The concept of Interdependence is something I immediately adopted when it was first introduced to me a while ago now. As I’m writing these lines, despite the fact I’m in my study in Geneva, I am chatting with colleagues in Poland, Bolivia and the US just now…I am checking some issues or simply having a friendly chat, but that’s a definite way of feeling totally connected and interdependent. I’m wrapping up an issue on India to be printed next week with a colleague I never met and another one I only met well after the whole issue was translated and arranged. So here are my comments and notes on some of the main topics which were brought up during this year’s edition of the Interdependence celebrations. Following my quick notes on the first day of the Interdependence gathering, let me first invite you to visit regularly the ID page I created and which should include the archives of the previous years’ notes on the same issue. I would like to start by stating that contrary to L.A. which left me a rather disappointed memory, this year in Dublin was dynamic, rich in the contacts and exchanges and in a way less rigid. Maybe because for the first time since this meeting was created, there were no explicit references made to the 9/11 events which led to the creation of this movement. We are now in the 11th year of this meeting and a page has been turned, which is right. It doesn’t mean at all we forget, but that we turn to ways to ensure a better future of dialogue and transparent “conversation” (as a linguist, I would have more to say about the term conversation which has become to received term replacing dialogue as a way to be more plural and inclusive, but let’s remain focused!). I have decided to develop the following themes which do not necessarily reflect the structure of the meeting but which came to my mind as prominent, i.e. cosmopolitanism, gender related issues (I can’t really report on this one as I was on the panel and busy listening to my colleagues) and education.
Cosmopolitanism Ó Connor, Tim (2013), ‘Keynote remarks at Interdependence Day’, paper given at Dublin Interdependence Celebration and Forum, Dublin Castle.
Tim worked at the Department of Foreing affairs, was Chief of Staff to the President of Ireland nad is now a consultant for the Irish Diaspora, Chair of the Gathering which took place this year. We are here in Dublin Casle, a place of great significance as in January 1022, a man, Michael Collins, came with the keys of Ireland in his pocket. The Union Jack was taken down and the journey that started from that moment is continuing to this day. We are leading to the 100th anniversary landmark, but let’s not forget that a week after handing those keys, Collins was shot dead. His combat is still continued by his friends in Belfast today. Our Independence was achievd by blood. Without he arms struggle, we wouldn’t be independent. I was involved in the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. What does this say about Interdependence? The DNA of thse struggles remain intact. Reaching across boundaries. First we signed, then we negotiated the Agreement, that’s the Irish way. Extraordinary power of Irish America, most visible on St Patrick Day. The Diaspora is an obsession. The Gathering is an exercise of Hutzpah as we invited 70 millions of Irish discendents. There has been more than 5000 gatherings. We are the holders of the Homeplace. 17% of the population in 2011 was foreign born. You can be Irish by blood or by choice. How to make inclusive ways to interconnect? This should be embraced by the diaspora and inclusive in its outreach.
When Tim mentioned the Irish being the holders of the homeplace, it prompted me two elements which we discussed, first the dissolution of the Irish Language and a suggestion to forbid the Irish to speak it as an incentive for them to retrieve it, and the second that I have, with a lot of Jews throughout the world, the feeling that in fact we, Diaspora Jews, are the holders of the Jewish ethics more than the Israelis nowadays. Tim acknowledged both points and mentioned that Immigration is a mirror in which the Irish sees his true face”. Curiously, the Jewish concepts and belief was also mentioned by Professor Kathleen McCarthy from CUNY (Professor of history and founding director of the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at the Gratudate School and University Center of the City University of New York) regarding the Jewish belief that u can create the center of the world in small places. True enough…but I’d add though that the very notion of Miny’an makes an obligation for the jews to stick together (you need 10 adult males to make certain prayers such as the pivotal one of Kaddish, the prayers to the dead). On the artistic aspect of interdependence, a fascinating panel took place which left me with a lasting impression of the essential part art indeed has to play in interdependence. The fact that Benjamin Barber realized this crucial aspect from the very beginning of his movement is all the more commendable!
I dedicated a special post to John Scott and his amazing Irish Modern Dance Theatre, so click on the link for more about his contribution. Other key contributors: Sandig, Jochen (2013), ‘contribution to panel on culture, interdependence and migration’, paper given at Dublin Interdependence Celebration and Forum, Dublin Castle. See more about his involvement with Sashawaltz (click)
In German, Burgermeister and Meister Burger are mirror words yet one refers to one citizen ruling while the other makes the citizen more responsible. From Be Berlin to We Berlin concept. We still have walls in our heads. The future of any city is to break down these walls. Teilen in German means both to share and to divide. I live in a city where a lot of artists are political activists.
