Joyfully Parenting & Experiencing Gifted and 2e Children, with Marc Smolowitz
For today’s episode, I’m bringing multi-award-winning director, producer and executive film producer, Marc Smolowitz, back on the podcast to talk about the relationship between joy and gifted and 2e children. It was four years ago that Marc first came on the show to talk about a movie he was working on called The G Word, a feature-length documentary about giftedness that asks the urgent equity question – In the 21st century, who gets to be Gifted in America and Why? Marc is currently working on the post-production of the movie so I wanted to invite him back to talk about what the last four years have been like in the gifted community. What has changed? What are the things we need to be looking out for and what initiatives have been created?
I also wanted this show to be a part of celebrating the 2nd annual Gifted / Talented / Neurodiversity Awareness Week. The theme for this year’s awareness week is Gifted Joy, and I really love the idea of connecting the concept of joy and empowerment to the conversation surrounding giftedness.
About Marc Smolowitz
Marc Smolowitz is a multi-award-winning director, producer, and executive producer who has been significantly involved in 50+ independent films. The combined footprint of his works has touched 250+ film festivals & markets on 5 continents, yielding substantial worldwide sales to theatrical, television, and VOD outlets, notable box office receipts, and numerous awards and nominations.
His films have been screened at the world’s top-tier festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Venice, Tribeca, Locarno, Chicago, Palm Springs, SF FILM, AFI Docs, IDFA, and DOC NYC, among others. In 2009, Marc founded 13th Gen, a San Francisco-based company that works with a dynamic range of independent film partners globally to oversee the financing, production, post-production, marketing, sales, and distribution efforts of a vibrant portfolio of films and filmmakers. In 2016, he received one of the prestigious Gotham Media Fellowships to attend the Cannes Film Festival’s Producers Network marking him as one of the USA’s most influential independent film producers.
In 2022, Marc is currently in post-production on THE G WORD – a feature-length documentary about giftedness that asks the urgent equity question – In the 21st century, who gets to be Gifted in America and Why?
Things you’ll learn from this episode
- How the conversation surrounding giftedness and neurodivergence have changed in recent years and how those have impacted the direction of The G Word
- Why it’s so important to include the concept of neurodivergence in the broader conversation about gifted and talented populations
- The connection between joy and giftedness and how tapping into joy can support the movement
- How we can intentionally use joy to explore and ease pain/trauma narratives, especially for gifted and neurodiverse populations
- How parents can lean into the joy of raising their gifted and 2e children and get involved in celebrating GTN Awareness Week
Resources mentioned for gifted and 2e children
- Supporting Black, Gifted Students with Dr. Joy Lawson Davis (Tilt Parenting podcast interview)
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Debbie Reber 00:00
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Marc Smolowitz 00:23
That’s a huge part of what the film tries to be about is this conversation about how identity and giftedness or identity and intelligence intersect and are really kind of part and parcel of the same set of stories are giftedness our intelligence is always interacting with our lived experience, who we are. So all the identities that we wear every day, right? And this question of identity has become so highly charged in the education system in the last number of years. And even the whole concept of equity, which has been sort of the driving force of this film is being called into question in, you know, school districts everywhere.
