Inciting Social Change Through Arts and Education

Meet Pamela Sackett, Principal Artist & Founder of Emotion Literacy Advocates, an arts-based, non-profit organization that creates and produces learning tools incorporating language and visual arts, theatre, music, and science to address cultural and environmental issues for self and social awareness.

Pamela Sackett is a real powerhouse of talent—a multi-disciplinary writer, teaching artist, and performer presenting original theatrical, musical, and literary works (scripts, songs, books) and facilitating community dialogue through events, learning institutions, social service agencies, special interest gatherings, and broadcast media in and around the US and abroad. In 2001, she and her husband, Daniel, founded Emotion Literacy Advocates (ELA) and have been making a difference in the lives of individuals and groups ever since.

Pamela’s work ties back to the environment her parents provided, encouraging her to learn, practice and perform in the realms of dance, music, and theatre, and exposing her to some eminently ground-breaking performers. This laid the foundation for her professional engagement with the arts and inciting social change through it.

Pamela’s writing practice as poet, songwriter, monologuist and playwright allowed her to form a deep alliance to her writing life, in all its artistic forms, providing fertile ground for developing her insight into language and communication.

At a significant time, Pamela returned to school to finish her degree, and it put her in touch with some incredible mentors, pioneers in the fields of psychotherapy (Alice Miller), physics (Arnold Mindell), and theatrical improvisation (Jonathan Fox), an off-shoot of drama therapy. After graduation, she started receiving commissions to design plays for teens and to be a voice—through her script-writing—for life stories told about, and by, mentally and emotionally challenged individuals.

Amidst all of this, Sackett coined the term “emotion literacy” as a part of her description for a workshop, a turning point for her uniquely defined emotion literacy campaign. Soon thereafter, she was recruited to bring her vision to Seattle’s youth detention facility, a minimum-security prison for adult felons and to high schools, both public and private. Her work in these venues—using portions of her creative work to prompt a guided self-reflective writing experience for emotion literacy learning—proved very successful.

Talking about her organization, Pamela says, “ELA is designed to guide and support self and social awareness towards an active understanding of our interactions within ourselves and with each other. I have seen, time and time again, how profoundly nourishing this awareness is for people touched by my material, as it inspires their own vital journey of self-inquiry and integration.” Pamela is also the author of Speak of the Ghost: In The Name of Emotion Literacy, Saving the World Solo, Booing Death: With Shpilkes and Rhyme and a five-book series of theatrical monologue books called Two Minutes to Shine (Samuel French, New York). Her most recent work is an instructive manifesto on emotion literacy entitled I Can: Twelve Ways to Witness the Heart.

Pamela and her organization have had a deep impact on her students and audiences and this fills her with great joy. She is the recipient of the 2013 Antioch University Seattle Distinguished Alumni Award. As for a motivational message for her readers, she shared a piece of writing titled “Instead,” which, along with her performance, was incorporated into the University of Washington’s teen writing curriculum. It’s been over 20 years since Pamela began this journey and her enthusiasm for what it represents hasn’t waned a bit. As time passes, her passion for her mission visibly grows.