Dear Dounia my dearest,
This week, I started making my own shampoo and conditioner. Baking powder as shampoo, and a combo of apple-cider vinegar, water, and 8 drops of tea tree oil as conditioner.
While chilling on the balcony, I had this weird flashback of one of my elementary school teachers, the grand ‘la maestra Ida’, telling us that ‘monotheist religions are superior to polytheist religions’. What the fuck.
I went to wax my legs to feel socially accepted in Colombia. It feels that if you go out with hairy legs someone might arrest you, the ‘standard-beauty’ police. It hurt so much! The person waxing my legs was laughing at my struggle, telling me how ‘all Colombian women wax all of it’. The thought of it while I was crying out made the whole scene feel so absurd. The small room, the heat of midday, the hot wax, and my visualization of Colombian women being tortured to get rid of pubic hair. Bah. I ask myself why I shaved my legs and felt unsatisfied with the answer.
On Sunday I went to Guatape, a city two hours away from Medellin. My dad, Kirsten and I walked the 740 steps to reach the top of this huge rock, overviewing a lake.
From the top, I thought of ‘space’. When I stare at nature, the consistency of my thoughts changes. It creates space; I feel freer, more creative, more connected.
Do you remember when we crossed the world on top of that freaking ship? How crazy to think back at that trip! I remember those chats we used to have facing the horizon. We grew so much from the juxtaposition of endless ocean and the intimacy of the relationships we built.
This evening we did yoga in the living room. It was raining outside, and the air smelled like fresh dirt.
Kirsten and my dad both passed out after yoga; at a certain point they were both napping on the carpet like two kitty cats. I liked the scene. Meanwhile, I made an improv pasta pesto for dinner (I found out that adding an avocado to the pesto makes it creamy). They both ate and went to bed, leaving me alone in a living room that looks like as if a bunch of kids just had the biggest pillow fight.
I started writing my to-do lists on small mirrors. I write on them with whiteboard markers so I get reminded that my eyes are behind my to-dos.
This week is an important one: I am interviewing the various organizations that will take part in the research I’m coordinating.
I will be working with a group of 8 to 10 youth organizations. We will be having meetings once a month, for 8 months, and research together how money, organizational culture and social impact are connected. I called the research ‘plata, cultura y cambio’: ‘money, culture and change’. I know this process will transform me, what a freaking honor!
Before leaving Brighton, I presented my research at the Institute of International Development. After my presentation one of the questions was: ‘What do you think will be the answer to your research question?’. I thought about it and answered that I did not know. After all, why would I ask the question at all if I knew the answer already? I also said I thought the answer was going to be something… magical. I think people thought it was a joke, but I am not so sure it was.
Anyways, right now, I feel the urge to ask myself exactly that question: what do I expect to find out? I am playing with few assumptions, trying to be very frank about my bias.
The first is that the soul of an organization matters. I am studying ‘organizational culture’ but I feel that the word ‘culture’ feels limiting. What I am studying feels so subtle.
I must have shared this video with you before but check it out again. It is a must watch. I wonder what you’d think of it in relations to your work at UNICEF.
This video comes out of a study made by Organization Unbound. Ah, I have so much respect for them! In short it explores the coherence between what people working in an organization experience, and the organization’s social impact. The video is a collage of crowd-sourced reflections on the experience of working with social organizations. The study suggests that organizations that are different, don’t see themselves instrumentally, but rather ‘live internally what they are trying create out in the world’.
Makes good sense to me. I understand it experientially. I love all the phrasing that people use. So many of the words in this video seem to breath.
There are so many elephants in the room of social change.
In my research, I am looking how funding mechanisms fit in this picture.
My research is basically wondering: How the hell do we change the system by working within the system? So I am looking at financial mechanisms of organizations to explore how they ‘play the system’, how they digest its rules, how they trick them.
This video says something else that really resonates with me: all the organizations that do good work are not just separate. Even if they don’t work together formally, they create something bigger. I feel this is a very profound truth. Instinctively, I feel this is a truth that could change everything.
I just read Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock’s open letter. It says: ‘We are all pieces in a giant, fluid puzzle, where the smallest of actions by one puzzle piece profoundly affects each of the others.’ Do you agree with this in your heart?
I do, and I think this will be an assumption of my research that I need to be aware of:
How organizations understand themselves can shift the delicate mechanisms of this giant puzzle. I hope to find out more.
Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock give advice to artists. I loved this one (which more than an advice to artists seems the definition of being an artist): ‘Be bold and tirelessly compassionate as you dance through the voyage that is this lifetime.’ I thought you’d like it.
Yesterday I added all the researchers that applied to my research to a whatapp group. I noticed people’s whatsapp status. Check this out:
• ‘Siempre hay belleza’ – there is always beauty.
• ‘Si miras hacia afuera sueñas, si miras adentro despiertas (C.G JUNG)’ – If you look outside you dream, if you look inside you wake up.
• ‘Solo buenas vibras’ – Only good vibes.
• ‘Desaprendiendo para aprender’ – Unlearning to learn.
I think we are off to a good start.
Hoping to catch up for a ‘learning-unlearning epic convo’ of ours sometimes this week.
Sending you so much love,