Together

Together

It has been 4 years and 20 countries so far. From diamond sands to gorilla jungles, savanah plains to mountain glaciers, from antarctic penguins to arctic reindeer, from orderly Japan to chaotic Africa, from arid Australia to Bold Bavaria. What next?

Purple laces at PwC
Hamiriku strawberries
Happy hanami

Kawi safari
Istanbull prayers
Not sunny Australia

Zimbabwes lost art
Sky high, giant Sossusvlei
Jungle family

Motorrad mountains
Aurora borealis
Bold Bavaria

A Cat!?

Rodel, Sled or Tobogan?

I thought sledding was for kids, little kids, at Christmas, down a small hill maybe 50 meters or so, in soft snow so that when they inevitably fell they didn’t get hurt. Not so. Sledding, otherwise know in Germany as Rodeling or in some places as Toboganing can be adrenaling inducing stuff, especially at Wallberg, where rather than a small hill you head down 6km of snow-covered, hairpins included, access road.

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Pinacle of Wallberg looking North-North-West to Tegernsee

Wallberg bahn Web-cam

To be clear, I’m not talking about ‘Cool Runnings’ style bob-sledding, luge or skeleton, where you travel down a semi-enclosed and embanked track. I’m talking about a basic wooden sled with two runners approximately 1m in length, maybe with some kind of woven seating or a cushion if you are lucky, and some rope between the two runners at the front to hold onto. Your feet serve as both brakes and steering assistance. Theoretically you should steer by transitioning the weight in your bum. Good luck with that.

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Pinacle of Wallberg looking South-South-East into the Austrian Alps

The end result is a hell of a lot of fun, a trip or two over the mountain side, a sore backside, a few near misses, some harmless bumps and quite a bit of fun. So much fun, we went back for more a few days later! Check out the 1 min clip below for some of the thrills and spills!

Goethe’s phenomenology

I’m living in Munich, Germany these days and I have been learning a lot, or maybe it just seems that way when the inaccuracies of our stereotypes are revealed to us. I thought something I picked up recently about Goethe (I didn’t know he was a philosopher/scientist) might be of interest to you, it is about the recent resurgence of Goethe’s scientific theory of phenomenology.

It seems Goethe’s theory has never been widely popular but it may now be emerging as an element of counter-culture against the cold, rational process of ‘modern’ science. Reading about how Goethe advocated for an immersive, experiential method of learning struck me as being aligned with a recent MOOC I participated in from MIT on Theory U and its application to creating societal change, as well as the Agile Manifesto and Quest Augmented Strategy.

Goethe’s phenomenology is being put forward as a scientific means of ‘fostering openness toward the living presence of the natural world..and it’s sensual presence as expressed, for example, through light, darkness and colour’. As far as I can tell this openness is expected to come from Goethe’s phenomenological scientific method more so than our modern, cold, laboratory based method of examining phenomena because Goethe’s advocates for an immersive, experiential examination in the natural environment of the phenomena rather than within the vacuum of a laboratory.

Theory U, the Agile Manifesto and Quest Augmented Strategy all seem to have the same thing in common – they advocate at some level for an emphasis and prioritisation of experiential learning over theoretical learning. Granted, in most cases they argue for this because of the increasing rapidity with which the world is changing and the increasing redundancy of the past, but they still trumpet the benefits of immersive, experiential learning over and above theoretical knowledge. Also, it is worth noting that is only one element of the above concepts, they are all worth exploring further.

Based on the recent success of these three concepts, is there then hope that a move towards experiential learning  in general will teach us better how to be open to different cultures and be more adaptive to technology and changing climates? Rudolph Steiner, the creator of the Waldorf/Steiner School certainly seems to think so, but that is not new. These schools have been in operation since the early 20th century. The movement of people, the diversification of the workforce and our ideas and the openness of our leaders and society to these changes seems more and more critical and required as changes occur more rapidly. Despite what some might think, the election of BREXIT and Trump as USA president are unlikely to slow the pace of change. Regression is change also, and if the global financial crisis showed us anything, it was that our economic and social systems are already vastly interconnected. Decisions or actions in one place will create a ripple effect around the world that can compound rapidly to create severe and unexpected implications, and change, where it originated.

The paradigms of thought on the Refugee Crisis

The paradigms of thought on the Refugee Crisis

The refugee crisis remains unresolved and the political divide that has emerged is driving a wedge into the cracks in the fragile processes that have been painstakingly stitched together in the past 20 years of humanitarian development. Progress wasn’t always perfect, in fact it was fraught with compromise, a key component of wide stakeholder consultation, but it was striving to improve through a process of iteration. I have little doubt that the agencies involved were doing their professional best to provide the services and meet the needs of refugee’s as best as possible in an equitable manner as possible with the resources they had.

Enter political grand-standing and policy at a national level and those efforts have been severely hampered. Yet, it does provide an opportunity to review the situation, to take a look at where we stand in the paradigms of thought on this issue, and when we do, we can see an opportunity emerge to move beyond addressing symptoms of the crisis with the provision of professional services to understanding the problem is not just them, it is also us.

This great 4 minute video from the Presensing Institute U Lab edx intro course summarises the different paradigms of thought on the refugee crisis very, very well.

The take-away: The refugee crisis will not be resolved without considering the interconnectedness of the systems at play, or the openness of our society and ourselves. Shallow responses will not solve the problem, they will only post-pone it.

All images and video are courtesy of the Presensing Institute U.Lab EDX course.

A glimpse of our true selves

A glimpse of our true selves

The sunlight shines through the mist and leaves

streams of light sparkle and glint across my beaded visor.

The road bends gently, undulating in three dimensions

designed for ultimate riding pleasure.

 

The mist clears over the river Saar,

a mysterious, reflective surface is revealed.

In waiting for the clouds to lift,

we wait to catch a glimpse of our true selves.

 

The clouds have lifted, the tourists descended,

A muddy brown river remains.

Passing from one heavenly cloud bank through a torturous, winding path

To another heavenly cloud bank.

A glimpse of our true selves.

Nothing is nothing for long

A dear friend recently asked me:

What is love? Is there such thing?

And why do we have to grow up? rusty and weary and slowly dying inside before the skin even wrinkles? 

Why do we have feelings? and empathy? and mercy? and compassion?

Why do we need all that? do we even need all that?

But what is love?

I did not know what to say for a long time, until some recent inspiration. And this is what I responded:

Love is nothing.
The best things in life are not the hardest to get to, they are the hardest to hold-onto. 
Fleeting, fickle, momentary, superfluous, fragile, effervescent. 
They appear, surprise us, enlighten us, delight us, disappear, re-appear, vanish.
 
Life is not a linear journey. We do not grow up with time, constantly, minute by minute, incrementally.
We grow up in bursts, sprints, leaps, bounds, quarks, anti-quarks, via transportation and displacement. 
We grow up with every scintillating, halting, experience of love, happiness, joy, empathy, understanding, appreciation, compassion, of humanity.
 
Love is everything.
The best things in life come from nothing, without them we are nothing. 
Naive. Thoughtless. Unloved. Inexperienced. Unfeeling. Robotic. Inhuman.
With them we have everything, we are grown up, high, on cloud 9, in heaven. 
 
Thanks in no small part to Julia for the inspiration, and Austin for the quantum confirmation.