USA Trip May-June 2016

My USA trip was a real zinger.

Coming on the beginnings of a new relationship with a generous, caring, successful, playful and creative woman, conferences, courses, projects, visiting with my son, and chilling out, was interspersed with lengthy viber or skype conversations that were flirty, jokey, intellectual, dissonant, honest, vulnerable, happy, and teary.

The Landmark Global Transformation conference, my entry event in San Fransisco, rode on the theme of ‘Wonder’. One of my all time favourite topics, wonder would anchor the whole trip and come back, specifically, again during the Alba Emot Course in Asheville, North Carolina, a couple of weeks later.

Although Global Transformations took the ‘Wonder’ theme, it was a wondering about leadership that took my ear. Gladly, presenters I had met a couple of year ago, facilitated a couple of beautiful engaging structural movement communication work. I attended those sessions for my work in dance and it gave me another access to my hearing on leadership. Initially that hearing on leadership was all about what I need to be a leader of my rEvolve project. As my trip comes to a conclusion, that has transformed into rEvolve being the possibility of a leadership training program, ‘Moving into Leadership’.

The idea of moving into leadership is a more clear consolidation of the work I am doing around sustainability and climate change, men’s culture, and dance, into an integrated work, a leadership training program.

From San Fransisco, I flew over to Denver, Colorado, for a few days, to catch up with my friends in Art as Action. Staying at an Air BNB nearby, I was able to ride a hire bike into the city, and even on the light rail to Jefferson County where I could ride to hiking paths. As with my previous experience in that part, life at one mile high can make the legs ache in bike riding unusually earlier than at my home altitude in Australia of half a mile. I learnt how to use Lyft.

It seemed that each time the past two years I’ve seen my friends in Art as Action they have been grieving over the loss of a loved one. Last year the grandfather of the director had passed away. This year one of their music/dance colleagues and his partner were killed in a car accident. I want to make some bigger sense of this coincidence. It only mattered that I could be some community of listening around the grief. Sarah Leversee welcomed me into her Reconnect Class based on Dance for PD and it was wonderful to see the liveliness of that ‘older’ dance class.

It was a special treat to spend a few hours over lunch with Wayne Gilbert, performance poet, retired literature teacher, and recent (having Parkinson’s Disease) dance performer with Art as Action. Wayne is a volunteer poetry teacher to the State prison to the north of Denver. His experience of the attraction of poetry to some hard men, has been profound. At one of his earliest classes, having delivered a poem on Parkinson’s Disease, he was astounded that a hand immediately shot up. The owner said, “Yeh, I get that poem. It’s like how I feel about being in this prison.” I find myself amazed by the nature of the human being around their limiting circumstances, their authentic relationship with those limitations, the access they find to some expansion of those circumstances and they contributions they choose to make, nonetheless. There is some inspiration there, for all of us, and I store that idea away for a way to provide access to that inspiration for everyone.

It was great to spend a week chillin’ at my son’s place in Riverside, California. We had a number of social outings together including a Baha’i meeting. We played an hour of table tennis every night. I got a little heat stroke doing a hike in the desert hills at the back of his place, and the effects of that took quite a few days to remedy, reminding me, among other things, that I’m not as young as I used to be. It was lovely to spend a sedate four hours with my son in the UCR library while he played with an assignment for his masters degree in social work. Sometimes I think I should be in conversation with my son, seeing that we can’t see each other much across the seas, but I profess one of my greatest joys is just to be in proximity.

The next phase of my travel was to spend a few days with Sue Blythe on the Sustainable Farm, Hampton, Gainesville, Florida, around her Future Flash Climate Change Project. Sue’s work has expanded to engage commitments from some fabulous environmental players in Florida, including the manager of the ‘Sustainable Floridians’ volunteer training program out of Florida University, Lanny the Earthman, Actor Jan Booher, and Dave Room San Fransisco based creator of Pacha’s Pyjamas. As I write this I’ve just finished a Skype conversation with Dave Room, opening the way for his work to find expression for children environmental education in Australia.

From Gainesvile to Asheville to the Alba Emot course with Laura Bond. What a fantastic 9 days, learning and training in primary emotional expression, Feldenkrais movement, and exploring related experiments in life story, text, voice and dance with an extraordinary teaching team. So much to bring back to my dance and theatre work but also into the possibility of leadership training.

And so, this week another chill out and exercise at my son’s place in California. It’s a hot summer week in the desert, 113 F early in the week. Time to meditate, play with movement training (God I need it), and have dozens of small conversations with him around his life. He became an American citizen while I’ve been here. Looks like another feather in his global citizen’s cap.

Two nights ago I woke in sadness. My time here is slipping away. Today, I’m prepared for a great weekend with my son, at the beach, in LA. It is time to go home.

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Africans walk out on their children again.

Having become a fan of Dambisa Moyo’s work, I am viewing the walk out of African nations from Copenhagen as the petulance of spoilt children rather than a serious reflection on the dialogue that representative are there for. Rather than developed countries ‘aiding’ African nations to build green economies, African nations should only be provided support to the extent that they are able to develop accountable governance.  As Moyo asserts, the reason why a country like Australia has better services than a country in Africa, is less about the inherent resources in those nations and more about the failure of a government to be mandated by its citizens on the basis of a set of policies. In democracy, the better the democracy, the more likely a government will fall when they fail to solve the problems of the people of the day.  In an externally supported totalitarian or even quasi-democratic society,  the people have no power because their leaders are not accountable at all. Leaders get wealthy off foreign aid, and if the services aren’t provided, it is the fault of foreigners. African leaders are rorting their countries and ours. I suspect some foreign powers are quite happy to keep African nations poor and weak and dying by feeding their leaders aid, making them policy dullards and tyrannical against the citizens they should be leading to a more progressive state.  So if developed countries start talking about paying Africa to green up, we can believe that Africans will be far worse off in twenty years, and further in debt to the developed countries than if they decided to take over self management today. It is time to stop feeling sorry for Africa and start jeering their pretense to nationhood. And continue jeering until the people get feedup with their systems of non-governance and start demanding proper leaders among them, take the reins.

The African representatives who walked out of Copenhagen talks have walked out on their own children, and they seem to have a habit of doing this.

National Rural health Conference a success

The 10th Australian National Rural Health Conference held last week was a big success.

The Cairns Convention centre lived up to its reputation, hosting the 920 delegates without a hitch in a large pleanry and 9 breakout rooms.

I facilitated the first Community Skills Workshop, with over 100 participants, on the Sunday prior to the Conference.

Seth Fourmile welcomed the confernece to country on behalf of the Yidinji.

Queensland Health Minister Paul Lucas opened the conference on Monday morning (18th May).

Federal Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, received 19 recommendations from the conference at close on Wednesday afternoon (20th May).

A wide and challenging group of keynote speakers and presenters addressed: indigenous health, effects of climate change on rural health, physician assistants and nurse practitioners, art-in-health, alcohol, community controlled services, national health reform, multidisciplinary health teams, electronic patient records, etc.

Some photos at the Flickr site (see right menu)