Debbie Reber 01:04
Welcome to Tilt Parenting a podcast featuring interviews and conversations aimed at inspiring, informing and supporting parents raising differently wired kids. I’m your host Debbie Reber. For today’s episode, I’m bringing multi award winning director, producer and executive film producer Marc Smolowitz back to the podcast. I can’t believe it was four years ago that Marc first came onto the show to talk about a movie he was working on called The G Word, which is a feature length documentary about giftedness that asks the urgent equity question in the 21st century, who gets to be gifted in America and why? Marc is currently working on the post production for the film, so I wanted to invite him back to talk about what’s changed in the gifted community since we last talked and by airing this episode this week till parenting is happy to be celebrating the second annual Gifted Talented Neurodiversity Awareness Week. The theme for this year’s Awareness Week is gifted joy. And I just love the idea of connecting the concept of joy and empowerment to the conversation surrounding giftedness. But before we dive in here is a little bit more about Mark. Marc Smolowitz is a multi award winning director, producer and executive producer who has been significantly involved in more than 50 independent films. In 2009. He founded 13th Gen, a San Francisco based company that works with a dynamic range of independent film partners globally. His films have been screened at the world’s top tier festivals such as Sundance Berlin, Venice, Tribeca, Chicago, Palm Springs, and many more. And again, since this episode is airing during 2022 is gifted, talented neurodiverse Awareness Week. Definitely go check out all the free resources and programming that’s happening right now. You can find it all at thegword film.com. And as always, there will be links to this in the show notes page for this episode. One last thing before I get to our conversation… If what I’m doing here at Tilt Parenting and the guests that I bring onto the show are providing support and encouragement and hope for you and your family. And you’re ready to dive deeper with me and up level your parents in progress. I invite you to check out my high touch membership community, the differently wired club, think virtual office hour calls, coaching calls, expert guests, monthly themes, connection with other parents like you and much more. I used to only open the doors three times a year. But now there’s an enrollment window open at the end of every month. Just visit tiltparenting.com/club for all the details and to get pre registered today. That’s tiltparenting.com/club. Thanks so much. And now here is my conversation with Marc.
Debbie Reber 04:04
Hey, Marc, welcome back to the podcast.
Marc Smolowitz 04:07
Great to see you again. Debbie. I’m so happy to be here.
Debbie Reber 04:10
Yes, I’m looking forward to getting an update to talking about The G Word and giftedness. And there’s a lot to get into today. But as we were just discussing before I hit record, it’s been over four years, I think since you were on the show to talk about your documentary that you’ve been working on The G Word. So could you just take a few minutes and introduce yourself in your own words and what you do in the world?
Marc Smolowitz 04:32
Sure. So I am Marc Smolowitz and I’m an independent filmmaker based in San Francisco. I’ve been making movies in some way for 30 years. I am LUCKY every day to wake up and do the job that I love. I work entirely for myself. So at the end of the day, I’m both also a filmmaker and an entrepreneur who is sort of the engine of a lot of different projects here. I am a director, producer and executive producer. I do both nonfiction and fiction. And I’m making a movie called The G Word about giftedness, intelligence, and neurodiversity. And we are asking a larger question, which is, who gets to be gifted in America and why? And this is my second time appearing on your podcast to talk about it.
Debbie Reber 05:11
So it was four years ago, you were on the podcast, we talked about The G Word. So we won’t spend a ton of time on that. I do encourage listeners to go back and check out that interview, it was a really great conversation. But if you could just as a way to get us into this conversation, tell us a little bit about what it was that pulled you into this focus. Because as you mentioned, you work on so many films, you have so many different areas of interest. So what is it about the giftedness population that really drew you?
Marc Smolowitz 05:39
Sure. So, you know, I was a gifted kid in the 1970s. You know, I benefited from gifted programs in public schools in the 1970s, when they were actually well funded and fairly robust. And I remember that experience. And so when this project landed in my lap initially, you know, that kind of piqued my interest, because I remembered what that was like to be a gifted kid and be pulled out twice a week and be put in the room with other smart kids to kind of, you know, have that experience. And as I was developing the movie, you know, it became clear that there first there has never been a movie about giftedness. So there was an opportunity in that way. But there was also something going on with giftedness that I hadn’t been aware of, which is that there’s lots of struggles for gifted people, right, this sort of social emotional piece was the first piece. And then as I kind of went deeper, I realized that there were lots of traumatic narratives here. And I’m someone who’s actually had my own experiences with trauma. And you don’t have to get deeply into that right away, because that might come now as we talk today. But because I’ve had experiences with trauma, and I have a lot of resilience. Because of that, I saw an opportunity where I can be of service as the filmmaker, because I had the combined personal experience, as someone who didn’t gifted Ed, I could sort of come with these traumatic narratives with a sense of hope and resiliency. And that, potentially, I was absolutely the right filmmaker to make this movie because of that combination of things. And I also was excited because I saw an opportunity to make this movie this moment. And these last few years, the gifted world has been deeply involved in conversations around diversity and equity and inclusion. And those three things are kind of in the DNA of my life and work and always have been as a filmmaker and an activist and just as a person who moves through the world, and who is deeply involved and passionate about social change. So those different things sort of conspired to kind of help me understand that I was the right filmmaker to make the movie. And here we are almost seven years later. And I can sort of see the finish line in the not too distant future. And, and that’s what we’re going to talk about a little bit today.
