A few beautiful & challenging ideas from TEDSummit

We started with: “ideas don’t know borders, they’re for the whole world” Important opening talk at by , offering the hope we need

Thought provoking questions from Lesley Hazelton: “The quality of soul is not a tradable commodity.” “Could soul be a matter of being brave enough to be vulnerable?

On public art: “We could have finished sooner, but I think it took us three weeks because of all those tea breaks” on his piece in Egypt. When the piece was finished, he explains the reaction of the owner of one of the homes he painted: “he was really proud to see his house painted — he said it was a project of peace”

“if we have a generation that doesn’t know how to build a fort, we have a generation” that doesn’t care about nature — We have an excuse to make more time to play outside, thanks to Emma Marris.

Without that “radical humanism” we lose “the unnecessary, the intimacy, ugly, and the incomplete.”

Marwa Al-Sabouni is an architect living in Homs, Syria. She teaches, runs a bookshop & works other jobs, against backdrop of war. She is thinking about architecture, communities and the future of her country. She has not given up.

Julia Bacha is documenting female role models in non-violent movements around the world. “If we do not celebrate the leadership of women in conflicts/movements, we fail to show the spectrum of role models” 

Anti-terror measures created by governments needs to be balanced by robust & independent press, it is a necessary check on power, argues Rebecca MacKinnon

Alexander Betts reminded us: Dangerous times if “lies have equal status as truth and evidence.” We need to rebuild research into debate. But this is also an opportunity to revamp our arguments and begin new conversations. If Fear comes from limited information, let’s health together.

Zeynep Tufecki reflects on Turkey, the airport bombing, and her upcoming visit: “We are going to build tolerant societies and I feel that our joy is part of our power.”

Ione Wells, after she was attacked remembered “there are infinitely more good people in the world than bad.”

And Pico Iyer, reminding us how comfortable and honest it can be to say “I dont know,” and learning as we go.

Photo header credit: TEDx Global Forum at TEDSummit2016, June 25, 2016, Banff, Canada. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

Colombia’s Historic Ceasefire

The first time I saw this talk I bawled my eyes out. The frozen shell we sometimes learn to build around our hearts because it means surviving… melted. I was left with only love.

We grew up in Mexico during a period of violence so dark we’re still processing it. My research took me back into the archives and narratives of Colombia in the 1970s-2000s, when it was torn apart by guerillas, paramilitary groups, Narcos, and the government. Everyone in each setting, so hardline we thought we’d never find peace.

Last week (June 24th, 2016), Colombia signed a historic ceasefire. Peace is sometimes difficult to achieve. Negotiation is difficult. Listening and humility is difficult. But peace and cooperation and growth is beautiful and worth it.

Let us learn from them. Viva Colombia!

Celebrating the creators.

I stayed up late to read the Brexit results and commentary last night. In the last few weeks, the media has been filled with heart break after heart break, and our politics seem to be filled with people who only want to destroy and move backwards. But we cannot let them win. We may grieve, but we must give our attention, love and joy to those who create.

The real leaders, the brave ones, are those that create, not destroy. Let’s celebrate the creators. 

I got up early and went to creative mornings in Gowanus. The theme was appropriately “Broken,” and the speaker Michaela Angela Davis was the perfect person to speak this morning. She talked about race in the United States, and the terrorism of Jim Crow, but she ended on an important high note. There was time for us to heal together.

She said her grandmother, who grew up during a time when lynchings were common and she had to survive. “This was life.” Davis explained, her grandmother did not have time to process her feelings because survival meant defying what was expecting and fighting the power.

Her mother was part of the civil rights movement, fighting the power. “This was liberty.” Each generation building on the next. They were creating a new world together.

“And I am pursuing happiness like it is a revolution.” Davis is creating the world she wants to live in, and creating a world for her daughter to survive, be free, and thrive in. This is what it means to create.

Most importantly, Davis reminded us all that we cannot take on the grief and sadness of our ancestors. They suffered to create a better world, if we take on their suffering we have not fully accepted and lived the world they fought to create. We can take on their pride, but we must keep fighting and celebrating growth to move forward.

I needed to hear all of this this morning. The room was filled with laughter and sorrow but most importantly people who came together because we want to create, not destroy. I want to celebrate these kindnesses and give them my love and attention so we can grow.

Because it’s always easy to leave, but harder and more rewarding to stay and grow together. So let’s grow. Let’s love.

What does a modern faith based organization look like? The quest begins.

What does a modern faith based organization look like? What will the next generations of faith based organizations look like? (and where do we see them evolving… informally)

I am doing some research on informal organizations that pop up to serve a very real need for community/faith based organizations for people who have trouble finding a place for themselves in more traditional faith based spaces. (PEW reported in 2015 that “millennial” (those born between 1981-1996) were most likely to report their religious affiliation as “none.”) It has led to a series of very interesting and complicated case studies… more on that later.

Where do you go when you are mourning but not part of a church or temple? Are there still spaces where kindness and service to others is part of the common understanding that isn’t tied to religious tradition? Does it need to be? Where do you go if you want to have debates about ethics with a proposed ethical framework that isn’t immediately torn down so you can explore? What if you are struggling with your past decisions and want to heal, and have been rejected from a particular community for not fitting their mold? I’ve seen a lot of these cases unfold in personal essays and honest conversations with friends.

In the first part of this investigation, I want to share some of the honest conversations I’ve had and seen about faith in the last year. I am interested in what the next generations of faith based organizations look like. Especially as Pope Francis does some very cool things within the Catholic Church that make me wonder if I will find my way back into some of the churches I went to when I was a child.

Dalia’s talk opened my mind to a more honest conversation about faith. Where I needed to admit, I am often unable to answer questions about my “faith.”

I wrote this comment on Dalia's talk when it went up this winter.
I wrote this comment on Dalia’s talk when it went up this winter. It was the most up-voted comment on the page, which also tells me that I am not alone in my experience/struggle with faith.

Chelsea’s talk pushed me to look at my own biases and reasons for being afraid of aspects of organized religion. She encouraged me to look at what real activism looks like… and what it means to be part of a community.

I am just starting to investigate, but it’s been really interesting to see what groups have been organizing informally, often around similar language about ethics and community to the lessons I learned in church as a child. Sometimes there is a clear separation from the symbols and traditions of the church… but sometimes the separation is less clear. I am also interested in those who join or return to more traditional organizations in their 20s. This is the beginning of my research in this space.