HOME

29 06 2016

I just returned home.

Flew into London on a Bolivian tailwind in time to witness the extraordinary turn of events that have forever changed the course of history.

For the past year, I have become increasingly preoccupied with the concept of HOME; the way in which we define our borders: our continents, our countries, our communities, our families. It’s hard not to be, given the fact that there are more displaced people living in the world today than ever before in recorded history. The most recent stats coming out of the UN suggest that the number of people forcibly displaced due to war or persecution exceeds 65 million (more that the entire population of Great Britain).

These facts behind the figures simply overwhelm and it can make it difficult to think creatively about how to truly instigate change.

To find an outlet, I do what I always do: I talk to children. For years I’ve been turning to children to help shed light on age-old philosophical questions because they seem to ask the questions we grown-ups have stopped asking ourselves. I believe children return us to Plato. The conversations took place with small groups, all under the age of ten. I gave each child pen and paper and asked them to write down the first word that came to mind after I said, “HOME”.

By and large, most wrote down the words: “family”, “mummy”, “daddy”, or “house”. But when I asked the children to continue writing anything else that came to mind, there were some wonderful surprises: “ice-cream”, “bed-time”, “breakfast”, “carrots”, “football”– lots of pets’ names were listed too.

These wise young people helped me to question what really goes into the creation of a home, particularly the non-physical components. What are the smells, tastes and sounds that provide us with a sense of home? Which memories of HOME do we treasure most, and why do they hold us so tightly? What does it mean to “feel” at home (or not feel at home), irrespective of geography? Is community participation a prerequisite for claiming a sense of home? Is it possible to find a way to truly be at home with oneself? We lose loved ones, we lose our shelter from the storm, and yet we often survive this pain by tapping into a sense of home lodged deep within our ancestral past, or to the earth or to God.

Human life itself is wholly involved in the issue of finding a home, not necessarily a structure made of sturdy permanence, a bed and a roof (as Maslow may have us believe) – but rather a constant search of an essence of home. If it is an essence we pursue, rather than a structure, maybe there is hope beyond the limits of infrastructure, ways in which we can feel at home, despite the distance from our place of origin.

In light of the recent referendum we have decided to embark on a collective journey, one that seeks to understand every facet of HOME. This project will be a series of essays launched with The Pigeonhole, a global book club that will bring together readers, writers and artists who want a shared experience around the following themes:

   (1) Roots, Ancestry & Tradition
One of the fastest growing hobbies in America today is the study of family ancestry. With the availability of DNA testing kits, and an ever-expanding number of genealogy websites, the average person can now trace family lines back hundreds of years. Why does the desire to know our ancestry exert such a strong hold on us? Perhaps it is a deep-seated need for differentiation or a desperate craving for a sense of belonging and wholeness? What can we learn from our ancestors, our roots and traditions?

   (2) Senses, Space & Orientation
It is said that one of the worst things that can happen to you is to lose your sense of smell. Why? Because among all our senses, one’s sense of smell provides our strongest orientation within the world we inhabit. As such we want to explore the power of our senses in providing us with a feeling of HOME.

   (3) Family as Home
Here we are looking to explore the complexities of HOME from the context of family life. What happens to our sense of home as a family expands, as we add members or when members leave? Family life involves an enormity of love, but also pride and judgement that can lend itself to feelings of confinement within the home. What makes us want to leave our families in our journey to find/create homes of our own? What is it about the journey away from home that sometimes leaves us homesick?

   (4) Migration
We are all migrants at some level. In this section we will challenge the concepts around identity, assimilation, citizenry, social inclusion/ exclusion. Migration isn’t just about geography; we all have friends who’ve migrated from one religion to another or have an auntie who married into another ethnic group. Each is a migration. What do these experiences help us to learn about ourselves?

   (5) Absence of Home
Shelter is one of our basic needs: it is a place that can protect us from the elements, keep us safe. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, shelter is one of the requirements for addressing our physiological needs, along with the need for food, water air, sleep, sex. It would be interesting to investigate the human drive to create a semblance of home even under the most challenging circumstances. What makes us want to share our home, leave our home and/or escape into someone else’s? This is not only the era of refugee camps; it is also the era of coach surfing and the sharing economy.

   (6) Community & Hospitality
What does it mean to be a part of a community? What responsibility does it imply? How do we contribute to the sense of belonging to new arrivals?  Why is hospitality such a core tenet of major religions?

   (7) Borders within the Mind, Body & Spirit
There are those who claim there is a disconnect between body and mind, that the spirit is something altogether celestial. But in this age of avatars and the heightened state of self, what does it take to feel at home with oneself? How do the societal rigours affect our every day lives? What role do patriarchy and politics play in the creation of ego?

