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Wise Food

By Lily Joan

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Food is sacred. 

It’s not about us, it’s about a bigger whole. The connection between our planet and us, about the exchange of energy. Ironically, mother nature doesn’t need us to survive, but we do need her.  

Yet, somehow over time, we have steered ourselves away from the living with, instead leading lives as if superior. We are now more lightly to trust the indications on a medicine box more than our own bodies, we are more lightly to trust the expiry date on packaging rather than used our senses to judge what is edible, we are more lightly to eat a fast-food meal than cook ourselves something  with fresh ingredients. I could go on. It boils down to this though: we are accustomed to convenience. We are spoiled to the inch of our life. We are used to having anything, at any time, anywhere. We will consume, and keep consuming, and the planet will be juiced dry in the process. And does it actually make us happier? Will we ever be satisfied? My answer is no. I don’t think we are getting happier OR healthier. Quite the opposite!  

But let’s not linger on the negative, let’s focus on the good stuff. How can we do better, how can we live happier, healthier lives and save the planet in the meantime?  

My way to make a difference is through food. As food is the most obvious way we internalise our environment. When we eat, we feed both the body, the mind and the heart. When we eat, we are taking in the food’s energy and nutrition. When we eat, we are activating all of our senses, connecting us momentarily to ourselves and our environment, both physically and mentally.  

This opens up a world of opportunity to be steered into the ‘right’ direction. Food is a powerful medium, because it’s an indispensable life source. Whether we like it or not, we must all eat.  

It can become a burden, with today’s layers of pressures- financial, cultural, agricultural, ecological, ethical and ideological.  But there are two sides of a coin. Food can really, work magic.  

Let’s celebrate that, embrace the possibilities, learn from our ancestors, invent news ways, open our minds and heart to the concept of food changing the world for the better. 

Okay, so food can make the difference. Now what?  

I think there’s too much weight in the idea of trying to save the world as an individual (although many out there do have huge impacts). We can just think small. As all smalls add up. 

And a few smalls may inspire others, creating a wave of a movement without them feeling like it is taking over their life. We just need a little nudge sometimes, a little spark of inspiration. 

Even if it’s through a tiny initiative like buying local seasonal veggies, it can get the ball rolling. And that’s my goal. To empower people with positive do’s.  

The beauty of the food-theme, is that we help ourselves in the process of making a more global difference. Good food, from the right place with the right story, influences our personal health and happiness directly. 

So it’s a win-win! In other words I strongly believe that if we aim to lead healthier lives, we automatically feel better, and help mother earth in the meantime. 

Let’s looking into what ‘healthy’ actually means then.  

In the English dictionary, ‘Healthy’ is described as ‘a state of bodily or organic soundness, freedom from bodily or mental disease or decay’, and ‘Healthy food’ as ‘types of food, e.g. organically grown or with no synthetic ingredients, regarded as promoting health’. There you have it, it’s as simple as that: pure, untampered with ingredients for a body or mind that isn’t suffering from illness or deterioration.  

So eat healthily, what does that even entail? How can we make sure our bodies don’t get ill? Aha! This is where it get interesting. 

A huge player for overall health, is gut health. Doest’t sounds like much fun does it. But what if we learned that gut health makes you happier, healthier, clear minded, more efficient, stabilises hormones, reduces medical bills, increases your energy, sleep and reduces your stress levels. Interested now?  

The gut is the main source of overall inflammation, the core of the good & bad is filtered, and home of about 80% of our immune system.  

We learn to live with sore muscles, swollen stomach, cloudy mind, energy dips during the day, rashes, joint pain,… and we deal with these symptoms with medications. Yes, symptoms, as they are the result of chronic inflammation. ‘Chronic’ meaning long term infection our body can’t handle, compared to a short-term fight it puts up against toxins, bad bacteria and viruses. Chronic inflammation is a slow process, resulting in us becoming accustomed to the symptoms. But those headaches, the exam, spots, low libido, clammy hands & feet, brittle bones, repetitive coughs & colds, dandruff, early balding or turning grey and sleep disorders, they’re not something to put up with, they are signs our body is suffering, our immune system is failing.  The good news: food is a source of all types of protection and help we need (alongside good sleep, exercise and stress regulation)! 

In short, we have billions of bacteria in our gut, thousands of types. Each type with their own speciality. They convert the food’s nutritional package into substances our body needs to live. These bacteria are mainly found in the small intestine. This means we need eat food that isn’t broken down too early on, leaving nothing left for the bacteria to use lower down. The good bacteria protect us from illness, but the bad bacteria cause it. The bad live off empty carbs, sugars and things like pesticides. The good bacteria however thrive off minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, fibres & good fats. If we feed them, they become our army that fight the bad bacteria, mending our intestinal wall so the toxins don’t get into our blood stream. Foods like white bread, pasta and white sugar are absorbed by the body in the large intestine, converted into sugars instantly, giving us an energy boost (but nothing nutritious), overusing our insulin production to balance out the instant raise of our blood sugar level, also starving our gut flora. If this goes on too long, we become addicted to  the constant feed of sugar, which our body then stores in fat cells when they can’t be burned. Our gut flora diversity diminishes, making it harder and harder for our body to process our foods the right way, leading to serious vitamin shortages. On top of that, our intestine is where a huge part of our hormones are created, including the happiness hormone serotonin. It also contains as many nerve cells as our entire spinal column, capturing all activity in our gut and directly reporting to the brain, which in turn decides which hormones to produce, which organs to activate, which triggers to send out, which emotions to express. So a happy gut equals a happy mind. 

