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Civic Ensemble will host free monthly gatherings on the First Monday of each month, beginning October 1, 2018 at the Lehman Alternative Community School. Titled Community Soup: Storytelling Toward the Beloved Community, the evening will consist of a free meal and time to chat informally, followed by structured story circles facilitated by Civic Ensemble artists.

"The idea for a regularly community sharing of stories has been brewing for some time," noted Artistic Director Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr., "but we knew we had to do it when, this summer, at a post-show discussion for Bee Trapped Inside The Window, part of the new Civic Acts Festival, we asked participants to identify what themes spoke to them most from the play. Many of the groups who discussed this came up with isolation as a theme, and proposed community gathering and storytelling as an antidote to that isolation."

Story circles are an integral part of Civic Ensemble's playbuilding and program development processes, but Artistic Director Sarah K. Chalmers shares that, "unlike many of our story circles, the goal of Community Soup is to simply connect with each other." Chalmers continues, "We know that story circles reduce isolation, generate ideas, engage participants in problem-solving, bring people together who might not otherwise meet, and give people a sense of home and community."

The Beloved Community refers to a global vision that all people should share in the wealth of the earth. Poverty and homelessness, racism and all forms of discrimination will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency won't allow it. Simmons concludes, "Community Soup ties together everything Civic Ensemble has been working toward, and brings our diverse constituents together to break bread and tell stories. Together we can define what our beloved community looks like, and what actions we need to take to make it a reality."

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