Civil Discourse and Our Democracy: The Power of Language


Location: Mexican Heritage Plaza

Courageous Conversation
with Kevin McCarthy and PJ Hirabayashi / Taiko Peace

Open to the Public. Food and drinks will be provided.

Recently Latino poet Martin Espada stated: “We live in an age of hyper-euphemism, from alt-right to alternative facts.  The makers of these phrases bleed language of its meaning, they drain the blood from words.”  Whether your concern is how language has drifted towards political correctness or lead to the alternative truths, leaders must play a role in helping to build meaningful language. 

In our time together we will focus on the space leaders need to create to explore words, and the power of leaders to create fertile ground for change through the dialogues they construct.  Through the use of drumming, lecture and small group break-outs, we will look at how experiences shape the meaning we hold for words and impact dialogue. We will play with words and explore the similarities and differences in the uses of these words, based on the diverse experience and unconscious bias that underscore these differences. Additionally, we will look to how the power of art, music, creative expression and embodied wisdom, through the empowering vibration of Taiko (the Japanese drum) creates space for connection and openness.  



Kevin McCarthy is an independent consultant with Change Rx whose primary work focuses on the individual and collective challenges faced by leaders and teams in change efforts. Kevin has helped to design and currently leads programs for chapters of the American Leadership Forum (ALF). He has delivered training sessions to diverse groups of leaders on topics of dialogue and diversity, meeting the personal challenges of leading change, systems/community change and models of emergent disruptive change. Full bio can be read here:

PJ Hirabayashi, a Bay Area native, is a founding member of San Jose Taiko and the group’s Artistic Director Emeritus. Considered a pioneer of North American taiko, she is recognized in the international taiko community for her distinctive performance and teaching style. PJ, along with her husband Roy, received the 2011 National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship Award for their lifelong contributions to the art form of North American taiko. Her new project, Taiko Peace, is a movement dedicated to unleashing creativity and healing the human spirit through the dynamic energy of taiko.

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