who were dealing with their own issues. It was group therapy with a TRUE GRIT(S) twist. I think we are onto something.

The whole purpose of the film series and our screenings is to stimulate a conversation about social issues and to get people talking about it. Then let them define the issue and co-create the solutions to solve the problem. Mission accomplished at Warner Bros. Next stop Portugal.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Premiere screening of True Grit(s) at Vintage Hollywood Nightclub

On January 27, 2008, Tonya, Indira, Shawn and I had our very first screening of True Grit(s) at the Vintage Hollywood Nightclub. We were a little nervous because there was a torrential rain storm prior to the event, and we thought that no one would come out in a storm to see our little labor of love. We were wrong. We don’t know GRIT about good friends!

The torrential rain storm stopped on cue. Guests not only arrived, they arrived early. Everyone looked great in their LA rain gear chic, and we greeted everyone as they entered into the club with love, enthusiasm and gratitude. Our good friends Roy and Rhett drove in from San Diego. Our new friend (and co-star) flew in from England. My friend James King came over to me and said, “I think you’re going to need more chairs.” He was right folks kept coming, and the theater space overflowed.

Tonya was closing the play “All That You Can” in Hollywood as we were introducing our film at Vintage Hollywood, so Indira, Shawn and I introduced the film. We stood in the back of the theater and nervously awaited the response. It was a symphony to our ears. We could not have dreamed of a better and more enthusiastic response from the audience.
Once the film was over, we invited psychotherapist Antonio Le Mons (who is also in the film) on stage. The film did exactly what it was supposed to do: make people laugh, think and stimulate conversation afterwards. We had an intense discussion about the topic of the film – infidelity. Audience members expanded on the conversation that took place in the film, and Antonio did a wonderful job at handling the more delicate questions.

The conversation and mingling continued afterwards. Guests browsed the wonderful Hollywood memorabilia, sipped on their cocktails and shared their views on the film. We had a wonderful time. It was magic! On behalf of “The Ghetto Savants” I wanna thank all of our guests that drove, flew and walked to see some grits fly! You made magic happen.

Next stop – Warner Bros studios for a special screening.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Warner Bros Screening

You and your friends are invited to a private screening at

Warner Bros Studios
4000 Warner Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91522

February 28, 2008

*RSVP Required*
Just E-mail with your name (and the name of your guests)
as it appears on each person's license in order to drive onto the lot.

Please respond by Feb. 27.
Screening Room, gate number and confirmation will be e-mailed back to you.

Monday, January 21, 2008

True Grit(s): a faux cinema verite' docu-dramedy

True Grit(s): a faux cinema verite' docu-dramedy, uses the urban legend of Mary Woodson's gritty revenge against lover Al Green, as a springboard to explore the issue of cheating. Three directors (Tonya Pinkins, Shawn Carter Peterson, Blaine Teamer) combine documentary with narrative to examine the various facets of cheating. Tony Award winner Pinkins, comedian Kym Whitley (Fun with Dick and Jane, Nutty Professor II), Jonathan Julian (Noah's Arc), Indira Gibson (BUFU) and recording artist Sy Smith round out the dynamic and multi-cultural cast. Comedic and cathartic, people give their definitions of cheating and share their "True Grit(s)" experiences of when love went awry. You don’t know grit about cheating!