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Ulrike Reinhard Faehrweg 2 69239 Neckarhausen +49 6229 93 07 06 we@we-magazine.net


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Editorial Ulrike Reinhard

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A Space For Knowledge, A Space For WE Interview with Lourdes Gomez Page 46 WE Inspired. Empowered. Enabled. Building For A Better World. Hélène Finidori Page 10

The Transformative Power Of Digital Games: Future Now! Marigo Raftopoulos

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Let's connect the dots and build a GREATER WE! Page 54 Was Mark Zuckerberg Beuys In His First Life? Interview with Carl Scrase Page 16

The WE In Australia’s Social Innovation Interview with Donnie Maclurcan

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We Are The Heart And The Edge Australia and New Zealand Emily Davidow Page 36

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editorial David Hood, organizer and initiator of Gathering11 started this endeavor. He asked me to come to Australia and join his event. I was very curious, so we started a crowd funding campaign and raised 1200 Australian Dollars which at least paid part of my airfare. So there I was. In Melbourne, Australia – completely jet lagged, I had no idea about the Internet scene in Australia – but ready to start the magazine. What seemed to be promising in the beginning turned out to become rather difficult at the end. And it took us quite some effort to finish the magazine – or at least to publish what we have. You really can't call it a magazine … So what happened? Gahthering11 was an amazing event. Many people were interested in contributing to the magazine and supporting the idea of “WE”. But it turned out – hardly anyone delivered. I started out with those who were he loudest … and really ran after them … but unfortunately none of the guys (YES, only guys!) delivered. After extensive email exchange with endless promises they never ever came up with anything. That was very frustrating and had the effect that our energy level went below zero to make this issue as bright as it should be! It was an experience we’ve never had before! But a huge THANK YOU to those who delivered. Some extraordinary articles came into existence. It was great fun reading and editing them. And because of those we are going online now … with half a version of WE_australia. Many thanks to Bea again! She did an amazing job in marshaling the bits and bytes to make WE_australia a wonderful reading experience. Maybe next year, after Gathering12 we’ll start our next endeavor! You never know;-) Best as always, Ulrike


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WE Inspired. Empowered. Enabled. Building For A Better World. 

Hélène Finidori

Are we really all watched over by machines of loving grace? To paraphrase Einstein – creating better futures can’t be reduced to solving the world’s problems with the same type of thinking and behavior that created the breakdown in the first place. What we are now seeing is a startlingly rapid growth in the complexity and intricacy of the problems facing us – manifestations of interconnected dysfunctionality caught up in meta-systems - which old school types of thinking and action are incapable of tackling. No matter if we are hoping for the whole system to be modeled and redesigned by ‘those who know better’ or whether we expect some natural order to replace old hierarchies and man-made chaos – or even if we’re waiting for Gaia to extract her revenge and destroy humanity, many of us feel powerless, helpless or doomed. The forces that impel us toward fulfilling our rational self-interest and our immediate selfish desires, or that were meant to liberate us from all forms of political and religious servitude, have led to our surrender to “The System”.

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Hélène Finidori “Originally from France, I have lived in many places, learnt many languages and discovered several cultures. Sometimes I feel that I belong ‘in between’ cultures, which gives me a multi-focus and a broad understanding, and certainly a special attraction to WE!”

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Adam Curtis explores this apparent feeling of helplessness in ‘All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace’, a powerful and unsettling three part documentary broadcast in June this year by the BBC. He identifies three key strands of thought that have helped shape the 20th century ethos. Briefly put, these are: •

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that market stability enabled by technology will liberate us from all forms of political control and help us all become Randian heroes in control of our own destinies; that old hierarchies will be replaced by (eco)systems that can organize themselves ‘naturally’; that we are all soft machines driven by the impulses of our genes and therefore not responsible for the unforeseen consequences of our acts.

Such ideas have caused us to embrace a fatalistic philosophy that sees human beings as cogs in a mechanistic system or as self-contained computing machines, helpless and disillusioned in the face of those in power, with no idea of what comes next or of how to challenge and change the status quo. Isn’t this a great excuse for our political failure to change the world? But this is not the discourse we want to hear! No, we are not cogs in machines. We are not ants in a swarming ant hill. And we are certainly not doomed or pre-determined – or at least it is healthy to suppose we are not! One of my favorite quotes from Goethe offers an antidote to such deterministic thinking and shows a way forward: “If we take man as he is, we make him worse. But if we take him as what he could potentially be, then we make him capable of becoming what he can be.” We need to hang on to our belief in mankind and our ability to change the world for the better! As Maturana and Varela point out in their “The Tree of Knowledge: The Biological Roots of Human Understanding”, while machine systems or biological organisms restrict the individual creativity of their component parts because these parts exist solely for the organism itself, human social systems, on the contrary, amplify the individual creativity of their component parts because the system exists for these parts. However, we are not selfish components in the system. As components of a social system, we are both a whole (an individual self) and a part(co-determined by our relationships with others and our environment)at one and the same time. In other words, we do not solely exist so that the system can thrive; the human social system exists for the parts to thrive, individually and collectively, in all their vast networks of interactions and relationships. We can only survive and thrive if we uphold both our “wholeness” and our “partness”. This notion of ‘agency in communion’ as Wilber calls it, or allocentric individualism is a leap beyond the polarization of individualism and collectivism that has underpinned 20th century thought and given us the idiocentric objectivism of Ayn Rand, the post WWI collectivist and totalitarian regimes and the communal ideologies of the 1970s. Agency is our capacity to make choices and act. Our increasing ability to author, connect and share through communication technologies has made it easier to keep our human individuality and interactions independent of the infrastructure and the system – even if we are still to ensure that this remains so. At the same time, our individuality and our interactions are not separately determined. As much as we are shaped by what is around us and by our interactions with our peers, we can still influence and even create our social and natural environment through our choices and decisions.