Don’t worry: just by eating fermented foods, healthy oils like omega 3, high fibre ingredients and colourful antioxidant-rich fruit, herbs & veg, you’re already on the right track! 

But the point is: if we wean ourselves off the process crap, en get into the beauty of cooking ourselves fresh meals using quality & varied products, we are doing the planet a favour too.  

But I do realise it’s hard to wean ourselves off what we know. It’s not actually about changing what we eat, it’s about changing how we feel about food. It’s the rewiring of our brains we need to focus on, relearning the art of eating, to find a way to want to eat what’s good for us, bringing what the heart want in line with what the body wants.  

That’s when the processed, packaged foods come back into the story. Companies push foods high in sugar, fat & salt and we learn to like them, we are even brought up with them as comforting treats. Treats becoming habit. They are designed to get us hooked. So now it’s up to us to be aware of that, and reconnect to that old-fashioned concept of ‘nourishing’ ourselves. We can learn new preferences, understanding that joy and comfort can come from healthier, more sustainable options too.  

Yet, it can take time, to reach that state where food is something that nourishes & makes us happy, rather that tormenting or sickening us. Our society is focussed on temptation, quick-fixes and contradictorily, the idea of resisting desirable foods. And we identify with memories of food experiences, which often outweigh knowledge of health and even taste (as we may not actually enjoy the taste of a double sided mars bar, but seek the reliving of a happy childhood memory it triggers). It’s up to us to relearn the meaning of ‘delicious’, even if it doesn’t correlate with the diet we were brought up.  

It’s absolutely possible, and can even be an enjoyable process.  

Dive into the exploration of new ingredients, new flavours, new herbs and spices. Allow yourself to be triggered, enriching your meals rather than depriving yourself of anything. It’s just about daring to let go of the fixed ingredient combinations we have been brought up with. Open up your senses to the pungent, salty, sour, bitter and sweet. And know you are feeding your body with a multitude of nutrients in the meantime. 

Let us pay greater attention to the physical sensations food gives us, let us slow down a little and savour flavours, use all our senses when cooking and eating. 

Let’s integrate mindfulness into our meals, fall in love with the stories behind the ingredients, the process of preparation, the creative flow of bring new flavours together, being present in the moment of consumption, the joy of sharing with others, the satisfaction of self-care, the connection to our environment.  

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Outgoing London hub member Alex Kennedy reflects on his six months in the Hub

When I first found art/earth/tech I was taken in by how it seemed to have touched upon all the elements I had come across as solutions in my own search of answers to the profound problems we face today. Coliving, visions, wellbeing and practicality.

Its need for a connection to the earth that we come from. To our history and our true nature. A grounding in wisdom and knowledge.

The potential displayed in front of us through the capability of technology. The impacts it can bring to our society and our lives if we’re able to harness its power in bringing new possibilities.

And the significance in art. Defining our cultural compass through all its mediums on every scale. The importance as a societal mouthpiece to create the narratives we need to see and hear.

I have begun to break down these concepts into symbols and areas in the hope of also framing my own work in similar ways so I can draw others as I have been drawn to Art/Earth/Tech. (example of this pictured below)

I read Rufus’s book when I first moved into the hub. It really helped me to understand the framing on how our world is constructed, based off old rules unsuitable for the progression we know today. Its legal structures, its approach to ownership and how an almost lazy placement of this into a profoundly new landscape has become the root of so many issues we face today surrounding technology.

A huge swath of what we know has only ever been added to from what came before. Even the keyboard I write this with has been designed based on the needs of a mechanic typewriter to avoid parts clashing together.

Design can evolve gradually. But full system regeneration is hard. Cultural change is hard. Habits, die hard.

But we need to transition beyond anything thats come before. Use nature as our guide. We need to frame the problem in completely new ways and break down every obstacle that stands in its way.

We need new visions for our future. Or we won’t have one to pass on.

We need to use the potential we have. Squandered currently in a thousand areas by a false story we’re told about how things should be.

Our ancestors are watching. And they do not expect us to go quietly into that dark night.

My work while at the hub and countless months before that have been in the preparation of a project to spur my generation and everything connected to it towards a rise against this challenge ahead.

I believe concept films have the potential to show a better future. Condensing complex solutions down into bitesized visual and emotional forms that tell a story of the ideal. Each part backed by further breakdowns, examples, showcases, experiments, data and knowledge. Added to by the crowd behind that idea to bring shared wisdom to its roots. A compelling vision with a plan to bring it into existence. If we can align a large group of people in a way that allows wide scale collaboration around a project then our world of possibilities open up.

