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Art and Utopia

Recently, I've been meeting with this group called Open Eyes Toronto (OYT). It has a history of ten or so years. Its an art collective that focuses on making life more interesting by bringing together creative and active people, discussing projects, and listening to ideas grow from one space to another. In Chengdu, these kinds of meetings were the norm. It wasn't exclusive by any means. In fact, it encouraged inclusiveness, encouraged ideas, stimulated action and collaboration. This is what makes a community. It is said that "you are the company you keep", and if you can surround yourself with those that 'do' then by all means foster that kind of environment.

Over the past year OYT has been meeting weekly/bi-weekly to share with the group their personal interests from varying technical backgrounds, some literary, architectural, graphic and/or technological. So, some people painted, sketched, took photos, produced installations or social/environmental awareness projects. We would potluck whatever interesting foods we wanted, feast a bit and then we'd begin going around the circle in no particular order to hear what each person had done to evolve from the work discussed at a previous meeting. It has been quite rewarding being around again people constantly pushing and moving forward, looking for ways to develop, hearing how people have overcome pitfalls or climbed out of ditches. The switch from jesting to following guidelines, listening carefully in earnest while playfully expressing naturally flowing reactions make the group a pleasant way to observe different forms of media and its activity in the way we function day-to-day.

This day-to-day concept always fascinates me because in short we get up early and meet deadlines for other people's companies. We work overtime to finish tasks and we drag ourselves along in order to accomplish the to-do lists of our supervisors. And yet when it comes to our own ambitions, we tend to push things off to the side, waiting for the 'right moment'. It doesn't take a Tony Robbins to know that the right moments never arrive. Before you know it its vacation time, return from vacation time, task time, work time, crunch time and deadline time over and over again. We somehow find the phantom power to do things for someone else's Cause/Company, but we tend to let our own ambitions slide. This is why these types of groups are so interesting to me. We have to make the things we do valuable and significant to the way we function, the way we plan, the way we think.

When I think of Germany or Austria in the 1800s, I think of this explosion of excellence in art, music and design. It was almost as if the entire active community was constantly bustling with evolutionary ideas.The gardens of creativity became markets in and of themselves. People congregated, gathered around these circles, discussed them and made them structures of knowledge. These social manifestations tickle me. They make me hungry to re-create such things wherever I go, find the people that are engaged most deeply in their work and be a part of their constructive practices. ​​This is how, I believe, the momentum of a community is established and moved upon. When we become too reluctant and cautious about our own work or ways of sharing, we take the wind out of the sails and remain only a certain temperature of coloration. This results in a cautious community, one hesitant to engage itself, stepping with such vulnerability that circumspection is dissolved.

I would love to come into more contact with more people in this city and see what everyone is doing, to explore the collaborations already underway and share in that evolutionary process of growth. I know its out there; I can feel it. I can smell it. And if you're one looking to find a community like this, I encourage you to come this saturday (November 3rd) and say hello. After all, 'now' is always just a disguise of the beginning of great things to come.

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