What is an Unconference?
Receiving an invitation asking if they are interested in contributing to a given theme, would be participants apply, get approval and then show up at a designated venue on the prescribed day. There, they select a time-slot, sign up and prepare to present their project for 25 minutes or so.
The white-board of time-slots and locations gets quickly filled up with topics and presenters.
Attendees gather round and fill out their own schedule according to what looks good.
A bell is sounded and it begins.
November 14, 2014 Unconference at Sheffayim Bank Hapoalim 8:30 – 2:30 pm. This year’s theme: School as a way to close social gaps
We were told to get there early to sign up!
So it was that on November 13th, I travelled north to Petah Tikvah to stay the night. My daughter and her fiancee drove me up to Sheffayim and I checked in, got my name tag and waited for the go-ahead to pick a time slot and sign up.
I took a look at an already rapidly filling board. Apparently some speakers knew that they could ask via facebook to pre-register. I hadn’t known that. There’d been no such offer in my email correspondence with the organizers. Oh well. Next time.
I picked the ‘Iris’ room, first thing. Class Relax, my project, is a morning focus technique. What could be better, I thought, than offering such refreshment at the beginning of what was going to be a stimulating day. I set up my Class Relax powerpoint. Got the sound and picture adjusted and waited for an audience. Who knew that Miznah, a member of the Knesset, was speaking at the same time. Oops. My naivete was showing. I thought that morning meditation would take precedence over anything else!
I gave my talk to two fine individuals, who enjoyed it, and introduced me to others who could possibly help me continue development.
This was the brainchild of Ronen Arbel and Efrat, who have taken the principle of Native American listening circles and developed games to promote attentive listening to others and oneself.
I then headed to Batiya, who is offering Dance and movement at Kiryat Ono. The current class is doing their Bagrut work on the subject. It was fabulous. Also done in a circle, one is attentive to the leader’s movements and variations. Attention to style, rhythm, intent and energy all make for a wonderful holistic movement experience.
At the sound, I headed into the main lobby to join others taking a break to mingle, share, drink water and coffee.And then off to the next session.
The idea of the Unconference is to publicize one’s project and make connections with others doing similar work or able to offer support. I networked with possible future connections. The work is ahead of me.
What else did I attend?
The Technical School in Ofakim, which offers real education for students who simply don’t fit into the normal academic stream. The school accepts students in Grade 9, offers them special tutoring to get them up to grade level and then they are ready in Grade 10 tos begin a vocational stream: in Electronics, Mechanics, etc. working closely with industry such as the Airforce and other industries in the Ofakim area. The school sees them to graduation with a diploma and then into life with skills and often job placement.
I attended Daniel Landau’s talk on Information and Mind, his foundation devoted to creating a better, more centered human being who is able to recognize the constant stream of information that floods us. We are always at the job, hooked in to our social and professional life via our cellphones. We forget to step away. His foundation is also supporting Class Relax in its goal to teach us to detach from past and future and build ourselves an anchor from within.
Fascinating. I hope to see you there next time!
Q. How much meditation does it take to turn on a brain?
A. Not much, but also a lot
Each day begins with the usual range of activities including the most important – morning sound meditation. I focus on posture, breathing and sound. I hold onto the image of a purple blue spot of light under my eyelids and I chant.
Result: better voice, better feeling, happiness.
Each school day I begin by conducting a meditation session with a class – each day a different class along with their homeroom teacher. I scan the room and decide which meditation to use – with or without music, with or without a video clip.
Result: better feeling, better connection with others, happier homeroom teacher.
There’s a pattern here. Meditation = better
There is a quantity required, no doubt, before all those amazing statistics roll into play – higher grade point average, better focus, stronger memory, reduced anxiety and stress, reduction in violence. There is such a quantity and it’s been measured.
But for now, i’m working on observation and accumulation of good feelings.
Meditation is better. It’s better when practiced in a group. It’s better when encouraged with positive feelings. It’s better than not having such a tool when such a tool is needed.
How much? I plan to find out.
Operation Protective Edge
not a war. no. an Operation.
Red alerts sound
Booms. and quiet
How do I spend my time?
I am doing intensive puppet therapy.
As I do during such times and also as I do in regular times, but then only on Saturdays, the only days I have available for foam rubber, paint and glue.
How does it work?
When I work on making puppets, I am focused. Time is irrelevant. Life is good.
Do I like interruptions?
When I am asked to speak about the current not-War situation: how I am, if the kibbutz was targeted, how many red alerts we’ve had, I prefer not to go there.
Back to foam rubber shaping and the artistry of a paintbrush on an eyeball.
It all connects with contact cement.
What are the signs of happiness?
My paintbrushes stand drying beside my toothbrush. A sign of life!
It’s officially the beginning of Summer break.
a mini tour to India.
a quick 8 day retreat
a session in watercolour expression
a cool pool in the middle of the desert
a long-lost friend to revive my long-lost curiousity
a session of adrenaline-driven conversation
a walk into somewhere unknown and pleasantly accessorized with good surprises
a store that sells comfortable cotton clothes so that I can buy things to wear and forget that I’m wearing them
a room set up for sketching
an invisible secretary to remind me that I’m alive
a tibetan singing bowl that offers a call to silence without me having to lift the wooden pallet
a clue as to where my friends are
a message that my children are healthy
a kiss from my beloved
a free hand when I dye my new white shirt
an amazing find in a second hand shop
a promise of a free day every 2 days
a cool room when it’s hot
a favourite song to sing
It’s been almost a year that I’ve been involved in MindCET.
