Closing The Circle

As mid-summer draws in we get closer and closer to the closing of YIP10.

From Initiative Weeks, to Personal Project Presentation & Outdoor Experience, the group find themselves on a crescendo of initiative. But before being propelled into the world away from YIP, all of us start to prepare ourselves for closing the time together.

As I write this excerpt, there is less than one week until the Closing Ceremony of YIP10! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. You all still need to catch up with the story so far…

Newsletter Contents:

1) GDPR Compliance
2) YIP11 Applications Are Still Open
3) Initiative Week #3
4) Personal Project Presentations
5) Outdoor Experience with Homebound Journeys
6) Land Art Week with Homebound, Johan Nilsson, Paula Pihlgren
7) YIP Network News – Drinkable Rivers with Li An Phoa
8) Reflection of a YIP Volunteer – Jim Howard

GDPR Compliance

Dear Readers,

By now you will have recieved two emails explaining the changes to European data security regulations (GDPR – find out more information here) which require us to get your consent to keep sending you this Newsletter.

If you haven’t received this email, please check your junk mail or spam folder.

Opening the link in the email, you will have the chance to change your existing newsletter subscriptions (tick or untick), read the updated Privacy Policy and tick the box to say you consent.

We have decided to continue sending the YIP Newsletter for now, and will keep announcing our efforts to comply with the new GDPR in an attempt to reach all of you that wish to stay connected to YIP.

Our self-imposed deadline is mid-August. If you have not renewed your consent to our updated policies by then, we will delete any data and accounts that have not received consent.

Thank you for your efforts and understanding and we look forward to staying connected.

The YIP Team

YIP11 Applications Are Still Open

Applications are still open for the 2018/19 YIP year – otherwise known as YIP11.

Do you know someone who might be well-served by joining the program, who wants to step into their potential as a life-sustaining, compassionate, holistic, action-orientated human being full of initiative, alongside a varied and diverse group of young change-makers?

Send them over to the application page on the YIP website!

Initiative Week #3

Kicking off with a morning of parkour, Body and Voice Work was a great stretch out after a week of sitting with our feelings. Each day a different workshop was offered by someone new, with parkour, speech making, acting and movement.

As some of us did that, others worked thoroughly at their personal project. Some kept working hard in the garden behind Tellevana, others freaked out about how to present thirty pages of incoherent words written throughout the year with the intention of writing more, as a project. That was me, by the way.

The schedule looks very full. One day Simon remembered that he had an activity for University, another day YIP Phase U and Design Workshops were just not the right time for the hosts, so these things planned got cancelled. Initiative weeks was full of hard work figuring out what to do next in life, what personal project can we come up with last minute, why haven´t we danced at all during the programmed ‘Hour Dances’ in the last four months?

But we did take initiative: we said no to having full schedules, we actually finally started to have a Love, Sexuality and Partnership circle around the fire, we even hosted the community meeting, kept the house sort of clean, made and planted three vegetable beds behind Tellevana, and had our last afternoon at Under Tellarna. This might not have seemed like the ideal Initiative Week, but it was exactly what we needed.

To close the week, we had a beautiful presentation from those that did the Body and Voice Workshops and had space to go into this speed-work-frenzy so we could prepare our Personal Project Presentations the next week. Initiation Vibes from the last Initiative Week of the Youth Initiative Program, may the Initiative be with you.

Written by: Kiana Maldonado (YIP10)

Personal Project Presentations

What a week! I must say, my expectations were consisting of memories I had from state-school speeches: people presenting a topic that was given to them, faking interest to get good grades, while in fact mainly struggling to pass the time that they are expected to fill, with the use of uninspired power point slides.

My low expectations couldn’t have been disappointed more, in a positive way. I didn’t see pupils anymore but creative and self responsible adults presenting topics that were very close to their hearts . This made the week of personal projects presentations predominantly pure, raw, vulnerable and exploding from creativity.

Twenty-five impressively prepared presentations of 30 minutes length, many of them including live performances, poetry, music, art and feelings allowed us to meet each other in a new and profound way. To witness unknown passions, talents and characteristics of the people we spent so much time with was truly magical and connecting. After each presentations there was 15 minutes of space for conversation with the respective lecturer where we could gain even more insight.

