Sunday, 21 December 2014

Nicci Attfield Reflects on 2014 and AoC , 20 December 2014

I've been working with James on Agents of Change in South Africa, and he's been guiding and helping (mentoring our work) over here.  About a week ago, I was doing some reflection on AoC and activism, and what I have learned from social sculpture.  The work with Agents of Change has had massive impacts for me, and these have happened in a very positive way.

 I feel very inspired by social sculpture, because it's different to other forms of activism, and it has helped me a lot.  I'd learned a lot about social injustice and privilege, but I've realized how talk of inclusion or multi-culturalism sometimes relates to capitalism and the capitalist system. I started to feel uncertain about  this concept a year a go, but I wasn't sure how to explain this fully.  I know know that it focuses on how to include people within a system which (our AoC discussions believe) are not helpful to people or to the world.

Without being able to untangle the need for a deeper respect for humanity and the environment from capitalism, the system perpetuates itself.  And it restricts the ability of people to respond in creative ways, because it imposes the belief that Western logic, prestige and status are the values to fight for.  Through Agents of Change (which interconnects with my growing interest and questioning around indigenous spirituality and traditional healers), I've learned that there are many ways of being within the world, and so many ways of sharing.

 Agents of Change has been incredible because it has created a platform without hierarchy. All people are valued as a part of our process, and everybody is considered to have the ability to share.  AoC acknowledges systemic and environmental  injustice, but puts the voices of the participants into the centre on an entirely equal footing.  It introduces a sense of community where different people with different perspectives can speak and share.  And the other participants (including me) get to see how there are different ways of being within the world without anybody being seen as right/wrong/more or less powerful.

I've been very interested in traditional healing as a way of re-connecting with body and spirit, and a means of seeing the world of animals, earth, body and air combined with community and prayer (the sweat lodge introduces all of these things), and I enjoyed the way that healers bring a sense of possibility and a focus on 'now' combined with a sense of community.  But as James and I have recently been sharing, this happens with Agents of Change too.  There is a beautiful awareness that reality is in transition, as a part of a process, and that by using imagination, we can shift and create new contributions to the world.

It's refreshing to be a part of a system which  as acknowledges the need for transformation and then gives equal space for freedom and choice of how to work towards a better future.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

AoC SA Science Center 17 December 2014

Today, we had two groups:  the teens who wanted to come along, and then the Science Centre kids who took part.  I ran two groups.  Rita was questioning the fears that come up when you realize that you want to change your life, because there is no going back.  Rita wants to bring changes and she met with some resistance, and she was upset by it.  She ended up feeling anxious.  I know this anxiety (and the resolution happened for me at Moulie Point while I watched the waves), and so I thought it was important to facilitate and share it so that she could find resolution.  The group ended up showing each other support and offering to be there for one another in times of doubt, which was lovely.  I think the AoC group means a lot to the teens.

Everybody who supports me is a blessing and those who don't want to support me make me want to show them that they are wrong because I can do it, I am greater than I look.  I know I have great things ahead of me.  Negativity is something I want to get out of my way (Rita).

Drawing inspires me.  Follow your heart and you will succeed.  Never listen to what people say about you.  (Jemima).

I am very grateful to have the support that I do in my life.  When I feel supported it makes a big difference to the situation I am facing.  I can automatically cope better.  I know that no matter how things turn out I will have friends and family who care about me.  When I think of support I think of rope.  Rope holds things up and keeps things strong.  My friends and family are my rope (Danny).

I feel anger and despair at the lack of value for life.  I want to share beauty.  I realize that art is my voice, and that is alright.  (no name).

Sharing anxiety today reminded me of how I started to feel anxious because I saw the world differently and my beliefs started to change.  I knew I had to find space for them, and now something new is coming to life.  Anxiety is a part of change, I think, and support means such a lot when you share and connect with people who think like you.  Creativity is so inspiring and it helps you move beyond anxiety.  But anxiety is a part of our process, and the way that we can help and support each other means a lot.  It is a very valuable part of the process (Nicci).

