ESR 4 Blog June 2021: Jenny Fradranski

Coming together differently

At the end of this month I have entered the pre-travel transit period and while looking very much forward to enter a hotter latitude I am also savoring every minute of this Icelandic winter-summer, as I call it, that most of all offers a wildly pleasant smelling air – cold enough to blend and transmit all the trees and flowers fragrances. I am about to leave to Berlin and reflecting on the past five months in Iceland that have had a profound impact evokes thoughts about how we can come together differently (a term I first encountered in the BAK course „Art as Politics“) in institutions and all the other realms of life.

Anticipating the overwhelming buzz of Berlin and the awakening after the lock down trauma, I am more than curious how being in Berlin will feel. I have left the city when it was shut down and in winter sleep, and now the euphoria of being able to gather again is certainly creating a collective atmosphere of appreciation for the simple act of coming together. It will also deliver experiences and material for my interest to enquire of how we come together now.

The word „differently“ marks the discrepancy between something that is and something that could be or the longing to find and cultivate other qualities with each other. It therefor entails a critique of a neoliberal, capitalist, individualist society in which it is most important to find ways to succeed as an individual which creates a culture of competition rather than connection, of personal ambition rather than solidarity.

To me coming together differently means practicing – as an individual and in groups –radical non-violence, openness and trust, listening with an open heart, observing ones own assumptions, words and actions, cultivating healthy boundaries, asking for what you need, speaking from the heart, overcoming established hierarchies, co-creating, offering yourself, receiving help, establishing an awareness that we share our being and therefore being friends not enemies.

Recently I have joined a yearlong learning journey by the CitizenLab – an NGO based in Berlin – on cultivating ourselves to co-create a commons of democracy. It is a space for firstly cultivating ourselves, our own personal transformation so we can co-create the commons of democracy that can lead to radical changes of governance.

In the first module we have been looking at how do we view life and what change is possible if we shift our lens and the way we relate to oneself, each other, other life forms.

It has been a powerful coming together of inspiring people who are looking to practice and live the qualities of coming together differently and thereby driving the evolution of our culture. For me this is a community and space in which I can integrate the theoretical work that I am doing with the practice of living an actual life that corresponds to the theoretical ambitions of developing a cultural theory approach to the future of democracy.

Wishing everyone a beautiful summer!


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