“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”
― Anaïs Nin
According to (nearly) universally held scientific beliefs human beings have traversed the breath of the Earth for over 60,000 years. Migration is not a new phenomenon, neither, sadly, is the terror of being a refugee, but the epic proportions of displacement are all too familiar across the globe certainly are new.
There can be nothing more de-humanising than to have your community scattered, the traditions of your culture destroyed, to experience the brutality of violence directed toward you because of your geographic location (and the covetousness for what lies beneath your feet) or your faith. That we, who are all ‘of one’, could do this to another and not understand that we are doing this to ourselves (for eventually we always reap what we sow) is beyond my capacity to comprehend. Being assigned refugee status and then being forced to live in an encampment with tens of thousands of others who likewise are forced to accept this fate and ‘live’ on the handouts of NGOs is beneath human dignity. And yet, according to the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, UNHCR, there are more than fifty (50) million people living this way. FIFTY MILLION PEOPLE living in tent cities and if you can read this from the comfort of a home, where water runs in your tap and flushes your toilet, where you can bathe, and cook, and sleep anytime you wish, a piece of you – in our common existence – is living this other life.
I believe in the ferment of genius. That there are ideas floating all around us, destined to be pulled down because at a precise moment in time we see a problem and know with every fiber of our being that there is a solution to it that ‘we’ have been called upon by the universe to fix. Goethe understood it too.
Destiny grants us our wishes, but in its own way, in order to give us something beyond our wishes.
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Because of her Lexus Design Award winning “Weaving a Home” project, I discovered the extraordinary work of Abeer Seikaly a couple of weeks ago. I have worked with artisans and craftspeople for more than a decade to find a way of taking their traditional skills and making them contemporary and commercially viable so, you can imagine how Seikaly’s efforts took my breath away. The conjunction of honoring the traditional housing of nomadic peoples everywhere, seeing in handwoven baskets a possibility for something more, and her training as an architect have created something truly innovative and worthy of the (all too often loosely assigned) appellation of genius.
In combination with “ovens made from old bath tubs” we might be able to fix some pressing problems and build communities (and all the healing, dynamic energy which accompanies such) within refugee camps to restore a level of human dignity.
I have facilitated introduction between Ms. Seikaly and a friend of mine who is the CEO of Glen Raven (Sunbrella) fabrics. I suggested that the integration of a rain collection and cooling system into the functionality of her design and they have now taken the conversation into the business development core of Glen Raven for direct conversations. I can’t know the outcome, but I see NO REASON why something couldn’t be developed for those living near salt water but within an arid environment to cope with increasingly demands on water resources. I am so very hopeful of something smart, and cost effective, will come of the connections I saw and acted upon.
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