A New ‘Temple’ for Community – Contemplating in Nature and among Modern Art (Stoa169)

You walk a lovely agricultural Bavarian landscape close by a small river. A bend on the trail opens a new sight, and there you see a hall of art in the middle of nature. On a part of an agricultural meadow near the village of Polling, on the banks of the river Ammer, in the middle of Pfaffenwinkel, an open columned hall is being built: the STOA169. More than 100 artists from all continents were selected to design one column each, which together, as an archive of today’s art, would carry the common roof of the STOA169.

Picture sent by Wolfgang Stark

STOA169 reminds not only on meditative buildings in Indian temples or on the buildings of the ancient Greek philosophy of ‘Stoicism’. It is a modern community building architecture in which people of all ages, background, colors can come together. The open hall and more than 100 columns individually designed by well-known artists represent the state of modern art from all continents. simultaneously it reflects our heritage as human beings, our past, present and future challenges as a planetary community.

Does an open hall for art as part of the nature (no walls, no fees, no rules) create community today? It invites individuals, families, young and old to come together and be inspired – connects people who have never met before. Many discover new perspectives by wandering between the columns: for some it is a place for peace like a temple, for others a ‘bonbonierre’ of surprises. Kids just love to run around, hide between or climb the columns. The majority of visitors leaves with shiny eyes and a smile on their face. That is how you create community.

Story shared by Wolfgang Stark, Germany

More info here at wolfgang.stark@stw.de

We need something positive: Teenagers take BASKETBALL HOOP to the streets to help ease tensions

Stephania Ergemlidze and a group of some friends used the power of sport to find a common ground to ease the anger and confrontation in their home city of Philadelphia following the killing of George Floyd. The teenagers took the basketball hoop to the streets and encouraged the protesters to join them in a few shots to ease the tensions. To ensure safety, the teenagers brought sanitizers to be used to clean hands and the ball. Ergemlidze stated her aim as peacefully bringing people together and spread love through basketball.

Tensions were thought to subside as small crowds gathered to watch the game. A police officer was among those whom the teenagers encouraged to throw a few shots.

This initiative aimed to bring peace through sports.

Picture retrieved from Twitter

Story shared by Margaret Sergon, USA, based on a story originally collected by the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies of Ball State University, Indiana, USA.

High School Students Are Demanding Schools Teach More Black History, Include More Black Authors

Three high school students, strangers to each other and separated by miles, launch a campaign to demand that schools teach more Black history, include more Black authors in the English syllabi, and other reforms that promote racial equity. The teenagers are using social media to plan reformers, to pressure school officials, and to access inspiration from other activists.

Picture retrieved from Black Children’s Books and Authors (BCBA)

They hope the reforms will promote racial equity.

The success of these efforts will promote racial equity.

Story shared by Margaret Sergon, USA, based on a story originally collected by the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies of Ball State University, Indiana, USA.

More info here or at msergon@my.nl.edu

LifeSchoolHouse: barter-based folkschools in Canada

We have launched a network of barter-based folkschools to support grassroots community leaders in convening skills-sharing workshops as a means to reduce social isolation and loneliness. We have offered more than 1000 workshops in less than 3 years and our work has become even more important in our community with the rise of Covid and it’s associated social restrictions. Our volunteer-based organization has mobilized in-person and online workshops, emergency community food pantries, makers swaps and meal drives using the assets in the community to support a more resilient and interconnected world.

LifeSchoolHouse

We asked 150 people what benefits they received from LifeSchoolHouse programming and they said “Enjoyment and happiness” – 90.2%, “Creativity and idea sharing” – 86.9%, “Sense of community / neighbourliness” – 88.5% , “Meeting new people” – 75.4%, and “Social connection and friendship” – 75.4%.

We started with less than $5 in hand and ran workshops for MONTHS using this barter-based approach of asking for what we need and offering what we have. For instance, when we needed mason jars to teach a preservation workshop to reduce food insecurity by teaching an essential skill, we received tangible inkind donations of 100’s of jars from folks around the community – enough to keep us going for months! Our community has embraced this inclusive approach and run with it to create spin off caremongering activities and events for the community and the work continues to grow everyday.

Story shared by Jennifer DeCoste, Canada

More info here or at jennifer@lifeschoolhouse.com

Simultaneously write at home and display our poems in the street

I used to participate in a writing workshop and, with the lockdown, we couldn’t get together any more. The facilitator then had the idea of having us write in a common time shared, each at home, and then, during the night, to go and display our poems in the streets of our town or village.

