Common Ground

Walking towards sunrise–Making connections

WalkingTowardsSunriseWalkRoute06Sept13DeptDateFrom Pu Ling Lai

I am a Chinese student in Holistic Science in Schumacher College, Devon, United Kingdom. I plan to start a walking pilgrimage in September 2013 from the college to my hometown Guangzhou, China, visiting ecological and spiritual centres on the way.

I will walk without money in order to have more connection with people while receiving food, accommodation, clothes, etc freely and giving away freely without attachment. I wish to explore the diversity as well as the unity of the world, to learn to love all members of this planet as my family with all our differences, and to find common ground. I choose to walk because I want to be slow enough to embody the natural and cultural landscape from the west to the east, and to be transformed by the beauty of Nature and humanity. East is the direction of sunrise and enlightenment. For me, this is not just a walk back home, but also a walk that connects the east and the west within me, a walk back to the source, towards sunrise, towards illumination.

My possible route is via France, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia/Herz, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Iran, (or via Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan), Pakistan, India, Nepal, Tibet, Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi, Guangdong(China). My plan remains open and flexible.

After the walk, my dream is to build a community where people are in love with each other and with Mother Earth. I wish to learn from different cultures along the way in their way of living in harmony together in Nature and to share stories and inspirations wherever I go, so that more seeds of love, joy and peace can be spread and grow into a stronger reality.

At present, I am looking for people who are interested in supporting my pilgrimage in different ways, such as

  • walking together for some parts or the whole of the pilgrimage
  • hosting me in their hometown
  • suggesting ecological/spiritual centres in different countries
  • spreading my story around (public relations, connection with media, etc)
  • giving donations to make the pilgrimage possible (the fees required for applying for visas and insurance alone will cost about 2000£ )

If you wish to contribute, please feel free to contact me by:

email: vivian-ling@hotmail.com
phone: 00447438426310 (UK)
Pu Ling Lai
Schumacher College, The old postern, Dartington, Totnes, Devon, England, TQ9 6EA

‘Healthy Parks, Healthy People’ includes a healthy amount of creativity

Usually, when I’m at a conference, and everyone is standing in a circle and talking about what inspires them, the participants are barefoot. With dreadlocks. Also, someone is making a giant pot of beans in the next room. This was not that conference. This was the “Healthy Parks, Healthy People” conference. The people in the circle were corporate VPs, non-profit directors, public health officials, and National Park Service Staff. And creative design thinking guided much of the process.

The concept of “Healthy Parks, Healthy People” is directly lifted from Parks Victoria in Australia. The idea is, basically, that nature is scientifically proven to be healthy for us, and so supporting parks is good for everybody. Parks Victoria Director Bill Jackson was in attendance, moving from group to group as we were all shuffled about to exchange ideas and brainstorm. As the chattering and shuffling went on, folks from the Grove Consultancy facilitated and drew giant illustrative doodles of emerging concepts. Like mind-mapping. Like some of us have done at other hardcore eco-conferences.

The doodles were helpful in visualizing commonalities. That’s a wordy way of saying there was a lot of common ground. There were collective calls for more research, pooled resources, branded messaging, and a reach out beyond the obvious perks of parks into the tree-less digital-screen-land most American kids live in.

This whole thing got started when the Institute at the Golden Gate created a “Parks Prescription” document, detailing non-profits across the country who were using park activities to fight obesity and diabetes. They connected with NPS director Jon Jarvis, and put the jumble of parks/health/environment people together at Fort Baker.”We need to create new partnerships,” said Jarvis in his opening remarks.

Done and done? In addition watching health insurance reps work in groups with uniformed Public Health Officers and green retailers, I ended up sitting in a group with an NPS staffer and the American Heart Association’s Ambassador of Play (yes!) discussing the possible benefits of a design competition. At the end of it all, Jarvis announced a Healthy Foods Strategy for parks, analyzing the nutritional value and sustainability of park food and creating requirements for concessionaires.

“How can we bring about a cultural change in which parks are valued not just as scenery, but as the untapped sources of healthy living that they truly are?, ” asked Jarvis at the start of the conference. It remains to be seen whether the gathering will be the catalyst for such a change. It has yet to involve the collaboration of known creatives like Presidio Habitats. But I did see one non-profit director working without her shoes.

