‘Voices of Autism’ Catalysten and Release Party

21 Mar


Last Saturday evening, March 16th, we gathered for our ‘Voices of Autism’ Catalysten and Release Party. It was an amazing night. Over 60 people gathered at the beautiful Expressive Arts Institute in San Diego to listen to an audio documentary. In such a visually dominant world, there was something wonderfully counter-cultural about the event. Here’s a reminder of how we defined ‘Catalysten’, the fabulous word our co-founder Talia Morales thought up:

Catalysten – ˈkætə-ˈlɪsən

Noun: A listening event that deliberately encourages new ideas, creativity and change.

Verb: The conscious act of listening with the intent of being inspired.

We wanted to share ‘Voices of Autism’ with people while also wanting to stay true of one of the core principles of The SongStream Project; to act as a catalyst for new music, ideas, stories and conversations.

We set up various creative ‘stations’ around the room that were inspired by comments expressed in the show. They included, ‘The Colors of My Mind’, ‘Make the Whole World Better’,  ’Scales of Understanding’ and four that focused on the wisdom of Reid, Curtis, Joel and Sydney our four young stars.

We broke the 85 minute audio documentary into its four natural sections and played each part with a break in between that allowed people to mingle, share their ideas at various stations, get something to eat or drink. A slideshow of photos featuring the people being interviewed accompanied each section. A couple of people suggested for the next ‘Catalysten’ we find an old upright radio and have that as the focal point. It’s a lovely idea. In the meantime, here’s the show if you’d like to listen to it in the comfort of your own home, car, office etc.


At the start of the evening the people who had gathered didn’t really know what to expect. They all deserve medals for curiosity and embracing a sense of adventure! It was fascinating to see the energy in the room evolve as first of all Reid and then Curtis, Joel and Sydney cast their magic on everyone. It wasn’t long at all until the room was buzzing.

Curtis’ live performance of ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane’ was a real highlight of the night, as was his sister Eleanor’s spontaneous dancing as soon as disco beats reached her ears.

We captured people’s feelings and thoughts at the end through music, as Betsy Hartman played her harp for ‘Reflections in D’ and people called out words and phrases on their mind as the music flowed.

The night ended with the debut performance of a song written by co-founder Vanessa Contopulos that was inspired by the stories we’d gathered together in the show. It was a beautiful way to end a truly memorable night.

We were very grateful for the support of the following in helping provide refreshments:

VONS, Food4Less, Sprouts, Whole Foods, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Speciality Produce, Cupcakes Squared

And big thanks to Andrea Moriarty and Diana Toy for their amazing help in encouraging such generosity!

Michael Fryer

March 21st 2013


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