Their hearts beat fast as they stand here
But not from fear
It is the exciting anticipation that comes from having wilderness running in your blood
They are ready
Ready to meet the beasts and befriend them.
At the Brink of the Wilderness, Team 19 Final Projects KaosPilot
I’m in Aarhus, Denmark. A previously fortified Viking settlement that was founded in the 8th century. The fastest growing Danish city with a population of 315,000 people; 50,000 of them are university students. A place buzzing with history and future.
I spent today with social activists, civil disruptors, kaos pilots, innovators, and edu-preneurs. I’m exhilarated and my mind is whirring with words and ideas. This blog is my attempt to bring some of those conversations to you fresh from the oven.
Kaospilot is a school and a change agency situated in Denmark but with the whole world as its working field. This is a place that sets itself the aspiration:
To be the best school for the world.
They are in radical service to these four aims:
1. Create deep value for others
2. Cultivate their craft as Kaospilots
3.Cultivate their character and
4. Connect with community.
It is 3 year journey to become a Kaospilot and so far the world has 600 of them.
As I sat over a coffee with Simon Kavanagh ( International Manager for Kaospilot) and later Danny Morsø (a 3rd year student from Australia, see photo taken at the new Library in Aarhus) I was completely captured by the raw energy and dynamism that grows out of radical activism and strongconnection to purpose driven pedagogy. Of all the things we talked about, and there was so much ( I strongly urge you to check them out) I’m thinking about the idea that we need to Listen Louder. As social innovators and activists we need to really hear the weak signals.
Next I joined Kristin Birkeland see headline photo) Artist, Coach, House Administrator, Everyday Activist and Kaos Pilot at the Sager der Samler ( translated as : a place where people meet). This humming house is home to people who are finding grassroots ways to make civil society stronger. I shared a ‘pot-luck’ lunch with a group of people who are working on radical projects to create solutions and with people living on the boundaries.
A man with the warmest smile told me he was a refugee from Syria. He had been in Aarhus 18 months and his wife and children were in a camp in Lebanon. He had created a project with other fathers waiting for their families to join them. These men found a way to create language videos to assist their families to learn Danish in preparation for their arrival. He was proud that his children have now started to teach other children at the refugee camp how to speak Danish. Best of all – his wife and kids were due to arrive in Aarhus the very next day.
Another man told of his project to support recovering drug addicts in the crucial 30 days after completion of rehab. He knew from bitter experience that this is a time when you need to stay clean and strong.
These were civil activists, learning from their experience and finding a way to create solutions to complex social problems. I learned of the Dumpster Dive Cafe providing food and social connection to those living on the boundaries. But the idea that really held me was when we talked about language. The way that our language as innovators and activists has been co-opted. Innovate has lost its meaning, co-produce had been diluted, civil action has been polished up. We talked about the importance of creating new words and new language. At Sager der Samler they talk of ‘renewal” not innovation and “everyday activism”. The words we use and the names we give to the work we do is crucially important.
Just when my head was so full it was humming I walked past Aros – the most spectacular art museum. I wandered around a Jani Leinonen exhibition entitled “School for Disobedience” but that’s a whole other blog. Or you can check out Twitter where I’m posting some photographs @FreerMary .
Here’s to everyday activists and civil disobedience and kaos pilots everywhere.