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This is how evolution unfolds, and why we have been able to witness some progress in the history of mankind. So even if we can't do much more than anticipate, minimize impact and maximize recovery in the event of natural catastrophes, we can still influence everything that can be affected by our own choices and decisions and by our interactions and relationships.

Opening up a world of possibilities and thrivability is what Jean Russel suggested at the opening of Gathering11. She urged us to start looking at and talking about breakthroughs and the thrivable world that is emerging while this old industrial order breaks down. To tell ourselves stories of what actually works, to open up possibilities and help in creating something new. We see many things happening at the edge, and we_magazine pays tribute to them. We see a whole generation of Millennials who refuse to embrace the world the way it is and have the determination and courage to change it. Many of us have become aware that things need to change, only we don’t know where to start. Many of us know we are on a treadmill going nowhere fast, but we don’t know how to jump off or indeed where we might land. Yet there are ways to catalyze and accelerate the emergence of change, to become actors of transformation. For John Hagel, co-author of ‘The Power of Pull’, this can happen in creative spaces, where a critical mass can be achieved, where interaction and flows of tacit knowledge can be leveraged to achieve a greater potential, and where what is created can be used to boost effectiveness. It’s a similar type of phenomenon to what happens in cities where proximity to fringes, diversity and knowledge accelerates opportunities and creates further attractiveness – only it’s amplified because it’s purpose-based. The main idea is to increase the flow of pos-

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We need not just sit around, do nothing, and wait for evolution, destiny, god, nature or the invisible hand to take its inevitable course. The fatalist outlook makes the mountain seem so huge that everybody despairs and gives up any attempt to climb it. Yet there are pockets of awareness out there, determination and possibilities to tap into, cracks to slip into and widen to help the world find meaning and purpose and move in the right direction. Great people are around, great things are being done everywhere and every day. They are waiting to be shared and snowballed – and taken together they create tangible transformation.

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sibilities and the level of consciousness so that each and every one of us can participate in the emergence of new mindsets and ways of operating by circulating ideas or putting them into application. We must refuse to be intimidated by the tyranny of problems and enter the world of possibilities, accelerated by the collision of ideas and our bootstrapped initiatives. We must make the very best of what we have, map our assets, talents and resources, and see what they can spark. Donnie MacLurcan opened his Gathering11 talk by observing that there were enough talents in the room to save the world. Gunter Pauli, who spoke at Amplifier festival, and his Blue Economy Foundation have enough projects and inventions under their belts to reforest, power, irrigate and feed the whole world and make it self-sufficient and sustainable. And there are yet many more assets, talents, resources, projects, and inventions to explore, make visible and put to work. We need to interconnect and connect the dots. We need to channel the sense of common purpose, and accelerate emergence. And we need to inspire by sharing significance and possibilities, to empower by transforming knowledge and possibilities into intention, and to enable through concrete examples and tools that can transform intentions into actions.

We need to create a dynamic. And a platform. The Living WE.

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Experiment  – Is our empathy on the rise? (A viral poster project)


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Was Mark Zuckerberg Beuys In His First Life? 

Interview with Carl Scrase by Ulrike Reinhard

An interesting thought, isn’t it? Carl Scrase, Australian artist and change maker, based in Melbourne, explores in this interviews where the WE meets the arts – and by reading these lines you will easily understand why he comes up with it.

Carl Scrase “I am an optimist with a great imagination, razor sharp organisational skills and a killer smile.”

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The Generative Power of Opposites

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we_magazine: What is your understanding of WE? And has it changed since the rise of the Internet?