Noon, Mattu (2013), ‘Contribution to Panel on Culture, Interdependence and Migration’, paper given at Dublin Interdependence Celebration and Forum, Dublin Castle.
Australian born with Irish origins, grew up in Brisbane. Australia stands as a multicultural model but I never felt it. The roots are very shallow. I experienced a sense of placelessness. “Home” was Ireland to us. My journey took me first to India. Calcutta is more my home than Dublin in fact. I brought the Indian Music to Ireland. Mattu is the bengali version of Matthew. I formed a fusian band, the Bah Band (Bah means WoW in bengali), a kind of Intercultural Ashram in Bengalore. There is an emerging young India, a sense of vibrancy and Mongrelization which is my Thesis topic. A mongrel dog is stronger than a regular one. Hybrid means sterile whereas the concept of mongrelization, popular nowadays in Australia, is positive.
Wakely, Richard (2013), ‘contribution to panel on Culture, interdependence and migration’, paper given at Dublin Interdependence Celebration and Forum, Dublin Castle.
Director of the Belfast Festival at Queens University. I’m returning to Belfast after 30 years. It’s a personal challenge after 18 years in London and 15 years to Dublin. I’m partly Catholic, Jewish and Anglican and I’m married to a Sikh…in other term for my parish priest, I’m a “Don’t know”. It’s also a city challenge in a city where unemployment and poverty are rampant, where there is a gap between city and rural areas. This makes it an ideal place for creative thinking. We need ultracarefulness and have defined 5 priorities: global connectivity(open window, fresh air), contemporary art practice, meaningful participation, bringing together two communities and finally looking into the future without forgetting the past. See the project A new face for Belfast on the old face of the city. Is this just wishful thinking or a genuine hope for a brighter future for all of us who share this land? click on link to view the installation
Earlie, James (2013), ‘contribution to the panel on Religion and interdependence’, paper given at Dublin Interdependence Celebration and Forum, Dublin Castle.
Culture and politics nexus: ordinary people who do things with a profound sense and have a common intelligence. Capital I Intelligence. Everybody is a sense maker. Travel helps you get a high panorama, yet if your radial network is more limited you have a deeper insight. Who are they as human beings? How do we negotiate our agency in relation to them? I’m somewhere between the Atheist and the agnostic on this panel. I meet religious people all the time in my work. “Today I met a Muslim, so I met Allah in Practice”. It manifests in my life in the form of ethics. I stand against dogma. How to find commmon principles with regards to multiple expression? In the public space with a common language, schools, institutions. How do we address the balkanized identities. There are no migrants after two-three generations. Socialized way of knowing and doing. Take history and go forward, not back to history. In Brazil, cultural instead of racial discrimination. Example of the Yuruba africanized religion in Latin America. What are our recieved values? We are living values, the new mecratic front is the recognition of people who have a different sexual identity. Let’s not start with the darkness in order to avoid our reactivity mode but concentrate on the points of lights.
As to cosmopolitanism in the cities, the panel on Cities, social justice and migration in an interdependent world was another great moment. Benjamin Barber has just published a new book entitled If mayors ruled the world: For a fuller version of this text check this link
The Interdependence movement brought to Ben’s movement to cities, not to countries. He clearly sees the connection between the Interdependence movement and the cities. Democracy at global level doesn’t exist, neither does civil society. Global governance doesn’t have a democratic global governance…cities do! Problem with power isn’t that it’s powerful but that it’s illegitimate. In many parts of the world, governance started with a township (polis). The ancient world was pretty bad in terms of inclusion, especially of women, but those who were indeed citizens were included in the governance. Nation States were recognized int he 19th century and for 500 years, there were bordered and relatively monocultural states history. There’s a deep asymetry between our 21st century situation and our 19th century inherited institutions. It’s the ideal time to return to cities. There are 100 cities of over a million inhabitants in China, new megacities of 20-30 million inhabitants. This is our urban planetary reality. Man is an urban species and cities are our future, it’s the core institution that reflects our economic reality. Demography is on the side of cities. For most of us, there is a city attached to each movement of our life (birth, wedding, schooling, work, cemetary)* (by the way, when he said that I realized each of these is different for me…I was born in Montmorency, got married in Jerusalem, went to school in Paris. Hamilton and Geneva, work in Geneva…and am in no way rushing to know where you’ll bring flowers on my grave!). “Spare me your sermons and I’ll fix your sewage” (Teddy Kollek, former mayor of Jerusalem). Cities are already working across borders to share best practices. There should and will be a global parliament of Mayors. Intercity cooperation is already proving more effective than State intelligence.
van der Wansem, Karin (2013), ‘Amsterdam, the concept of a responsible city, contribution to the panel on cities’, paper given at Dublin Interdependence Celebration and Forum, Dublin Castle.