And the kids....I ask the kids what they value about being outside.  These are their reflections:

I love flowers.  Flowers are my best.  (Carla)

I think flowers are really beautiful because they really brighten the world.  Flowers are really, really beautiful!  (Tarquin)

I like soccer because when I am on the pitch, I am at home.  I love the king protea but I couldn't find it today (Daiyaan)

Keeping what you love close to you is so important.  Photos of family, children, life.  But we keep money close to us, and I have seen something new today (parent).

I like to be outside because there is more air.  I like flowers.  I like to play soccer.  I like games.  I like my friend Carla.  (Shayan).

Thank you for this work and images- Nicci, Danny, Jemima, Carla, Rita, Tarquin, Daiyaan, Shayan  and thank you to the Science Center in Cape Town for having AoC. 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

AoC SA Science Center Cape Town 12 November 2014

Dandelion is my favorite flower.  I feel very happy about it. It smells good.  It keeps away the mosquitoes and the flies (Edwin).

I like to play outside.  I like the flowers that grow.  And I like to sit under the tree, where it is shady.  It is very nice in the shade. I can throw down blankets and sleep under the shady trees.  I love nature and plants.  I also love to read and to play netball.  At my house I play with a skipping rope.  I feel very happy, and good when people listen to me.  I like flowers very much.  My flower's name is Iris and she is pretty.  When it rains, she opens up. I want to look after flowers when I grow up.  Some flowers don't smell good but there is a reason for this.  The reason is that they keep mosquitoes away.  My flower's colours are white, brown, purple and yellow.  The bees drink the nectar of the flowers.  The bees make sweet honey. (Denishe).

I feel very happy when people listen to me.  If people don't listen to me, then I won't listen back.  I like Dandelion flowers.  They are very nice flowers.  I want to look after flowers.  They give people and animals food.  We care nicely for our flowers.  The bees come to drink nectar from them.  (Tamzin)

I like to play outside, that is very fun for me.  Outside, I can also play in the sand.  I also like to play rugby.  I liked to look at the flowers.  (Winston).

I don't really like to be outside.  I can get burned by the sun.  I like to play soccer, that is my favourite sport.  I like to listen. It sounds like someone tells me stories.  I liked having a dandelion in my hand.  The stem is nice and I liked it.  I like flowers(Riana).

I like art, and when I am at home I like to draw.  I like it when people listen to me and my friends.  Today, I found a very, very beautiful flower.  I like the colours which are white, purple, yellow, green and brown.  It is a beautiful Iris flower. (Micaundre).

I like Dandelion flowers.  They are very beautiful to me.  I want to look after them, because they are beautiful.  My grandpa is a botanist.  We have a flower garden at home.  We look at it, and every two days, we give it water.  Bees sit on the flowers.  Flowers are very special and beautiful.  Just as special as I am.  (Nazley).

I don't like to be outside because it is very dangerous. I feel very happy.  I like Dandelions, and I like flowers very much (Riedwhaan).

I like outside very much, because I can play with my friends. I like nature and flowers.  I also like to sit under the trees and read my book.  I also like to play outside with my skipping rope.  I enjoy being outside and playing outside.  I love the blue sea.  I also like reading very much.  It helps me to communicate with my school work.  When I have finished my schoolwork, I read.  My flower's name is Iris.  Its colours are white, purple and yellow, and hte stem is green.  I have flowers in my garden and every day I give them water.  Some flowers give us honey (Anthea)

I like being outside because I need to get the fresh air. I like to watch the children play, and to pick flowers. I like to play with my friend.  It felt calm to listen and respect him, and it is very fun to listen to each other.  I have a flower named Pentas.  I love the flower because it is beautiful and colourful.  It's colour is pink (Milla).