This has been a first-time pilot bringing educators together with entrepreneurs. We were offered lectures and guidance and hands-on seminars in how to build a start-up, how to think creatively, how to present. We were given workshops in how to present our idea and hone it to a form where people understood what we were getting at. We were drilled in how to hone our idea until it became feasible enough to form a site or app.
I started the year with my idea of building a meditation app – something that would know (via handheld phone) when i needed to time-out for a breathing session. the app would warn me and then offer me tactile methods to take that all important break.
That idea warped into a cocoon while I was asked to work with another educator who was building an app for interactive Museum visits. I loved the idea and we worked with imaginative advisers and UX designers.
Till she shrugged off the idea.
I went back to re-think my Meditation app.
Slowly it passed into the idea of a site where I could offer meditations.
Now it has become interactive and in a few weeks I’ll be presenting it in a big Demo Day called MindBlitz!
I’ll be practising my presentation, remembering my words and the statistics to back up my interest.
That’s what’s been going on with that.
I’ve been teaching puppetry to a group of 8th and 9th graders who are talented in various ways. They are very different from last year’s group who worked well together and fed each other’s differences within the framework of the puppet stage.
This year, I have individuals who have expressed themselves visually through their puppets.
I’ve been running the Partnership 2gether project between Albany and our school in the Western Negev. These students have met via Google Hang-out since the fall and have worked on various projects including mailing one another gifts, and drawings, and ID cards. They’ve participated in online bulletin boards like linoit.com and google chats. They’ve played online Charades. But the big fail was a lack of independent chats – whether facebook or google
Most of the American kids were not digitally connected – perhaps because of their age.
Will the project continue next year? I hope so! I want to see Dorit my partner in the project!
End of school year means end of teaching 4 classes as well.
I still have plans – to complete my haiku book
to finish my series of puppets which I’ve been working on this entire year – usually on Saturdays and school holidays.
To visit Toronto in the summer.
To finish a pilot for my Meditation site for implementation in September.
and so, this is nowtherapy – a brief review of my year – it’s been a while since I’ve had time for a review.
nothing deep here – but a skate-through – and a smile
There had been rumours
I’d heard that M had died. At such a relatively young age, death could only have been from disease – M never would’ve been in an accident. It’s not conceivable.
I looked it up, google, facebook and sure enough. Over a year ago, M passed away from lung cancer. In pain but with his family’s support.
He had a family – a few from a few marriages.
Gone but not forgotten. He had been an incredibly paranoid man, highly intelligent, absolutely neurotic. He had the power to cause others to try to make him content, just because his cute smile of delight was so much nicer than his manic rants and attacks if he’d believed that he’d been slighted.
He once offered to teach me how to control others, how to wow them with my pointed cleverness. How to read behind gestures, how to use my findings to manipulate.
An offer that I was dubious about accepting, but still found interesting enough to watch him in action.
I was malleable in those days. I was interested in observing dynamics between sources of power and receivers of its vibrations.
Does that sound cult-ish? Perhaps I was interested in the concept of cult: them vs us
I’d been in a Gurdjieff group in Toronto. I’d seen it in various venues and had experienced the exercises of self-observation and self-remembrance. I had listened to its leaders and looked at the irony of wrong-doing together with the mantle of being better than.
M was wearing that cloak. His brand of ‘better than’ was a large brand and he wore it with the help of many who chose to surround him. That group changed over the years but for a while I was amongst them. I did what I could to smooth his day, although I never knew when his bloodshot non-blinking gaze would fall upon me. I never knew what would set off a tirade of psychological analysis from which there was no escape until I’d admit his points or until we all fell down near dawn.
Funny how he named his daughter ‘dawn’ – perhaps he knew that time to be special – to allow for a new way of thinking when the old way was no longer viable.
I now and for some time have been waking up at dawn.
It’s a delicious free zone – no judgment, no demand.
Back in the day when i lived with M and the rest of the gang, dawn was the time when they were sleeping and I was awake in a large house, cool tiled floors, daylight not quite ready to stream in.
I would drink a morning cup of coffee and head up onto the roof to exercise with the first rays of light.
Working my body parts became my daily ritual.
M taught me how to separate between him and me: between what I needed to do to find space for myself and what I needed to do for the collective.
Out of that, I wrote ‘Getting There’ – my own monologue done in dance but more importantly offering me the therapy of finding out what running towards meant to me.
His obsessive compulsive need for cleanliness taught me how to keep outer appearances even when the inner mind was a million miles away from the accepted order.
From that I learned how to maintain spaces – my puppetry workshop, my batik workshop, my voice workshop.
I learned how to explore being different while keeping a framework of ‘same’.
I learned that I loved fabric and dying and creating. I learned that I could only sit still so long before falling into a daze.
When I knew him, I learned that expression is a large part of joy – no matter what the price.
He’s dead now. He’s left his imprint on a few people.
I guess I’m one.
A wonderful article about teaching poetry writing and a reminder about how mixing up old perceptions of reality produces delicious creative writing
Iris works her magic