Who are you and what have you been doing here?
L: My name is Lex I work with gardens, permaculture and theatre. I made a set of masks to bring to Eroles to look at deep ecology (connecting ourselves to nature) and Theatre of the Oppressed, in particular to work with refugees. I have been here for a week and it’s been amazing.
G: My name is George, I am a descendant of displaced people from Poland after World War II. I work with Theatre of the Oppressed and before I came here I was extremely burn out from other projects, but having been facilitating here this week I’m feeling fully charged and ready to go.
M: My name is Miranda, I came to Eroles Project last year to create a climate change action for COP21. I was invited to come back this year to work with George and Lex as a facilitator. This week I have really enjoyed working with resilience and sharing some of my work in this field from back home in Oxford. I am really inspired by how these collaboration will continue in the future.
Why do you think this work is important?
G: We live in a culture where the sense of urgency and crisis means that despite our best intentions and wanting to give as much as we can of our self to try to help other people, we neglect the self care that is essential to make resilience possible.
L: It is very important to come here to Eroles, in the beautiful Pyrenees mountains, with our busy lives, especially if we are working in any ‘crisis’ circumstances. It gives us a chance to step back and have a look at our patterns, to be effective with how we are with ourselves for long term sustainability within our actions and life as a whole.
M: And within that for me is flexibility. To be able to learn from our mistakes – to be able to keep shifting and changing, learning and adapting from our experiences. To design new ways of working and to keep developing as the situation around us changes.
What are you taking with you from this programme?
G: I am taking away the realisation that you can leave a residential programme, powered up, recharged, resilient and ready to face the world and its challenges; as opposed to thinking it was an ordeal.
L: I am taking away from this process a deeper sense of resilience, deeper understanding that the more I care for myself the more I can truly care for the planet. I’m deeply fired up with inspiration from connecting with people all over the world doing similar projects, it gives me an amazing sense of the future. This has been beyond words, just wow!
M: A deeper sense of trust in my intuition. Fire to continue to sense what is needed and to respond in a non urgent way, and to take this into my projects back home.
How can this type of experience inform people working in the refugee / humanitarian crisis?
L: I think this work hugely informs how to care for yourself and for the group your are working in. I think it is quite a profound thing to know how to look after yourself. I also think if you are going to work in a camp context it is best to go in full so that you do not need to get your energy from there. One of the ways we can do this is by connecting to the present without plans of where we might expect to get to; and to share this presence with others as fully as possible. When we are relaxed internally we become more aware of what’s happening externally, this enables us to focus on the things that connect rather than separate us.
M: The exploration I brought with me; “to turn judgement into curiosity” was something that has become more of a solid thing during the week, so I want to go everywhere with that intention. When we celebrate our differences and our gifts rather than arriving already with the answers, we can develop solutions from who is there and what is emerging in the moment from the collective intelligence of the group.
G: Figuratively and literally to shut up and listen. Not allowing the language differences to create more barriers between each other. We modeled this this week by focusing on nonverbal communication and the power of being physically together rather than verbalizing everything. Also listening deeply to what is needed in these spaces as opposed to coming with our own presuppositions to what we think ‘they’ need.
If you have to choose a moment that you really struck you from this week what would it be?
M: The collective ritual when we arrived at the cherry tree. Sometimes rituals can feel ingenuine, but this was a beautiful spontaneous expression of everyone’s individual gratitude for life, each one in their own style and tradition. It was very special.
L: Connecting with the birds. Working with the body. Being inspired. One moment in particular, a few of us were up in the open window playing music, but we were all discordant. I suggested we looked out at the sky, instantly we came into accordance through watching the birds as we played; watching their patterns, being inspired by the freedom that is in the skies. Another time at night in the moonshine, our cross cultural musical collaboration felt like beyond the mind, beyond the cords, beyond the planning – letting go so something beautiful can come though.
G: My favourite moment was when we all danced around in a circle connecting our past, our present and our future and it seemed like anything is possible.