Thank you Nicci Attfield for facilitating this beautiful process today and to everyone for these lovely images.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

SA AoC at the Science Center in Cape Town 5 November 2014

Do I like nature?  Yes I do because it is beautiful and graceful.  I hate it when people destroys places we like.  It is unfair what they do because animals is living out there.  I love playing with animals because they are almost like human beings.  Today I thought that all the things I looked at are as special as I am. (Zoey)

I like the world outside.  I like blue sea.  I like the flowers and all the things because it is nice to me and fun.  I also like the nice blue mountains with the sea around it.  It looks nice to me.  I also like the cars.  It is a lot of fun to me.  And I also like cooking and baking because it is fun also.  It is special because it is nice.  I also like me because I'm special.

When I look at the flowers, I think the flowers is also special like you.  How bright that color is.  You are also bright and special like that flowers. (Chrisandra).

I like to be outside because it describes South Africa, the green describes the green world.  Outside is beautiful and colorful so I like it outside.  I like watching movies also because they are exciting.  I like movies because sometimes they make you understand how difficult life is.

Outside, I first saw the tree and I thought they are also helpful to the world and many people don't see it that way.  The trees give us shadow and shadow is very important for the people and the animals (Anita).

I like to be outside because it is nice and we can play because all the children want to play outside and my friends play sometimes in the gardens.  My best game is soccer.  I like it because all the boys play soccer.  Today, I love that tree because it is nice for me and other children.  The children can sit under the tree. (Alexis)

I like to play outside because its the land and our yard is green.  And I like to play at the park, because there is fun.  If it's spring then I like to play outside because in spring the flowers are beautiful.  And I like to play sports like netball, soccer, tennis.  I like to cook food.  Cook is very important to me because one day I want to be a chef.  I like the sand because it is soft and clean.  And I like myself because I am respectful and nice to people (Chantel).

 Today was a lovely experience for me too.  I think the children felt valued when they listened to each other and shared, because they speak about being special quite a lot.  I also think some connected to the outside that way too.  They were very sensual and interactive with the outside spaces, and the Science Centre is quite lovely for that. (Nicci)

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Sunday, 26 October 2014

SA AoC Two Rivers Urban Park 26 October 2014

How do we get it out there?  Agents of Change is such a big thing, and to be honest, I am very honored to be a part of it from the beginning.  I am thankful that Nicci has shown me that I can be the change that I want to see in the world.  I couldn't have done it alone.  Gandhi once said be the change you want to see in the world. (Rita)

Rippling, reflecting, running,
Seeping, soothing,
Do you carry the litter,
That has become a decoration
Of our world,
I am sorry that it is
So very heavy,
Your burden,
I would like to help,
I am trying to build up
My strength,
So that I can help
You carry
The weight
Of what we have done
To you.

I need to help make things better in our world.  It is much easier to let things go by without helping.  But in the long run, it is not a proper solution. And yes, I can say that it was not my fault, but if I did nothing, then the fault belongs to me too.  Because if I did not even try, then I cannot blame other people for things I also have not done.  I would like to start with small things.  (Danny)

I'm coming, I'm coming
Into the world to change it
To make people see things differently,
So will you hold my hand
And come with me
To the new world
The one we've always wanted to see.

We could change the world
We, us,

(Jemima, Rita and Danny)

A leaf at the bottom of the river brought layers of questions into awareness.  My question goes deeper and deeper now.  How did we forget, become this disconnected from the sense of knowing, the sense of being in the world?  We've lost the connectedness of embodiment, emotion, the relationship to life - awareness of how we feel about the world, life and our own voices.

Knowledge of how these voices can be questioned, even with the best intentions, is what I have become so aware of this past month.  Finding voice, and giving space for that voice, is true democracy.  I realize how important it is to make space for that.  (Nicci)

When looking at the natural wonder of the space we live in, I wonder where all the voices of the people who have lived or shared in these spaces have gone?  knowledge of thousands of years of observing and learning, trial and error, good times and hardships.  I wonder how helpful that would be to us now?  I would love to hear those voices.  (Scott).

Thank you Nicci, Scott, Danny, Jemima , Rita, Mia and Buto !