Debbie Reber 07:41
I would also say that in the past couple of years, giftedness has been under attack in many ways, and a lot of school systems have been getting rid of their giftedness programs. I had a conversation with Joy Lawson Davis, who I know is involved in the film as well, about that topic. And as you said, you’ve been working on this for seven years. I’m curious, even in the four years since we’ve talked, have there been new things that you’ve brought to the film or new angles that you’ve realized, oh, I need to include this as well.
Marc Smolowitz 08:12
Absolutely. Yeah. So So yeah, so Joy Lawson Davis is a character in the film. And the film has six distinct stories where we sort of take you to different places around the country and sort of try to show you that giftedness resides sometimes in places we don’t expect, right? And so joy is kind of an anchor in one of the six stories and that story is really about African American giftedness. Right? So that’s a huge part of what the film tries to be about is this conversation about how identity and giftedness or identity and intelligence intersect, and are really kind of part and parcel of the same set of stories, our giftedness, our intelligence is always interacting with our lived experience, who we are. So all the identities that we wear every day, right? And this question of identity has become so highly charged in the education system in the last number of years. And even the whole concept of equity, which has been sort of the driving force of this film, is being called into question in, you know, school districts everywhere. And so I am mindful every day that we are making this movie very highly charged the moment that gifted Ed is being targeted as a result. I mean, it’s important for listeners to understand that it’s actually being targeted both from the right and the left. And that’s what makes it so tricky for people who care about gifted to really kind of convey why it matters, right? When you have people coming at this from all sides saying it’s wrong, it’s wrong, it’s wrong. And this is why people like Jerry Lawson Davis are actually so important, not just in our movie, but in this movement, the fact that she is such an accomplished black scholar who is focused on giftedness and who reminds us of the why of it all. Why we have to not dismantle these programs, but actually fund them better and make them more robust. We need scholars and activists alike joy in the room reminding people of the why at all. I think what happens on the left, which is kind of where I live closer, and politically and ideologically is that people start to see giftedness at this as this kind of old guard 20th century concept. And then it kind of represents white, patriarchal, even white supremacy, right. And they kind of put all things when the last century in that old guard way of thinking about things, how could it be ever inclusive, because it’s too kind of embroiled in all that mixed history, right? And what joy and Donna Ford and other people that Joy’s working within this collective called Irish, who are one of our partners, you know, on the movie are working on and reminding people of is that that is not the case, right? Dismantling gifted programs is not going to make it easier to discover smart, black and brown and poor children, right? If we don’t have any means of discovering them and encouraging them to meet their potential, like, how will we ever know where they are? So it feels like to me that there’s a fundamental mismatch, right? And like, the conversation stops being super interesting when we say, oh, let’s just dismantle gifted programs. Right, the more interesting conversation is to say, well, how can we have gifted programs that are more inclusive. So what we have done the last four years beautifully, I’m very proud of is we’re not just making a movie, we have what I call an impact enterprise around that movie. So when I met you four years ago, we were really in production on the film, we had really gotten significant shooting. But we were also developing in an early stage of this impact enterprise. And so what that looks like now is all kinds of programs and initiatives that have been in service of the communities that were involved with around gifted. So we have been doing webinars. We have our GTN Awareness Week, which we did last year in October as our first installment. We’rex doing our second installment this October. And there is interest in how we are doing this kind of impact work, this engagement work. Last year, we had over 2100 people register from 16 countries to join us virtually for five days of free programming about giftedness. And people can kind of go back and look at those webinars and sort of understand the vision and the values of the G word documentary and the enterprise around it. I think those are beautiful webinars that sort of give you almost an introduction to all the diversity, equity and inclusion issues that are in play in The G Word documentary, and the climate in which that our documentary has been made. So the movie has been an intentionally curated journey, where