The explosiveness of the Swedish spring is imminent. The birds have returned to their chortling rousts and the yellows, greens and purples are making their way out of their sleeping bulbs. There is something magical about this time. Just like the flora that surrounds us is waking up from winter, there is also a sensation of awakening within the group; new energy, new ideas, new conversations and explorations. All that which has been preparing within throughout the long winter months is finally bubbling to the surface in search of manifestation. The Initiative Forum roared to its beautiful conclusion, nearly 300 people strong, and left us in a state of newfound connectivity, in inspiration and friendship, and also incredible fatigue! After an important period of rest, the time has come to take these questions, experiences and inspirations into our communal hands and see what is made possible when we support each other’s becoming. As the end of this beautiful year peeks above the horizon, its finale is palpable, and the will to fully embrace these final weeks is strong. How do we come into new relationship with ourselves, with the world and with each other? How do we step fully and courageously into the newly developed aspects of our being? And how do we motivate and inspire one another along the path? In one way, all of this is already known. In another way, there is much more yet to discover. And here, as the natural world blossoms with new life, the readiness to dive in is unmistakably present…
Initiative Forum 2016 was quite a journey. On the 25th of March the race was on and the Yippies turned into blurry versions of themselves as they transported mattresses, loaded boxes of workshop materials, brought food to the kitchen, set up the stage and placed signs around the campus. Soon the early arrivals wandered in and found their way to the welcoming registration desk to get their handmade, screen printed wrist bands that would serve as their entrance ticket to the weeks activities. The opening ceremony was an experience in and of itself, performed for an auditorium filled with eager and hungry personalities and setting the tone for the wonderful week to come. As the days rolled on without a hitch, it seemed as though these 25 people had been organizing gatherings like this for years! Into the Foodture – Feeding Change shed light on some extremely important issues that we are facing as a global community. It gave space to explore and realize that we are in this together and illustrated some of the incredible ways that individuals and organizations are working toward positive change. The conclusion of the week left most people awestruck, emboldened and inspired, and at the very least left them with a throng of new friends.
Here are a few reflections from Organizers, Participants and Contributors.
About Onions and Roses
By Anna Wynants, YIP8 Participant, IF Organizer and Chef for the Forum
Looking back at Initiative Forum, what stays with me are images of myself hanging above enormous frying pans, hugging the massive soup pot, stirring risotto with a giant’s spoon, trying not to fall into the porridge and the smell of onions and roses. Hopelessly trying to cover up the all-prevailing smell with rose-oil perfume, I discovered roses and onions make a good combination. The pungent smell was a result of a brave and joyful yet slightly reckless decision to cook for our upcoming conference. In the preparation phase it all seemed like a far away dream until the day I got the key from the kitchen and the food donations and orders started arriving. Suddenly I found myself surrounded by piles and piles of Argon Oil, instant miso soup, red quinoa, 150 liters of yogurt, 2300 eggs, 250 kilograms of potatoes, 30 kg butter, 300 loaves of bread and 70 kg of cheese. By now I’m getting a bit nervous, but pretending to have everything under control. This will have to feed the 300 participants for the following 5 days. In the kitchen I am confronted with the giant monster machines, horrified to do something wrong and loose some fingers or a nose. By choosing to cook for this conference I ask myself if I try to hide behind the responsibility, be invisible in the kitchen. Kitchens are often hidden, backstage, taken for granted and criticized. But without food there is no conference. My hope for the week was to lift the kitchen out of its hidden place into the light, to make the participants more conscious about what they eat, convince by taste. For a long time I wondered why people stop listening when you tell them story behind their plate. As if they don’t want to hear the truth, feel the guilt and carry the responsibility that comes with information. For me cooking is an attempt to spread consciousness in an enjoyable way. Serving consciousness with golden teaspoons. Feeding change.
By Wenzl McGowen
Initiative Forum Contributor and member of the band Moon Hooch
Reinoud had a vision and with the help of many other inspired individuals he created YIP, an organization that takes a more holistic approach to education. A wooden roof hung above us, held up by irregularly shaped pillars that provided a sense of security in a building that had almost no right angles. The space seemed to be breathing, corners rolled out of sight and stairs curved into them, creating many comfortable microclimates that were both connected and separate from each other. I was sitting in a chair, but I got the feeling that I was part of an ocean. The thoughts I exchanged with Reinoud were moving the sand banks – rising and falling, but in the process shaping the ground of our collective understanding. “You know, Wenzl,” he said, “I can only move possibility towards probability.” His words rippled through my mind until they shape-shifted into my personal interpretations.
By Lena Otte
Initiative Forum Participant (YIP6 Alumni) Photo: Julien Bernard Grau (IF Participant)
I don’t know about everyone who came to participate, but I know about many souls who returned back home after this year’s Initiative Forum with a sweet after taste on their tongue from many soul nourishing conversations, and a craving for more of this work on diverse Foodture questions in community. You could call it a superfood smoothie of the finest quality – one that actually does have an effect on one’s well being, a precious one that is hard to get somewhere else but always and anywhere possible to self-create collectively. Yum!
