#becauseofHATCH: Matthew Lillard spreads the power of poetry and self-expression
Matthew Lillard is a well-known actor, celebrated most recently for his role in the revival of David Lynch’s iconic series Twin Peaks. But one of his deep personal passions is using the power of creativity and social fellowship to tackle modern social issues.
In Matthew’s own words, “HATCH changed my whole life and my whole perspective.”
His commitment to growing social fellowship and inspiring people to use what the love to do, to help change the world, has given his life a powerful new focus and an endless amount of joy. The world just gained an even brighter and more powerful light, #becauseofHATCH.
At HATCH Big Sky in 2016, Matthew was connected with the kindred hearts and minds to put his ideas to hatch a better world into action. Matthew’s first experiences at HATCH inspired him to create a poetry slam for kids living in the foster care system. Five Acres in Pasadena California is group home for “at risk” kids, on their last stop before being institutionalized in a juvenile detention center or another bastion of the criminal justice system. Matthew saw the potential of giving these kids a creative outlet and new means of self-expression by introducing them to the power of poetry – he just needed help figuring out exactly how that would work.
Within moments of sitting down to write out his ideas, Matthew was approached by fellow HATCHer Jenny Sheets, asking him to ‘teach her how to perform poetry.’ They both saw it as a “sign” from the Universe and decided to sit together and ‘crush this idea’ of creating the poetry slam. Forty minutes later they completed an outline for the event and how it would work.
From that initial conversation, 5 Jamma Slamma was born. Following HATCH, Matthew returned to Los Angeles and pitched his newly HATCHed idea to the Five Acres administrative team. He then personally matched the $5k budget the organization had to invest in the project, and got to work producing the event. He started by asking other artists to help mentor the 5 Acres kids. He called on several internationally recognized slam poets and musicians to bring their talents to bear. Steve Connell (Hatch newbie 2017) and Butterscotch (HATCH alumni) as well as a dozen others artist, answered the call to action.
The week before the event Matt created a “poetry bootcamp”. 6 Days, 6 different mentors came in and taught the kids about their own personal creative process and spoke to them as equals. Guiding them towards finding their own truth and brilliance and how to use slam poetry as a tool to express their own, uniquely beautiful voice.
On the 7th day, the 5 Jamma Slamma poetry slam came to life in a downtown Los Angeles warehouse.
Kids and mentors shared the stage for a one night only performance for over 200 people. No money was asked for during the night. The purpose of the event was to expose the kids to the power of their own truth and to create an army of advocates for Five Acres and their population. (Liquor for the event was generously donated by HATCH sponsor Headframe Spirits)
The video of the event made its way to YouTube, reaching the head of a charitable foundation that offered to fund the entire event in its second year. As of now, Matthew is producing a $70K version of 5 Jamma Slamma and creating year-round access to the kids of 5 Acres to poetry coaching with the local spoken word performance group Say Word.
But 5 Jamma Slamma wasn’t the only #becauseofHATCH outcome for Matthew. He and Harper McDonald (Hatch newbie 2017) have been working on a new venture called The Hive. The idea is simple, can you throw events where people gather together to group-think socially relevant riddles and work towards change… while having fun. The pair has teamed up the Soho House to help engage the Soho membership to use it’s considerable power and creative capitol to help change the world for good.
On September 18th the Hive/SoHo House will bring together it’s network of artists and innovators to directly address the riddle of bringing fresh produce to food deserts in South Central Los Angeles. The collective creative energy in the room will be entirely focused on breaking down walls and making tangible progress toward healthier food systems for a community in need. HATCH advisory Board member Mark Brand is flying in to facilitate the conversation and help guide the resulting actions.