I realized that if I was going to make something that was relevant and powerful for the mainstream, that it had to be representative, right? So there had to be urban, suburban and rural stories, that I had to find those stories and actually go there, build relationships and get people to trust me, they want to tell their stories, right? So that’s kind of what we were deeply involved in in 2018, and 2019. And by the end of 2019, just on the heels of the start of the pandemic, we had pretty much finished, what I call, you know, principles, cinematography, or the movie had been shot, right. So we had found these six stories, we’d gone to those places, and we had the money, and we had been able to go film them. And then the pandemic happened, and it was sort of this strangely kind of wonderful opportunity for me to sort of step back and really kind of think about what movie are we making here, right, because the sort of funny thing about the pandemic is that I couldn’t go out and shoot any movies for an entire year, right. But I could work here at my office and remotely with my editors on post production. And so we just started editing the G word. And so the six stories that I’ve been telling you about my creative approach was to first edit them as six standalone stories, right? So they had to each work on their own. And they had to be creative and involving with strong characters, and sort of work as a standalone piece. And then we actually showed those six pieces to a curated group of gifted folks, people who were professionals, scholars, community members, and we got deep, deep feedback. So I would screen the work on Vimeo and a private link or password, then we would get groups together of six to 10 people and I would conduct a zoom feedback session. And the feedback was great. It was so encouraging and affirming that a we’re on the right track, that we’re making a movie that people connect to that they love the stories and they also helped kind of do that sort of preliminary vetting that we’re getting it right, right that we’re telling these stories authentically with accuracy, gut checking some of the data ideas that are coming through in the film. And that was so important to me to do that deep collaborative feedback work with what I call the gifted communities, right, the gifted twice exceptional neuro diverse communities. And once we had that community on board, I was able to kind of take a step back and start trying to weave the larger movie together. So 2022 has been the year work that we are doing that big creative work of, of taking six stories and trying to weave them together into one feature length experience. Right? So one movie, so we’re back in the edit room. And, you know, we are figuring out the sort of nuances of the structure. And there’s kind of a through line to the film that I’m really trying to make sure we telegraph very, very clearly, right? Because, again, we want this movie to meet the mainstream, right? It’s, you know, we want the gifted community to love it, and to get it and to be on board, but we want to cross over and we want to really reach those folks who, who are not on board who don’t understand gifted, who challenge gifted, right? If we’re going to matter in this moment where all the equity questions are so controversial, like I as a filmmaker, have a responsibility to deliver a movie that can actually be involved in those conversations, right? So there is a kind of equity narrative throughout the entire movie, and all these six stories that we have to get exactly pitch perfect, right. And that’s what I’m figuring out. And it’s been amazing. And this fall is a vibrant and creative time. So in addition to producing this GTN Awareness Week, you know, the second installment next month, we’re actively editing the movie. And every week, I am with my editor responding to sort of new iterations of different scenes and different sections of the film. And I’m really excited.
Debbie Reber 16:21
Yeah, it’s such a journey. Thank you for sharing that. And it’s just interesting to understand what really goes into it. And to understand not only why it takes so long, but it is such a big responsibility, especially right now to be talking about this topic, which can be so divisive. I also just wanted to, for listeners, let you know that last year was the first year for a gifted talented neuro diverse Awareness Week, and I was able to participate in some of the programming and that is all still available. So I’m going to make sure there’s a link in the show notes page, you should go check it out. They’re just wonderful, as Marc said, free resources to really dive in and be a part of the conversation and really look at what is the state of giftedness right now. It was a great week. And I’d love for you to talk a little bit about it because we’re talking in September, but it’s coming out during Ttn Awareness Week. So could you talk a little bit more about that program that you started, and if you could talk about why the inclusion of the word neurodiverse is so important, because that is not always something that’s paired with gifted and talented.
