Thursday 31 December 2015

The spaces between us

One of the things I enjoy most about taking part in the Agents of Change project is the visual example that the spaces between us are those points or places where conversations can occur.

Agents of Change focuses on how imagination enables us to create the world around us.

In the words of Peter Gabriel:

Looking out on empty streets, all that she can see
Are the dreams all made solid, the dreams made real,
All of the buildings, all of the cars, were once just a dream
In somebody's head

(Lyrics from Mercy Street)

The world around us was imagined, shaped via thoughts which would later shape the realities we see around us.  These realities sometimes present as the only ways of being, but Agents of Change shows us how our own thoughts, words and conversations are able to evoke a connected and creative energy that helps us to re-view the world and ourselves, in order to shape new possibilities.

Our thoughts go from the inner world of thought, back out into the outer world of sharing, conversation with others and awareness of the environment, and back into the world of insight or reflection, forming a continuous and fluid process which brings new ideas to life.

But we stand on the beach, we become people in bright orange jackets.  The process creates a sense of equality, taking us out of our social and professional identities and often creating a sense of curiosity.  If members of the public approach us, we share our questions rather than try to provide any set answers.

This openness to sharing and equality has been a relief for me.  I've learned that by taking myself out of my professional identity, and the jargon or technical language which sometimes accompanied this, I've been able to form deeper and more open conversations with others.

I studied critical theory because I wanted to work towards a deeper sense of human rights.  This would eventually move into an awareness of the interconnected social and environmental ecology around us.  I was only able to do this, however, when I learned to listen, share and respond.  Before this, my professional language had often formed a barrier between what I wanted to say, and what was actually understood.  The problem with technical language is that in situations where people face difficulties and want them to be heard, expert language or technical knowledge often provides a painful barrier that blocks out those communities of people who most need to be heard.

I often used technical language when I felt most vulnerable, and wanted to be precise.  Through taking part in Agents of Change, I've learned that it is most helpful to listen, shaping new ways of seeing the world by participating in the conversations people share with me.  We have the language of poetry, an embodied language of thinking and feeling together, and the language of imagination, metaphor and possibility.  Our sense of togetherness, when sharing our questions or insights, means that we shape new ways of seeing the world, offering up different realities or possibilities, and exploring different ways of being.

By awakening a radical sense of imagination, I've learned that I no longer need to offer answers or re-frame the world in technical language.  Each person is able to speak and share what s/he believes in, and each person offers up new insight.  It's been helpful for me, because technical language, born out of an urge to be inclusive, often leaves others more excluded than before.

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