Carl Scrase: Everything I am involved in lately seems to have the word WE in it. I work at WeAustralians.org, I am a co-founder of the Wemakeus Collective and now I am being interviewed by we_magazine. I hold my arms out when I say WE; in a welcoming way, like I am offering an invisible stranger a hug. My fascination with the concept of WE actually started at the beginning of 2010 when my internet stopped working at home. I was doing this art project at the time where I would pick flowers for an hour each day out of my neighbors gardens and think about mindfulness. I spent three months without the internet; I would go to the public library any time I needed to browse the web. This project was partially about giving myself a little bit of distance from this powerful new force that was changing the way the world works. To give me perspective. Fast forward to the end of 2010; I am back with vengeance on the net. I used tumblr to map my little synchronicities as I adventured through India. I started a private blog that linked people from around the world with a common goal of making a difference. I found a new way of being by couch surfing through Portugal and Spain. I have my smart phone synced to my google calendar, I have three web domains, four blogs, multiple Facebook groups and I'm slowly creeping up to the 4 digit Facebook friend level … I decided that there was a renaissance going on; that it was my responsibility to generate some content that was not just disempowering insane pop propaganda. And I am so thankful that I did; I am finding exciting like minded positive change makers from around the world who are passionately playing with what reality could be. It gets me very excited about the future; the exchange we will see, the conversations that will be heard and the parties that will be had.

we_magazine: WE in a tweet, in 140 characters, what would it be?

Carl Scrase: WE is empathy; between you, me, us, everyone and everything.

we_magazine: How does the WE correlate with the arts, Carl?

Carl Scrase: I have a catch phrase that I am using to describe what I am doing; ‘De-framing creativity’. I believe everyone should be creative, that is what life is; we are constantly creating ourselves and each other with every word spoken, action gestured and thought processed. Life is an act of creation. The idea that creativity is the domain of artists who were apparently born with some innate talent that swan through this life being geniuses is very harmful for society. There is an art 2.0 happening in correlation with the web revolution. The masses are starting to create, explore and expose themselves through blogs, Facebook and Twitter. There is a new thing happening where artist are asking questions of their audience then actually carefully listening for the response and then asking another question that relates to what they hear; a dynamic conversation that is speeding up the evolution of ideas. I think creativity correlates to words such as imagination, empathy and perspective. I think ‘the arts’ have a lot of semantic baggage that has resulted in the majority of society ostracising creativity from their lives.

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I’m not saying that rigorous exploration of a single material or concept by an obsessively skilled artisan is not valid anymore. It is, it's fascinating to watch, but it’s not going to change the world … it does not invite an exchange, create an all inclusive community or inspire much imagination and empathy. Especially when it sits in the very sterile environment of white walls, protected by curators and collected/concealed by the wealthy elite.

we_magazine: So are you saying everybody can be an artist – since everybody can be creative? What distinguishes art from creativity? What do you mean exactly when you say “de-framing creativity”?

Carl Scrase: I am defiantly using Beuys views that everyone needs to be an artist as a starting point to jump from. “I would like to declare why I feel that it’s now necessary to establish a new kind of art, able to show the problems of the whole society, of every living being – and how this new discipline – which I call social sculpture – can realize the future of humankind. It could be a guarantee for the evolution of the earth as a planet, establish conditions for other planetarians too, and you can control it with your own thinking … … Here my idea is to declare that art is the ‘only’ possibility for evolution, the only possibility to change the situation in the world. But then you have to enlarge the idea of art to include the whole creativity. And if you do that, it follows logically that every living being is an artist – an artist in the sense that he can develop his own capacity … … And therefore, in short, I’m saying, all work that’s done has to have the quality of art.” Joseph Beuys 1974 I just don’t like the word ‘art’; it has been connected to to many ugly concepts such as religion, ego and money through time; the actual word ‘art’ is unredeemable. I think we need to start again, make a new word, a word that is not marred and won’t repel people from being creative. I don’t know what that word is yet, just as I can’t tell you exactly what de-framing creativity means … All I know is that terms like creativity, perspective, empathy, alchemy and collaboration keep swirling around. Ohhh and of course the term WE seems to be connected to that. “Only on condition of a radical widening of definition will it be possible for art and activities related to art to provide evidence that art is now the only evolutionaryrevolutionary power. Only art is capable of dismantling the repressive effects of a senile social system to build a SOCIAL ORGANISM AS A WORK OF ART. This most modern art discipline – Social Sculpture/Social Architecture – will only reach fruition when every living person becomes a creator, a sculptor, or architect of the social organism.” 1973 Josef Beuys I wonder what Beuys would of thought of the Internet … I wonder whether he would have been on the singularity bandwagon. He defiantly would have been fascinated by Facebook; maybe Mark Zuckerberg was Beuys in his past life. There is a very interesting video where Zuckerberg claims Facebook is a tool for giving the world more empty. (is this right or do you mean empathy carl) I think the Internet is a powerful tool, it could be used or misused. It’s up to magazines like this and creatives like me to keep a questioning eye on what is occurring.


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we_magazine: For you it seems obvious that the Internet empowers the WE in the arts. If I understand you right, you are saying the process of an art project becomes more of a “group experience”?

Carl Scrase: It has for me, and a lot of my contemporaries are working in collaborations as well as there own practice. I don’t think anything happens in isolation; ideas are stolen, bent and built upon.

we_magazine: Once you’ve said in an interview that you stop calling your art art. Because art can’t change the world. I would argue that! Art is disruptive, asks very often the “right” questions, points to weak spots in society ... And being disruptive is usually the start for change, isn’t it?

