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What A Potion Making Weekend!

Written from our farmhouse in Iowa on January 28, 2020 about the first potion-making weekend in Creston, IA.


We did it! We have a potion show project! It isn’t real until it’s embodied. And boy did we embody our potions, our stories, and our space together! My adventure started on Wednesday when I took myself to a concert for my birthday: Tedeschi Trucks Band in Ames. That was beautiful and inspiring. They tore down the house with Nina Simone’s “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free.” It made me realize that is why I am building all this - so we can all be free. Truly and wholly. In our innards. In our outwards. In our relations. In our institutions. In our economy. In our churches. In our movements. In our everythings. Deep seated freedom that creates freedom for others. Freedom isn’t a scarcity where some need to go without so others can have. There is abundant freedom and the more freedom we find the more is available to others.


Then, I went to Creston, IA. It’s in southwest Iowa, less than an hour from where my Scooty went through some of the worst times of his life. I didn’t realize that until I was driving through the covered bridges of Winterset - I would develop my potion show in the region of his trauma. Well, I was ready. I felt less prepared than I would have liked to, but I had no idea what to prepare for. This is emergent strategy at its best - build the ship while you sail. So, I decided to just open myself to my calling and let the creative force flow through me and around me. Besides, I was held by my wonderful assistant Sierra Buffum and three gracious artists - Blake and Bailey Fry and Brian Zachary from Create Creston.


Friday was glorious. I got an hour and a half to connect with the newly forming GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance), sharing my journey of growing up in agricultural community of the Central Coast of California, finding an Iowa boy in Seattle, living in NYC, organizing in DC, creating in Chicago, and finally making our way to Iowa. I shared my adaptive roadmapping methodology for them to consider as they shape their organization. Then, I met with an art class and showed lots of videos of the work I have produced, giving them tips on becoming a working artist. Then, Friday night’s potion making workshop was off the hook.


We had about 25 people there, 20 I had met at school that day and three new youth with their moms. This was the high school potion-making workshop. We had two hours. I told them this has never been done before, so please help me shape this by letting the creative force flow through you and between us. I shared this song by Nick Davio and the story behind this particular potion. This illustrated the recipe we would follow - think of a story, identify a power in that story, then manifest that power in a sensory experience to unleash when you need it. We danced. We told stories. We shared power. We spun art. We mixed oils. Two wrote lyrical songs. Two wrote piano pieces.


On Saturday, we had about 20 people for the all-ages workshop. We talked about our feelings and the counterbalances that each of them have. We made potions to call in the counterbalances to feelings that keep us from being who we want to be. I played the piano. We danced. We spun art. We drew pictures. We mixed oils. See, potion-making can happen with whatever materials we have available, and my wonderful artists had these available to us.


I could go on, and I will in subsequent blogs, sharing specific potions and stories. This wonderful article from the local paper really encapsulated the project in such beautiful terms. Below are some sample stories and potions:


A 9-year old made a potion out of the power to ride a scary roller coaster (which she did at Adventureland even though she was nervous to do so) with your hands raised, giggling through the fear.


A middle schooler drew the dark clouds of anxiety and rainbow skies of calm then drew the rainbow winds blowing her anxiety away.


A high schooler wrote a song of unconditional love for himself.


A middle-aged parent made a potion of independence, harnessing the power that flowed through her when she visited the Pacific Ocean for the first time. Her friend dropped her off on the Golden Gate bridge and picked her up seven hours later after she explored the city on her own.


A middle-aged person made a potion to deal with her fears of judgment from others a poet. Her potion was harnessing the power of “it’s none of my business what you think of me and my art.”


I am ready to make potions anyway and everywhere I can.




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Jonny Stax Presents Inc.

Chicago, IL • West Branch, IA

773.895.1531 • jonnystax.com • jstax@jonnystax.com

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