Quiet Heroes chosen as Sundance 2018 Official Selection

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In the mid 1980s, Kristen Ries and Maggie Snyder’s work inspired me to offer legal services to patients with HIV/AIDS.   Tami and I are proud of the support we have given to the University of Utah’s Dr. Kristen Ries and Maggie Snyder Permanent Collection.  The story of Kristen Ries and Maggie Snyder is an important part of Utah’s history.  In the 1980s when HIV first came on the scene, patients who contracted the virus had a life expectancy of one year.  Kristen and Maggie often spent their weekends holding the hands of patients who were dying.   They were the only option for help for hundreds of patients; Snyder and Ries have kept their stories in scrapbooks and notebooks through the years. 

Award winning director Jenny Mackenzie along with Jared Ruga have produced an incredible film telling the story of Dr. Ries, and Dr. Snyder called Quiet Heros.  The film has been chosen as an official selection for the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.  Check out the Official trailer below.

 

Gun Violence Must Stop.

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American history teaches us that when government is shown a potential threat to Americans, it is the duty of our elected officials to help either fix the problem, eradicate the threat, or regulate the product or substance.  This has been true throughout history.  Depending on the social politics of the times, government has taken on alcoholic beverages, women’s health, marriage equality, adoption, (most recently) opioids, marijuana, automobile safety, and countless other activities, products and substances.  Congress has funded cancer research and the US has an entire department dedicated to the regulation of drugs, alcohol and firearms.  In the 1990s, we heard about the war on drugs, and now we are hearing about the opioid epidemic, but what about mass shooting epidemic? 

Last week, California Senator Diane Feinstein introduced an assault weapons ban for the third time.  She and 22 other Senators are introducing the legislation, “for one reason: so that after every mass shooting with a military-style assault weapon, the American people will know that a tool to reduce these massacres is sitting in the Senate, ready for debate and a vote.”

Along with this legislation, there are two other important pieces of gun legislation in front of congress NOW.  First a “concealed carry reciprocity,” that would force all 50 states to allow anyone to carry a hidden, loaded guns in public.  The second guts sun silencer safety requirements.  Both of these policies do nothing to help prevent gun violence.  Let’s all take a minute to call our Congressional Representatives and Senators and ask them to oppose these two pieces of legislation.  Click here to visit Everytown for Gun Safety’s action center, and get involved.

 

 

With a Little Help from My Friends – Embracing 65

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(And, advice for my high school grandson)

When the Beatles first released the song With a Little Help from my Friends, I was almost 16 years old. Now, at age 65, my oldest grandchild is almost 16 years old. If there is one thing I really want to impress upon him, it is to pay special attention to those friendships he is now making in high school. (I would also tell him to study hard and cultivate his athletic skills, but he already does that, so it’s the “hang onto your friends” skill that I want to emphasize.) 

I, along with my high school friends, turned 65 this year. Sociologists would define us as “the young old” – the group between 65 and 74. When we were in high school, we never planned for life at 65 – it was so far away it was beyond comprehension. Now that we are here, what have we learned about the value of friendships? 

First, once you are 65, I can pretty much guarantee that you will not be able to keep straight all the stories of your life. Events, and people, and jobs, and decades, run together - into a complicated narrative. A quilt of many colors, as they say. Having friends who have known you throughout is priceless. At 65, my high school friends are a mix of happily retired, nervously retired, partially retired, soon to retire, and never going to retire. We are married, single (but with sleep over boyfriends), parents, stepparents and grandparents. We range from gun-toting to never allowing a gun in the house, from Republican to Democrat, from straight to gay (OK - only one gay person, but if you count our present numbers that’s over 10%). Most importantly, we have become people who can complete each other’s stories - often more accurately than we can ourselves. Maybe you will be lucky enough to have a spouse that will stay with you for decades and can also complete your stories. Good for you, but you still need the friends. They provide an outside perspective that is fun, deep, and life-affirming.

What’s it like to hang onto friends for decades? Well, don’t expect that you will agree with them all the time. Don’t even expect that you will want to see them each and every year. Sometimes you may be off - distracted by a new love, the end of a marriage, the death of a parent, the responsibilities of a new job. But when you remember to pay attention again – a true friend will still be there. Realize that you may let one another down once in a while – true friendship does not require perfection. Hang on -and forgive - and reconnect when you can. It keeps getting richer.

For us, I believe it has evolved into an experience of “being held.” It is a friendship intimacy that comes from knowing you have this web of friends, people who laugh with you (not at you - although sometimes there’s a bit of good natured laughing at you too) - who help you make sense of life events, of aging, of helping you feel you’re not crazy or alone when life gets hard. Amongst my friends we have experienced: a few cheating spouses, several divorces, deaths of parents and siblings - sometimes from a shocking accident and sometimes from a slow meandering painful death - several remarriages, family members with substance abuse problems, several new body parts for ourselves and our spouses (knees, hips, shoulders), the joy of grandchildren, and even the very sad death of one of our own after watching her endure a frightening ten months of brain cancer. We have attended one another’s weddings (and for some of us, those wedding invites were sent out more than once...), funerals of family members, decade birthday parties, recognition & retirement events.

For our next step, we need to renew our commitment to these friendships. So far, we have lucked into this. But now - at 65, maybe we need to pay more attention. We only have three mothers left - and no fathers. We grow in and out of roles as each other’s parents, and siblings, and even children. Each of us hold various portions of all those memories that we each need to have reflected back to us to remind us who we are, to help us define who we are here, now, at this time and place. 

