Within 15 minutes of walking around Vienna, I see signs for an art exhibition titled, “How to Live Together.” Oh Jesus how many places am I going to find with people thinking through the same issues I am? Fractals, fractals indeed Hans.
I head straight for the exhibition. At the entrance there is a group of women reading separately. One makes eye contact with me so I smile and motion to ask if I can join. She comes over and seems to want an explaination. I ask, “What is this?” She whispers that this is a study group of sorts. They are a community college in the truest sense of the term that comes together to learn and discuss how communities come together. Oh my fucking god, I’m in heaven.
She invites me to join and hands out separate articles for us to read about collectives and community spaces. I get an article on collecting and one oultining a city in Austria that is entirely a commons space – all forrest, streams, rivers, lands are shared. These texts answer questions I didn’t even know I had. Apparently there had been a summit last year with artists, activists, philosophers, writers, etc that discussed commoning. Commoning is the practice of creating spaces where everything is shared in common. I didnt even realize this was term. We are reading from a collection of texts from that summit.
I feel like I am out of my body watching myself discus all these concepts I have been clumsily bludgeoning through for the past three years. Is this heaven? Did I find it? Sincere people, a diverse group of brilliant, gorgeous women, coming together to try and find answers for the benefit of all to create a solidly better world.
I cannot say more now about our discussion because I would end up writing for days so I will hold off. But know, please know, that in every pocket of this planet – people care, people are trying, people are learning, and people are coming together to rethink relational structures and address not just the symptoms but the core issues plaguing our society. They are finding truth, laying a foundation upon which we can come together in harmony to build a better world.
After the discussion I am invited to join the community college. The organizer takes me to get my student ID card. I have never been more proud to be a member of an organization. She patiently waits for me to stop effusively praising her existence and then tells me I need to see the exhibition.
The community college is in tandem with an art exhibition full of meditations on community. From a full sized human robot full of every bit of human history available on recall to films directly discussing all I could have ever dreamed, I feel more at home than I can remember. (These are unfortunately the only images I took from the exhibition)
I’ll leave it at that for now – me crying with a giant goofy grin plastered on my face watching absolutely brilliant minds working through a puzzle I’ve been fumbling blindly with on my own for years.
What we learned
- A gallery space can be used as a community space.
- I’ll keep saying it until my little baby lungs collapse: governing, the act of bringing people together, protecting and providing for diversity, is art. Communities are living art. In New York I was trying to create an art exhibition with study groups such as this – surreal to again see my dreams in tangible form thousands of times better than what I could have hoped for.
- The true meaning of community college. A major motivation behind wanting to create these spaces is that education has become so distorted in our society and so there are no free spaces to learn, connect with people and explore your talents. What should be a non hierarchical group learning to promote the betterment of all has been manipulated into academic dick measuring contests of how many publications or accolades have been tacked on to your false construction of an identity, hindering progress. Education, learning, science, these are our tools for community growth. The practice of thought is a fine tuning of the world and we desperately need tuning.
- To create a tolerant, diverse society it is crucial that not everyone agree and to be comfortable in allowing these fundamental, often mutually exclusive, differences of perspective. We discussed religious extremism.
- Silence is listening and crucial. Sitting with a group of women, no one commanded the group, we all showed support and listened to each other. The woman technically in charge talked about how she as a professor had to learn that the teacher teaches to seek knowledge not indoctrinate so every lesson must be a discussion.
- Heaven. If I had more funding I would stay here forever, but I have to keep going, my money is running out.