   (8) Earth as Home
There is one undeniable fact of life, and that is despite your creed, colour, gender or age, your home is on this earth. How does one become a steward of this earth? How do we scale the sensation of home to encompass the whole of the earth and its precious natural resources?

There is a large community of people out there who are as equally passionate about the issue of HOME as we are and we’d like to invite them – invite you – to be a part of our project. We are a society that lives its life through online validation. But we believe that words can change the world. Together we will bring this discussion to the fore, through serious discourse, through laughter and tears. A journey home is ultimately a journey into our humanness. And we are very thoughtful, weird and funny creatures.

For more information just take a look at the Home page. Or if you are interested in getting involved in any way then please send an email to:  anna@thepigeonhole.com





LUNA: the Economics of WANT

20 01 2016

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. ― Rudyard Kipling

 





Paris Report: Resilient City of Light

7 12 2015

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light. – Plato

“Resilience is the capacity of individuals, communities and systems to survive, adapt, and grow in the face of stress and shocks, and even transform when conditions require it.” – Fred Boltz (Managing Director, Rockefeller Foundation)

Beyond clicking the “like” button on articles I’ve come across on Facebook, I’ve tried to steer away from posting anything related to the current political stalemate over terrorism. This is primarily because I’ve refused to waste any positive energy on a tiny subset of humanity who, in my view, are taking up far too much air time. I refuse to let them encroach upon my territory — our territory — the territory of the good and the kind. I refuse to let them invade my mind; they will not cast a shadow of fear within the light I carry inside me or my children.

A couple of weeks ago after my daughter Philomena heard about the incident in Paris, she suggested that World War III was upon us. The Pope did too that day. Although my chest tightened at the thought that my daughter was right, I could tell in her eyes that she was not at all afraid of that notion. Given her timely history lesson at school, she seemed to have a grounded understanding that despite the loss of life, GOOD eventually triumphed over EVIL. And should it come to pass again, good will triumph over evil once more. And I am confident that it will so long as we cast aside our fear. So long as we stop building up armies of terror by bringing them into our daily conversation and so long as we stop branding every lunatic who shoots a gun or waves a knife in the name of God as a terrorist. So long as we stop creating fantasy “States” where there were none before–there is no such thing as an Islamic State, the notion must simply be removed from our vocabulary. If corporate media channels are unable to refrain from sensationalising terror, it is up to those of us active in the world of social media to act as leaders and reclaim the conversation. We must reclaim our Territory of Light over Darkness. 

This past Saturday I returned from a trip to Paris. It was as beautiful as ever for I was in the City of Light with a huge Army of Light. Thousands of environmental soldiers were present: activists, scientists, economists and artists all taking part in the 21st yearly session of the Conference of Parties to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.  The conference’s overall objective is to achieve some sort of binding universal agreement on climate (from all the nations of the world), but not all of us were there to negotiate the legalities of the agreement. While politicians were busy working on their part of the equation, the Army of Light was continuing on our collective path of innovation in reverence of the Pachamama

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Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, © 2015

Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, © 2015

Aerocene manifests as a series of air-fuelled sculptures that will achieve the longest, emission-free journey around the world.  Aerocene holds a message of simplicity, creativity and cooperation for a world of tumultuous geopolitical relations,reminding us of our symbiotic relationship with the Earth and all its species.

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Shepard FaireyPhoto: Aline Deschamps

 

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PHILOSOPHY as a servant of LOVE

20 11 2015

love wins

All our philosophy is as dry as dust if it is not immediately translated into some act of living service. – Gandhi

Faced with the complexity of today’s world, philosophical reflection is above all a call to humility, to take a step back and engage in reasoned dialogue, to build together the solutions to challenges that are beyond our control. This is the best way to educate enlightened citizens, equipped to fight stupidity and prejudice. The greater the difficulties encountered the greater the need for philosophy to make sense of questions of peace and sustainable development.” – Irina Bokova (UNESCO Director-General)

TODAY we celebrate World Philosophy Day and so I’ve spent the whole of the morning devouring the material created as part of the South-South Philosophical Dialogue project designed to provide young people and their teachers with materials for questioning the world, enabling them to grow into responsible, open and participative citizens.

Excerpt from introduction: “True peace is not simply the result of political negotiations or strategic agreements between peoples and States, but the work of human beings with the training and the passion for seeking truth and doing good. True peace therefore has an anthropological basis, which is the humanised human being who is committed to truth and good as the common property of all humankind. This is precisely the fundamental importance that philosophy should have in promoting peace in the world today, as it represents the form of knowledge that quintessentially teaches human beings that the desire for truth and the desire for good come together in the desire to coexist in peace with oneself, with nature and with others.”

