“if you don’t know where to start with sustainable development, start with women and girls, everything else will fall into place” Phumzile Mlambo~Ngcuka

While there are a great number of structural changes going on in the world at the moment, one thing has been consistently overlooked.  How do we come to terms with a global community that will not go away just because we wish it would; and how do we make it work in a stable and lasting way.

There has been trainloads of policy papers and books written on the issue. Bombs have been planted and fallen, bullets fired in protest and anger. Mobs have tried to force their hands and authorities have responded with plenty of covert and overt violence.

Institutions have been built on trying to get rich with solutions and interlopers have tried in turn to enrich themselves.

Meanwhile, a commonality of purpose and respect for one another has been constantly evaded. In it’s place we’ve had centuries of violence while trying desperately to forge a fantasy called ‘the new world’.

Maybe it’s time we step back and accept the world as it is. Maybe for once, we could return to addressing the realities of our situation with honesty, humility and compassion.

Individually we could ask whether we are being helpful to ourselves and those around us in the best possible way? Maybe ask for some guidance from a power not of our making?

These are the big questions in life that need answers; and the article I’ve cited above goes a long way towards a response.

Most problems in life are simple and are resolved when we lose focus on just ourselves. As humans we are gifted in this way,and it’s time we reached out and used it in our daily lives.

Maybe we could start by taking a look at the article above and maybe even bookmark it in our heart. We could return to it when we get lost and use it as a signpost to guide us in our lives?

click here for article on sustainable development goals in pictures

Asif Hassan – the decisive moment

 

160321-asif-hassan-karachi,pakistan
Photo by Asif Hassan – Karachi, Pakistan (The Guardian UK edition)

It has been a very long time since I’ve seen a photograph of this calibre, published or curated. With the plethora of images around us – many of them very good, I have always feared the great works of our age would be buried amidst a pile of rubbish.

Today I came across one of those astounding pictures that in fact may be one of the best photographs I’ve ever seen. I know there is a loud faction that would argue everything is context and personal, but I’m more interested in great art which is always transcendent.

Based in Pakistan, Asif Hassan has been publishing photos in The Guardian newspaper for several years and with a little searching you can find his work online there and elsewhere.

Certainly outside of Sebastião Salgado and one other photograph, I can’t think of any other picture in the last 40 years that has managed to both transcend the medium and reveal the profound power and enduring importance of a good photograph the way this one does.

 

Incowrimo – snailmail revolution

SnailMail.jpgLooking back over the past year, the one experience that stands out head and shoulders over the others was participating in the annual International Correspondence Writing Month for the first time.

Amazingly it managed to completely reshape my year. Inspire me to no end. AND provide constant joy right up to the final days of 2015.

I stumbled across it almost completely by accident (if you believe in that sort of thing) while trying to find information to improve my handwriting.

A growing collection of fountain pens, and a resurgent interest in paper led me to the International Correspondance Writing Month website. A group of people who annually commit to writing one letter per day for the month of February.

Over the fall I had become pretty disillusioned with electronic media and began to feel we were slipping into some sort of dark ages of communication and representation.

Writing the odd email and posting the odd comment to the ether – (who knows about a net)- wasn’t in keeping with the struggle we’ve had rising from the muck  to mostly literate societies who value the written word and the corresponding effort that goes into it.

All my life I’ve been told that it wasn’t the destination but the journey that’s important. Experience has repeatedly taught me this is true. The Value of clicking ‘Like’ or a button to share a post  can’t begin to compare with the very human effort of getting out pen and paper, composing one’s thoughts, folding and sealing them into an envelope and the pleasure of choosing a stamp, walking to the post box to return with a handful of colourful cards and letters from around the world.

Some days it would just be one, others none. But then the little flood of letters began to trickle in as February turned into the bitterest of winters and finally spring. Soon I was drinking coffee outside on the porch with the comments of friends, eager replies, news and stories in my hand. Spring changed to summer and I continued to share wonderful adventures in paper, thought and sentiment.

Admittedly, like most correspondents who continued on long after February had ended; I did get bogged down as summer turned to fall. Many an apology went out, and a few letters were left unanswered even though I wished they weren’t. Life ploughed on in relentless form, turning up one thing then another as it piled the rock, soil and turf of commitments, unfinished projects, upcoming events and the daily grind in long furrows behind and on either side.

As the days grew shorter, I realized  that even though it was unusually warm, winter would give way to spring and a few new shoots would appear through the snow by the way of names popping up on the Incowrimo website; February would arrive with the promise of new friends, new letters, fresh growth and the start of another year of letters. And like always, this one would be better than the last. Alas the new year would begin!