How can we create our economies to align us in these ways? What does ownership look like? Currency? Law? How can technology facilitate wide-scale trust? How can we return to our nature? Live better with each-other. In a way that allows us all to fulfil our potential through support and understanding.

These are the questions I aim to answer. I believe the solutions lie in the trends we already see. In coworking, in freelancing, in the creative fields, in film, in our side hussles, in our games and culture. In coliving, our relationships and our search for meaning and community in a structure that degrades these things.

I believe how we store, own, trust and share is about to undergo a shift and my hope is to shine the light for that path ahead.

Being involved with the gathering of minds at art/earth/tech I have met fascinating people from a variety of backgrounds that all share in some common underlying direction. I have been able to connect and learn from others that share my purpose through the hub gatherings.

Having the pleasure to live among those drawn by similar goals I can truly appreciate the potential of curated living. Introductions to new channels of thinking. Conversations to make an evening meals feel almost sacred.

I have been here through the transition of the London hub. From old hub members to a new regeneration. I have seen old traditions die and the seeds of new ones form. Though I may have been looking for balance and stability myself I have learnt about how others approach change. About the notions of home and novelty.

I may not have fully found what I first was looking for but perhaps understanding transition at a further level is far more important.

For we all need to know how we can become comfortable in change. In each-other. Around our egos and their endless dances. In our changing climate and social systems.

It is better to build our home in the unknown. Then have all the known lost, in our inability to adapt.

Alex Kennedy

February 2020

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Seeking mindful gardeners!

We are looking for people who might be interested in helping with a substantial garden project (flowers and vegetables) either at our new site in Bergerac, SW France (very near Plum Village buddhist centre) or at La Cheraille 40 minutes southwest of Paris.

If you knew of anyone we’d love to talk with them to share more about the opportunity. We’d also be very happy to get on a short call to share more details. French speaking is essential and English would be desirable.

Key details:

  • You will be self managing and can coordinate with others
  • Initial commitment is one season and we would obviously like it to be longer
  • Starting from April 2020:
    • We would have a weeks trial and stay at La Cheraille to see skills and alignment with La Cheraille and Art Earth Tech
  • Objectives: are to grow food and to make it whole and well 🙂
  • Remuneration is fair (a recognition of contribution) with board and accommodation; and beyond that any revenue or surplus the person helps generate

En français

Art / Earth / Tech est à la recherche de jardiniers!

Art Earth Tech (un projet communautaire auquel je participe) est à la recherche de personnes qui pourraient être intéressées à aider avec un projet de jardin substantiel (fleurs et légumes) sur un nouveau site à Bergerac, SW France (très près du centre bouddhiste de Plum Village) ou La Cheraille à 40 minutes au sud-ouest de Paris. Ces deux projets seraient étroitement liés à la communauté Art / Earth / Tech qui a une forte saveur consciente.

Si vous connaissiez quelqu’un, nous aimerions parler avec lui pour partager plus sur l’opportunité. Nous serions également très heureux de recevoir un court appel pour partager plus de détails. Le français est essentiel et l’anglais serait souhaitable.

Détails clés:

  • Vous serez autogéré et pourrez vous coordonner avec les autres.
  • L’engagement initial est d’une saison et nous aimerions évidemment que ce soit plus long
  • À partir d’avril 2020:
    • Nous aurions un essai d’une semaine et resterions à La Cheraille pour voir les compétences et l’alignement avec La Cheraille et Art Earth Tech
  • Objectifs: faire pousser des aliments et les rendre entiers et bien 🙂
  • La rémunération est juste (une reconnaissance de contribution) avec la pension et l’hébergement; et au-delà de tout revenu ou excédent que la personne contribue à générer
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Updated: More rooms available in our Berlin hub!

With coronavirus, we have postponed our openings until the end of April. Again, these may change due to developments with the corona virus. Please do keep checking our website for more updates.

Join our new coliving community in the heart Berlin grounded in purpose and presence. Rooms available from end of April 2020 from €600 per month all costs included.

Key information

  • What: Join a coliving community in the heart Berlin
  • Where: Gneisenaustrasse, Kreuzberg, Berlin
  • When: end of April 2020. Stays from a minimum of 3 months
  • Who: Singles and couples who have a pioneering spirit and value community and making a difference
  • Cost: From €600 pcm (warm rent – furnished and all costs included)
  • Apply: apply online now at https://artearthtech.com/berlin

Apply Now »

We need a better way to live, together

A growing number of us are seeking lives that are meaningful as well as productive, yet we often struggle to find a balance. We need a wiser way of living whilst remaining engaged in conventional society. A way to live in cities whilst being in community, to be present as well as purposeful, that supports us to be the best version of ourselves.

We are building that way, starting with co-living communities across Europe.

We seek pioneers and believers in community to be residents of our hub in Berlin opening in mid April 2020.

As one of the first residents you will be part of a small, supportive community and get to shape its culture. You will get to live in shared spaces in a beautiful old building on the tree-lined Gneisenaustrasse in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin.

