Dreamworld Report: Giftival Day 3Posted: 24 Oct, 2013
Day 3 was a big one. It was challenging! and in retrospect the challenging part was one of my most valuable times at Giftival…
I was with Aysegul, Lisette and Merve. Aysegul shared that she was really grateful for being with babies and elders. It had been a common theme among participants in various ways, including the gratitude of one mother (Mirabelle from India, with the cutest -and smartest – pie, Syvannah (sp?) for feeling so welcomed with her child. We all had gratitude for what we were learning and gaining from our mujaarawah with the other participants. We had longing for different and overlapping things and here is where my next theme for the day was introduced: Lisette longed for time to sit with all of this, to reflect and watch things take their course. I longed to find time to engage with other participants in very nuts and bolts future action-oriented activities. (this may be a crude representation of other people’s, and even my, views but I’m doing my best after a week of other brain-focuses). This would be a pivotal topic for the day..
As we gathered in our full group and began reporting on what we were grateful for and what we longed for, people started to open up about some very personal emotional feelings. I was definitely having a lot of them, and some stem from the pain I feel over the pain my country’s government and its allies have wrought, and continue to wreak, on others around the world (and within our country too). I won’t go into the details and it’s certainly a very subjective perspective, but various smack-downs were issued as various participants shared their thoughts and feelings. The central tension in my view was one between taking a slower, more internal spiritual tack in working toward a gift economy and culture, and taking steps toward concrete action driven more (but not exclusively) by critical thinking and dialogue. Again, a vast and personally-colored oversimplification. I was in the latter camp and was feeling like that approach wasn’t welcome at that point. I was feeling like it was a bit of a culture clash or two worlds colliding. Interestingly, as I reflected on the tensions later, I realized that all of the smack-downs were issued among and between North Americans. In fact we really dominated that part of the proceedings. Sorry everyone! :) Some suggestions were made to split the group so everyone’s desires about how to spend our time could be accommodated – this was what I wanted to do, feeling motivated by the fact that we only had 1 1/2 days left together. But we stayed together, stuck it out and talked through the difficulties we were having. In the end that felt like a very good decision and this part of the day felt really productive. In Art of Hosting they refer to this inevitable divergence of groups as the “Groan Zone” – a term which annoys me on a purely aesthetic level, but which is pretty apt and pretty darn common!
We finished up our groaning, most of the people had a dance together, I left the room because I was still groaning, and then lunch was served. Bayo invited me to join him and some others at a table and we had a beautiful conversation working through what had happened earlier. Bayo, Edgard, Judith, and Charles (at first until he had to go do an interview) were the others at the table. We talked a fair amount about grief, and how many cultures around the world view grief as a public thing that the community helps you through. Judith described a culture where a person in grief is wrapped up and scrubbed down in various ways. And how a country (perhaps Rwanda?) brought in western psychologists to help people deal with grief and trauma, only to have people marvel at the absurdity and additional trauma of asking people to go into a room alone with a stranger (the psychologist) and talk about your most difficult experiences. This was quite eye-opening to me, and felt very intuitive. Judith also shared all the various greetings the Turkish culture has for people engaging in different types of activities. For example, there’s a greeting for if you see someone exerting effort at something, which wishes them good success with that effort. Another greeting recognizes that someone is struggling and wishes that the struggle will pass quickly. She mentioned how the various greetings facilitate greater awareness of what other people are experiencing.
Toward the end of our lunch, Bayo shared some of his perspectives on the earlier tensions of the day and asked how I was feeling about the whole thing. Still not great! As I was trying to express myself I realized that a lot of what I was feeling was grief about my own disconnected culture, that we don’t have greetings that cause us to empathize with the greeted, that we do grieve in private or with professional counselors, that we have created so many oppressive constructs that we export around the world. Eek! And also that that is partly what motivates me to take action in the most effective ways I’m able, which happens to be kind of right-brained, hyperactive, and not always welcome with more regular-paced people. I felt something I’d heard Yeyo express earlier – that people wanted apples and I was offering peaches. And talking it through with Bayo and Edgard at the end of lunch was really healing and exactly what I needed to get on with the day in a much better space.
After lunch we came back together and were joined by about 40-50 local people. Awesome!
We went into 2 back-to-back open space sessions. I attended one about how to create sustainability within cooperative economic systems – particularly timebanking and similar resource exchange mechanisms – then I did another session on Mutual Aid Networks (MAN). The two sessions fit together well since MANs have been born from my efforts to answer the question of making systems that are both more self-sustaining and more meaningful/impactful for their participants.
A bunch of us walked to Gezi Park after dinner. Chris Carlsson was speaking from and about his book Nowtopiawhich envisions the realities of post-money-centric life. It’s beautiful to imagine the very basics of a world like this, and important for understanding how we can get from here to there. Thanks Chris!
coming up – last but not least, Day 4 and the close of Giftival and opening of what comes next…