Above is a picture of my neighbour Johnny. He runs Hot Top Chimney (www.hottopchimney.com). He is a roofer and a chimney sweep who runs most of his business on a bicycle. He promises to do a headstand on a rooftop at the party, and play his trumpet. We had a wonderful time brainstorming today.
This was the first time he was in my house.
I guess first off because not everyone in the world comes to your house.
Secondly, in part, because I am often scared to meet people.
Especially it is a little extra scary with neighbours because they will always be around.
It’s scary for me to let them in.
When writing scary I almost always accidentally write scarry.
Which makes sense because we’re often scared when we’ve been scarred (metaphorically speaking), or somehow learned that the world isn’t a friendly place.
Doing this project I have to meet people, and I have a reason to. I am so thankful.
Albert Einstein (I like to drop the big names), says this:
“I think the most important question facing humanity is, ‘Is the universe a friendly place?’ This is the first and most basic question all people must answer for themselves.
For if we decide that the universe is an unfriendly place, then we will use our technology, our scientific discoveries and our natural resources to achieve safety and power by creating bigger walls to keep out the unfriendliness and bigger weapons to destroy all that which is unfriendly and I believe that we are getting to a place where technology is powerful enough that we may either completely isolate or destroy ourselves as well in this process.
If we decide that the universe is neither friendly nor unfriendly and that God is essentially ‘playing dice with the universe’, then we are simply victims to the random toss of the dice and our lives have no real purpose or meaning.
“But if we decide that the universe is a friendly place, then we will use our technology, our scientific discoveries and our natural resources to create tools and models for understanding that universe. Because power and safety will come through understanding its workings and its motives.”
“I’m wearing the same outfit every day,” Carrelli says. “I take the same routes. I own Trouble Coffee so that people recognize my face—so they can help me.”
And how courageous do we have to be to put our faces out there.
I know from handing out flyers to this event that even that, which, on a vulnerability scale rates pretty low, is mildly terrifying for me.
“In a city whose economy is increasingly built on digital social networks—but where simple eye contact is at a premium—Giulietta Carrelli’s latticework of small connections is old-fashioned and analog. It is built not for self-presentation, but for self-preservation.”
Though my life is very different than Giulietta’s, I can relate to this idea of connections being built out of self-preservation rather than self-presentation. In a society that values independence, this type of “putting oneself out there” is not always encouraged. The longer I live the more I realize how much I need people, a concept that is unfortunately often quickly connected to being “needy.” I recognize how having people around, or knowing that people could be around, calms my entire nervous system.
Turning hearing and seeing into action is something that the community of Strathcona did in the face of horrible violence in their community. http://www.vancourier.com/opinion/strathcona-demonstrates-importance-of-community-1.1808639 People responded in the moment of the assault when they heard a woman’s screams, people responded financially, and people showed up for a march in solidarity with the woman (among other things). I’ve never heard of something like this at this scale. They chose to hear & see.
The article is written beautifully and thought provoking and the title sticks with me.
“Because building community isn’t just about outdoor yoga and farmers’ markets.
It’s also about coming together to do the things that will allow us to look each another in the eye.
That means means helping each other to heal, so that we can all heal this land.
It means honouring women and honouring treaties.
And it means joining together to demand justice for the crimes that haunt this country.”
What do I/we see and choose not to see?
What is it I/we allow to be seen and what’s not allowed to be seen?
I think of friends in their houses struggling with heaviness, panic, children, & abusive jobs. I think of the systemic turning of the head that happens around “honouring women and honouring treaties.” I think of the fear that leads to the quick averting of the eyes as we walk down our streets.
And I imagine what will happen when we choose to see more.
While in Holland this past summer I was welcomed into the home of couple who creates theatre. Seeing photographs of what they did prior to meeting them is what initially inspired this piece. Saying they “make theatre” is an understatement. For decades they travelled around the world making spectacular, site-specific pieces with their group, DOGtroep. Now they create spectacles in the neighbourhoods in their own country with the people that live there. Their work includes hair made of spaghetti and flooding the ground underneath the audience, along with fire, wind and more water. It is large and magnificent. Music is always part of it. Thanks for the welcome and the inspiration, Septimia and Jos Start your YouTube search on DOGtroep here.