We have different spaces available with different price points all include bills:

  • A ground floor studio apartment ideal for a couple / young family = approx 60m2 €1200
  • A two bedroom apartment (16m2 each) on the ground floor attached to our community events space €600 each
  • A one bedroom apartment on the second floor: ideal for a couple / young family €1220
  • Three bedroom apartment on the fourth floor ( from €600 to €680 depending on size)

There is a communal space for events (an old shop) on the ground floor that faces the street and has a separate entrance too. Here you can hang out with other members in the building, book it to hold your dream event and also to attend other amazing events that will be curated by guests and by you, the community!

As part of an international network, you will be connected to our other hubs in London and the beautiful French countryside 40 min from Paris (and soon southern France); and be part of a collective that supports you to develop personally and provides you with an opportunity to reflect on what really matters to you.

Requirements:

  • Basic English
  • Commitment to community: you like living in community and contributing to it.
  • Be a self-starter: you take initiative and can set and manage your own projects.
  • You want to make a difference

Desirable:

  • Have a meditative / mindful practice
  • Have done personal development work
  • Have past experience with living in shared space

Apply Now »

More about the space

Open your window onto a tree-lined boulevard in Kreuzberg. The building is a 19th Century building with large bedrooms, wooden floors, high ceilings, large windows and modern appliances.

Art Earth Tech has a strong aesthetic where we honour noble, natural materials. The bedrooms will be part-furnished including a double bed. We provide refrigerator, freezer and a washing machine.

Some words from previous residents in our other hubs:

“Staying at the Art/Earth/Tech London Hub was a lovely experience of living intentionally and in community.”

“The London Hub members were all awesome, and I felt like we had created a warm, open and trusting dynamic and atmosphere.”

“The interior itself was also exceptional, and it adds a lot of coziness and uniqueness to this centrally located space.”

Located on Gneisenaustrasse in Kreuzberg, Berlin

More about Art / Earth / Tech

A multidisciplinary to creating a wise and beautiful future

Art / Earth / Tech is a multi-disciplinary initiative including artists, ecologists researchers and technologists. Its goal is to foster a community of people making a wise, well and beautiful world. Activities include developing coliving spaces; building a network via gatherings and events; and sharing knowledge via education and research.

Find out more at https://artearthtech.com/

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Recruiting! Art Earth Tech Hub manager, Berlin

Location: Art Earth Tech hub, Kreuzberg, Berlin, Germany

We request that you live in the Hub as a requirement to fulfil the role

Contract: 4 days a week, permanent

Salary: €36,000 p/a (£30,000) pro rata

To apply: please email [email protected]

Our purpose

A growing number of us are seeking lives that are meaningful as well as productive, yet we often struggle to find a balance. We need a wiser way of living whilst remaining engaged in conventional society. A way to live in cities whilst being in community, to be present as well as purposeful, that supports us to be the best version of ourselves. We are building that way starting with co-living communities across Europe. We opened in Berlin in September 2019 and are opening more spaces in April 2020.

Art / Earth / Tech is a multi-disciplinary initiative including artists, ecologists researchers and technologists. Its goal is to foster a community of people making a wise, well and beautiful world. Activities include developing coliving spaces; building a network via gatherings and events; and sharing knowledge via education and research. Find out more at https://artearthtech.com/

Purpose of the role

To develop the culture of Art Earth Tech to enable a flourishing community in and around our Berlin hub in Kreuzberg.

Being part of Art Earth Tech

When you work with Art Earth Tech, you get to have your work and purpose aligned in a way that stretches you to your potential. You get to be part of an expanding network that really stands for cultural change in practice, not just believing in it. Our community and the new people you’ll meet tend to be pioneers who are up for transforming society. The events and gatherings you generate can be based on your own enquiry and community around cultural change. The creativity and passion you contribute will shape how Art Earth Tech is in Berlin and contribute to the overall direction of the organisation.

You will join a learning organisation whose internal culture matches what we want to see in the world with compassionate straight communication, coaching and hard work. In return you’ll receive support, development and be part of a community that believes in your greatness. And you can travel to our rural spaces in France and our urban hub in Hoxton, London.

Key responsibilities

Leadership and vision

  • Hold the Art Earth Tech culture and brand in Berlin: be the ‘go-to’ person for AET in Germany
  • Contribute to Art Earth Tech’s strategy and core work
  • Build the brand to be known and respected for its initiatives, and leverage this to support the business plan
  • Maintain and manage the quarterly and annual project goals
  • Report into Art Earth Tech core team and attend our Gatherings and Sprints in France
  • Work with the remote team on communications, marketing and brand representation
  • Report into GNS on building, accounts and tenancy management

Community building

  • Find new members to the Art Earth Tech spaces and manage their agreements
  • Coordinate regular community activity including practices, events, social media and internal communications
  • Conduit between community members and Art Earth Tech
  • Establish and maintain relationships with local partners
  • Organise and generate events with the community in the event space