Marc Smolowitz 17:28
One of the things I believe strongly is that our identity formation is a huge part of how this can make sense for people. Like it’s one thing to kind of be in a gifted program, it’s another thing to say I am gifted, and I’m proud of that fact. Right. And so gifted talented neurodiversity Awareness Week is a chance for people to own their identity a bit in front of their community for themselves in a sense of empowerment. And that is a critically important thing that we sort of have that identity information where we move from sort of trauma to empowerment, that’s a big part of how I talk about the journey that we’re on is that we can’t be stuck in trauma. And trauma is oftentimes a singular experience that, you know, the only way we can sort of break out of it is if we find others who you know, where we can build community, right? And that communal piece is, is about, you know, finding empowerment, and finding it through others. And one of the great ways to do that is to come together and celebrate. And the inclusion of neurodiverse has been super intentional on my part. So, so gifted, talented neurodiverse right. So gifted me know it’s a loaded word. Talented is a word that a lot of people use in lieu of gifted or they combine them right. But the neurodiversity piece is the piece of this story. That is what makes it so current and relevant for the 21st century, right. So old ways of thinking about gifted and talented programs were really tied to IQ were really tied to 20th century measurements of intelligence. And those measurements are not the kinds of measurements that are very inclusive, right, and we’re gonna get into that actually, in the movie, we’re gonna look back at that history and try to understand how we got to this moment. But in the 2020s, we live and work in a time where neurodiversity is increasingly a mainstream concept. This idea that things like ADHD or visual spatial learning challenges, or, or anything that might be called a learning difference is something that is impacting large numbers of people everywhere, right? We see movements and workplaces to make accommodations for people so they can be effective and contribute. We see some more openness in school settings where people can be effective and contribute. The piece of the story that has been so interesting for me in The G Word documentary is that space where giftedness and learning differences connect with each other, right. So what your listeners may know about is the concept of twice exceptionality or thrice exceptionality. This idea that someone can be gifted and also have a learning difference that might make their giftedness hard to discover or hard to surface right. And what our movie uncovers is that there are actually very large numbers of these 2e people in our schools and everywhere, and that many of them are actually being wrongly identified and put into special ed programs. And they’re being crushed in these programs. And we have characters like this in our film. And what’s interesting, and I sort of, you know, say this openly is that people who are a part of the neurodiversity movement, they don’t always include giftedness in the conversation, right. And so it behooves the giftedness folks on our side of the conversation to sort of remind them, hey, we’re here, G and T and N are actually a part of the same conversation, right? Just in the same way that special ed and gifted Ed have to all be a part of the same conversation when we’re thinking about advocating for better education in this country, the G, the T in the end to me are completely interwoven. The 21st century is the century where everything that happens in our world is about intersectionality. There is not one thing without another thing there, you know, whether most people have more than one identity in the room when they walk into a classroom, right when they walk into the workplace. The neurodiversity narrative honors that, that there’s nuance, there’s complexity, that our brains are diverse, right? And that there are many more people than not, that are actually experiencing that way of moving through the world. So, you know, the idea of conjoining them into one Awareness Week was always a fit for us, given the kind of movie that we’re making. All of my gifted stories are also neuro diverse stories. Almost every character is experiencing some sort of, you know, twice or thrice exceptionality or multi potentiality. And this is the gifted world that I know this is the century that I think we’re living and working in. These are the things that will be important for us to be thinking about as we try to meet our students where they are in this century, right. This is the neurodiverse century. So there can be no discussions about the brain or intelligence or giftedness without neurodiversity being a part of the discussion.
Debbie Reber 22:02
Yeah, no, I completely agree. And when I launched Tilt Parenting six and a half years ago, I very consciously included giftedness as part of the way I defined being differently wired. And I was surprised at how many people I heard from, who were just thanking me for including them in the conversation. So I love that and I also love this growing awareness of twice exceptionality. I mean, certainly this listenership, we all know what it is, most of us are raising these kids. But it is such an interesting concept. I’m still shocked when I meet a therapist or a professional who’s never heard of it. And I like you do believe that. It’s such a larger part of our population than anyone realizes. And so I really appreciate that awareness you’re bringing to it. And I want to go deeper into this idea of celebration. And I know that joy is actually the theme for GTN Awareness Week. So can you talk a little bit more specifically about joy as a concept and why you wanted to bring that into this celebration?