Reflections on the Foodture
By Deni Montana, YIP8 Participant, IF Organizer and Designer of the “Action Day”
Initiative Forum 2016 was a challenge for me from the moment it was introduced to our group in September. I didn’t understand why we were starting to plan it so far in advance, as I am not much of a planner myself and do not like to put too much time or energy into looking into the future, or in this case, the Foodture. But now, after having experienced the conference, I realize how important it was to start planning when we did. We had been preparing for 6 months, for each individual who came, and in doing so it was much easier to welcome them onto the campus and into our community here. During that week, I realized that at the core of this program there is an invitation to expand your sense of family far beyond your own community and the YIP network. Here, you are given the opportunity to learn the art of welcoming yourself in your entirety and welcoming others in their entirety. The beautiful thing, is that you cannot welcome one without the other. This co-dependency will allow you to create that sense of family wherever you go and to see beyond the illusion of strangers, which you can then no longer use as an excuse not to trust someone. In trusting one another, we take down the division between “You” and “I”, allowing ourselves to see one another more clearly and appreciate everything that lies between “Us” which, in reality, is not much at all.
Classroom Alive: Villach to Budapest
For those who weren’t at Initiative Forum this year, you might have missed the information that there is not just one, but TWO Classroom Alive journey’s happening this summer!
The one presented in the last newsletter will be from the 25th of July until the 5th October, and be done by bike all the way from Budapest, Hungary, to Porto, Portugal.
The other one is a two month walking journey from the 1st of June to the 3rd of August. We will walk from Villach, in the Alps of south Austria, crossing Slovenia up to Budapest, Hungary.
Come and join us for these two months in which we’ll explore new ways of learning, reconnect to nature and create a thriving community together.
We envision this happening through sharing a daily rhythm of four hours of walking and studying each. Engaging in self-directed studies; each of us will bring our own subjects to dive into as well as choose how we want to learn. Making our way through the changing landscapes of Austria, Slovenia and Hungary we’ll practice living in community together; supporting each other with such things as mentor groups for our studies and community check-ins to hold our group process with. We also want to give space for people to host workshops around their studies with feedback rounds from the group.
Traveling by foot with a community of learners through the raw and beautiful landscapes of Eastern Europe, with the freedom to explore the topics we want to explore, we hope to enliven our thinking and walk with a feeling of curiosity that will reach and bend over the horizon.
We invite you to explore the power of taking learning into your own hands, in the most beautiful way we know, with us on ”Classroom Alive: Villach to Budapest”, 1st of June to the 3rd of August. Have a look and Apply here!
Yippies in The Jungle:
We are ten young passionate students from nine countries studying at the International Youth Initiative Program in Sweden who made a crazy plan. We want to go to the refugee camps in Calais, France, camps that we have heard about but have never seen, to face a reality which is hidden behind T.V. cameras and reporters, behind the newspaper ink, behind statements such as “they are rapists and robbers”, statements that claim the ‘solution’ is more control, more police, more fear.
And in the mean time we wonder: how is real life over there? Are they just people like us? And what can we do?
Ten of us are drawn to go to Calais, to learn and see, to have conversations and offer what we can, to experience how to work with the people who have been forced into the margins of our society. But we cannot do it without help. Do you want to help us to go to Calais?
What we are asking for is donations big or small. We want to raise 1000 Euros in the upcoming 14 days. It will be used to cover our costs for transport, food and lodging on a very basic level. If you cannot help us with money, why not join us? We are there between the 21st of April and the 1st of May. Check out the campaign for more information.
In the coming weeks YIP has some exciting things to look forward to! This week we are in our second to last Initiative Week. The Initiative Weeks serve as a space for the participants to focus on specific topics and content that they are interested in, as well as have time to work on their Personal Initiatives that they have taken on since the beginning of the year. Conversations, studies and activities have been happening around many themes: book binding, screen printing, a discussion group working with Steiner’s Philosophy of Freedom, another focusing on Basic Income, musical jam sessions, improvisational theater, conversations exploring Gender and Sexuality and one more discussion exploring Spirituality, and many more. As mentioned above, there is also a group formed that will journey to Calais, France, and serve hot meals to refugees that are camped out in an deprived area known as “The Jungle”. The participants have also banded together to invite a contributor named Gert-Jan de Hoon, who is currently working with a group around being the “director of your life”, what is coming up after YIP and how to carry these valuable experiences into the future.
May 2nd will commence a well-deserved spring break, during which a few participants have organized their own Classroom Alive! They will take public transportation for an hour and a half, and spend the following week walking for three to four hours and studying for three to four hours each day before they ending their journey back in Ytterjärna. When everyone returns on May 10th, the final courses of YIP will begin. Spring Foraging with Oscar Rosengren, Storytelling with Roi Gal-Or, Gender Studies with first time contributor Anna Cavallin, and two more first time contributors, Francisco Escamilla and Jaynese Poole, will be working with “words as medicine”, a writing workshop inspired by their work with Street Poets in Los Angeles. Then finally, it will be a week of Personal Initiative Presentations, at the Vitahuset and open to the Public from June 6th to 9th, followed by an Outdoor Experience up in Dalarna and then the Closing Week of YIP8… Time is running and the excitement never seems to cease!
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