The texts selected for this anthology capture the spirits of philosophy in Africa, the Arab region, Asia and the Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean in terms of cosmology, epistemology, politics, gender, ecology and aesthetics.

check out table of contents on page 12 and start exploring:  http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002284/228411E.pdf

 





Secret of Life

16 06 2015
“Nothing is more creative than death, since it is the whole secret of life.” – Alan Watts
And you as well must die

And you as well must die, belovèd dust,
And all your beauty stand you in no stead;
This flawless, vital hand, this perfect head,
This body of flame and steel, before the gust
Of Death, or under his autumnal frost,
Shall be as any leaf, be no less dead
Than the first leaf that fell,this wonder fled,
Altered, estranged, disintegrated, lost.
Nor shall my love avail you in your hour.
In spite of all my love, you will arise
Upon that day and wander down the air
Obscurely as the unattended flower,
It mattering not how beautiful you were,
Or how belovèd above all else that dies.

– Edna St. Vincent Millay

 





LOVE is a heart unlocked @ philosophyhub

28 01 2015

– Tell me, what do you know about LOVE, Matilda?
– All I know for sure is that you can’t deny it. I knew some other things too but forgot. Oh, yes, I know… that it happens when two beings meet and their hearts are unlocked.” – Matilda, age 7

 

Some would say that the nature of love isn’t worthy of philosophical inquiry because LOVE simply doesn’t have a nature. That it’s conceptually irrational, emotionally imprecise. Perhaps there is some truth in this proposition but it is certainly an exhilarating topic to deconstruct. To collectively consider what love feels like, what purpose love serves, what types of love we experience, how love expands within us and transcends the world around us. LOVE weaves itself through nearly every philosophical discipline (religion, metaphysics, human nature, politics, ethics) and I must say it’s quite fun to create contemporary spaces that honour the playful style of Plato’s Symposium, to indulge in inspiring conversation over wine and cheese and lots of chocolate.

300 hundred years ago philosophy belonged to everyone–it was in the public domain–but over the years, philosophical discourse slowly evolved into something reserved for a small academic elite. There are many of us out there who want to bring philosophy back to the public realm but I am on a particular crusade to empower women to unlock the natural philosopher within. Not only because there is a happiness that comes from experiencing shared meaning, but because we desperately need a maternal philosophical vision for society, for change.

So this is the crusade I’ve embarked upon in partnership with a global social enterprise called Hubdot. Hopefully, we will be able to run PhilosophyHubs in every city where Hubdot has launched. There is nothing better than to collaborate with a team of such warm, wildly energetic and authentic women. Just to be clear: Hubdot is not about networking. It’s not about the exchange of business cards. The dot alchemy is about building trust through the art of story-telling and inspiring creativity through the exchange of ideas.

I’d like to thank all the women who have already participated in our PhilosophyHubs this year in London and last night in Luxembourg. You have inspired me more than I have inspired you, of this I am certain. And a special thanks to Carlotta and the rest of the Luxembourg team and our hosts at Kaale Kaffi, the most fabulous vintage shop, where I walked off with far too many vinyl records.

This yellow dot I will treasure forever.

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Hearts of fire creates love desire
Take you high and higher to the world you belong
Hearts of fire creates love desire
High and higher to your place on the throne

We’ve come together on this special day
To sing our message loud and clear
Looking back weve touched on sorrowful days
Future pass, they disappear

You will find peace of mind
If you look way down in your heart and soul
Dont hesitate cause the world seems cold
Stay young at heart cause youre never, never old at heart

That’s the way of the world
Plant your flower and you grow a pearl
A child is born with a heart of gold
The way of the world makes his heart grow cold

Hearts of fire creates love desire
Take you high and higher to the world you belong
Hearts of fire, love desire
High and higher, you, you, you

Hearts of fire, love desire
High and higher

We’ve came together on this special day
To sing our message loud and clear
Looking back weve touched on sorrowful days
Well, future disappear

You will find peace of mind
If you look way down in your heart and soul
Dont hesitate cause the world seems cold
Stay young at heart cause youre never, never, never old at heart

That’s the way of the world
Plant your flowers and you grow a pearl
A child is born with a heart of gold
The way of the world makes his heart grow cold

And love, and love, and love, and love
And love, and love, and love
Well the love, the love, the love
Darlin’ lovely, don’t you hear me now?
Don’t you hear me now?
Darlin’, won’t you hear me now, won’t you hear me now?

Hearts of fire, love desire
High and higher, you, you, you
Hearts of fire, love desire

 http://freemp3.se/earth-wind-and-fire-thats-the-way-of-th-mp3.html

 

 





FREEDOM in form

3 12 2014

“The presumption that a high rate of continuous economic growth is possible puts a premium on investment in the sorts of institutions and conditions that facilitate such growth, like political stability, property rights, technology, and scientific research. On the other hand, if we assume that there are only limited possibilities for productivity improvements, then societies are thrown into a zero-sum world in which predation, or the taking of resources from someone else, is often a far more plausible route to power and wealth.” – Francis Fukuyama

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