Todd Strong

The following was my response to a New Games Survey that was taken in 2016

 

Your name: Todd Strong

Spouse's name: Chris (I usually call her "SwediePie". Apparently my accent turns a "t" sound into a "flapped d" to Canadians.)

Child(ren)'s name(s): None

City or area: Vancouver, BC

 

Jobs and/or other milestones you would like to share.

 

Some folks may remember that I was spending more and more time juggling in the latter stages of the Foundation. In the fall of 1984 Nancy was kind enough to offer me the chance to teach a NG training in Naples, Italy, for the US Navy. This may have been my last official NG Training.

 

Turned out that the European Juggling Convention (in Frankfurt, Germany that year) was the week before the gig in Italy. I changed the ticket to fly into Frankfurt rather than Naples. The difference in airfare was enough for me to buy a one-month EurailPass, which took care of ground travel down to Naples, plus a bit more.

 

Taught some workshops and performed in the public show at the juggling convention (high-visibility) and ended up with invitations to visit a lot of jugglers all over Europe after the festival. Dale was in Frankfurt at the same time and rescued me from having to crash in a dirty apartment—that jugglers had arranged for me—to stay in this immaculate house with some German, new-age friends of his. After the Italy gig (the US Navy had kindly arranged to fly the duffel bags in and out for the event, so I did not have to travel with them), I was free to roam around Europe, visiting all of these new juggling friends. Made it to the Arctic Circle and stayed with Dale in Stockholm for a few days. Was such a great experience that I made an annual trek to the European Juggling Convention. That led to me getting a job as the Professeur du Jonglerie at the National Circus School of France. Did that for a couple of years, then taught at a circus school in Berlin for about for or five years. Then back to a sister school to the French one on the outskirts of Paris for a year.

 

Will add some other stuff later. This feels like enough for now.

 

How did you get involved with New Games?

 

Was spending a lot of time with a group called Outdoors Unlimited, a recreation program run by the University of California, San Francisco campus with a mandate to include the local community. The focus of OU was to get people out of the city and experience wilderness and nature. In 1975 New Games folk were conducting a lot of grassroots, community outreach to promote the upcoming Third Tournament in Golden Gate Park. (Reaching out to other community organizations is referenced in the NG slide show.) OU got some notice from the NGF about the Tournament that invited people to join in any way they felt comfortable. Again, the folks at OU were interested in getting out of the city whenever they could, not spending recreation time in the city. There wasn't any interest in finding out more about it. I volunteered to represent the group and called a phone number. Spoke with Dale, who suggested that I join him in a games session, rather than try to explain NG over the phone. He had made arrangements to lead a play session with a class of school kids that were on a field trip near the Music Concourse in GG Park. The park's music concourse (also referred to as "the bandshell") is between the Asian Art Musuem and the California Academy of Sciences (aquarium). The kids were having a picnic lunch and then were going to play some type of games.

 

Met Dale and joined the kids for my first NG play session. I was a low-visibility helper/ref. I was hooked. Started showing up at the office (at the time the NGF shared office space with the Ecology Center on Columbus Street) and leading similar play sessions for other groups.

 

Any lessons and/or insights you learned from New Games?

 

Don't know if this got spoken of much. One of the more interesting choices for the training program was to have two trainers lead the sessions. I remember hearing amazed feedback from teachers about how well the pair of trainers worked together as a team. The experience of working with so many different people and flowing in and out of high- and low-visibility roles has definitely been an asset.

 

Also still use colored markers to publicly write down key topics to be covered when teaching. Although I've reluctantly had to give up using butcher paper, the system has transferred to whiteboards pretty seamlessly.

 

Am sure there is a lot more to share. Will save other lessons/insights for another time.

 

How has New Games influenced you?

 

Unfortunately, that mammoth spring of 1978 tour set a bar for my professional life that has been hard to replicate. Have a pattern of looking for full-time jobs that only require working two or three days a week, allow me to meet and interact with fun groups of amazing people, and cover expenses. Hmm, have been surprised at how often that has worked.

 

Any memories or stories you would like to share?

 

Going to go back to that same spring of '78 tour for this story. My last training (after sixteen weeks on the road) was in Omaha, with Jan. Remember it well because John was in Germany that same weekend, while Burton was in Honolulu. It was little comfort that Omaha is known as the "Paris of the Pig Belt."

 

I might have been a bit too casual in my approach towards delivering a training by that time. May have mentioned to Jan (certainly not to the trainees) that it was time to get off the road and back to a normal life. (May have mentioned it more than once.)

 

Remember the evaluations at the end of each workshop? And remember that the trainers used to evaluate each other, as well? Took Jan to the airport and started the trip home. She looked through the evaluations and left them for me to deliver to the office. I didn't look at them until several pit stops down the road. After reading the usual positive comments from the attendees I looked at my fellow trainer's evaluation. Jan's was memorable, at least the first line. She had begun, "Todd's attitudinal problem continues." It was perfect, and got me to laugh out loud at some gas station off of I-80 in the midwest. Still smile when I think about it today.

 

Again, more stories to share. That's enough for now.

 

Folks that would like to find out a bit more are invited to look through my annual, year-end letters.

 

       

 

Copyright © Todd Strong

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Contact Information:

t o d d a t new games foundation d o t org

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Date Website Was Last Updated: June 24, 2017