Facilities management

  • Financial management and financial literacy for bookkeeping and managing budgets
  • Manage the facilities, legal requirements and tenancy agreements
  • Oversee repairs and general maintenance of the building

Skills and experience

  • High level of motivation, initiative and self direction alone with being a good team support and collaborator and ability to motivate others
  • Experience with community hosting and facilitation, and any conflict resolution / mediation / dialogue practices.
  • Comfortable with dynamic and fluid organizational culture, able to creatively work through challenges to get the job done, and done well
  • Experience with project and budget planning and management
  • Experience with managing construction, trade workers and active project sites
  • Experience with research to ensure projects are in line with required permits, regulations and approvals
  • Ability and interest in coaching and good communication
  • Experience in real estate management is desirable
  • Speak German and English (essential)

Who you are

You are an optimist, you are a stand for people and helping them realise their potential. You see beyond the drama of day to day and hold people to their greatness. You do not get caught up in gossip or stories, and are able to see through all that to what’s often behind it. You participate and follow philosophical discussions and can apply that to the everyday living. You can also switch from discussing Heidegger to checking if there is enough loo roll for an event. Having worked or lived in community before, you value your boundaries and know when they can spill over. You are giving and you are responsible. When it’s lights out, its lights out.

You give your word to things and are open to when that word has to be broken. You are comfortable in confrontation and donâ’t avoid conflict. You are practicing non judgement on yourself and others. You are coherent in your communication and your way of being. You prioritise your way of being and are not attached to your thoughts and feelings. You really want to make a difference to people’s lives. You believe whole heartedly in community being where that difference can happen: collective action is the way! You like to play, like other human beings, like to see connections and bridge networks, like to host and celebrate, and are a stand for a wiser culture.

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CANCELLED: Contemplative Activism ‘drop-in, drop-out’ at Bidston, Liverpool

The Invitation

We are hosting our second event of Art Earth Tech’s contemplative activism initiative, a “drop-in, drop-out” at Bidston Observatory (a lovely space for artistic exploration outside Liverpool) from March 14th to March 29th. The gathering is an open invitation, and very reasonably priced (£15 a night), so please forward this invitation to anybody who might be interested. We would love to see you there for as little as much of the time as you could attend.

If you are unfamiliar, contemplative activism is activism that is fed by the realisation that a major source of our great social and person concerns is the lack of a contemplative mindset – the mindset we are in when we are “connected.” Contemplative activism means doing the activism that we already do, such as climate activism, with more a spiritual or contemplative mindset, but it also involves asking ourselves how to be activist on behalf of the contemplative mindset. To give wholeness its proper place in our lives, in organisations, and in society.

This meeting is a chance for people who feel drawn to this pursuit to spend time with each other in an informal way, a practice called a “drop-in, drop-out” format in artistic circles. In a drop-in, drop-out format, the space is held by a group over time, with the idea that people can join for any amount of time (e.g two days or even two hours is fine) but that a space/consciousness is held by and transmitted between a shifting group (as it tends to be “naturally”.) There will be time and space for private work on personal projects but co-location means we can share free time. This is done in an everything-is-optional and free way.

The venue is in an urban area, but is situated within a large public park, which is uncrowded, and beautiful – with woods and entrancing natural rock formations. There is an urban community farm nearby, but downtown Liverpool is only 30 minutes by public transport.

Beds can be reserved through Bidston observatory, details are below. We plan to share food costs while there in an informal way and make meals collectively.

Naresh Giangrande (co-founder of Transition Towns) and Liam Kavanagh will be there the entire time as will be the directors of Bidston, who are taking part.

Some things that we’ve spoken about doing in the space are:

  • Shared meals beginning in silence
  • Morning and evening meditation
  • Poetry readings
  • Tools sharing: Trauma and resilience work

Other activities, tool sharings, and workshops by whoever would like to offer them.

Some ideas that are being developed are:

Keeping Activism Fresh: A big conversation going within XR at the moment is about whether the movement fell into a “rinse and repeat” type mindset after April. The same imagery, tactics that were refreshing in April seemed to become normalised in public mind by the fall. Staying out of ruts and in touch with originality is always an issue, and it may be a requirement for an activism that requires catching eyes that don’t want to be caught. This is surely a matter of being unattached, artists burn their old work for a reason, like monks give away their money. Is giving up on what seemed like success a contemplative practice? Is it crucial for activism?

Art as contemplative activism. Artists are often motivated by an impulse to share or gesture toward the sublime and question and subvert barriers to it, and hold strong convictions that our society is tragically alienated from this. As frustration with the limits with art objects and performances in creating this have mounted artists have turned towards ritual, participative performances, participative ritual, and so on. One might notice a return to a kind space often identified with religion. How do/can art practice and the concept and culture space that the word “art” creates integrate with the wider cultural movement to embrace spirit/presence/”the ultimate”/non-duality/choose-your-term.

Hope to see you there!

Liam (for the rest of the organisers.)