A short ritual we did after each day of presentations to take a moment to recapitulate and honor what we have seen that day added to the experience in a beautiful way.

If I will be going to visit Järna in coming YIP-Years, I’ll try to do it during the personal project presentations.

Written by: Simon-Dominique Wäckerlin (YIP10)

Outdoor Experience with Homebound Journeys:
Inte Koster, Silas Beardslee & Christianne Sinoo

“My paddle’s clean and bright, flashing with silver. Follow the wild goose flight, dip, dip and swing. Dip, dip and swing… “ As we learn this song on the first morning, it becomes evident that just because we’re outdoors doesn’t mean the singing will stop. Rather the contrary, as our three wonderful YIP alumni contributors, Christiane, Silas and Inte woke us up each morning with beautiful trios, each day singing a new song in a different language.

The mornings always started off by the assigned group cooking everyone porridge, which we would happily eat around the fire with coconut cream, cinnamon and jam. Next we would prepare for the day ahead, which usually meant that we packed up our tents and cleaned the campsite, trying to leave it in a better state than what we had found it in. On some mornings before heading off, we would do something like a sitting spot, sharing circle, game or activity, to set this outdoor experience apart from a camping trip.

As we had no time keeping devices with us, and the sun rose at 3.40am, we didn’t really know if it was late or still early when we left the campsite and set off on our canoes. We would spend the better part of the day on the water, making our way forward with the aid of our paddles, often stopping for lunch on a beautiful island when the sun was at its highest and hottest.

The paddling was a different means of transport than has been usual for us during YIP so far. And the experience very different too. So much time spent on the water, easily carrying all of our gear and food, seemingly slicing through the water on the beautifully shaped canoes, sometimes meandering through little streams in between reeds, or passing through a tunnel so small we had to lie down in the canoe and use our hands to take us through it. Big, crystal clear water, so clean we could fill our empty bottles and drink straight from the lakes, paddling with the typical Scandinavian silver birch and pine tree always within eyesight, passing by idyllic looking islands, and of course let’s not forget our five land crossing, portages, where we would put the canoes on wheels to get them to the next body of water. Paddling while singing, while talking, or while listening to nature’s song around us and enjoying each other’s company.

After the long day on the water, we would arrive to our campsite for the night. This is when everyone got busy with their tasks; preparing dinner, collecting and chopping wood, and setting up the fire and benches for the main camp area. This was always a time when although tired, hungry and often exhausted, everyone would get to work for the last part of the day, be together and set up our home for that night. Exploring the close by area, picking a camping sport and never having to worry about being caught in the dark, since the sun only set at 11.30pm! This felt very special to me, knowing that even after dinner and maybe even a night activity, I could take a canoe out and either paddle into the sunset, or be on the lookout for animals that came out at night, like the beaver.

This week was an absolute highlight of my time at YIP, it strengthened my passion for the outdoors, and I discovered that although being in the water is not my place, being on the water definitely is, and free climbing on the cliffs by the lake made me feel so extremely alive. To top off my experience in the outdoors, I just today received the good news that I got accepted to work in a youth outdoor education camp after I finish YIP! The circle always continues…. Thanks for this week, it is one I will always treasure.

Written by: Livia Strub (YIP10)

Land Art Week with Johan Nilsson, Paula Pihlgren,
Inte Koster, Silas Beardslee & Christianne Sinoo

And yet to come… another week with fresh air around our noses and dear Inte, Silas and Christiane. We are heading towards nature again but this time we are working with our familiar Ytterjärna grounds. Three land art projects are waiting for around 60 hands that want to further explore.

Land art – for me this is somehow related to impermanence and contingency. Feeling the place and its surroundings and letting whatever wants to materialise be able to emerge.

In the beginning we could choose which project we wanted to be engaged the most with – if it would be a children’s fairy hut next to Anapaesten, a rugged stone bench in the middle of the gardens in front of the greenhouse, or a stone river meandering through the small woods near the ponds. Somehow each one of us felt a calling so we set forth towards what our hand and moods were longing for.

