SIFF 1.0Create don’t destroy. It’s a simple message I tell my art students nearly every day, yet sometimes when I leave the classroom I come back to pencils thrown across the room, projects torn apart and that wood section that was just cut to fit the side of the four-foot cake we are making for the film festival is now snapped in two for what reason? Oh right, you’re teenagers.

Rebellion, frustration, anger, yeah, I get that, teens can be difficult. But it goes deeper; or rather it goes higher than that, right up to the top.

We prioritize destruction. Or at least many of us prioritize destruction, and we will eventually end up with a very trashed classroom if we don’t stop now. Like right now, like get off your screen and write to Scott Pruitt (New head of the EPA?!?).

We have made the world a dangerous place, we have spread anger and separatism and destruction. People benefit from unrest; a growing military budget means higher salaries for those producing the weapons. More money for surveillance, more money for walls, more money for destabilizing countries. We destroy as much as we create.

Now, I’m all for being safe but when will we realize that all this perpetuated hate is killing us? Peace through superior firepower only works if one person controls all the firepower (insert here conspiracy theory about Trump/Putin New World Order). But that’s crazy, right?

Think globally for a moment, of the 7.5 billion people on Earth, how many want to create and how many want to destroy. Is it natural to hate or is it learned? Do people really wake up in the morning and think, “How can I dominate and destroy and spread anger in the world today?” or do people think like me, “How can I provide for my family and create and make my students better people today?” Am I just floating away in my little California bubble?

Creekside has created 20 chalk sandwich boards, 7 donation boxes, 7 chalk venue signs, a 10-foot by 8-foot entrance to SIFF VILLAGE sign, a four-foot tall cake, a 10-foot by 50-foot SONOMAWOOD sign and student films all for this year’s 20th Sonoma International Film Festival. It has not been easy, creativity takes hard work, but these projects connect students with their community. For 5 days, they walk by the plaza, see the sign and think a little differently about how we are all connected.

Create don’t destroy.