Friday, June 17, 2011

Economic Stimulus from the bottom up:Art, Questions and a TEDTalks video

Project:Forgive postcard#3 by Yvette Dubel

Despite the rhetoric, most economic policy is designed to preserve the status quo rather than address the deep rooted sources causing the problems. There are some things policy can not dictate, like your desires. You have immediate desires and Big Desires. A big desire would be embodied in your hopes for hopes for the world and yourself in that context.

So often businesses, especially smaller enterprises, don't want to take on big issues or develop BIG VISIONS. Remember your business and consumer habits exist in a context we call the world.

One of the reason I had to reconnect my work to my artist practice was that I couldn't help but connect the moving pieces that kept the bigger picture in view for me.Source: Economic Stimulus from the bottom up:A Question, Art, and the Business of Life

In my artist practice, the interconnectedness of the projects I work on is easily visible for me. Wearing my artist hat, I am able to summon greater wisdom than wearing the "strategy consultant" label.

By allowing the work to lead the way, an awesome journey has continued to unfold. One of the things most people have a hard time with is connecting the moving pieces to see the interconnectedness showing them their innovation opportunity. Are you paying attention to your discovery process? Instead of being overwhelmed we can learn to make sense of our interconnectedness and make better strategy decisions.

The postcard from Project:Forgive that I included in this post is part of a series that evolved from Project:what-is-peace? that kicked off Cultural Fusion Art as Philosophy back in 2006. The first collaboration was NGO Art Studio in the Republic of Macedonia where I had my first up-close lesson in how international aid can go horribly wrong. Some of the funding for the Peace Day event came from an organization that required that certain speakers be included. Little did I know that these "suggested speakers" were considered war criminals by the residents. It almost brought the peace celebration to a halt as it stirred issues that were never really resolved after the Balkan War.

If meaningless activities can exist and be accepted as performance art then why not meaningful action? Just as any other artist's history shapes their work, so to does my background in advocacy, community development and as a business consultant.

As part of the Art:Works solutions are an integral part of the completed works to advance a peace economy and improve communities.
(Go to to learn more)

Do you find yourself making statements like these?

I need a long term strategy not just a marketing blitz.

Things are changing so fast, and trying to keep up is exhausting me.

What used to work isnt’ working anymore, and now I don’t know where to turn.

I don’t know what information is meaningful for innovation in my business/organization or industry.

I know we need to make changes, but I don’t know how to recognize innovation.

[caption id="attachment_570" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Cultural Fusion collaboration with NGO Art Studio in Macedonia"][/caption]

In the absence of Peace - things like profit take a nose dive in value. I guess we can call that part of the Business of Life. How do we know this? Because if there is a lack of peace within you, it makes it difficult to enjoy business success. If there is a lack of peace around you, it creates a very difficult environment in which to attain your goals.

So the question of "what is peace?" persisted and raised its head again during a collaboration with a county history museum and a few community leaders heading up the project locally. It was a collaboration that made me question what was really possible given the partners involved. I knew it would be a long term project based on the amount of resistance it encountered early on. Collections for the large scale work continue now, but were halted for a time. As a community project, the objectives were not driven by attainment of profits. Instead this project was focused on developing an open knowledge resource. Lines were drawn in the sand and alliances fortified - making the IT part of the project easy in comparison to the people problems.

Then I began to question the role that forgiveness plays in finding peace. That's when a line from the play Rent grabbed my attention.
The opposite of war isn't peace, its creation!

While politics has historically dictated economic plans and policy, it is important to remember that the political is personal and the personal political. For a number of reasons (which I look at more closely in the book), this became very clear to me after my father's death. I turned my attention again to the personal motivation for aspiring to see Project:what-is-peace? to a satisfying conclusion. For those that don't know, that series is connected to several Regional Economic/Community Development partnerships and initiatives to serve businesses and communities. Economic stimulus from the bottom up takes a quantum leap when we answer the following question.

How do we transform resistance?

[caption id="attachment_532" align="aligncenter" width="188" caption="From Bloodtrails by Yvette Dubel"][/caption]

As much as that is a communal experience of self in relation to - it is also a deeply personal one. It goes to the heart of personal responsibility as the foundation of any social responsibility program or objectives.

It began to seem like a flower sprouting new branching out with new stems which grew new blossoms. Project:Forgive was certainly one of them. Bloodtrails - which spawned the picture above, is a darker piece (deals more with pain and disappointment) that relates to both those projects. However, it is itself part of another collaboration called Touchstone Learnings that generated as its first completed work "Guided by blood trails: Political revelations in learning." That collaborative piece has been accepted for publication so will share more about that when the book is published as part of an anthology later this year.

In addition, exciting progress has been made in defining the scope of the next Touchstone project. While it looks at issues of teacher identity within institutions, it simultaneously informs my personal inquiry. My interest is to increase understanding of the life teachers who bring not just lessons to get students gainful employment, but lessons aimed at living better lives and being better glocal (global-local) neighbors.

No doubt that Cultural Fusion Art as Philosophy is an ambitious undertaking, but it is worth the effort....and because I LOVE it, it doesn't feel much like work :)

No comments: