The just concluded Social Capital Markets (SOCAP) conference in San Francisco was full of productive energy, quality connections, and enthusiasm for social change. SOCAP is an annual event that connects social entrepreneurs and impact investors in the good economy. At this year's SOCAP, I was excited to explore the Mystic Midway, a creative space that, at first glance, could have been confused as a misplaced Burning Man project with its carnival-like set and costumes. I discovered, however, a deeper purpose below the surface of the midway. This pop-up carnival artfully provoked SOCAP participants to explore the unique gifts they're meant to bring into the world.
Mystic Midway magician Olly K. Zam
Founded and produced by Scott Levkoff, the Mystic Midway integrates aspects of theater, improv, role playing, and games to engage individuals in personal discovery. “We are a playful social space designed to prompt deep inquiry,” says Levkoff.
What is your passion? What are your assumptions? What is holding you back from experiencing the life you want to live? The Mystic Midway is about finding new ways to connect with others and what gives meaning to your life.
Shareable's own Neal Gorenflo as a Mystic Midway hobo
One of the core elements of the Mystic Midway discovery process is uncovering one’s “mystic fire” which Levkoff describes as one’s “inner gold, soul gifts or true vocation.” The Midway’s process, which is experienced as a series of encounters with different characters at different sets, asks participants a series of questions like, what gold shines within you that wants to be shared with others? What form does your creative genius take? What inspires you?
My first Mystic Midway experience involved connecting with the magician Olly K. Zam, a young man who knew his “mystic fire” from a young age but was caught in a boring retail job until he recently decided to make magic his life work. He glowed with a sense of pride as he flawlessly shared his tricks with me and walked me through an inquiry process to help me learn more about my true nature. Next I spoke with the Hobo King who has performed as a street statue and now describes himself as “committed to bringing the experience of wonder to the world.” The question he posed was, how can we look at the world as if for the first time?
The Mystic Midway on the move
Each of the Mystic Midway’s characters are creative souls with incredible paths. The woman in an elephant outfit represented “the elephant in the room,” and asked people to share something that was really “on their plate right now” that they need to deal with. Lady Fortuna was Sylvia Brallier, an incredible healer, life coach and somatic breathwork practitioner. The Wizard at The Miraculum stage was Tobias Beckwirth who runs a Wizard School in Las Vegas. The Blue Mystic was Alain Bloch of Change.org who also runs a weekly Jedi Training Camp. Levkoff chose this diverse group because, as he said, “they are living their truth and have found ways to share their inner gold with others in truly creative ways.”
While the Midway appears whimsical on the surface, its characters and structure have a deep purpose. The Mystic Midway brought elements of play and self-exploration to SOCAP. SOCAP speaker Donna Morton spoke about the importance of maintaining our connection to art, culture, and our creative selves on a panel entitled, "What is Literally Worth Dying For?” In her talk, she said, "People will sleep for 100 years and when they wake up, it will be artists who give them their spirit back.”
The Mystic Midway asks, how can we experience the magic that is all around us?
Thank you to Burning Man for awakening that spirit in me, thank you SOCAP for bringing together changemakers who are putting their “mystic fire” toward the creation of a better world, and thank you Mystic Midway for giving us a dose of play, magic and the opportunity to dive more deeply into ourselves.