17th century was our golden age in Amsterdam. It was international and tolerant due to its trading tradition. Portuguese jews and French Huguenots took refuge there.It used to be the city of knowledge and culture. Its second golden era was in the 19th century as the city of Merchants, not of Kings or Bishops. The city was made of 5 mayors, half of them merchants. Now it’s a bit more arrogant but its a responsible city.
Litwin, Maciej (2013), ‘Wroclaw: renewal of a city in Poland’, paper given at Dublin Interdependence Celebration and Forum, Dublin Castle.
Roosevelt and Stalin at Yalta decided that Breslau was to be destroyed. The world that people there knew simply ceased to exist. It was then put in a soviet freezer for a couple of decades which explains ist singular situation. Architecture, history, various cultural elements. It’s a city made of émigrés (up to the 60s, they didn’t even bother unpacking!). 1990 new genrman speaking generation aiming to make sense of the changing reality while everything collapsed: Polish city governments were weak the communists were the only knowledgeable resource yet unwanted one. In 2002 the mayor was elected by direct ballots and made responsible for the community. In 2004 Poland was part of EU and suddenly, this lost city became the most attractive spot for foreign investment with an economic growth in double digits, job creations.
However, the most incredible and fascinating presentation on cities came from the absolutely charming and charismatic Mayor of Belfast, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, a frantic tweeter and networker who insisted that
Networks are the most important
Belfast any time we are turning our tv screen we see horrors
1981 saw the worst moments but that’s when the peace was born
I always remind it to people in struggle all over the world, in Egypt or Syria now.
The city Hall I have the honor of serving, I wasn’t even allowed to enter for 10 mn in the 80s
Our peace is the best gift ever to our children
And we go around the world tho promote peace
Some images in the media are negative but we won’t allow anyone to bring us back
When we walk today in Belfast we carry lots of wounded or dead friends
No other way to make peace than pushing forward
I try to focus on the positive
People need to see evidence of the peace
Despite our differences, let’s not give arguments against this process
I do believe in the power of the mayors as the 1st citizen
My budget for the year is 70’000£
We nominate a city poet laureate
8 chaplains now nominated (4 Christian ministers, a Rabbi, an Immam,Buddhist and Baha’i chaplains).
Avoid the pettiness and bickering
Life isn’t negative
Idea of Interdependence is core to the peace process between these islands (Britain and Ireland)
Baile, David (2013), ‘contribution to panel on urban consensus’, paper given at Dublin Interdependence Celebration and Forum, Dublin Castle.
Very scarce audience (“when there are more actors than audience, the performance should be cancelled). David is the CEO of the International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA). A Canadian from Toronto, New York is home to him now. Government founding is difficult to find. the American model is broken and traditional funders are changing to Singapore and South Korea. 3 cities with a great partnership are Wroclaw where the Mayor takes into account the economic and spiritual health of the region, Sao Paulo (huge challenges, poverty and arts, new Community center models (including libraries, theaters, activities, hospital…) and Bogota with its Iberamerican Theater Festival with 3 million participants every two years for 2 weeks. Huge impact on cultural infrastructure
There were a few interventions but that of Barnaby Spring, the fascinating high school principal and educational leader from New York City Department of Education. Born in Arizona, from a “too intelligent mother for her time” and a German jewish father who was an actor, he is a survivor of major child abuse in his extremely disruptive family, including two suicide attemps until he crossed the path of Father Flanagan’s boys’ town. “I wasn’t the typical kid to be sent there, a sort of mix of Lord of the Flies and Little Lord Fontleroy.” this nice white boy with educated parents in the middle of real hooligans. Made Mayor of Boys Town, appeared on TV and meant to go to prieshood until he found out he was half jewish (!). Decided to become an actor, to write and finally to be an educator. He raised the very hot topic of the Common core leaning standards linking it to issues such as:
the public consent, compliance or shock
the people’s story of the Common Core
Strange Bedfellows OWS and the Tea Party
Diane Ravitch tells her story about the History of American education
Private Business Wants the Common Core
Bill and Melinda Gates
US Department of Education
We listened to the marvelous songs by wonderful confirmed singers such as my dear Pam Rose (check my Poetry page for more) and Michael de la Rocha, here with Irish Diva Moya Brennan
And let’s finish with the fabulous concert the students and staff of Irish World Academy of Music and Dance of the University of Limerick.
PS. The last piece of witty Irish spirit: while waiting at the Dublin airport in the long Air Lingus queue ( honni soit qui mal y pense)
Grainne Fox was trying to call customers to her desk and after trying regular calls, she finally shouted “Come on People, don’t you want to go on holidays?
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