Carl Scrase: What I said was: “People kept telling me art can’t change the world; so I stopped calling what I do art”. I’m trying to be playful with this turn of language. I’m implying what I was making and calling art was already changing the world; therefore according to the neigh sayers it must not be art. But beyond that I have found it incredibly beneficial to not to think of what I do as art. It is much more creative; I am not hemmed by my own ingrained preconceptions of ‘art’ when I start to make … it becomes more about getting into a flow, then everything becomes important and creative, this interview, the pie I just made, a blog, a Facebook post, a collective called Wemakeus, a political party and a biological empathy virus all become just ‘what I do’.

For example: I went on a very influential and intensive arts lab called Splendid in 2009, it’s hard to say where ideas start and end in that kind of environment when you have ten creative people eating, sleeping, playing and drinking together. A lot of the ideas WE came up with at that lab I am still ticking over and they are morphing and entering new collaborations then morphing again. Issues such as copyright start to become problematic once you are operating within a dynamic WE, especially with the tools for collaboration that are becoming available online.

I would argue people that have revolutionary tendencies very often get disabled, dejected, disengaged or corrupted by the current art world paradigm. Those who make it through art school very quickly realise that there is actually a very small audience that goes to galleries, and most of the people you are speaking to are a like-minded sub section of your community. I’ve compared the white walls of the gallery to the white walls of an insane asylum before: a place where the dangerous and disruptive people are put so they can’t hurt themselves or anyone else. I know this is an extreme stance, and I am obviously being dramatic; but you have to admit that if you wanted to disable a sub section of radicals in your community, convincing them to make art and show each other would be a good way to keep them busy.

we_magazine: Tell us a little bit more about your WEart projects. What is WeAustralians.org and Wemakeus Collective all about?

Carl Scrase: We Australians.org (www.weaustralians.org) is an artist-run organisation based in Melbourne, established in 2010 to promote an inclusive platform for emerging Australian artists at the forefront of new critiques of contemporary Australia. Our inaugural program ‘We Australians (Perspectives)’ will see a series of innovative events that connects a variety of people, to stimulate and facilitate dialogue between socially engaged artists, arts professionals, academics and the broader community on the representation of a culturally diverse Australia. The Wemakeus (www.wemakeuscollective.com) collective is an Australian based organisation that formed in 2010. Our mission is to bring creative thinking into

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Wemakeus (evolving) Manifesto

the fore of the public mind. We are building up a database of information on the links between: creativity, innovation, education, empathy, wisdom, science, psychology, politics, communication, the Internet, the environment and hope. We are working towards new ways of engaging all ages and all professions to think creatively; because we know it is vital to the prosperous survival of humanity as a whole.

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we_magazine: Regarding Australians.org – is the dialogue happening? I often make the experience that it's one thing to raise awareness, but it takes a lot more to engage people. Latter hardly happen. What are your experiences on this?

Carl Scrase: The first hurdle we are trying to jump is to get the Australian art cannon to recognise creative people working in a socially inclusive manner and dealing with issues such as racial diversity as relevant. I used to be very dismissive of art with a community focus; I considered it naff, not art with a capital A. Or maybe it was not cool enough: hip, pessimistic and nonchalant. I’m glad I grew out of that bratty art stage and I just wish the rest of the art world would also. For me art is not about raising awareness; that is what dogma is for. Art/anybody is most engaging when it/they ask questions, not give answers. And an audience is most engaging when they also ask questions in return. That’s how WE starts and continues having a vibrant dialogue, by empowering people to ask questions. There are probably no definitive answers to anything; but WE may as have a good old chinwag between birth and death.


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we_magazine: What are the links between the disciplines you mentioned and how do they correlate?

Carl Scrase: Everything is linked; I think that is something WE are realizing: Nothing lives in isolation. Hopefully having a more networked society will help us map and explain our symbiotic nature with each other, our thoughts, our professions and our environment. Maybe the government would then gain some perspective on things like ‘the wars on drugs’ and ‘the wars on terrorism’. Then hopefully they would start seeing the big picture and tackling some root causes.

we_magazine: I found out over the last few years, that this WE_movement is a worldwide thing. You see similiar actions all over. How is We Australians.org connecting to the rest of the world?

Carl Scrase: My blog bio line is: If I actively make me, ME! Then maybe I can more effectively help make us, US! I found this to be true for myself, but thinking about it now it is not only a oneway street. I should maybe add: And if WE actively make us, US! Then maybe I can more effectively make me, ME! What I am trying to say is there is a dynamic between the ‘internal and external’, ‘face to face and online’, ‘local and global’… It’s probably a good idea to actively build both up at the same time: to expose and harness the dynamics between them.

WE is empathy. Between you, me, us, everyone and everything.

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The Transformative Power Of Digital Games: Future Now! 

