2011 – And so we began
In February 2011, these three women met for a week in Martha’s studio to begin to create a series of panels each representing a single living Being.
As we worked together creatively, we continued to circle and explore larger questions
- How do we show “interrelatedness” and “interdependence?
- How do we create “wholeness” while celebrating the diversity of the huge number of Beings, both human and the more than human, that comprise our world?
- How can this project build community and what is its potential to effect change?
- What is the potential of this project to effect change?
- How can this project actually happen with no budget ?!?!!!
We came to some deeper concepts to help guide us:
- We will just start and “go with the flow”. We will let the directions emerge as we go along. Hence the title – “All Beings Confluence”. “Confluence” means the process of merging or gathering together two or more streams into a whole.
- We will create “wholeness” by celebrating the diversity, interdependencies and interconnectedness of all the living life forms on the planet. Each Being will be created on a single sheer panel and hung in such a way that each Being is always seen in relationship to those around them.
- Anyone who wishes can make a panel. We believe in “abundance”. We will have what we need when we need it. We will work with what we have. We will each do “what we can” and that is all that is required.
Underlying these core concepts is a deep belief that complexity combined with the creative process will self-organize and will grow to reach its full potential.
All Beings Confluence will evolve organically if we remain responsive to the process and consider ourselves as “companioning the Beings” rather than organizing an offensive. Through that companioning we will, to the best of our collective abilities, provide an environment for the Beings themselves to do Their work, just as we are doing ours.
Our first goal was to have enough panels made so that we could fill the entrance way into the recording studio for Widening Embrace which was scheduled for August, 2011 at the Banff Centre for the Arts, in Banff, AB. We wanted to offer support and create an installation so that the singers could take the Beings’ energy with them into the recording sessions.
We held several workshops throughout Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta. Many of the participants were already familiar with Carolyn’s music and many were not – but all were inspired by the potential of this vision and had Beings that they wanted included. The women were incredibly generous – with their creative energy and vision, their time and their resources. We gathered together a large collection of sheer fabrics, paints and other support materials as well as financial contributions, all of which affirmed our beliefs in flow and abundance.
Each finished panel was photographed, numbered and labeled with its title and the artist’s name. Information about all the panels was then compiled into a catalog with a full image plus a detail and the story of how each came to be. Lists were made, legal contracts were collected, and the catalog was made available online on the List Serve and in a photocopied version that would be available for viewing. Whew!
By the time we arrived at Banff in August 2011, we had an installation of 80+ Beings which were experienced by the 120 women who attended. At least another 50-100 people, including a number of the women who had made the panels and came to see them hung “as a whole”.
What can I say about this? It was so much more than I had thought possible! Certainly, it was incredibly satisfying to see our collective creative efforts so well received and to see the effect of the panels on those who experienced them. The Beings seemed alive …breathing as they moved gently in the winds, responding to us moving through them. And we, in turn, responded to them.
There is a set of images, taken by Rod Wood, of the Banff Installation attached above.
Gradually, it has dawned on me that the Beings, themselves, are “doing the work” of celebrating diversity while embracing Wholeness. I see my job as helping others create the Beings that have spoken to them and to then move them out into the world where they can be experienced. Each time we experience this degree of complexity we are less afraid to relinquish our sense of superiority and to accept a position as “part of” rather than “in control of” this lovely planet of ours.
The “Suitcase with Wings”
At Banff we extended an invitation. All Beings Confluence was available for tour to all the launches that were scheduled for the fall – 7 in Canada and 3 in the US. What eventually emerged was a large suitcase, with multiple panels wrapped on single pool noodles of varying widths. Included in the suitcase was all the documentation needed, the print version of the catalog, extensive installation instructions, and various support materials. This was carried as “extra luggage” from launch to launch – usually by Carolyn herself. For the US launches, this was re-assembled into a smaller collection of panels with even more documentation to accommodate border crossings.
At every location, a woman stepped forward to act as “The Guardian” of the panels. She received and shepherded them through their installation and repacking. This was no small responsibility! There was the initial planning and creating of the infrastructure on which to hang the panels, then the organizing of teams of women to install and dismantle the installation. In all cases this was done with great reverence and care and made.
Through these efforts at the various launches, we estimate that the panels have been seen and experience by over 1500 people!!!. It was well received everywhere it went.
Some of the many wonderful, affirming stories we have heard ….
- “Unpacking the suitcase felt like Christmas and Birthdays all together. Each roll was exciting, what would it hold? We were amazed with each and every one! How beautiful! Even though I was not part of the recording I felt I knew each Being from the photos posted. It felt like welcoming old friends.” — Ellen Gallo, Cape Cod, MA
- “I will never forget the sense of awe and reverence that came over me when I walked into the room, and felt the presence of the Beings. The first sense that came to me was one of presence…I found myself muttering … ‘they are here.’ The presence of the Beings made us, as humans, more quiet, more humble, more reverent, I think.” – Ruth Blaser, Regina, SK
- “There was a lovely moment close to the launch time when about 15 kids came in from the group, Kids Inc, who normally meet in the church hall. They spent time amongst the Beings – touching, moving, questioning and being enchanted. I loved their spontaneity. I was later told of one girl being initially scared by earth worm but then able to go close and befriend the worms, touching each of them.” – Fenella Temmerman, Winnipeg, MB
- “Here is a picture I hold in my heart from the launch on Prince Edward Island. The large foyer of the church was filled with men and women during take down after the concert. Some were on ladders releasing the panels from clips and wires. Others carried panels to long tables where women were gently rolling the panels and placing each once carefully into the carry case. Down the stairs came little Bella (6 year old), her arms outstretched with a Being panel draped over them, Jan beside her. Deep the love that calls us on.” – Barbara Mader, SK.
- “[The Beings] – their presence and their help have been profound all through the project. Having emerged and taken their place amongst us, we humans have been changed. My own sense is that they have helped us profoundly. They help us to settle, to deepen, and to open. They help us to know what Thomas Berry insists on … ‘humans are derivative of nature.’ They help us with our spec…ial work, of becoming a new humanity. They help us to sing.” – Carolyn McDade, Cape Cod, MA