-–

More about Bidston Observatory and Arranging a stay there:

Bidston Observatory is conceived as a space for concentration, work and potential production, rather than purely a leisure site. The project’s objective is to be a resource that supports different ways of working (together) and makes new imaginings possible. With this in mind, please send a brief mail to: [email protected], giving us an idea about your practice, or what you might be working on during your stay here. Just a few quick sentences will do! Read more about the observatory at: http://www.bidstonobservatory.org/

A little more about contemplative activism:

Many people come to a realisation that our environmental crisis is part of a much deeper crisis, which has to do with our alienation from the source of our deepest intelligence and wisdom. This includes many famous writers and spiritual leaders like Joanna Macy, Martin Heidegger, and Thich Nhat Hanh, but also many normal people who just can’t shake the impression that something really big is missing from life. Our deepest contemplative (or spiritual, or mystical) intelligence and our disconnection from it are something that we experience in a deeply subjective way. We know something is missing from life when we are outside of it, even though it seems like our society encourages this. We cannot point directly to this intelligence, or to its absence, so when one of us comes strongly into contact with this intelligence, they tend to think they have seen something very new and unlike what other people are talking about. So we have invented many words and phrases like being “embodied”, “present”. “aware”, “mindful”, “connected”, we experience “suchness”, “thusness”, “tatata” and “non-duality.” These are all pretty much the same thing. More words for the same thing won’t make more people understand these words mean. They must see it directly themselves to know what the words refer to, and this is the hardest thing to accept. We can’t tell people “just do it” and expect results.

So what do we do? The good news is that many, many people have been responding to this lack. It is afterall, the lack of perhaps the most important thing in life. Practices such as mindfulness and other meditation, shamanism, reconnection, many strands of visual and performance, body work, plant medicines, many forms of trauma therapy, intellectual movements such as phenomenology, work on embodiment, and on hemispheric differences in the brain all may be seen as responses and gestures towards ways of widening awareness of our situation. But these movements are still just beginning to become more than the sum of their parts. They are not aware of themselves as working for the same thing. Part of what we are hoping to do is collectively raise awareness of our pursuits’ intertwinedness, but also to co-create a space for these related pursuits to make each other more whole and more effective. Also though, there is the question of resisting confinement of these concerns to the private “non-political” sphere, resisting the idea that these conversations belong in a “non-secular” ghetto while in the public sphere, we continue to pretend that the only things that are real and important are those that we can see and touch. Politics shapes the public consciousness, like it or not. Apolitical wholeness is an oxymoron.

Contemplative activism also means embracing the need for planning and organisation, while not being a slave to accomplishments and goals. Teaching meditation or doing art requires some planning. Using concepts is not a sin, nor is technical knowledge. It is just that the analytical mind is a spectacular servant and a bad master. We will never be effective in putting things right by denying ourselves use of this power.

See other blog posts:

The case for contemplative activism: why, why now and what are we offering?

Contemplative activism primer

Learning to be and act when we have no ground beneath our feet

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One Taiwan

The election just happened and revealed a gap in the value system between two generations.

How can we bring Taiwan back together after this election and celebrate the many faces of Taiwan?

Sylvie Shiwei Barbier will be performing a theatrical dialogue with the audience to open the space and go beyond identities, political views and generations. She breaks the usual rules of the separation between the artist and the audience. Art here functions to point to an ultimate dimension, from One Cosmos, to one earth to reveal the One Taiwan.

There is an essence in each of us, something that can not be broken, that can not die. Something that is eternal where all is one. My art is to bring that present to you.

When: Thursday 27th February 18:00

Where: Acid Lab, Taipei, Taiwan

For more information, please see the Facebook event here

About the Artist

Sylvie Shiwei Barbier is an artist with French / Taiwan background and identity and co-founder of the Art / Earth / Tech community. Good at interacting with people through different forms such as behavior, performance art, Graphic Photography and films. Past performances covered topics such as birth, death, laughter, memory, longing, family and instincts. The body is her main art language, with a special background, built a bridge between east and west aesthetics.

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Event: Human // Nature // Stories 29th February 2020

“When we lose our myths we lose our place in the universe”

– Madeleine L’Engle

Join us at this event curated by our London Hub member Hannah: Human // Nature // Stories. Here she describes the enquiry and why she has put on this event.

Humans have woven stories since the dawn of time. Speckled across the pages of our existence is the ink of myth, fable, & folklore, and the echoes of adventurous anecdotes and worldly tales linger from centuries ago…

Using a variety of tools, such as language, art, movement, & sound, humans have crafted narratives about what it means to be alive in the world for millennia. Whilst our cultures may have changed, the essence of human nature remains intact, buried deep within the scriptures of the soul.

Fictive or not, we have used stories to make sense of things throughout our evolution, both individually and collectively.

In an undefinable world filled with undefinable phenomena, such as consciousness and love, we are compelled by our very nature to understand all that we experience, and in our attempts we inadvertently bring forth beauty through poetry, music, revolutionary conversation and so on. We also unwittingly bring forth delusion.

Some argue that the human desire to forge meaning through such methods misses the point, others argue that meaningless meaning-making is the point.