Marigo Raftopoulos

We often hear the negatives: game technology is the enemy of society as we know it. Yet this is nonsense. Technology is merely the servant of human need. A significant swathe of our communities, mostly youth, is crying out for some form of deeper social connection and game technology is providing – at least partially – an answer at this point in time. The growth of digital games speaks for itself with the number of new games doubling every eighteen months. Even more intriguing is the growth of the virtual economies generated by online games and web services. This is telling us something about the state of our relationships in the ‘real’ world and with each other. We need to take a deeper look at what is really happening here.

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Marigo Raftopoulos: “Sometimes I feel I’m an agent of chaos but mostly I’m just a nomad traversing the majestic human landscape.”

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I saw the writing on the wall decades ago: the standard business tools we use are becoming less and less effective – by any means or standards. Recent global research has reported that we have a global engagement gap amongst our working populations: only 21% of employees report that they are engaged in their work. About 41% say they are enrolled but not fully committed. And a shocking 38% say that they are either disenchanted or disengaged. How weird is this? In a world facing intractable global issues that require more innovative thinking and collaborative approaches, can we afford to have such a high level of people not fully engaged? No! The solution: we need to be more playful in rediscovering our innate creative spark, in exploring our needs for self-expression and self-discovery and of connecting with people in collective problem-solving. Multiplayer digital games do just that. These games are incredible social activities, albeit social activities set in virtual space. Their focus is on collaboration, teamwork, problem-solving and leadership.

However here is my story of how I got hooked up with games. It’s very simple: just blame it on my children!

Child’s play I rediscovered my childhood when I had my own children. Storytelling and reading books were a big part of our day. I dramatized what I was reading to them and they feigned terror or heroic acts to get what they wanted to hear. I often told them stories of my own life: travels through the deserts and jungles of Africa or my mother’s stories about ancient gods that lived on Mount Olympus. What amazed me most was my children’s ability to retell these stories even after hearing them only once, and of course the creative spin they put on the tale which stayed with the story when it was retold another time. But when my son started school, everything changed. A despondency crept over him. His teacher and I thought he was “adjusting” from the relative freedom of home and kindergarten to the more structured environment of school. I remember sitting in the classroom nodding as his teacher spoke to me. The room looked almost identical to the one I was in when at school. I suddenly recalled what it was like when my teacher raised her voice at me as I struggled to understand her. My son’s teacher blurted out “He’s just a bottom quartile child”, and stood up to show us the door. Apparently it was my fault if my son felt inadequate because I was probably an overachieving mother. “He’ll be okay” she reassured me, “There will still be a place for him in the world”. As if she was saying: we can’t help him here! For many months we persisted with the extra work “bottom quartile” kids were given. It was just more of the same kind of repetitive, memory-driven rote learning of letters, words and numbers they were doing in the classroom. We made little progress and his mood swung to anger and tears when it was time for homework. We couldn’t even go back to what he loved the most – the story telling we used to do before he started school – because he’d scream that he hated everything.

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In desperation I dumped the school exercises and played to his strengths instead of his weaknesses, focusing on what he seemed to love doing most: playing on the computer or building things with Lego. We started to play Civilization: Ancient Egypt, a computer game based on simulated gameplay like Sim City. It offered all the things a young boy loved – a compelling story, an epic challenge to build an empire, playing the role of an active and empowered leader and a system that kept pace with his development. This game, and all the others that followed, have changed his world forever.

The lessons of school Six months after rebuilding ancient Egypt, my son’s proficiency in reading, mathematics, geography, history, urban economics and agriculture was astounding. Even at school they noticed the difference. “How did this happen?” his teacher asked. We were just playing games, I said. Tests confirmed he wasn’t in the bottom quartile at all. He was in the 95th percentile. School simply bored the pants off him.

So when a client tells me that staffare not living up to their potential, that they are disengaged and just not stepping up to the plate to achieve the objectives laid out in their five year plan, I despair. Systems thinking has a great take on this: it says a bad system beats a good person every time.

The Magic Circle In his study of play, Johan Huizinga wrote about the ‘Magic Circle’ which is the temporary world we create within the real world which we can safely enter to play a game. A school yard, a game board, a football field, a laboratory are all examples of magic circles. Contemporary game designers still use the analogy of a magic circle to create that special space contained within the game that enthralls and excites us. It is a place that is ‘failsafe’, where it is okay to take risks, to experiment with wild ideas, to test them out for the sheer fun of it or just to see what would happen out of curiosity without fear of repercussions or getting it wrong. It’s a place where it’s okay to fail and try again, fail and try again. Because that’s how we learn. Within the magic circle we engage with flow. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s work on flow and engagement shows us how we can develop the conditions that inspire people and enable them to become immersed, energized and absorbed in performing an activity. Great game designers create entire worlds in which flow is incorporated into gameplay at every level for each and every player. There is so much that traditional organization design, development and management can learn from what game design does. If we designed our organizations as we design games, there is no doubt we would improve our staff efficiency by 20 %.

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Digital natives are our next generation leaders Our communities are moving away from an era of passive media consumption to one of immersive experiences. As Jane McGonigal’s work shows us, the current generation of youth will have accumulated 10,000 hours of online gameplay by the age of 21, the same amount of hours they will have spent at school. Or the equivalent of three billion hours of gameplay per week.