The commitment is simple; it is a recognition that we know one another and a promise to continue showing up for one another. If you contact me, I will respond - happily so. If I contact you, you will respond - happily so. We can offer one another words of advice, or just a listening ear, as may be appropriate. I don’t expect you to solve my issues, I realize I can’t solve yours. But the fact that we have 50 plus years of overlapping lives brings substance to a self that still, even at age 65, can often be hard to know. We are helped enormously in our journeys by the fact that we unfailingly seem to make each other laugh. We see one another reflected in the others’ eyes and memories, and that helps make us real.

My wish for my oldest grandson, who is turning 16 this week, is that he and his friends will realize that being a friend, and having a friend, is at the very top of the life skills they are now learning.

-October 2017

Jane Marquardt

Honoring Kate Kendell - Key to the City Ceremony

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Yesterday, I was honored to be part of the Key to the City Ceremony honoring my good friends Kate Kendell and Bruce Bastian.  The Key to the City is presented to people who have used their voices, talents, or resources to improve the local community in a significant way, and both of these individuals are well deserving. 

Kate and I met in 1980.  I was practicing law in Ogden and running for the state legislature, and Kate was a stellar debate student at Weber State who helped me on my campaign.  Over the years, Kate and I have shared many caucuses and adventures.  While I was originally the more experienced one, Kate quickly surpassed me.   In 1994, Kate became the legal director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and two years later was named the Executive Director. 

Anytime Kate speaks at a conference, or an event, she always has a swarm of fans around her.  Why?  Because in addition to her eloquence, brilliance, and strategic thinking about civil rights, she has a magnetic ability to make people feel appreciated, to make them feel needed, to make them feel loved.  It is that ability that makes her shine.  It was an honor to honor Kate Kendell. 

Photos from the LGBT Community Endowment Fund Reception

On August 29, the grantees of the LGBTQ Community Endowment Fund gathered to award 11 organizations whose projects earned the support of the Endowment Fund.  At the event, each of the 11 organizations gave a five-minute pitch to compete for a share of $10,000 in additional funding available.  The presentations from all the groups were all so compelling that each group received some additional funding, but the top three were:

  • Youth Futures
  • Comunidades Unidas
  • Salt Lake Acting Company (SLAC)

    Congratulations again to all the grantees.  The work being done is both impressive and important. 

 

Thank you to David Ricketts for the beautiful photos of the event. 

As one of the founding members of the Endowment Fund, I’m proud of the organizations we are supporting, and proud to be part of the Community Foundation.

           

Plan B Theater Company’s 2017-2018 Season Announced

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Plan-B Theatre has been an important cause for Tami and me since 2001 when Plan B produced The Laramie Project.  Since then, we have supported Plan B, and Tami has been a long-time member of the Board of Trustees.  Plan B raises awareness and invites conversation about the important issues that are present in our community. Just announced, the 2017-2018 season has 3 incredible plays and the Script in Hand Series.  Tami and I hope to see you at some of the performances.  Tickets can be purchased here.

The Ice Front
By Eric Samuelsen
November 9-19, 2017 - PURCHASE TICKETS

The actors of the Norwegian National Theatre find themselves in an uneasy truce with Nazi cultural authorities during the German occupation of Norway. When they are forced to perform a Nazi propaganda piece, conscience comes face-to-face with The Final Solution.

THE ICE FRONT questions what it means to be an artist, to be a patriot, to be human

The Weird Play
By Jennifer Nii
March 1-11, 2018
A co-pro with Sackerson

Whom do you love? What do you love? How do you love? And why?

THE WEIRD PLAY lives in the space between romance and devotion.

From the author of WALLACE, THE SCARLET LETTER, SUFFRAGE, RUFF! and KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.

JUMP
By Austin Archer
April 5-15, 2017
A co-pro with Flying Bobcat Theatrical Laboratory

How will you die? Will you see it coming? What if you’re given a second chance?

JUMP explores the impact of survival on those we love.

In partnership with The David Ross Fetzer Foundation for Emerging Artists 

Script In Hand Series - Free readings of plays-in-progress

THE PRIESTHOOD
by Carleton Bluford
featuring Tyson Baker, Mark Fossen, Lonzo Liggins, Gray Mckenzie, Matthew Sincell & one other actor TBA
directed by Alicia Washington
Wednesday, November 15, 7pm

How do we choose to find ourselves? The LDS Church’s 1978 decision to ordain black men to the priesthood sends two young friends on a surprising and unexpected journey of personal revelation. From the author of MAMA (2015).

MOUNTAIN LAW
by Melissa Leilani Larson
featuring Calbert Beck, Matthew Sincell & Emilie Starr
directed by Cheryl Cluff
Wednesday, March 7, 7pm

In the fall of 1850, Tamson English has been alone with three young children on the Western frontier for more than a year. Isolated from civilization, abandoned by her husband, haunted by her past, Tamson’s mind begins to fracture… Until an old friend appears at her door. From the author of PILOT PROGRAM (2015) and THE EDIBLE COMPLEX (2016).

SELECTIONS FROM THEATRE ARTISTS OF COLOR WRITING WORKSHOP
playwrights TBA
directors TBA
Wednesday, April 11, 7pm

We hosted a gathering of Theatre Artists of Color in June of 2017. The desire to tell stories authentically came up multiple times throughout the gathering. So we organized a writing workshop with Utah’s most produced playwright, Julie Jensen, to be held in November and December of 2017. Julie will teach the basics of the craft; the writers will write; we’ll craft select pieces into an evening of short works