——

I don’t know how soon this years site will be up and running, but you can keep up by checking the following over the next twenty-five days and beyond.

incowrimo.org

the passing of Ian Murdoch

Whileopenlogo-nd-75 many have mourned, written and reflected on the passing of some of the more self aggrandized and advertised figures in the tech world; a truly great human being passed away on December 30, 2015.

To quote the announcement on the Debian site:

“With a heavy heart Debian mourns the passing of Ian Murdock, stalwart proponent of Free Open Source Software, Father, Son, and the ‘ian’ in Debian.

Ian started the Debian project in August of 1993, releasing the first versions of Debian later that same year. Debian would go on to become the world’s Universal Operating System, running on everything from embedded devices to the space station.

Ian’s sharp focus was on creating a Distribution and community culture that did the right thing, be it ethically, or technically. Releases went out when they were ready, and the project’s staunch stance on Software Freedom are the gold standards in the Free and Open Source world.

Ian’s devotion to the right thing guided his work, both in Debian and in the subsequent years, always working towards the best possible future.

Ian’s dream has lived on, the Debian community remains incredibly active, with thousands of developers working untold hours to bring the world a reliable and secure operating system.

The thoughts of the Debian Community are with Ian’s family in this hard time.”

May he rest in peace.

ianmurdock

eroica

beethoven-eroica

In my mind, there has always been a sense of something truly revolutionary flowing from the area between Leipzig and Prague. Over the years it has somehow become a comfortable and burnished home for much of my thought and served to deeply inspire me since my early years as an adult.

Never having been there, I have little desire to visit. I would rather it remain the collected wealth of cultural experience and inspiration that I have cobbled together over the years.

I have no idea why I feel so at home with Bach, Wagner, Schumann, Mahler, Weber, Goethe, or even Hus. But over time I have come to understand, just a little, the genius and revolutionary greatness of Beethoven.

The ability of any individual to tap deeply into their cultural surroundings and wrestle out a single work that presents them unsullied to the future, is a feat of astonishing brilliance and talent. Especially when that world is being torn apart and transformed in powerful and unimaginable ways.

The  sudden, forcefull, mass upheaval of ideology in Europe at the turn of the 19th century – with it’s pervasive repudiation of the known universe – set the stage for the world we inhabit today. Deeply complex, violent, and often incomprehensible in rational terms, it’s a world we’re still vainly trying to understand and tame.

Beethoven felt and understood the passion, torment and necessity behind the cries for freedom, equality and ability to gather together freely. A witness to the riotous birth of a new idea andexpression of a fervent hope, his Eroica Symphony captures this and more.

Eroica_Beethoven_title

I saw this film by accident nearly a decade ago and it has haunted me through the years. Especially the sound of the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique under Sir John Eliot Gardiner.

By the end – open jawed – I couldn’t believe what I’d just seen. I had no real idea how powerful this piece must have been when it was first played. And how contemporary and meaningful it could remain today.

“Released on an unsuspecting world in 1804” is an understatement.

I’ve been searching constantly over the last ten years in order to see it again. I only recently discovered it online and suspect it’s life here could be brief. Even though it’s long, I urge you to take a look before it disappears again. This may be the last and only chance you’ll get. There are no guarantees it’ll stick around, so I urge you to find a big screen and some quality sound before it disappears for good, and the ideas along with it.

shake the dust

shakethedust

Gaining and sharing a new perspective on the world is one of the blessings of mankind.

I believe it’s one of those fundamental things that allow us to flourish. Properly named, it could be art.

More important though is the culture from which it springs. Culture made from the not so special lives of very ordinary people going about their every day business. Surprisingly and more often than we think; many of these very ordinary people are capable of taking a talent for something they love and sharing it freely with those around them. Often managing to transcend their small personal situations and teaching us about freedom and the need for it’s expression.

This is the very best of culture. At heart it’s who and what we are and it’s this that deserves our protection and respect.

http://www.shakethedust.org/ for more info

What he thinks he’s doing.

vadar

It seems there’s been a lot of kidding about old people having fun recently, and having the perspective of youth makes it easy to do.

How we sense ourselves seems to constantly grow and change over time and unfortunately others don’t get to see this from the inside even at the best of times. So when things begin to bubble over the edges, it seems ridiculous.

But when you get to a place where you can produce things like this; it doesn’t matter what we think he’s doing

…we’ve been schooled.