I was drawn towards the fairy hut. Around 8 of us gathered and sat upon this majestic fallen tree, tried to feel the location and imagine some forms and expressions. Little by little willow grew into convex formations as we weaved piece by piece into what would become this small shelter. It is a satisfying feeling to see and help the landscape reforming itself anew. We were in this childish and experimental playing mode, where one can discover and sense nature in a pure and simple way. Later on we even added a door, windows, feathers and dreamcatchers to the huts’ appearance, which all together surround it with a dreamy atmosphere that makes sitting inside it and pondering all the more inviting.

Simultaneously the nearly 1 tonne stone bench found its way into materialisation, at times during the creation process being held by a self-manufactured crane. After all, this bench does not only look quite special but is surprisingly comfortable to sit on. And it will definitely endure longer than the next winter.

As well as the stone plastered riverbed which is meant to hold and guide a small stream through the woods. Meandering its way beautifully around trees and corners.

Somehow this week has been a slow but steady transition from coming from the outdoors and finding our way back into what is going to be our home for another two weeks – yet to come.

Written by: Jaya Karim (YIP10)

YIP Network News – Drinkable Rivers with Li An Phoa

For this months ‘YIP Network News’ we have a redacted interview with past Contributor Li An Phoa.

After returning from the Outdoor Experience week, Jim Howard set up an interview over a telephone conversation whilst Li An walks with her project ‘Drinkable Rivers’.

Li An “is a passionate systems-thinker engaged in research, holistic learning and creation for vital food, water and landscapes.” Alongside running workshops and teaching at various educational institutes, she is actively engaged in the self-organised, awareness-raising project ‘Drinkable Rivers’ where she walks from source to sea along major rivers of the world, engaging in conversation and education with all she meets…

Where in the world are you right now?

I am walking next to the river Meuse, in France, 21 days away from the source, situated a bit north of Sedan and south of Charleville-Mézières.

How did you come to be there, and what is the work that you’re doing?

I’m walking the entire river Meuse from source to sea, which will be 1000km. The river itself is 925km. I chose the Meuse because I’m born in the Meuse-Rhine delta.

Once 13 years ago I was canoeing the Rupert River in Canada, I could drink the river water the whole time. At the time I thought ‘What? I could not imagine my own river could be drinkable like that.’ And ‘why isn’t it like that?’ Those questions started to change my thinking, and then returning to that river three years later, realising I could not drink it anymore because of the development choices and activities that happened in the meantime – something that is healthy for millions of years, can within three years change completely. There I got the realisation we have to take care.

In the realisation ‘why can’t I drink my river?’ I started to think ‘ah, all the activities we have been doing’ and ‘what is encouraging those activities?’ Then I think about this economic system that’s guiding our choices or more and of bigger… there is something fundamentally wrong. If all relationships are healthy, then, qualities like water drinkability appear. [Bonjour] And I thought that is a good indicator. We all live in a watershed all around the world, it’s something in general we all share… On the other hand, we are water, we need it. So, if that is the basic indicator for healthy living, and we start to embrace that, I think every step, every action [Bonjour] could be different.

I just passed now two people I would normally talk to. Normally I make a lot of connections with the local people, and I’m staying at their places. I’ve already been in 20 different homes, very different people, from teachers, farmers, to retired people, young fishermen and mayors. It’s wonderful to get that diversity. While I’m walking, and talking to the local people, I also take every day a test of water. It’s a simple science project. We check the quality of the water and we talk about how it’s a reflection of our activities and how we do things.

So, where I’m born, plus that deep experience that changed my thoughts and now, really connecting to all of them, walking that whole river I was born next to, really getting to know my watershed, and sharing the idea that we are one watershed that is connected.

I know a little bit about Spring College, is that something you’re still working with? 

Yes, it’s all part of an extension of my and the activities I do. So, the invitation to take people outdoors, what you just experienced yourselves (on the Outdoor Experience). When I call out that invitation, it’s under the name of Spring College. So that is still very much alive. This project, Drinkable Rivers, it started by me as a citizen, but I’d like to grow this into a foundation or organisation, so that next year I can invite more people to join with their rivers and also map that activity around the world.

What’s in store the future, this year and beyond? 

This is now getting a lot of momentum. Yesterday another newspaper article, today a radio interview, and after our call a documentary maker is coming. It touches enough of a critical tone, but also proposes a perspective on how to navigate, and what to do. I really see that this is moving and growing. I will continue creating events with this and building an organisation, so I’m also looking for donations to grow that organisation and really capture this momentum to deepen what we’ve now been doing.

