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  • Writer's pictureGreen Silk Road

#Greensilkroad post #2

One more month till lift-off! Have been thinking of a name for our farewell party: Poitewaarom? — a mix of the Tamil saying for goodbye (poi-te-varom means “we’ll go and come back”) and Dutch for “why?” (waarom?). It might seem strange to be searching for meaning behind our project AFTER deciding to jump in and do it, but from an evolutionary agile management point of view it makes sense. We know it’s the right thing to do, even though we acknowledge that we cannot comprehend its full essence.

While reaching out for Auroville’s extended family of support organisations we found helpful push back — people asking us WHY? We made an artistic flyer with our journey mascot the squirrel — based on the legendary Anatolian forest that allowed squirrels to travel across Turkey without touching the soil.

I thought about the prospects of turning the Green Silk Road into a social enterprise, so as to help it become financially sustainable and even started entering a worldwide competition for innovative solutions to combat climate change.

The carbon accountant in me started measuring emissions and comparing CO2 equivalents of airtravel with rail, quantifying factors such as vehicle occupancy and cloud cover induced radiative forcing, based on scientific data from the International Panel of Climate Change.

Then my fellow traveller Omid asked me “why? Why compare this 40 day journey to a 1 day flight?” I responded “well, carbon is the currency that everyone can understand. It makes things universal.”

Omid: “Really? I don’t understand your factors and coefficients.”Me: “Oh. Shit. So then how do we involve more people in this systemic change process?”Omid: “I see this journey as an art piece, but then again I am used to interpreting my reality in that way, as an artist. You are used to seeing things as social ventures.”Me: “How is it an art piece though?”Omid: “We collect stories along the way, our own and other people’s. We photograph them, film them, paint them, and while doing so we learn what it is that this journey has to tell us. Little by little we uncover the story of the Green Silk Road itself. And wherever we land and find an audience we share how it is unfolding. We present the pictures, songs, poems and videos in an aesthetic way which becomes richer and richer the further we travel and the more we experience.”Me: “Wow. I never thought of it like that. It’s scary, because it’s completely unpredictable. But it makes sense. Just as social change is about charting unknown territory by acting first and interpreting later, so is art. And maybe beautiful stories are just as universal as mathematics?”Omid: “Actually, I don’t believe anything is universal, but let’s talk more about that on the road.”

So here it is: the logic of our path has just become less obvious and clear. On purpose. Just as genuine complexity requires us to suspend judgement, it may ask us to suspend sense making too. As wise elders such as David Bohm and Donella Meadows used to say: “embrace the incoherence” and “stay humble, stay a learner”. In stead of a preparing an FAQ section with Frequently Answered Questions, I now lean towards letting the questions hang loose, flapping in the open like prayer flags.

what is it that wants to be born out of this extraordinary journey?is there an emerging restoration ecology movement behind the seemingly disparate reforestation attempts across Eurasia?does care for land, rivers and forests connect people across man-made borders?if globalisation leads to ecological illiteracy, does localisation risk estranging people from each other due to reduced interaction?do children care about forests? how can kids and trees grow together?what is the true value of a traveller to the places (s)he visits?can man made forests be as magical as ancient old growth forests?is art a luxury or a basic necessity?is wilderness a luxury or a basic necessity?

> please share your suggested questions…

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