Hydromemories: Call for examples of artists working with water

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

Hydromemories is seeking to build up an archive of artists working with water.  The site already contains a number of interesting examples, to which one might add:

Betsy Damon, Keepers of the Waters,

Liz Ogilvie’s Bodies of Water amongst other works,

Anne Bevan’s Source amongst other works,

Common Ground’s Confluence and other projects,

Helix Arts’ Quaking Houses seen&unseen project,

as well as the Harrisons’, David Haley, Aviva Rahmani and a trawl through Greenmuseum’s archives…

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge ResearchGray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.

Go to EcoArtScotland

Fallen Fruit Presents EAT LACMA

February–November 2010

EAT LACMA is a year-long investigation into food, art, culture and politics. Fusing the richness of LACMA’s permanent collection with the ephemerality of food and the natural growth cycle, EAT LACMA’s projects consider food as a common ground that explores the social role of art and ritual in community and human relationships. EAT LACMA unfolds seasonally, with artist’s gardens planted and harvested on the museum campus, hands-on public events, and a concurrent exhibition, Fallen Fruit Presents The Fruit of LACMA (June 27-November 7, 2010). It culminates in a day-long event (November 7, 2010) in which over fifty artists and collectives will activate, intervene, and re-imagine the entire museum’s campus and galleries. EAT LACMA is curated by Fallen Fruit—David Burns, Matias Viegener and Austin Young—and LACMA curator Michele Urton.

Go to EcoLOGIC LA

Climate denialism and Žižek’s fear of the future


Slavoj Žižek by Hendrik Speck

If there is a star philosophy turn, it’s  Slavoj Žižek. Last night he spoke at the RSA to a packed Great Room and justified his star status with constantly dazzling performance, which will beonline here soon. As Nigel Warburton, the event’s chair, remarked, what’s thrilling about listening to him talk publicly is the way he develops ideas in mid-sentence. Asides suddenly become new ideas, and even his asides seem to have asides.

One of his asides was a meditation on who would be the figures of the current era who would still be having statues built to them in 100 years time.

Žižek suggested Lee Kuan Yew, the reforming but authoritarian leader of Singapore,  who turned the island city-state into one of the wealthiest economies in the world. And who more importantly provided the model for Deng Xiaoping’s modernisation of Communist China.

Why? Here he took an easy kick at Fukuyama’s idea that liberal captitalist democracy was the last word in history, pointing out that the winners in capitalism’s latest race appear to be not the liberal capitalist states, but the authoritarian ones like China. And (I’m writing from memory here) his real fear is that this is the successful model that we’re all heading towards. More authoritarian capitalist states, not fewer.

Every now and again I try and take on a climate denialist. It’s a fairly stupid, self-destructive thing to do, and leads to really, really, really silly arguments about whose scientists have bigger graphs, and talk of hockey sticks and mad petitions, but occasionally I think it’s worth doing to discover if you have any common ground at all, and to try and understand how the thinking behind this weird group of misfits with such extraordinary political power.

One thing that’s obvious. Denialists like James Delingpole and Nigel Lawson really aren’t interested in science. You can’t be interested in science if your method is to seek out the few dozen science names who put up serious arguments against the thousands and thousands who stand behind the conclusions of the 2007 IPCC report.

What denialists are really afraid of is the self-righteous authoritarianism that global warming brings. They are fundamentally libertarians. We may think they’re delusional libertarians, but what really concerns them is a fear of a future that actually looks much like Žižek’s.

Anthony Giddens in The Politics of Climate Change sees it as inevitable that the green-left’s dream of grass roots localisation is not up to the task of reform. Likewise he sees that broad international agreements of the kind that COP15 seek are too easy to fracture. That leaves nation states as the main actors in climate change – and the levers they have are inevitably based around carbon taxes. In Gidden’s world, (though he wouldn’t put it like this) the state will inevitably meddle in our lives more not less in the future.

Žižek’s fears, Gidden’s rationalism, and denialists’ libertarianism all find their way to the same place. So is there an alternative? One that will calm the fears of the less-mad denialists? Does climate change inevitably lead to a more authoritarian state?

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology