A Note From our Publishers – Dec. 2020

A Note From our Publishers – Dec. 2020

Opening Eyes

2020 has been a year of physical isolation for most of the world. Working and staying at home have become necessary to slow down a rampant virus. Isolation, though, can lead to its own problems—and without access to
others in community, many of us turn to virtual sources for our human connection.

Not surprisingly, online sources report screen time has nearly doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we are learning, though, our internet browsers feed us links based on our past preferences, so we can end up wearing blinders regarding the world at large. Blinders serve a purpose for horses, but not so much for people. Blinders control the wearer’s point of view and keep their eyes focused straight ahead. It is helpful for carriage horses to avoid scares by traffic, but that doesn’t work well in society. If we only see what is right in front of us, we suffer from tunnel vision. We might only be seeing 10 percent of the world at large.

One way to counter horse blinders in isolation is to reach out and explore other points of view. Businesses started making this a practice with reverse mentoring after realizing that top-down mentoring isn’t the full answer. They learned that employees and senior executives can benefit from mentors in the younger generation. But how can reverse mentoring work in isolation?

We propose that we all practice reverse mentoring with Giving Voice. Today’s young people are actively speaking about the environment, social justice, and equity, and they have something to teach us all. The vision of Giving Voice is to bring us closer together by understanding different points of view. Please join us in taking off the blinders and seeing the world in a new light. You may be surprised to find out how expansive the future is.

Doug and Eileen Leunig
Big Picture Initiative

A Note From Our Publishers – Nov. 2020

A Note From Our Publishers – Nov. 2020

Feeding the Wolves

There is a Native American parable about two wolves. A grandfather is teaching his grandchild about life and says, “There is a terrible fight going on inside me between two wolves. One wolf is evil and filled withanger, greed, and resentment. The other wolf is joy, peace, love, empathy and compassion.” The grandfather continues, “The same fight is going on inside everyone.” The grandchild thinks a moment then asks, “Which wolf wins?” The grandfather replies, “The one you feed.”

This parable is timelier now than ever as we read headlines of more and more unrest in our nation. The evil wolf is being fed. A recent poll by Hill-HarrisX shows that 75 percent of registered voters believe the way news is reported increases political divide. In addition, hateful messages that are distributed and shared on social media contribute toa growing feeling that our nation is divided. The business of social media is built on drawing attention, so the more outlandish posts often get shared the most. With over 3 billion users on social media platforms, there is a lot of opportunity to sow seeds of hate—or of understanding.

Giving Voice is dedicated to feeding the wolf of compassion and love. That’s why each month we ask students to present to the public their views on life and how we can work together for a better future. This month you will read about student-led groups, what your clothing says about you, the opportunities community colleges offer, and more.

Our role as publishers of Giving Voice is to listen, learn and support them in their desire to be heard. These students are tomorrow’s leaders. Let’s hear what’s on their minds today and feed the ideas thatwill help our community become a better home for all.

Doug and Eileen Leunig

Big Picture Initiative

A Note From our Publishers – Oct. 2020

A Note From our Publishers – Oct. 2020

A Love Letter

Giving Voice is a love letter to our community. Everything we do at Big Picture Initiative, we do out of love. We believe in arts education opportunities for all, spanning in age from children in our schools and community centers to folks in retirement communities. From the 50-foot tall “Abraham Blue” mural on the Peoria County Courthouse to enhance the visual vibrancy of our city, to our new endeavor, Giving Voice, we are showing what we love about our community. It’s all the nooks and crannies, the highs and lows, and the diversity that makes us who we are.  We also know in our hearts that the people of Central Illinois can make our community a home with a bright future, and our youth are an essential part of building that future. 

We believe the arts give students a voice—a voice that is often hidden in the quest for test scores and metric achievements. The arts fill a void for students to give them a platform for self-expression and contribute to their environment. Big Picture Initiative’s first arts education programs were based on visual arts, and the team has decided that now is the time to expand into communication arts. By gaining experience in being more effective communicators and having a public audience, we help prepare the next generation for their place in the future. 

Through Giving Voice students will cover subjects that young people are passionate about: social justice, racial equity, the environment, living during a pandemic, adapting to the virtual world, finding employment during a job drought, learning to be influencers, and pitching in to improve to our community. Giving students a voice to address our community’s most pressing needs gives them an opportunity to experience real-world situations where learning is relevant and applied. 

The writers in our first issue were selected because they care about community, too. We posed the question “What does our community need?” Unlike many of the voices that are broadcasted every day, the students didn’t comment on potholes or taxes, but on concepts of kindness and understanding.  We are proud to feature their voices in our first issue. 

Please join us in this act of building community.

Doug Leunig, Eileen Leunig, Mark Misselhorn, Maggie Misselhorn, 
Heather Ford, Nikki Romain, Heather Brammeier



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