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Community Building: How To Build A More Cooperative Culture – Interview with Jamaica Stevens

Interview by Janae Jean & Spencer Schluter –

This episode we spoke with Jamaica Stevens, workshop leader, event producer, group facilitator, community organizer, organizational development consultant, project manager and life coach. Her experience ranges from event production of large festivals, such as Envision and Lucidity to her latest project, “ReInhabiting the Village: CoCreating Our Future.” The “ReInhabiting the Village: CoCreating Our Future” project features a 352-page book with over 60 contributing authors and the work of 12 visionary artists, the companion workbook with interactive exercises and practical applications, the eBook and the website, ReInhabitingTheVillage.com. The project explores village mindset through 12 themes. The project is hosting an online course as well, beginning in January 2018. –J.J.

 

Jamaica Stevens

Spencer: What is the purpose of your project? Are you trying to create a dialog about these things; or do you have a specific community that you are building?

Jamaica: For me, the project has been partly about creating a cultural narrative and a dialog that includes “Voices of the Village.” What does that mean to people to live with “The Village Ethos?” Not only the cultural dialog, but also the project’s aim is to support the tools and best practices necessary to build a more cooperative culture. A lot of times people will say, “Great! I’m on board! I feel this growing sense of wanting to be more interdependent, more thoughtful of my participation of what’s happening on the planet and more engaged in my community. How do I go about doing that? How do I work with other people? How do I start projects that have the best foundation built on these frameworks and these principles?” So we also have the workbook and with that a series of classes and courses that we do to help guide people into the conversation and from the conversation into action based on the values.

Janae: I’m curious how did you get the association with Keyframe Entertainment. Was this your project and you brought it to them?

JS: My friend, Julian… we’ve been in the festival world for a long time. I did a lot of event production for a very long time. When I met Julian I said, “I feel that I have something here. I feel that I have this story to share that’s creating a space for the stories of many to be shared.”

SS: Art and music isn’t just entertainment, it’s also where a lot of these concepts are played out. It is an ongoing dialog, and I think that is one of the roles that the arts play in civilization. Where have we been? Where are we going? What’s next? Art has always been part of that visionary process.

JS: As humanity we’ve been convening for a very long time; we’ve been gathering for eons. A very intrinsic part of our human connection is to gather, to convene, to celebrate, to share ideas, to come to the public piazza and trade wares and trade cultural understanding. I believe that the arts and music, and even festival scene, has been a way for modern humans to come together and to create a sense of community with the purpose being dance, expression, art and movement. What’s grown from that, I’ve seen from my years in event production, is that we have also been creating temporary villages. We’ve been prototyping. … It’s not just about coming together to celebrate, convene and share art. It’s about then taking what you’ve been inspired by, what you’ve learned, what you’ve grown into and bringing it out into the world so that it serves everybody, not just a certain sub-sect of culture or community. Everybody can benefit. So I’ve very much seen the village as a growing ethos, and we practice it when we come together.

JJ: It almost feels like we’re going back to early man. The idea of the village … the idea that you have the healer, the artist, the elder … all of these different roles in society and they all serve their purpose… and we’re starting to come back to that. I feel like that’s what you’re trying to do with your project; show how everyone’s role plays on everyone else’s role, and we can truly just work together instead of against each other.

JS: Absolutely, there’s some core ethos that we’ve been playing with in the project and promoting as being these underlying factors. … How are we in good relationships with each other and with the living world around us? How we make a positive impact in the place that we live? How do we start shifting the economy to more sense of local place and promotion of local economy? We have this distributed global economy and what you find is that we now have become dependent on things that perpetuate this system that degrades our ecology. How do we become more supportive of a living economy that focuses on “upliftment” of place and people being able to live their lives and take care of their family?

All of that comes from a sense that we have to shift into a more regenerative perspective. Certainly intergenerational value, access to good education, celebration of cultural diversity and difference, really looking at social justice issues, these are all values and codes that were intrinsic when you were in a village. Based on survival, groups of people came together to say we have to work together. We’re stronger together. We each have different passions, purpose or skills … more of an artisan culture … where we teach our children and we learn from our elders and we continue that vitality of life and we think about our impact on the ones who are still coming. These original values were part of the village culture. Almost by default you had to do that to survive. When we begin to grow in our comfort and had more access to trade with other places, I think we started to grow in ways that are amazing. Humanity is so diverse, and we’ve done so much in that time. Yet at the same time, it’s like we’ve gotten too big, almost too fast, that it’s not a sustainable way to grow and it’s not a regenerative way to grow. Now we have great advancement of certain people with a lot of people still in a great deal of poverty and suffering, so there’s an imbalance there. … I think that what’s trying to happen is the restoration of that balance. I believe strongly in coming back to village-based principles; we are interdependent. We very much rely on each other, and it is a matter of survival. It isn’t just comfort. We have to have stronger, more resilient communities to make it through these times. … We have to start with what we can do, and that’s more local engagement. You can make strong, local, thriving places that then the premise is by connecting with those other places that are also doing that work of resilience we can build a network of resilient hubs that are prototyping different ways to live, better community ethic, and better economic and ecological practices. However we have to start doing that in mass numbers; we have to have a lot of people starting to participate in living a more village ethos based way for that transformation to happen on the scale it needs to, as rapidly as it needs to, to make that kind of change.

For the audio podcast, visit consciouscommunitymagazine.com.

 

Janae Jean is the editor and social media manager for Conscious Community Magazine. She has a master’s degree in computer music composition from Johns Hopkins University, and is actively researching using electronically generated sounds for healing. Janae will be teaching a workshop, “Finding The Song of Your Soul” as part of the Otherworld Festival, Dec. 7 – 10, 2017 at Pheasant Run Resort in Saint Charles, IL. See www.janaejean.com for details about the class. 

Spencer Schluter is the advertising account manager and social media manager for Conscious Community Magazine. His experience includes visual communications, advertising, social media, marketing, public relations, and business development. He is also a master level Reiki and traditional Chinese Qigong practitioner.

 

Podcast Theme Music:
Sublimation (Theme from the Conscious Community Podcast)
Janae Jean Almen and Spencer Schluter, composers
SpindriftGreenMusic Publishing ©2017

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