Marc Smolowitz 23:07
Right. So thank you, Debbie, this year’s theme for GTN Awareness Week is hashtag gifted joy. And this year, as we were thinking about what we wanted to do with GTN Awareness Week, and we were sort of pulling our advisors and our partners and, and I’m with myself and my team sort of constantly monitoring this sort of media ecosystem around giftedness is that one thing that we know for sure, is that gifted spaces are full of trauma. I mean, it is just trauma, trauma, trauma, trauma, trauma, drama, drama. And for my part, I don’t think we can be in a community and have it all be about showing up to address trauma, right? If trauma is the only thing that motivates our reason to show up, you know, that’s not very encouraging. Right? And so in a community where there is so much trauma, how can we sort of change the narrative? How can we change the story and, and in past years, you know, one of the things I’ve talked a lot about is how trauma and empowerment are sort of a part of the they’re almost like two sides of the same coin. And that’s been a big theme for me in making this movie, then you know, that we meet traumatic narratives within head on with empowerment stories, right? And if we can do that, well, we’ll kind of keep people in the room thinking about giftedness in this moment. But something that I realized this year as we’ve been continuing to do this work is that the missing piece of the conversation is joy, that they’re almost almost like a three legged stool, right? That if we can sort of think about trauma and empowerment and joy, as sort of working together to sort of move community score word, the celebratory pieces right there. It’s kind of baked into our experience every day, you know, how do you find joy and how does it connect to your giftedness? So this year, GT and awareness week’s Joy theme is giving us a chance to celebrate different types of expression of giftedness. Right, so we have one panel that’s going to be on Octavia Butler and African American African American authors that wrote write about sci fi that written the Sci Fi genre write some more specialized topics, someone’s doing a workshop on origami, like, you know, things that get people charged and excited to show up and express their joy. And a lot of the talks that I’m going to give are going to be encouraging those kinds of activities and community. So by way of example, like people ask me, what gives me joy, right? Like, what’s Marc’s version of joy? And when I think about that question, for me, it’s being an activist, like showing up for my communities, like something happens. Like I’ve always been an activist ever since I was young. I’ve been very involved in politics and getting involved in community and social change. And something happens to me when I do that in my brain, I you know, showing up for my community, it just releases positive endorphins, and it gets me charged and it gets me it feels me it makes me want to wake up and a sense of, of the glass is half full, right is such a critical part of waking up and doing this difficult work every day. And so I encourage listeners to think about things like, what makes you feel joy, what gets your passions charged and come to life, because that thing, that special thing that gets you charged and gives you joy is probably intersecting with your giftedness in pretty interesting ways. And it’s probably intersecting with your brain and your intelligence and your neurodiversity, and interesting ways. So that’s kind of the tone and tenor of exploration this year is like, if it’s really an awareness week, if it’s really about celebration, then hashtag gifted joy, right. And I think one thing we’re going to really do throughout that week, and also during the month of October is remind people that gifted and joy and equity actually can be in the same conversation, right? That that joy belongs to everyone. Right? Joy is not the purview of any one community or any one group, we can all show up for each other. And we can all be from different backgrounds and wear different identities every day, and still get to own that concept, which is joy. So that’s the experiment, and we’ll see how it goes.
Debbie Reber 26:59
Well, when we first were talking about doing this conversation, we discussed this concept of joy, and I was immediately on board. And I mentioned that this is something that I do with my communities, we actually have a month that we spend just talking about sparking joy, because what are we doing if we’re not able to try to find those moments, and when we are tapping into joy, or pursuing joy, or experiencing the presence to have that joy, we’re able to show up better for our kids, we’re better able to be in relationship and connection with people.
Debbie Reber 27:35
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Debbie Reber 28:26
One of the things I wanted to ask is knowing that there is this kind of stigma surrounding The G Word. And there’s kind of the people who are in the gifted community, and then the perceptions of people on the outside of the community. Do you feel that this idea of joy is something that we can use to bridge, you know, these conversations and foster more understanding between these two groups?