Today, the way we see ourselves in the world is a dark tale, one in which a separation from nature, spirit, and wisdom has caused a rift in inter-human and human-Earth relations. Our world is made of stories. How might we envision a new one in a time of crisis?

From bedtime stories to the grandiose meta-narratives of our time, expect interdisciplinary, enlivening wisdom from a band of tale-telling poets, artists, and philosophers.

Question: How can we use stories to reevaluate and more effectively understand human nature in a time that requires a new way of being?

Aim: Understanding how humans have told their collective story throughout the ages, and what kind of story we need now.

When: Saturday 29th February 10:00 – 23:30

Where: The Boiler House, 152 Brick Lane, E1 5RU, London

Who: INCREDIBLE LINE-UP!!

Storytelling & Performance:

  • Andreas Kornevall >>> Entering the Age of Restoration
  • Rachel Rose Reid
  • Tom Morley
  • Lucy Neal (with Charlotte Du Cann)
  • The Embers Collective
  • Boe Huntress
  • Mobius Loop

Talks

  • Andrew Simms >>> We Are More Than This – the Death of an Economic Myth
  • Mac Macartney >>> The Invisible Path
  • Vinay Gupta >>> Across the Abyss: From Myth to Reality
  • Charlotte Du Cann >>> The Kist

Panels

  • Media & Storytelling

Katherine T Lewis, Indra Adnan, Matthew Green, Alexander Beiner

  • Ancient Wisdom For Modern Times

Maria Papaspyrou, Mac Macartney, Amisha Ghadiali, Liam Kavanagh

For more information on the guest speakers and for tickets, please see here

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Ways of being for 2020: AET Winter Sprint January 2020

To kick off the year, we came together in frosty foggy January to review 2019 and plan this coming year 2020.

We started with a half day of embodiment work to reconnect ourselves including drawing our faces on the window pane Picasso style and meditations. The last time we were all together was after the Gathering at the start of September so it was important to reconnect and meet each other again.

Everyday we had 45 minutes of embodied work which opened us up to vulnerability, being alive and in touch with a deeper sense of togetherness.

That evening, we started our review of 2019 with the sophisticated process: ‘Yeh, Meh, Bleurgh’ sharing what worked (Yeh!) – Berlin! Real Estate Fund! New London members! Recruiting Petronella!; what was mediocre (Meh…) and what didn’t work (Bleurgh).

With 2019 put to bed, we were clear to create what we wanted for 2020. We started with sharing our ‘Ways of Being’ for the new year, both for ourselves and for us as Art Earth Tech.

Our possibility: A young redwood tree 🌲 with a moon 🌖 and a person meditating 🧘 with birds 🐦 circling around

So, 2020 we are preparing the soil 🌱🌱 to grow a redwood forest 🌲🌲🌲

🌲 The Redwood symbolises time, patience, solidity and deepth. 🌖 The moon refers to the Sublime, beauty, the poetic, art, magician and mystery. The person meditating 🧘 points to Zen, to nothing, the zen sword, and being clear-sighted, wuwei (action / non action), and our commitment to awakening.

On this path we aim to be 🐦 playful like the birds; and engaged and ambitious. We are in action while always staying ❤️ open-hearted and open-minded, with deep love, vulnerability and joyfulness.

-–

Our work revolves around eight workstreams:

Big vision: writing, gathering and events that draw on a conversation for a big vision for society

Spaces: developing rural and urban community living properties across Europe

Pioneers: people who get what AET is about and are empowered to lead and contribute to our expansion

Business / Mutual Project Co: businesses and projects that contribute financially to AET, share our culture and / or contribute to our vision

Education: creating an inspired, wise pedagogical programme for children

Art: weaving our art practice with the Big Vision work (performance) and embodiment

Communications and Branding: keep your eyes peeled for our new brand to launch this year

Core: day to day management for a flourishing AET

For this year 2020, our focus is:

1. Finding people: passing on the culture so we can form a community to live wisely

2. Develop the hubs: submitting the plans for our next rural hub in Bergerac and finding new members (as above) and core manager for the Berlin Hub.

3. Generating money so we can expand our work and our reach to more people through receiving grants, establishing the Real Estate Fund and creating new revenue streams and enterprises

4. Refine our brand so that at a glance people have a direct intuitive feeling of what we are about and why we do what we do

5. High profile outreach so that we raise our credibility and spread our vision to attract like minded people (see no.1)

Whoop whoop 🙌🏼 – there is a lot to get involved this year, from attending the Contemplative Activism events, moving into our spaces in Berlin and La Cheraille, running events at our hub in Berlin, to helping renovate and design our space in Bergerac! Crucially, we are on the hunt for a wicked Hub Manager for our building in Kreuzberg, Berlin – if you know someone who gets what Art Earth Tech is up to, has a practical sense of managing spaces, and speaks German of course, then please send them our way 👉🏽 👉🏽 👉🏽

Over the Sprint fell our second Community Day where new members Hannah Close and Richard Millington joined us for a day of sharing our plans and dreams for 2020; we sat with the question, “What are we up to really?

