"My name is Gwendolene Mugodi and I am a writer and the founder of Paivapo Storytellers, a movement that aims to provide better access to local, good quality literature to the children in Zimbabwe--and eventually beyond. Our work would not be complete without the help of local artists like Abel Zvorufura who I met through the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. As two different artists we spent about a month and a half going back and forth on this book until we got to a place we were both happy with. I look forward to sharing that full book in a few months, but for now here's a little bit about Abel and why he does what he does."
Stillness is the Move
I am spending a great amount of time this summer sitting in front of my computer reading about ventures around the world that work alongside people to create green spaces. Projects that address urban planning and infrastructure development, fostering environmental stewardship in children, and designing art projects that stimulate participation.
The impactful ways in which people are changing the way we own the public realm are informing the process of designing my own vision: a methodology for creating public green areas where individuals can reconnect with nature and communities can strengthen nourishing relationships using art and education as catalysts for this transformation.
As much as I consider reading and learning a travelling opportunity in itself, I must confess I like to move - and not only through ideas in my head. No matter how motivated I am on my research topic, there is a point in the day where I have ran out of ways of sitting on my chair and have to escape its four legs and get up on my own two.
One of the goals of my venture is trying to inspire connectivity between people and the green areas they create. Connect with the plants and trees that will cohabit with them. However, in order to make it fair, before I ask others to connect I believe I have to tap into that connectivity myself. So how do I personally connect with a tree’s experience?
To answer that question I have decided to go out to the woods to meet some trees, walk around them, observe their moves, breathe their air, hear their sounds, try to better understand and relate. This is fundamental to my research and honestly, very convenient for my cravings to be outdoors, although… trees aren’t really moving around the forest.
This is how I realized that my first activity in the woods should be just standing with the trees and staying still (super still) as if I were one of those gentle giants. I count how long I endure immobility and this helps me to stay present on my task and also realize my gradual improvement on focus. Turns out (although at this point you might imagine so) I am pretty bad at staying still.
My first count went up to 40.
Today everything moves quickly and speed seems to automatically add bonus points to many tasks we face in our daily lives. I never imagined though, how hard (and important) staying still would be. I do not mean sitting on a desk or melting on a couch, the stillness I am referring to is a form of awareness.
When I manage to stand still, I realize that I am still moving. Planting myself like a tree allows me to witness all the movement that already inhabits me, so vital but also involuntary. My senses feel heightened, the soundscape becomes rich in texture and the distances I can perceive expand as the count increases. Breathing feels as an immense expansion that contrasts with my restless eyeballs.
I started going to the forest looking for action and found out that actually, stillness is the move. To me, standing still is a way of authoring the subsequent move as a conscious one, so that standing transforms into a vital and voluntary stance.
I encourage you to try it.
August 11, 2016
June 13, 2016
Lauren Maunus '19 is starting a bold new venture.
Its goal: To help eliminate food waste and bring healthy, affordable food to "food swamps" in Rhode Island and beyond.
March 15, 2016"If little girls like me were saying Barbie is the pretty one and the brown one is the ugly one, that's a problem."
Yelitsa Jean-Charles studies Illustration at RISD with a a concentration in Gender, Race & Sexuality. She identifies as a visual activist, and believes that artists have a responsibility as society’s image-makers. Her doll company and book series, Healthy Roots, combats internalized racism and colorism by getting to the root of the problem: altering beauty standards and cultviating self-love for young girls through education, diversity, and positive representation.
March 12, 2016An Excerpt
Mina is a Brown-RISD Social Innovation Fellow. She traveled to her home in Iran last summer and brought back a cultural souvenir: the book she wrote, Taste of Culture. She explores Iranian families, streets, stores and the stories and spirit embedded in the recipes of Iranian food. She hopes to start a conversation about the benefit of knowing cuisines of different cultures to connect societies.
This year's class of Brown-RISD Social Innovation Fellows have just begun their yearlong foray into the world of social entrepenuership. Check out their projects here.
December 16, 2015
Ria is a 2015 Social Innovation Fellow and co-founder of No Country for Women (NCFW), an internationally-recognized gender education initiative that aims to combat systemic gender-based discrimination in India. Ria and her co-founder, Shreena Thakore ’16, who grew up in India, were awarded the Projects for Peace fellowship and used this grant to launch the project in May of 2014. NCFW was set up to educate the people in India on gender, rape culture, and misogyny through a series of workshops and initiate informed discussions about social change.
I was inspired by Ria’s story because she was determined to start a conversation about an issue in a country that fights hard to keep such issues silent and hidden. We reflected on Ria’s experiences, her interactions with young people, most of whom had never thought about this obvious form of discrimination before, and her moments of self-doubt and extreme conviction.
October 2, 2015