What characters make your town interesting?


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  • Note: This is our last Student Opinion question of the 2018-19 school year.

Who are the people in your school or town that make your area interesting? What makes them stand out? What role do they play in your community?

In “‘I’m Weird, but I Get Results’: Have You Met This Wizard on the Subway?” Mary Pilon writes about one such character who acts as the “warlock of Brooklyn,” casting “spells” and offering wise words to New York City residents:

In New York, a city where anyone can be anything, Devin Person is a self-proclaimed professional wizard.

On a Sunday afternoon in his Brooklyn neighborhood, Greenpoint, Mr. Person — looking more Merlin than Harry Potter, with his plush robe and scraggly white beard — led about three dozen people in meditation.

He encouraged them to “sample the flavors and energy of each cloud formation as if you were walking around Costco’s different free sample stations,” to float “like Michael Phelps diving into the pool” and to wear a smile “like the sun on the Raisin Bran box.”

As a modern “wizard,” Mr. Person, 33, holds group sessions, like the recent meditation and Wizarding Hour in Greenpoint. He speaks to companies. He officiates weddings. He reads tarot and performs hypnosis. He hosts a podcast. He once planned an “edible enhanced” walkabout in Central Park.

He will also show up if someone wants to “have fun hanging out with a wizard.”

The article continues:

“Wizards are people helpers,” he said. “They are who the hero encounters on their journey, and they’re able to give the hero a bit of advice, maybe a magical artifact, some sort of assistance that helps the hero get over their obstacle and on their journey.”

Mr. Person had long been interested in the occult and spirituality when, in 2014, he decided to “hatch an egg” of something to pursue alongside his day job at the website creator Squarespace, now as an associate product manager.

So, after making his way through an exhaustive list of new-age books, Mr. Person started holding “occult consulting” sessions with friends and friends of friends, eventually expanding to dozens and dozens of clients. He described his transformation as “reaching out through time and space and across the dimensional barrier to make contact with the most wizardly possibility of myself.”

That meant, he said, functioning as a mentor and listener. (The word “wizard” comes from the Middle English “wys,” or “wise.”)

Mr. Person posted on Facebook that he was offering coaching services. Not long after, a childhood friend from Indiana reached out.

The friend, Sahil Bhatia, said he was “in a deep depression and crisis of faith.” The two men discussed strategies like “set five goals per day” that Mr. Bhatia could use to feel fulfilled.

“The lower pressure and informal nature of it was much different,” Mr. Bhatia said. “That was really helpful to me.”

Mr. Person stresses that he is not a therapist and that he generally offers just one session to participants, which he frames as, “This is the moment in your life where you encounter a wizard, and this has the potential to change a lot and we’re going to talk about it.”

He added, “I’m weird, but I get results.”

 

Students, read the entire article, then tell us:

— What do you think about Mr. Person’s role as a “professional wizard”? If you encountered him on the street, what advice, spell or other help would you ask for?

— Would you ever like to take on such a role in your town? If so, what persona would you inhabit? What would your costume look like? What kinds of services, help or advice would you offer?

— Who are the “characters” that make your town interesting? Why do you find them so intriguing?

— Do you think every place needs “people helpers” like Mr. Person? Why or why not?

Students 13 and older are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.

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