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This generation will have higher expectations about our communities – school, work and entertainment – than any other generation in history. The main reason is that all those hours spent in online gameplay will have developed a higher-order skill set that they’ve learnt with their online guilds. Many of us who know this are concerned about what will happen to this generation when they hit the ‘reality’ of the workforce – that work is not like a guild 100% actively engaged in an epic quest. My own view, though, is that once this generation of gamers reaches positions of decision-making in our communities, they will recreate the gameplay of the virtual worlds they grew up with and create more engaging and collaborative workplaces. Teresa Amabile, the legendary researcher into workplace creativity claims that creativity is under threat as people in the workforce are not equipped with the right skill sets and their work environments are creatively sterile. Creative organizations need to have an abundance of three key ingredients:

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Smart people who think differently Passionate engagement of people with their work A creative atmosphere that inspires and enriches

These are the very ingredients that are endemic to online gameplay, the ingredients the art of gamification is using to transform the business tools of the next generation of organizations. Gamification focuses on building engagement to create sustainable solutions for social and business problems and to create meaningful value for stakeholders. So perhaps in 10 years time what was considered to be the scourge of our society in 2011 may provide the solutions needed to transform many of the social problems we are now grappling with. Castronova asks what our economy would look like if it were designed to be not efficient or quick growing, but just plain fun. In fact, what he says is why isn’t economic policy designed for producing fun? While you and me can leave that kind of question to our leaders to think about, there is something that we can all do right here and right now. And that is for each of us to extend our magic circles to cover everything we do in our lives and in the lives of our friends, family and community. This is where we can make the biggest difference to our world and this is our own epic quest.

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The WE In Australia’s Social Innovation 

Interview with Donnie Maclurcan by Ulrike Reinhard

When I first saw Donnie Maclurcan I’ve had the feeling he is coming from way up in the mountains, for a short visit down at mother earth ;-) Seriously, Donnie is a very thoughtful and open-minded person. He is driven by his theoretical approach of proposals, counter-proposals, synthesis – small steps smartly made – and translates them into very practical projects and tools.

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About Donnie Maclurcan “I’m an optimist of the heart and pessimist of the mind. I’m at my best when brainstorming, singing and running – preferably all at the same time.”

 we_magazine: What is your understanding of WE, Donnie? And has it changed since the rise of the Internet?

Donnie Maclurcan: I understand WE mostly as a process. When working well, I think of WE in an Hegelian way: the constant interplay between proposals and counter-proposals that lead to some form of synthesised and enhanced outcome. I also understand WE as the emerging irony of individualised collectivism; more and more there are collective means that serve ultimately individual, yet more aware, agendas (think Facebook, flashmobs and festivals). Before the Internet I understood WE as collective, face-to-face activity – working bees at the local sports’ club, the babysitting group of which our family was part, building the treehouse and flying fox with my brother and our close friends, my basketball team trying to score just a few points. Now I understand WE as holding a much wider remit. Whilst the older forms of collaborative experience are resurging, WE, for me, now also includes the phenomenon of expanded yet diluted connections across multiple ‘sites’ of engagement. I sense a paradox of disempowered empowerment has accompanied WE through the rise of the pervasive Internet; there is greater potential now to ‘pull’ faster from the crowd; at the same time, there may be less potential to really pull from the crowd, given we all seem so very stretched. I also wonder whether, in our ‘stretched’ form, we have less capacity to sit with and deeply explore our differences. Do we claim shared understandings with others too hastily, therein underestimating the challenges to meaningful collaboration that often emerge when worldviews based on different assumptions are later exposed?


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we_magazine: Is this understanding of WE reflected in your work/profession?

Donnie Maclurcan: In parts. I’ve seen the collaborative WE work well when using a platform such as Google Docs for an activity such as real time voting on an organisations’ action priorities. In other work I’ve found that there remains some value in hierarchical approaches to management that bypass the collaborative WE at certain points in time. In between these two approaches, one of the organizations with which I work has adopted a more nuanced style, focussing on group consent rather than consensus. Everyone in the group has the right to veto a proposal’s progression, but it’s less about everyone agreeing with all the specifics in a proposal than everyone feeling comfortable in progressing with their name attached to the general concept, over which they may have little future input. In my writing, I’ve found that compromise works best when someone doesn’t just object but provides an alternative, e.g. a sentence to replace that which they feel doesn’t ‘work’. I’ve found that there remains immense joy, for most, in working alongside one another and using food and sharing information unrelated to work to build the deeper binding WE. In my work we’ve added an asset-based dimension to WE, whereby we constantly share ‘gifts’ that team members bring to the table (explicitly not necessarily for project exploitation) which, I’ve found, is a way to reflect a non-mercenary exploration of WE. I certainly have felt drawn to engage with the work of many others and, vice versa, have noticed an increasing interest from others in engaging with the work I help drive, but that the ability to commit/follow-through with that WE intention is often overestimated by myself and others. I have noticed more and more, particularly in my work on exploring futures beyond economic growth, that people want to be less and less confrontational in their engagements with me (often stemming from a seemingly misplaced belief that WE are all ‘on the same wavelength’) and I’ve often found that this is to our longer-term detriment in terms of actually building shared understandings.

we_magazine: Does WE really mean for you being on the same wavelength – even in a networked world?

