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Honoring and bridging cultures and languages

The most recent Open Space event hosted for DAF, in March, was an invigorating mix of sessions and individual conversations. The topic was ‘Honoring and bridging cultures and languages in the Deep Adaptation Forum’.

The most-attended session was ‘WEIRD Climate Activism’, hosted by anthropologist Michael Kimball, who invited people to discuss the imbalance in academic research that focuses on the viewpoints of White, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic people (WEIRD). This has normalized a narrow slice of human culture. According to the session notes, “as most DAF participants are WEIRD, this led to lively and heartfelt reflections on the topic.” You can read the full session notes here.

Says Sanda Hržić, who participated in the WEIRD session and was part of the Open Space organizing team:

We wanted to keep going in analysing that word and the meanings behind it. It was a really nourishing discussion, deeply questioning how we arrived here.

Participants hope to continue the WEIRD conversation in another series of relaxed discussion-group events offered through DAF.

As with previous Open Space events, this one was offered in two time slots to make it accessible to people across a wide span of time zones. Janis Filks, part of the Open Space organizing team, mentioned that there was an interesting contrast between the morning and afternoon sessions—with a more relaxed energy during the earlier one, and a more intellectual and inquiring atmosphere at the later one.

Although the primary language was English, there was one session in German, and another that explored tools for simultaneous translation. In the later session, Julien LeCaille and David Baum used Google Translate in a shared browser window to translate between Julien’s native French and David’s English. Says David:

It worked! I was able to follow a rather sophisticated point Julien made about how politicians need solid data to take action on climate change.

As a side note, both Julien and  David, as well as Viviana Jimenez, Julien Vayssière, and Wendy Veena Freeman, are admins in the new Facebook group, Deep Adaptation Multicultural & Multilingual, where all languages are welcome, and where Facebook’s automatic translation features are being successfully used to bridge language differences.

Another session that used an experimental approach was ‘Inspired by other cultures: stretching our cultural norms so we can access life in deeper and different ways’. Host Sophie Reynolds led the participants in two different ways of experiencing ourselves in connection with others. The first was a Haudenosaunee participative call and response of thanksgiving and connection, and the second was a Japanese consensus method of engaging with a topic. Participants enjoyed the experience. You can read more on the methods and results in the session notes here.

Gwen Fischer invited her sister to attend. Although her sister wasn’t familiar with the technology, she enjoyed connecting with others and talking about topics that were important to her. Says Gwen about her own experience:

It was magical, again. To have a group of people who don’t know each other get together and create an agenda with such interesting topics is very enlivening.

Gwen is also one of the organizers of the Open Space. You can view the Open Space agenda wall here, with a listing of all sessions and links to all session notes.

The next Open Space event is scheduled for Saturday May 29, with the DA Collaborative Action Group as the organizing team. We look forward to seeing you then!


Sasha Daucus is a DAF volunteer and helped organize this and previous Open Spaces as part of the DAF Collaborative Action Team. She is also a founding member and active in the Diversity & Decolonising Circle.

Image copyright Cat Jenkins

#get involved, diversity and decolonisation

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