"The Evolve Experience," a creation of Portland's Red Door project, aims to change the racial and societal challenges of our time through storytelling.
Co- Red Door founder Lesli Mones spoke virtually to Pearl Rotary Nov. 30, starting her talk with a historical look back to outreach programs Hands Up (7 Playwrights, 7 Testaments) and Cop Out (Beyond Black, White & Police). In time, the idea was forged "to bring the two shows together" in "Evolve."
Successes in recent years in funding, audience acclaim and national exposure had Red Door gaining sponsors. But as its effort was succeeding, so too was Covid-19, eliminating live-audience performances. "It was very disappointing," Lesli said. "We couldn't do in-person."
"Evolve" became a three-hour virtual experience with monologues from both Hands Up and Cop Out. It's been used, near and far, as a workshop for DEI training. In the interaction between police and community, she stressed, the Project has "an agnostic perspective" in the belief that "we are all navigating the human experience…we have to work very hard to show different points of view."
Lesli and co-founder Kevin Jones, a previous speaker to PPRC, hope to overcome polarization over issues of race, policing, societal ills, etc.
"We are less to do with race and more to do to develop muscle for critical thing," Lesli closed. "We encourage people to be curious…
"If we don't come together, we won't have the capacity to improve…evolve."
You can learn more about "Evolve" and other programs at reddoorproject.org