Last weekend I had a good time. At the Urban Room in Folkestone I attended two workshops organised by The Triennial, the art event that has put Folkestone on the international map again, and of which I talked about on a previous blog post; and I also enjoyed two performances.
The Saturday afternoon workshop was Punctuate your Life! with Philip Cowell author of This Is Me, Full Stop. We discussed our punctuation likes and dislikes (I love commas, because they divide and unite at the same time), and even invented our own signs. Mine is the double semicolon. It’s to be used in very long sentence. I have the feeling it won’t catch up but I love it.
On Sunday morning I took part in the discussion (with coffee and delicious French pastry) Accentuate the Positive with Susanne Howard, founder and artistic director of the charity Living Words. After introducing ourselves and therefore letting the other participants know where our accents came from, we shared our personal views and experiences. For example, does having a posh accent still help climb the social ladder?
In the early afternoon I enjoyed the live performance of Emily Peasgood’s contemporary choral work Halfway to Heaven, created for this year’s Folkestone Triennial. If you can make it to Folkestone before the 5th November you can hear it on the installation site, the Baptist burial ground. This piece is really moving and made me shed a few tears.
In the evening I went to Something to Declare, a performance poetry on cultural identity and heritage, organised by Susanne Howard. In the freezing wind outside the Urban House our love for poetry was severely tested.
Even I, not a poet, had the chance to read one of my pieces out loud. I’m pleased to say that it was well received and now you can judge it for yourself. I’d be delighted to know your thoughts on it.
Freedom of Speech
Freedom to think, say and write
Whatever I fancied
When I was young
That’s what I expected.
As I grew up I realised, aghast,
That freedom of speech usually is
Freedom to say only what
The powerful allow me to say.
More and more our freedom of speech is curtailed.
“To keep you safe,” Mrs May says
As she comes up with Chinese ways
To put us in a cage.
Don’t say this
Don’t say that
You must be Politically Correct.
Don’t say this
Don’t say that
Otherwise spineless people
You might offend.
So now in Canada
Using the wrong pronoun
To address a person
A crime has become.
That’s why I declare
That freedom of speech
Is more important
Than you and me.
Because to find win-win solutions
In a complex world
Critical thinkers we must go for.
And to think critically
To connect the dots
Freedom of speech
Is all we’ve got.
Yesterday evening I attended the second video screening
of the recent ‘TEDx Folkestone: Pushing The Boundaries’
talks at the Lime Bar here in Folkestone. The event was well attended, with lively Q&A sessions.
Here’s the talks’ messages in a nutshell.
SIMON COLEMAN: INNOVATING TO CHANGE
In this talk, Simon explains how to push the boundaries of the economic system so that it becomes sustainable and profitable.
He starts by talking about one of his main concerns, the rate of deforestation, currently at 300 football pitches per hour. Forests are destroyed to grow beef cattle, palm oil, and soya, while the wood is used to make furniture and paper.
Throughout the years, the situation hasn’t improved, proving that the deforestation won’t be stopped by our political leaders or by the industries that benefit from it. Also, there’s the big problem of illegal deforestation.
How can we push the boundaries of the economic system then?
By listening to Bruce Lee, who once said: “Be like water. If there is no wave, create one.”
The wave that will change the economic system will be the result of Personal Purchase Power. If every consumer reduces the consumption or stops buying products that are produced unethically, more and more entrepreneurs will offer ethical goods. Eventually, those who don’t change the way they operate will go out of business.
The good thing is that not only more and more consumers are making informed decisions, but also more and more entrepreneurs are concerned about the same issues and are already looking for new solutions.
PAUL BRANSINGTON: HUMANS, ROBOTS AND BUSINESS: HOW MAD LANGUAGE DAMAGES EVERYTHING
With examples of corporate messages, Paul helps us understand why public’s trust in companies is at an all-time low, why 87% of workers worldwide don’t feel engaged in their work, and what can be done about it.
According to Paul, the problem is the depersonalised language companies use to communicate with their customers and their employees.
This depersonalised language is a sign of deresponsibilisation of companies. In the following example, the first sentence is the most sincere one, and the last one shows us what deresponsibilisation means:
“I try to be honest.”
“I value honesty.”
“Honesty is one of my key values.”
In a company, deresponsibilisation is the consequence of confusing consistency with uniformity when implementing the ideas on which the corporate identity is based (mission, vision, and values).
The insistence of using the same concepts at every opportunity regardless of its appropriateness leads to uniformed messages that sound robotic and push customers and employees away, achieving the opposite of its declared aim–-to strengthen relationships with employees and customers.
This robotic language affects also the way management behaves, as it makes managers feel disconnected from the company values and as a consequence they don’t use those values as guidelines for their decisions––hence the lack of consistency.
The discrepancy between what companies say and what they actually do is why trust in them is so low.
What companies need is clear values to judge managerial decisions with, and ‘human’ language, sincere language to communicate with customers, employees and the community at large.
ADAM WILSON: CONSCIOUSNESS — WHERE NEXT?
Adam looks at how consciousness (the state of being aware of one's own feelings, thoughts, sensations, needs and surroundings,) can be taken to new levels to increase happiness and well-being in our society.
According to Adam, meditation is the key to expand our consciousness and therefore the key to enjoy a more relaxed approach to life. His conviction is supported by scientific studies, which show that the brain of people who meditate regularly is wired differently from non-meditators--a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity. The long term benefits are higher judgement, better decision-making, better prospective, more empathy and compassion, reduced stress and fewer stress-related diseases.
If meditation became widespread, our society would be much happier and healthier.
RANDOLPH MATTHEWS: BEFORE THERE ARE WORDS THERE ARE SOUND FEELINGS
Randolph is a vocal musician who likes to sing and talk about the sounds the voice can make.
In this fascinating talk, Randolph demonstrates--singing,-- that we are all immersed in a sonic landscape and that sound has a feeling that imbues on people’s lives.