22 April 2018: Initiated by Trans4m and Theatre of Transformation Academy, in partnership with two local cultural associations, an Integral Dialogue and Integral Arts Laboratory took place at Home for Humanity.
On the occasion of the UN International Day of Creativity and Innovation (21 April) and Mother Earth Day (April 22), a vibrant group of local and global artists, peacebuilders, agents of transformation, local and regional civil society members and Trans4m Junior Fellows came together at Home for Humanity, the rural campus of both Trans4m and Theatre of Transformation Academy (TOFTA), located in Hotonnes en Haut Valromey, near Geneva in rural France.
The purpose of the event , entitled “For E-ART-H’S SAKE” was to explore the power and potential of art and culture to catalyse the renewal of society. It was framed around the visit of internationally renowned Humanist Artist William “Bill” Kelly, laureate of Australia’s conflict prevention prize and Peace Abbey’s Courage of Conscience award. Bill Kelly believes in the power of art “to stop bullets being fired”. He has devoted his life as an artist to peace, human rights and community reconciliation, both globally and locally, and is called the “social conscience” of Australia. An international documentary film is currently being made about Bill’s life and artwork dedicated to peace, and Bill chose to include Geneva and Home for Humanity in his global tour with the film director and crew to shoot the film.
The day began with an Integral Dialogue between twelve invited participants from diverse backgrounds and ages. Participants ranged from Genevieve Ancel, the co-founder of the global social movement “Dialogues in Humanity”, to an award-winning Turkish film maker Elif Tibet, to socially and culturally engaged young graduates from St Gallen University, Switzerland (Titus Palivan and Gabriel Cretier) and Erasmus University Rotterdam (Adriana Seefried and Arjuna Hiffler Mani). Chaired by Alexander Schieffer and Rama Mani, participants were invited to express their inner artist in their distinctive ways, integrating their emotional and rational, spiritual and practical insights and experiences.
Paul Grant, musician and master of the ancient Eastern instruments of Sitar and Santoor, took participants into a deep receptive place, followed by Bill Kelly’s opening reflections, based on his personal experiences with art in peacemaking, reconciliation, and other social change contexts. Together the circle of 12 explored the power of art in all its variations – from painting to music, from social artistry to life art – on a personal and on a collective level.
The Integral Dialogue concluded with a shared call to live life itself as a daily work of art, inspired by “the greatest artist of all” – nature herself, as Pius Leutenegger, Founder of Centro d’Ompio in Italy expressed it. Participants also expressed a shared commitment to respond with co-creativity and passion to the burning issues in society today. As Schieffer observed, the word dialogue contains the sound ‘die’ – we must be ready to die to what we know in order to bring to life what seeks to emerge.
Drawing and Seeding Peace on Earth Together
This integral dialogue provided the foundation for the larger community event that followed in the late afternoon, as artists and peacelovers from across the local valley of Valromey and from Geneva, Lyon, Avignon and elsewhere joined in. Entitled “Drawing and Seeding a World in Peace”, this event was hosted by Trans4m and TofTA in partnership with Georges Leblé, co-founder, with Serge Marie, of Gallerie Aguas Calientes and President of Avenir en Valromey.
The tone was set by Paul Grant’s transcendent music and Bill Kelly’s potent words on the power of the “magic pencil” – followed by Bill Kelly and Rama Mani launching their joint “Gift of Peace” – a potent booklet combining their art and poetry. Then led by global and local artists, Bill Kelly, Georges Leblé, Serge Marie and Angelique, all participants stepped forward in tune to the diverse instruments of local musician Gerald Constant, to cover the blank canvas shaped like the earth with their visions for peace. Collectively they co-created a joint art work envisioning a regenerative and integral future of peace, justice and inclusion in harmony with the earth.
The event culminated with a joint planting of trees in a circle accompanied by music and singing, in a special moment of veneration of nature. The closing song, led by Veronique Sezanov, was a Lakota Sioux chant thanking Mother Earth – a fitting prelude to a delicious shared pot-luck reception with copious offerings brought by all participants.
This convivial celebration of community, nature, art, culture, knowledge sharing and the envisioning and enacting of new futures brought all the key dimensions of the integral approach into shared life practice. For Trans4m and Tofta, it was an affirmation of their aim and Home for Humanity’s aspiration to offer a transformative space that enables visitors to express their calling as change agents in order to serve the integral development of humanity.
In the words of the Turkish award winning documentary film maker Elif Tibet, founder of Karmamotion and a board member of TOFTA: “This day was a glimpse of the future we want to live in.”