By listening to the voices of the marginalized and the disenfranchised, one encounters people going through a process of coming to terms with their own identity. The recurring themes involve words like power, hierarchies, assumptions, questions, disillusionment, work, displacement, precariousness, insecurity, fear, disconnection, assimilation, deconstruction, reconstruction and reconnection.
Technologies are bridging the geographical distances as well as the emotional distances. Connections are beginning to form across the divides that have kept people separate and siloed.
Our identities are formed by a complex network of interdependent relationships that begin with our origins as the reproductive biological function of the union of two people to form a new member of the human species.
We tend to accept the social situations in which we find ourselves as monolithic and unchangeable. However, we form societies, and our societies form us, through our perceptions of the world, through shared stories, memories, and experiences, through patterns of behaviour, and through the infrastructure and architecture we build to solidify habits into complex social systems.
What is community?
The year 2018 began with a deconstruction of the marketing, design and technology industries and their complicity in the systems of power that drive the work to support the capitalist economy. As Chamath Palihapitiya describes our current crisis, social media is ripping society apart. Tristan Harris is talking about the ethics of design and the need for humane tech to realign technology with humanity’s best interests.
A podcast called The One You Feed released an episode featuring an interview with Johann Hari, the author of a book called Lost Connections: Uncovering the real causes of depression — and the unexpected solutions.
The Liturgists released a recording of their Gathering in Austin, Texas, where each member of the group read one of their favourite passages of scripture.
At a reception for the MFA Thesis Exhibition at Emily Carr University, conversation gravitated toward art, identity and spirituality.
A CBC Ideas episode featured Gabrielle Scrimshaw on liberating the past and embracing the future.
The same themes are recurring. We are waking up to the problems that we have created, but we are hard-pressed to offer any viable solutions.
How do we reconnect with our own individual identities, with each other, with the natural world and with the spiritual in a time when inertia is tearing our world apart? What is our place and the role of artists and creatives in becoming catalysts for positive change?
We have only ever found answers to our challenges as humans in community, in working together to solve seemingly intransigent problems. The process is slow, and sometimes painful, but rewarding, because of the human capacity for imagination and the ability to transform our future by better understanding our past, while living fully into every moment in our present reality.