Donnie Maclurcan: In one sense yes, and in another, no. I think if we are to build hope for the mass survival of humans as a species, then the majority of us will need to be on the same wavelength about the biophysicial limitations with which the world presents us. On the other hand, I see open-mindedness as a more valuable trait than the wisdom of understanding limits. Combined with self-reflection, I believe open mindedness is enough for people on very different wavelengths to co-work in harmony. A networked world magnifies the potential for rapid changes in consciousness, should we be able to improve our capacities for self-reflection and open-mindedness.

we_magazine: What are the restrictions of a networked approach in work?

Donnie Maclurcan: Unless very clear group procedures and protocols are been put in place, a totally networked approach often restricts the ability for rapid decision-making (e.g. the decision to create a reactive press release and what content to include). A networ-

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ked approach may also make things confusing for new participants in a group, given many of us are so used to knowing precisely who to turn to for information if we generally don’t have a clue (i.e. whomever appears to be ‘the boss’). Finally, as shown most recently by Google+, an increasingly challenging issue in a networked, information-overloaded age is working out what information to share with whom.

we_magazine: In which projects are you currently involved Donnie?

Donnie Maclurcan: At Project Australia – http://projectaustralia.org.au – we’re focussing on the launch of our online toolbox for Australian social innovation – http:// tools4good.org.au – and re-launching Australia’s first speakers’ bureau for young social innovators – http://uthinc.com.au. With the Post Growth Institute – http://postgrowth.org – we are pulling together a top 100 'richest' thinkers list, a database of ‘post growth in action!’ and launching Free Money Day http://freemoneyday.org. In my local town we’re working to develop a community directory that lists gifts of the head, hand and heart that people would like to share locally.

we_magazine: Tell us a bit more about this online toolbox for social innovation?

Donnie Maclurcan: Tools4Good is an online portal to share tools for Australian social innovation. This 'toolbox' is a searchable database of ideas, inspiration, resources, methods, software, online tools, networks and support to help you start and sustain community projects. Whilst involving global content, there will be a distinct focus on Australian-specific content. For many of us, the ‘world’s information’ is now just a click away. However, a whole lot of time gets wasted searching for the right ‘tools’ to improve our productivity. How often have you heard it said: ‘if only I knew this ages ago ...’? Although sites like – http://ourcommunity.com.au do a good job of centralising basic information, social innovation thrives on up-to-date content, generated and recommended by users themselves. A lot of the tools we use as social innovators, community developers and activists in Australia are actually cross-cutting and free or inexpensive, meaning they can be easily shared – but they either aren’t or we don’t know where to find them!

we_magazine: Does social innovation in Australia need different tools than social innovation in Europe or US?

Donnie Maclurcan: Many tools, particularly software and processes, can have usefulness across borders, but given every country, and indeed many states within countries, have differing legislation and regulatory requirements, resources are often more valuable if they are tailored to different geographical regions. Similarly, some software is more relevant to certain regions than others, e.g. as far as I know Quickbooks is a more standard accounting tool in the U.S., whereas MYOB is used more in Australia.


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we_magazine: At gathering11 we talked a lot about social change driven by new technologies. What are your best examples for this in Australia?

Donnie Maclurcan: I feel that the simplified and more integrated transport ticketing system in Sydney: MyZone – http://131500.com.au/tickets/fares/myzone – has done wonders for a public transport system that is otherwise struggling to keep up. I’m excited by the transformative power of the Sharehood – http://thesharehood.org, Rentoid – http:// rentoid.com, OzRecycle – http://www.ozrecycle.com, Landshare – http://landshareaustralia.com.au, the Garage Sale Trail – http://www.garagesaletrail.com.au and the Empty Spaces project – http://emptyspaces.culturemap.org.au – particularly their outcomes from a sustainability and community health perspective. I think CommunityNet – http://www.rocnet.org.au – has changed the way support is offered for community services in Western Sydney. And I like that anyone can access a generic list of Australian Media Databases here: http://www.our-community.com.au/marketing/marketing_article.jsp?articleId=1423. Thinking ahead, I think we’ve only just scatched the surface with the kind of focussed social change that can stem from the opening up of data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics – http://data.gov.au.

we_magazine: What does it take to engage people Donnie? What are your experiences?

