Purposefully decided not to comment on the two-year anniversary of Katrina yesterday, though I read others' blogs. Railing and raging ain't cutting it for me.
Being part of the solution personally would involve rolling into action. Not because I have to do, and not because I should, simply because my heart pulls me.
Creating a triangle of art/live community center of sorts and arts collective in New Orleans that links up creatives there with centers in San Francisco and NYC, and cross-pollinates them all. Speakeasy cafes for salons and shows and supper teas on the ground level...but I digress.
This "solution" became clearer for me only after I stopped and reflected. Contemplated. Then conversed with many, many folks that most often became friends while I was in New Orleans this spring.
It's no secret if you've
been reading this blog for a while that I've been thinking more and
more about community. The history of social movements. What kind of
planet I want to live in. How I create that world.
"We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor." - His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
I don't need my neighbors to be my very best friends. Yet there is something vaguely troubling that the way neighbors often deal with issues like the disabled car in front of the house, or music and voices in the backyard that obviously bothers them is to call the police rather than simply knock on the front door of the house, and have a short discussion.
I don't need the bank teller to be dearest confidant. Yet, there is something vaguely troubling when they avert your eyes when you're trying to find out about a continual series of fees on your statement hurriedly brushing you off, "You really should call the 800 number. I can't do anything about it." (BTW, reflected far long enough, I am no longer a Wells Fargo customer.)
I wholeheartedly agree with Stowe Boyd's post, "Anne Truitt Zelenka and Steve Rubel on Web Friendship", especially when he writes:
"[T]he new nature of connected friendship is taking on the shape of the Web itself:
- it is increasingly open (much of our fraternizing is in public),
- tolerant of diversity (I disagree publicly with my friends, but I accept this as part of friendship, not a blind gang-like sharing of narrow perspectives; and they are from all over, all colors, all shapes and sizes)
- bottom-up (its not because we work together, or because we are members of some organized group)
- personal (I don't belong to cliques, but am connected to individuals)
- flowing (people's relationships are constantly changing, and shifting in complexity).
Many would look at the new state of friendship and suggest that something has been lost when you don't have a small group of friends that all know each other, that invite each other over to bbqs every weekend, and who all attended the same schools, workplaces, and places of worship. But I believe that we are moving away from a narrow, parochial, and inbred sort of friendship." - Stowe Boyd
"Disasters Bring People Together, Politicians Drive them Apart: Racial tensions in New Orleans have always been high, but immediately following the storm, an atmosphere of cooperation filled the city. That is, until our mayor gave his famous “Chocolate City” speech. Then everything changed for the worse."
Divide, and conquer. A very, very ancient tactic to breed war and conflict - and maintain the illusion of control and power over others. So, if we want to reclaim our power, sometimes the simplest of things to do start by meeting me at the table. We'll see where things go from there. Stretch me, why don't you?
"The origin of the word "community" comes from the Latin munus, which means the gift, and cum, which means together, among each other." - Bernard Lietaer, Beyond Greed & Scarcity
I love writer and yoga instructor Jeff Davis' work and workshops (I speak from personal experience). Just recently I noted he was on the same page as I: "He is converting his farmhouse and barn near Woodstock, NY, into a simple place where active visionaries can gather." In the same article, he wrote:
"We conversed. And to "converse," after all, suggests a "turning with." One turns with the to other. Although conversation likely once referred to a monastic mode of life devoted to conversations with God, out of the monastery our daily conversations can let us hear how "all that is" speaks through strangers and lovers." - Jeff Davis, author of the book, The Journey from the Center to the Page: Yoga Philosophies and Practices as Muse for Authentic Writing, "Talking 'Bout My Transpersonal Generation," Common Ground mag, July 2007
I've always been inspired by the Salon movement, housed in salons (rooms) in French homes fomenting the French revolution and a flowering of the arts and letters, as well being entranced with the way cafe societies threw together writers, politicians, philosopher-thinkers, artists, scholars and general ne'er-do-wells into one pot to stew, and ultimately learn from each other. (I've always been inspired by the Italian Renaissance, too.)
Vicki Robin, co-author of Your Money or Your Life (that was a life-altering book when I read it about eight years ago), also began Conversation Cafes. She shares: "I once asked a Dane how Denmark had resisted the pressures of globalization [i.e. conformity]. He said two words: study circles. Most Danes throughout their adult lives have the habit of conversation about things that matter in small groups.
"Why Conversation Cafés? Because when you put strangers, caffeine and ideas in the same room, brilliant things can happen. For that very reason, the British Parliament banned coffeehouses in the 1700s as hotbeds of sedition. Might we brew up a similar social liveliness now?" - Conversation Cafe website
p.s. More in next post, including how to roll your own Make Tea, Not War Communi-teas in your community. This is just a heads up that I'm hosting a few communi-teas to promote peace: general theme, Greetings and Gleanings. Held in common spaces, community spaces, gardens, parks, backyards, arts collective lofts throughout Bay Area from 9/9 through 9/11. To make it accessible to all walks of life, there is no cost. First one, 9/9 at the community garden on 23rd and Shotwell, San Francisco, 1-3 p.m. Also check twitter.com/panmesa for updates.
Bonus: Whether they walk their talk or not, I know not. But I am digging their self-organizing philosophy: "Forget what you think you know about activism and community service. Forget the Non-Profit Industrial Complex with its centrally controlled organizations. Forget grant applications and fundraising drives, complex tax codes, and government regulations. Forget political correctedness, groupthink, forced neutrality and censorship.
Burners Without Borders (burnerswithoutborders.org), a new movement for social change borne out of the Burning Man Festival, does away with all that bureaucratic detritus. Taking its cue from Doctors Without Borders, Burners Without Borders is led only by an idea: that of a boundless, leaderless movement, based on gifting and community, that seeks no publicity, recognition, money or power. All it seeks to do, like its progenitor, is to build community through addressing social needs, creating art and healing the deep wounds of a disconnected culture in the throes of anomie." - "The Revolution Will Not Be Invoiced," Common Ground mag, August 2007
Art Dining Room Overlooking the Garden, by Pierre Bonnard (" At the insistence of his father, Bonnard studied law, graduating and practising as a barrister briefly. However, he had also attended art classes on the side, and soon decided to become an artist."); Le Moulin de la Galette, by Renoir; Apple Picking, by Camille Pissaro (the women appear to be gleaning)