Marc Smolowitz 28:49
I certainly hope so. I mean, that is sort of the overriding goal. And the impulse is to create opportunities for people to, you know, be in conversation with people who may not get it, right. We want the light bulb to go off for others. But first and foremost, I think GTN Awareness Week has to be for the GTN community, right and which is such a large and diverse set of communities anyway, right. So if we can create an event, where gifted, talented and neurodiverse folks who kind of care about those concepts come together to celebrate and be seen and be heard among each other. That’s a beautiful concept right there. And I think it is something that we can, you know, be committed to and feel like it’s a worthwhile endeavor. Right? Then the next step is how to take that awareness, take that joy, take those positive things that kind of come from that celebration, and begin to empower people to communicate that message, you know, outwardly, right. And that’s sort of a more of a long tail undertaking, right? You have the week, once a year in October GTN Awareness Week, well, then what do you do for the other 51 weeks, right and sort of the year round effort to keep the conversation moving forward. So I think it’s sort of, you know, it’s a process and it’s deep collaborative work, where we try to share the sort of beauty that comes from gifted and talented neurodiverse expression, and help welcome people into sharing that. And I think, you know, one of the things that a lot of our partners talk about is that it’s hard for people to say, I am gifted, and I am proud and I sort of understand that right? It’s, uh, you know, gifted is a loaded word, it’s a loaded concept. It has a lot of social baggage. This is not a new concept, right? Which is why we’ve spent so much time you know, trying to find other words to describe giftedness, right as it gives me we, but I sort of feel like that project of finding other words to describe giftedness like that’s the project. Like that’s what the G word documentary is doing. Right? We’re creating a visual language through film and storytelling, to bring to life the humanity of gifted expression, that I’m noticing in the stories that I’ve decided to bring into the movie. And that guess what are exemplar of stories everywhere, right. So if we believe strongly, which I do, that giftedness expression looks and sounds and behaves in ways that we don’t expect, then we have to be open to that. And I think by inviting joy into the room, we provide many more points of entry and exit in and out of these communities. A positive point of entry for me, is more welcoming. It says we’re here, you know, we’re GTN get used to it, right. And it’s not necessarily meant to be too oppositional in that stance. But, but again, it’s a point of pride. I mean, a few minutes ago, you talked about how you still encounter people, therapists and other professionals who have never heard of 2e or twice exceptional, right. But one thing I do know is that over the arc of this seven years of making this movie is that many more people actually do know those concepts. And that has been an incredible thing to witness and also help support. And I think the 2020s are going to provide this window of opportunities, where we can continue to put these concepts out there, find interesting and creative ways to talk about them, put words to them, put images to them, make a movie about them, release the movie and support important public discussion. So we get to have that one week a year, we get to celebrate each other in pride. But then those other 51 weeks a year, maybe we can push the conversation into other spaces with other kinds of folks, where it’s, you know, it moves it along sort of culturally, socially, politically, ideologically. Last year, during GCN Awareness Week, we really sort of scaled up this photo sharing project called hashtag, my gifted story. And one of the most moving photos that was submitted was a nine year old kid who was twice exceptional, who did his little photo of remind hashtag my gifted story, which is basically you take a selfie, or your parents take your picture, and you hold up a sign that sort of has your zip code on it, and five words or phrases that describe gifted, talented or neurodiverse education or experience in your zip code, super local hyperlocal, right? What’s it like really where you are? That young person that nine year old then went to his city council meeting, to speak during public comment, to try to advance the cause of GCN awareness in his community, because it was such an empowering moment for him to make that sign, take that photo and go down to his city hall and say something publicly about who he is. Now, if that’s not a winning strategy, if that’s not about sort of trauma, moving from empowerment to joy, you know, I don’t know what it is, right? If we can show up, honestly, and be authentically who we are, I think we’re moving in the right direction as community,
Debbie Reber 33:44
I just have to fess up that I was also that kid in school in the 70s and early 80s, who was pulled out for the gifted program, and I’ve spent most of my life and now I’m 52 not even sharing that because I think they made a mistake, right? And so I really love this framework of celebrating and empowering and just leaning into and that there’s so many different ways to be gifted in the world. So anyway, true confession time on my podcast, because I don’t know that I’ve ever even shared that on this show.
