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Written on October 28th, 2013 , Arts in Community, Mystery Events, The Business of Art Tags: , , ,

It’s that time of year again when ghouls and goblins populate the fronts of houses and the piles of candy at the store and children get excited about ‘what to be’. Some of my friends and colleagues be’moan’ the hype, commercialism and calories. I personally LOVE Hallowe’en (I’m a theatre person, remember, with an active inner child), but this blog is dedicated to those who don’t. This blog is for those who want to do something somehow connected to some aspect of Hallowe’en-ness, but but at all related to consuming. Here are my recommendations.

Bat Detective.

No Vampires, but way too many Bat Calls from Romania (!!!) for scientists to go through, so they are asking for help sorting and categorizing various sound files. Your/your family’s help helps with conservation and migration research. It’s free, easy for anyone (including children) to do, and the tutorial is quick and very helpful. Find it here.

This project (and others) are on a fantastic citizen-science website called “Zooniverse”. Check it out—if bats aren’t your thing, join a space project, or help climate scientists by combing through old shiplogs for weather reports, or identify animals caught on camera in the Serengeti…or even help go through medical slides identifying cancers.

Branding Lessons from the Undead 

Can’t get away from work, but want to ‘get in the spirit’? No bones about it, there are a number of business blogs that are rocking the Hallowe’en vibe to do business as unusual so to speak. My husband alerted me to these two terrific articles that mix business with pleasure; click here for “Branding Lessons for the Undead”, and here for “Putting the Horror into Horror Writing”. I thought the article about branding was particularly brilliant.

Do you work with elderly folks, folks in a recovery or care facility, or a community center? Or with kids?

What an excellent opportunity to celebrate personal and local history! Folklore isn’t just about the lore, it is also about the folk, and EVERYONE has stories about autumn events. Whether your great-grandfather fell off the thresher, or your (or your dad’s) childhood friend swore a ghost lived in the attic and the scarecrow was alive, or you had a tomato fight, this time of year provides lots of fodder that can prime the pump of rich, delicious memories. If your clients are mobile, make a circle and record the tall tales and make a CD of them for later pleasure or for their visitors. Serve s’mores and hot cider, and ask questions about corn and barns and cats and running in the darkness. Notice aloud the themes that crop up, and maybe read from collections of local tall tales….

I personally am using one such collection, “I Always Tell the Truth (even if I have to lie to do it!)” a collection of tales from Adirondack lumberjacks in an upcoming course. Great Stuff!

If your clients aren’t mobile, having a little paper or online questionnaire to help prompt the stories, and create a printed collection, again noting cultural, historical, or geographic themes. Kids can make a picture book of a story from an older family member or friend!

Things to Watch or Listen To:

Instead of doing the most commercial thing, reach back in time and listen to, watch, or broadcast some oldies but goodies. 

My movie recommendations: “Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy” and “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein” are good for anybody, any age, any background, even people who hate Hallowe’en. Make popcorn and get ready for the oldest cheesiest gags in the book in these delightful homages to the horror greats (which star the likes of Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr, by the way). Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds” is a terrific listen—and there are lots of short adaptations if you/your group/your family want to do it yourselves!

Haunted History Tours

Every town has history, and not all of it is pretty. Luckily the gruesome and

gross are often very interesting! Go on a haunted tour or make your own map of murders in your town. Why not? Learn about the architecture of the homes of your city’s local criminals of 50 or more years ago. Remember—the older the event, the more fun and creepy it is to think
about. Don’t pick anything too recent—social and emotional wounds may still be too fresh. Generally, anything during or before WWII is best. And frankly, as someone who has done official haunted tours, people love realizing that some nice old lady in the late 1800s poisoned her daughters … slowly… with arsenic….in this house….. (or was hanged…right here, where the old gallows stood)!

In a nutshell, find a way to embrace the season even if you need to push away certain aspects or values of it. There’s always way to have fun, do good work, connect to history and community, and get your work done!

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