Getting The Word Out
Speaking Truth From The Heart
We’ve known about GET LIT for years! This California-based arts education nonprofit was started in 2006 by Diane Luby Lane to give young people the opportunity to express themselves through written word, spoken word, slam poetry and film. The organization hosts many life-changing events including a yearly competitive poetry slam called the Classic Slam.
No one has done more to encourage speaking “truth to power” than Diane Luby Lane. Here is insidewink’s Brad Koepenick in conversation with Get Lit’s Diane Luby Lane on how GET LIT moves students (young and old), novices and professionals to share their “truths” and RISE Up to create change in the world using the power of the spoken word.
Brad: My soul sister, mentor and most trusted friend…Diane, you are my “True North”. You’ve done SO much to transform the lives and communities you serve… soooooo much for my students, our schools and, well…you changed MY life. Boy, did THAT happen!
What NOW for Get Lit?
Diane: Right back at you, Brad! That is FOR SURE!!! Right now for Get Lit … We are REALLY EXCITED to be launching our online platform called Uni(verse).
The Uni(verse) platform has three components: a Teacher Portal, Student Online Curriculum, and Poetry Collaboration Community.
We launched the Uni(verse) Community Portal in July 2021 during the premiere of our feature film Summertime starring 27 Get Lit alumni. Through this portal, we shared 30 free hours of standards-aligned lesson plans with all LAUSD English teachers, incorporating Summertime student response poems. We are collecting feedback through this portal and making program adjustments as needed.
And below is the entire Uni(verse) platform presented by Get Lit youth poets. This part will be launched in January, 2022
Brad: It’s one thing to develop Poet Laureates and Rock Star Poets. But what is the ultimate mission and big picture vision?
And for that matter, whassup with SUMMERTIME and UNIVERSE? A birdie told me SUMMERTIME is STREAMING.
Diane: YES!!! SUMMERTIME is officially available EVERYWHERE on demand!
The film is available to rent or own digitally wherever you watch your movies! Cable will be available as well. DVDBluray available in October. AND we have a version approved for classrooms TOO!!!!
We’re so excited to share this incredible movie with everyone in the world!!!
Get Lit’s ultimate vision and big picture is to use poetry and literature to bring solace, scholarship, community, and inspiration to every child in the world, thereby transforming education and creative culture – – creating ultimately and simultaneously a vibrant new network of artists and scholars along with the job opportunities needed to provide creative practice, portfolios, and financial opportunities.
That way marginalized voices can be heard and society transformed, enriched by the beauty and power of ALL.
And one day – I will learn to use punctuation so that I am not creating the longest sentences in the world.
Brad: The artist H.E.R. was on my first team in 2011 and I’ve seen your teachers, student poets and Get Lit Poets and Luminaries rise to heights in Music, TV, Film and Activism.
My buddy is an 8 time Grammy winning songwriter and (I swear) one time he told me GET LIT “reinvented the way he viewed poetry and reignited his love of the spoken word”.
Did you ever think that not just underserved students would grasp the curriculum, but professionals who are masters in their field? It seems like you have something for everybody.
Diane: People are people. “Classics aren’t classics because they’re old, but because they’re great.” Good books, deep thoughts, delicious food, powerful music – they are for all of us. To me, we’re all “underserved students,” literally starving for inspiration, connection, and to be awakened from this mass dream with Purpose.
Brad: What is the “ultimate goal”?
Diane: Love, Brad, really. Poetry is the means through which we connect, listen, expand, deepen, elevate, bless, heal and love one another.
The Vibe goes far and wide.
Brad: When you feel like giving up, tossing it in, throwing hands in the air, what is your process?
Diane: I never do. This is my life purpose. Some days suck, but where would I go? The days that suck I talk to my husband, my son, my mom, a friend. They walk me through it. I meditate. I am constantly being challenged with circumstances that feel bigger than I do.
But quitting? No. This purpose is so deep in me. It gives me a certainty beyond doubt.
Books saved me. Authors and Poets saved me. So any doubters or haters can never battle that truth deep within me. It’s too deep to reach.
A Community, A Tribe, A Family
Brad: We are a FAMILY. A true, dedicated, connected “tribe”. Was THAT your vision when you started in a tiny little storefront off Melrose?
Diane: YES – and Brad, it started in a tiny broom closet off Fairfax! Ask Monique and Jazmine!! This WAS always my vision and it wasn’t. I mean – Love is sticky. Like a snowball rolling downhill, growing as it rolls, glomming onto whatever it touches. All are welcome. All are invited IN.
Brad: Speaking of TRUTH, the TRUTH is so many non-profits have existed in jeopardy throughout the pandemic. Some estimate it’ll be up to 50% closure rates for US non-profitsby end of year.
The TRUTH is non-profits are hard to run, regardless of our current situation. Do YOU have any suggestions or tips for invididuals who are interested in starting a non-profit and/or currently struggling?
Diane: Oooh. I could write a book. They can email me at [email protected]
Brad: Fundraising is always tricky business. We’re doing a special event celebrity for the USO and Val Kilmer’s Twainmania utilizing some new technologies on September 25th called Val’s Potluck Movie Night. Also, we’re streaming TOP GUN. “Phil tech” or philanthropic technology is an emerging field.
Do you know of any “how to”, special tricks or secret sauce for non-profits struggling to stay afloat?
Diane: No, I don’t. PPP Loans. Thank God for them. And the movie VAL absolutely blew me away, by the way. I mean… WOW. I haven’t stopped thinking about it.
Brad: Last GREAT film recommendation?
Diane: VAL(!) … and I just saw The Killing Fields. I know a bit late. But with the situation in Afghanistan… I watched. And it was incredible.
Brad: What books are on your nightstand?
Diane: The Wise Heart, Jack Kornfield
Awakening Together, Larry Yang
The Overstory, Richard Powers
Letters to a Young Poet, (edited by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy)
Brad: Pie, Cake or Ice Cream?
Diane: Come on. I believe in sampling. ALL please! Brad, thank you for being MY north star, my pied piper, my brother, and my friend. Love you!!
“This purpose is so deep in me. It gives me a certainty beyond doubt.”
—Diane Luby Lane, Get Lit
By Brad Koepenick
Brad is Co-Founder and President of SparkRise, a game changing SaaS platform that provides businesses with a way to engage with consumers while contributing to social good. He is also a Musician, Actor, Writer and is the Producer of feature films including Val Kilmer’s VAL (A24), Cinema Twain also with Val Kilmer, Shakespeare High and the subject of the award winning documentary Autistic Kids with Cameras, chronicling his work with Improvisation, Film-making, Animation and Storytelling for students on the autistic spectrum. Koepenick was awarded the “Hart Vision Award” (California Charter Teacher of the Year) and the monthly “Innovator Award” through the Professional Teachers Network.
We became aware of Val’s newest passion project of HelMel Studio and so we asked our good friend, Brad Koepenick, who has known and stayed close with Val since their days at Chatsworth High School, if he would sit down and ask him our questions. Brad, quite a fascinating character himself, is an entrepreneur whose heart lies with education, Spoken Word, theatre and film.
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