Marc Smolowitz 34:15
See, you came out as gifted, coming out as neurodiverse. Right? In meeting you have a learning difference, and that might be actually an important part of who you are. And that that’s actually an identity a part of your identities, right? I don’t think any regardless of your background, and wherever you’re from, most of us don’t have just one singular identity. Most people have plural identities that just really how it works. And whether those things are sort of race, ethnicity, gender, sex or otherwise. That’s certainly identities. But identities are also other things, right things we call ourselves things we feel we are the professional and otherwise that are part of who we are identity formation, right? And there’s every reason to think that your giftedness should be in the room in that idea. Any formation process?
Debbie Reber 35:01
Yeah, that’s great for listeners who want to lean into the joy of raising their neurodivergent, their to E, they’re gifted, talented, complicated kiddos, how can they participate and specifically in GTN Awareness Week, what’s available for them. And then what’s one thing you’d like them to kind of take away and think about in their world?
Marc Smolowitz 35:23
The best place to connect with us is our website, thegword film.com. That is a beautiful hub of online activity all the time, we have a blog there that can learn about our hashtag #mygiftedstory photo sharing project, that’s a great way to contribute during GTN Awareness week is to submit a photo, there’s all kinds of instructions that make that easy to do. But there’s also great programming that will be on the site this week, as people are listening to this October 24, through 28th, you can sign up you will get notifications about the programming. And the great thing about so much of it being virtual is that people can sign up and watch it this week or watch it next week, it’ll be there and will be archived and will be available then the delta time on their own schedule. The sweet thing that’s happening this week, we’re just different from last year, we’re supporting a hybrid approach to GTN Awareness Week. So last year, it was still you know, pandemic year, year number two, and so it was all virtual. This year, we’ve pivoted into more of a hybrid. So there are some in-person events at different schools around the country. I’m dropping in virtually with a lot of them to say hello, and get to know those young people and support them in their celebration of hashtag gifted joy and their gifted expression, their twice exceptional expression, their neurodiverse expression. So yeah, I mean, it’s never too late to sort of sign up with us and join the community that we’re trying to create and support. So thegwordfilm.com, we’re very active on social media. I love what we do on Instagram. So definitely follow us there, we’re you know, we’re really in the conversation on Twitter, trying to help curate ideas and sort of topics that are meaningful for people both inside and outside of gifted. This is an incredibly special moment to connect with us because the completion of the movie is in the not too distant future. I mean, we, we really are at a moment where by Christmas of this year, I hope to have a rough cut of the film that I’m excited to really kind of push forward. So maybe 2023 will be a really meaningful year to pay attention to us. Because that journey of going even wider in front of the public with these concepts is about to start, we’d love it if your audience were right there with us following us. And being a part of that story. Because it’s not just the story of one movie and one filmmaker. It’s the movie and the movement that we’re trying to create and support around these topics. And I know that your listeners get it. They’re deeply connected to these issues. And all the people listening today on your podcast, I wish you a wonderful season. And that you get to fine, hashtag gifted joy in your own way in your own time in your own life with your own family and your own school and your own workplace. And just maybe come out as gifted or come out as talented or come out as neurodiverse and see how it feels it can be a winning a winning thing to own who you are, and to do it with pride.
Debbie Reber 38:03
That’s great. Well, thank you so much. I’m really excited for what’s to come and just grateful for what you’re doing and creating this film, putting this week together, bringing awareness to all these important issues and being such an important part of the conversation. I get some behind the scenes access because I’m a supporter of the film, but I really can’t wait to share the news when it’s ready with this community as well. So thank you so much, Marc. It was great to chat with you today.
Marc Smolowitz 38:30
Thank you Debbie. It’s always great to chat with you. It’s my treat.
Debbie Reber 38:35
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