Writing alone at home, I felt the connection with the other people who participated in this experience. It was amazing! Then, by night, I posted my writings on a mobile panel in my village. After two days, someone from the town hall moved the sign but did not remove the poster.

This event taught me that in a common project, we can feel the presence of others from a distance and that the limitations to our freedom of movement can generate unexpected creative initiatives. I don’t think I would have dared to display my poems in the street without this exceptional event.

Story shared by Corinne-Lara Tilloy, France

More info at corinne.tilloy@sfr.fr

A virtual arts festival to raise the spirits of people in a neighbourhood

In our neighbourhood, a place called Chorlton, in Manchester, UK, we (a group of residents, chaired by me a community psychologist) organise a community arts festival every year. This year, after planning and scheduling over 200 artists to engage in creative activities across 60 community places, we had to cancel. Then a local resident came along and offered to curate a digital or virtual festival. This went ahead in October. We worked with 20 of the original artists to prepare virtual galleries, and virtual streets of Chorlton, learning as we went, and opening the festival to all.

Over a 3 day period, residents visited galleries, specially created ‘rooms (one about art-from-rubbish in a rubbish bin!), listened to virtuoso performances and bands on a large screen in a festival field where they could also chat with each other, played games in the virtual streets – and all of this virtual – and free! There were activities for all ages and embraced many different cultures.

Whilst the festival had no barriers to inclusion, of course digital capability was an issue – Like everything else in this COVID year, digital inclusion enabled participation but exclusion did the opposite. If people could not attend uring the 3 day festival, they could access the virtual worlds afterwards. As follow up activities the virtual festival field and local streets were transformed for Halloween. In recognition that not only was digital exclusion an issue, but navigating the virtual worlds was challenging for anyone over the age of 25, we have mounted some learning opportunities in collaboration with a local college.

Story and pictures shared by Carolyn Kagan, United Kingdom.

For more info here or please contact at cmkagan@gmail.com

The human potential – uncertainty into action

Since our main festival got cancelled due to Covid19 Covid19 created an online series with Alex Grey, Marianne Williamson, Charles Eisenstein, Daniel Pinchbeck, Kaypacha Lescher, A.H. Almaas, Gay Hendricks, Jamie Catto, Liam Forde, Anjum Rahman, Karen Johnson. Part 1 of the Human Potential Series weaves together a multitude of viewpoints from artists, authors, activists, teachers, thought leaders, visionaries and entrepreneurs focused around how we can Transform Uncertainty into Action. This is the first of many initiatives to come around new ways of living, community support and involvement.

Picture retrieved from here

In our first live session with Alex Grey we had hundreds of people tuning in to draw inspiration and use tools to transform uncertainty into action. We now creating a forum to discuss how to action ideas and initiatives that will promote life, freedom, acceptance and accountability.

That we are diverse and different that currently we are in the most challenging times in human history due to growing divisions and separation. We realized that we fear death and not coming to acceptance with this as well as our differences. We feel it is time to reimagine our relationship with ourselves, our communities, our appointed governments. This time we need to see beyond our fears and differences to be able to truly reach our potential. This will be through hosting discussion panels, community activities and invite as many people as we can to take part.

Story shared by Issac Oron, New Zealand

More info here or at issac@earthbeatfestival.com

Social Hackathons vs Corona

Around March 15, 2020 German Start-Up-Companies, the Open Knowledge Foundation, the Social Entrepreneurship Foundation, Impact Hub Berlin and a large group of ‘Techies’ collaborated with the German Government in a call on a nation-wide hackathon to cope with social consequences of corona. Within one week, more than 40.000 participants, more than 2.000 innovators and 3.000 mentors registered and joined in a 48-hour hackathon.

As a result, hundreds of project ideas how to cope with corona have been developed within one weekend, 200 projects have been selected for a short-list and 20 projects received funding awards.

As a consequence, regional coworking spaces and other urban and rural initiatives are planning social hackathons in their region.

Social Hackathons may be future tools for addressing challenges in communities and local regions. May attract specifically young people of the area who could collaborate with administration, politicians and business people. Easy to be supported and funded by local companies and administrations.

Story shared by Wolfgang Stark, Germany.

More info here.