I will be creating a conference next year, which is about being water, the fact that we are water. I really want to connect people from our physical world, like hydrologists, and make conversations between people in our health world, like dentists, acupuncturists and blood experts. What can we learn about health via the lens of being water?

I will be walking the Yellow River in China, and I will see that the coming 10 years, every year I will do a river expedition and that I invite anyone to create their own and share that. It could be a large expedition that I’m doing, but also could be something very small – the power is being able to show that we will do this, taking steps to take care of our rivers.

That’s also for the love with the Yippies around the world, with whatever their talents and passion are, that they align it to some action, local actions that they can think of. It doesn’t need to be rivers, it can be trees or bees or elderly, or whatever. This feeling of how we are taking care of the places we are living, that is something I want to see, that we show and share and let it grow. I think it’s, in a good way, infectious, that we ignite each other. What’s your spark?

I see that, how I’m living my spark, how it touches others and then they touch me in return, and we just grow. I’ve not been sleeping much, yeah, only 4-5 hours I’ve been sleeping each night for two months or so, and I walk at least 20kms a day, I talk to at least almost 100 people a day. Of course, it’s tiring and a lose my voice, but it gives a lot of energy too. Then I see, OK, this is really regenerative.

Who knows? This is all not planned – I knew I wanted to do this, but I knew I could hardly speak any French, I didn’t know any people in France. It might look like, when you see my pictures, that I planned everything – but none of it was planned. It all goes step by step, seizing the opportunities, creating that initiative that YIP is all about, being awake to jump into those opportunities. Then weave with your dream. If you ask me about the future, that is what I’ll continue to do. And it’s important that we unleash this potential that each of us has within, not to be shy, not to hide anymore. I used to do many things but not to be seen, but now it’s important that people see and hear us and that we are really leaving our trail behind and share this spark.

Amazing, well you’re sparking me with this! I have one more question: ‘How can others get involved?’

You can view my website and Instagram and sign the ‘lifeline’ – I’m collecting 100 signatures or 100 names per kilometre that I walk, I want to have that by the end of this calendar year, so that’s 100,000 people, which is quite ambitious. It is saying ‘I will take care of drinkable rivers’ and ‘my first step is…’. With it, I’ll show that we are a bigger group of people wanting to take that step and I can also then say to companies and politicians ‘will you also dare to say, “I take my step”?’.

Then another level is to join physically with the walk if you can, many people have done it. I’ve only had two days where I’ve been completely by myself. One of them is today, but then you have a lot of time for interviews, like this.

I’m collecting donations, it can be very small, or larger ones. On my website there is ‘donate now’ button. But also, to share your talents. You know, what you’re doing now, with your talents to communicate now to the Yippies, everybody now has another way to share their spark. So, encouraging that.

Allow yourself to have time outdoors and be connected to that, to do those primal things like drinking directly from a lake…. A very practical step is to thank water before you use it, then you immediately start to use it with a slightly different relationship, instead of just having a functional relationship, you will also create a deeper appreciative relationship, that water is also alive.

Thank you so much Li An, this has been a wonderful interview! 

It’s good to talk to you again Jim and I appreciate you wanting to talk about this. It’s wonderful to feel this connection, via you, to the Yippies. Give a big hug to everybody!

By: Jim Howard (YIP9)

Reflections of a YIP Volunteer – Jim Howard

Having been through the program YIP9 and lived in this strange yet wonderful little haven for 10 months, I find myself back on familiar ground. However, being in a different role with new opportunities for learning, surrounded by bright new faces, brings a very different flavour to the experience.

As for the role itself (much like YIP) it is engaging and constantly fluctuating. At first it started with very practical and logistical tasks that needed doing, in order to free up the OTs to focus on other matters. But over the weeks this has changed, and I am now getting into more and more organisational roles, like helping to promote and arrange aspects of the 10 Years of YIP Gathering this August. I have been invited to take on the challenges I feel called to, yet feel free to answer them as I like.

Being a volunteer for YIP has (so far) been a very rewarding experience, and a wonderful addition to the experience of going through YIP as a participant. I am very grateful and lucky to be offered this opportunity and to be able to accept it. Thanks again, YIP!

Until next time!