—> Awakening. Being before doing and having; “being in life itself,” as Liam puts it. And a stand for life itself. We referred to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) that offers for transcendence as a need on condition that other needs are met first. However, Max-Neef’s fundamental human needs encompasses more without such a hierarchy. (You can read a comparison here).

We picked up on our conversation previously on ‘awakening’ (transformation / Zen)… and asked: ‘how do we generate that cause of awakening’? For this increasingly is becoming at the source of Art Earth Tech.

We ended with this from George Bernard Shaw – who similarly was contemplating our being in a time of cultural change in Victorian Britain.

This is the true joy in life, to be used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one, to be a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and that as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live, I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me, it is a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got a hold of for a moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

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Learning to act and be when we have no ground under our feet

Seeing the world as it is.

Learning to act and be when we have no ground under our feet.

The first contemplative activism gathering took place near Kings Lynn, in the beautiful and whimsical West Lexham centre.

So what did you do?

We met, we talked, we meditated and did some embodied practice together.

What actually happened?

We found that it is very hard to talk about what Contemplative Activism is and what it means. The sharply contrasting, paradoxical melding of two concepts that don’t usually go together felt intriguing, and we wondered if they are the right terms for what we are proposing.

Rhetoric feels important. The tension between contemplatives and whatever culture they are a part of is a subject as old as the hills; living in the world versus contemplation – with very divergent skills and aims. However at a time when all the available evidence is pointing to a civilisational collapse following business as usual, then something else might be able to happen. And contemplatives offer an opening to other societal narratives, aims, and practices.

We asked a lot of questions like:

  • What is activism?
  • Is climate change a spiritual issue?
  • Contemplative practices won’t solve climate change, but bringing contemplative practices into activism might?
  • What are the collective traumas that lead to our civilisational crisis?
  • How well equipped do we feel to hold people in the grief and loss that we are likely to face?
  • What might a Contemplative Activism Sangha look like? What are the challenges?
  • Do we need a new organisation? Or a new Sangha?
  • Can we have trees in our Sangha?

But we had very few answers.

This is because Contemplative Activism is about helping us to see the world as it is, rather than as we want it to be or wish it was. To question is to live without knowing or needing to know how to live with no ground beneath our feet as Pema Chodron calls the embrace of the dharma.

Turning your mind towards the dharma does not bring security or confirmation. Turning your mind towards the dharma does not bring any ground to stand on. In fact, when your mind turns toward the dharma, you fearlessly acknowledge impermanence and change and begin to get the knack of hopelessness.

When Things Fall Apart pg 51

We will, almost certainly, have to start to live without the rules, agreements, and boundaries which have defined our world. Our world is a world that has been created by civilisation. Civilisation created cities and settled groups of people. It is the defining organising principle of our world, more than capitalism or socialism. Political organisations such as capitalism or socialism are just two different ways of running civilisation.

What we are currently living in, is the end of civilisation and the beginning of something else. And Contemplative Activism will help us with this transition. Why? Because it will enable us to see the world as it is not as we want it to be. We will need to adapt to vastly different ways of doing just about everything, and contemplating change, not managing, not setting up rules or agreements, not mediating anything. Just ‘being with’ is easily the most useful skill we might possess. And one of the most difficult to maintain and live with. Easy to say but oh so difficult to do. Presence, the cultivation of ‘being with what is’ in any moment, moment to moment, has been the stomping ground of contemplatives of all ilk and every hue from the beginning of time.

Our new world will be a world without the existing hierarchies, without the existing power structures, and without the certainties that civilisation has put in place, and has determined our world for the last 500 years or so or maybe 2500 years, depending on what part of the world you are living in. What comes next is up to us to define and create. Or we can leave this to ‘others’.

The Ho de no sau nee, the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy, made a spectacular set of statements to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland in Autumn 1977. They concluded:

The traditional Native peoples hold the key to the reversal of the processes in Western Civilization which hold the promise of unimaginable future suffering and destruction. Spiritualism is the highest form of political consciousness. And we, the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere, are among the world’s surviving proprietors of that kind of consciousness.

I would add the contemplatives to this list of ‘proprietors of that kind of consciousness’, the only consciousness there really is. All else are fabrications, beliefs, and conventions which have no basis in reality apart from the significance we collectively give them and the violence that is used to uphold them. Yuval Noah Harari provides a searching and unflinching examination of the role and basis of beliefs in the formation of civilisations in his book Sapiens, a Brief History of Humankind.

Now is the time to contemplate what and who we are. And from that will flow a new world consciously made.

The Sangha created in this gathering will go on meeting virtually, and face to face in Liverpool in a ‘drop in drop out’ two-week meeting in early spring, a small meeting in Berlin, and a large gathering in summer 2020. Others can join us. Come and bring your practice. We are gathering and blending a variety of ‘spiritual’ and other practices. We are an eclectic and fluid group which is still forming and finding out who and what we are.

Naresh Giangrande January 2020