Sunday, 12 October 2014

SA AoC Seaforth Beach 12 October 2014

It is lovely to stand really close to the sea and feel the water run over your toes.  My toes leave dents in the sand and leave behind a footprint.  I like hearing and seeing the seagulls.  I like the way the sand glitters because of the eroded minerals.  I like being able to close my eyes and hear the sounds of the drums and children.  It is interesting to see children playing in the water.  I like seeing all of the different shells on the beach, and thinking about all of the animals that lived in them.  (Danny).

Nature, the beach and all that is beautiful belongs to everybody, and it breaks down the divides between people and brings deep feelings to the surface.  Earlier this week, Jemima spoke about sharing your feelings with the sea, and with non-human life.  I thought about how natural spaces have been helpful for people as a form of trust, care and nurture.  So how do we work so that the more people who need this deep reflexive, peaceful and beautiful space get to share in it?

Compassionate and inclusive spaces give people a chance to be heard, and to listen to the gift of nature we were born with.  I thought about a poem by David Whyte (shared by Bill Plotkin), who says:

There is only one life
you can call your own
and a thousand others
you can call by any name you want....

...By the lake in the wood
in the shadows
you can
whisper that truth
to the quiet reflection
you see in the water.

This week, I heard one person share how she could share her feelings with the water, and another speak of how she's asked if  plants can heal diseases like Ebola, so that people don't have to suffer.  I realize how no voice should go unheard, or undiscovered.  How do we continue to create spaces for people to express their innermost thoughts in such a lovely way?

I love the process of asking questions and exploring our own reflections as a part of the process too.  It means I don't get to go in with answers, and it means that we are searchers who question and share together, in a beautiful and evolving space.  It also means that we explore together with the people who come to talk to us, sharing questions instead of answers.  And I think this helps bridge divides too.  (Nicci)

The world seemed at peace today.  It felt lovely to stand in the tide and waves that tickled over my feet.  I watched a small girl run from the approaching 3cm wavelets in mock horror and thought back to the potential 3m ocean rise and the possible future similarities.

I thought of how, slowly, the global conscience towards climate change seems to be turning.  I felt hope instead of hopeless, knowing that one day the tide will turn and slowly the scars and hurt will heal.  The opportunity to share this incredible earth with its magnificent landscapes and extraordinary creatures and life is such a privilege.  I am grateful for every minute.  (Scott)

Public questions/feedback:

Is the water really going to be that high?  I have lots of concerns about climate change, but I am not sure what to do.  I'm searching for what to do.

I'm from Brazil and we have heard a lot about climate change, and we are concerned, but we don't know what to do.

I understand about climate change and the sea level.  I work with issues in the forests of Zambia.  But the way things are dealt with make things illegal.  It's hard work, but creating awareness around this is really important.  I think this is a good project, and particularly working with children.  That somebody has taken the initiative to create a project like this is really positive.

Is that how high three metres is?  Wow,  creating awareness of this is a very important thing to do.

A little boy asked, Mommy, what are they doing?  They are looking at the sea.  They are talking about climate change.  What is climate change?  You know when Mommy told you about the changing seasons?  (It's diffiuclt to explain to a four year old).

What do you think about climate change (asked a member of the public).  "Gosh, I have to think about that one." "Do you think it will affect us?" "Yes, definately in terms of crops and agriculture."

It seems people know about climate change, but don't feel they need to/know how to do something about it.  It's not something close to home but a concept that is aimed at companies, etc.

A drum beats, there is a lonely lighthouse, children are playing.  There is a strong wind.

A man asked "What are you doing?" Asking people about climate change.  And what will happen if the sea level rises 3m?"
Well, I'm an engineer for wind turbines, and will bring good energy for your country.  Not like coal, or the nuclear deal SA just signed.

Same question.  "Oh, that's good. Making people aware.  Are you signalling or something?"


Thank you to the SA AoC group for continuing with this intervention and Nicci Attfield  for facilitating, and all who contributed to taking the photographs.