Donnie Maclurcan: Within teams, I believe creative facilitation and bold leadership with an unflinching commitment to vision can be ingredients for engagement. More publicly, I see straight-talking and humour as extremely valuable for connecting with others. At Project Australia we try to take an asset-based approach to all we do. This translates into a small exercise at the beginning of each working day that seeks to engage team members by exposing passions, knowledge and skills that maybe participants didn't even know they had! Most recently we did an exercise in which people shared something about which they'd like to be passionate, something they'd like to have knowledge around, and something they'd like to be able to do in the future, except in sharing these in small groups, people were asked to frame it as if they already had these gifts! Along with other similar activities, this exercise seemed to engage participants; perhaps because you are starting from a position where everyone feels valued. On a different note, the Post Growth Institute is a team that works virtually, across five time zones. As we typically use silent Skype chats to run our meetings (i.e. typed) we decided to mix things up recently and have a virtual party! We fired up Skype video and were greeted by balloons, party food and lots of laughter.

... WE are all on the same wavelength ...

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We Are The Heart And The Edge Australia and New Zealand

Emily Davidow

“All people think that New Zealand is close to Australia, or Asia, or somewhere, and that you cross to it on a bridge. But that is not so. It is not close to anything, but lies by itself, out in the water. It is nearest to Australia, but still not near. The gap between is very wide. It will be a surprise to the reader, as it was to me to learn that the distance from Australia to New Zealand is really twelve or thirteen hundred miles, and that there is no bridge.” Mark Twain, 1895

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“I’ve got a creative spirit, curious soul, and life-long love of exploring our world. I gave up NYC-based digital nomadism for a long term relationship with plants in New Zealand and lovely long weekends in Australia.”

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Over a century later, despite air travel and Internet shrinking the experience of distance, most people still have no idea where New Zealand is, and many who do assume it’s part of Australia. Though New Zealand is often cropped off the edge of world maps, like a trailing semi-colon, or a printer’s error, you would be wise to pay attention. For in both biology and society, the edge is the most innovative and generative place in any system. Although, in an upside-down world faced with unprecedented challenges, you may actually be looking at the new center, as represented in the Hobo-Dyer equal area projection map above, and as Julia Gillard, Australia’s prime minister, addressed New Zealand’s parliament earlier this year: “This is the Asia-Pacific century, and we are at its heart.” Several years ago, I was living in New York City, yearning to be somewhere more peaceful and connected to nature. And thinking about the long view, if I was born today, where would I want to grow up? I realized that being digital, I could make anywhere that had Internet connectivity home base. And if that was the case, what’s most deeply important? For me, it came down to fresh air, abundant water, an awesome food culture, rule of law, high functioning democracy, relatively stable banking system, diverse and tolerant society, good education system, culture of peace, high connectivity, ease of doing business, creative arts scene, surrounded by beauty, and preferably English-speaking.

In order to enjoy baseline clean air these days, you pretty much have to lop off the whole Northern hemisphere. A chemical barrier between the northern and southern hemispheres keeps the pollution of the industrial North circling above the equator for the most part. Then, if you maintain optimism that we can solve water issues, that basically leaves Australia and New Zealand that meet the rest of the criteria. If you don’t, well, that leaves New Zealand. But both countries are renowned for their ingenuity and creative solutions for intractable problems, and when all else fails, a “she’ll be right” attitude.

Just Like Family With a common history of British colonization, Australia and New Zealand share many similarities — English language, rule of law, relatively high-functioning democracies, Queen Elizabeth II’s portrait on the currency and a passion for cricket and rugby. And despite their common British heritage, they both have an exciting food, wine and brew scene, and sophisticated coffee culture. As a result, the two countries are like family in so many ways. Or as Gillard noted in the address to parliament, “Australia has many alliances and friends around the world ... but New Zealand alone is family.”

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Literally family, in that Australian-Kiwi families are common, thanks to the informal Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement that makes it easy for citizens of one nation to live and work in the other. At any given time, there are more Kiwis living in Australia than there are living in Wellington, New Zealand's capital city. Metaphorically family, in that Kiwis and Aussies have fought together in many wars, and they rush to each others’ aid in times of crisis like the recent Queensland floods and the Christchurch earthquakes. Practically family, in that New Zealand and Australia have been actively cultivating a shared trans- Tasman economy, integrating standards and systems in many areas since the original NAFTA (New Zealand – Australia Free Trade Agreement) in 1966. There are many bi-national research consortiums and conferences, and a bi-national government agency, FSANZ, Food Standards Australia New Zealand, develops and regulates the food code for both nations.

Even if the world’s not sure where New Zealand is, Kiwis and Aussies are definitely global citizens. Both nations have high percentages of population that have migrated from elsewhere, and most who were born in Australia and New Zealand develop an international perspective through a big OE (Overseas Experience), a common life milestone which entails spending a number of years living and working abroad after school. About one million Kiwis and one million Aussies are living overseas at any time. Of course, this makes up is a much larger percentage of New Zealand’s 5 million population compared to Australia’s 22 million.

Just Like Snowflakes It would be easy to assume Australia and New Zealand form some sort of contiguous, homogenous “Down Under” However, New Zealand is not only a separate nation but an entirely different continent, with a divergent history and evolution, and a distinct culture. There’s a reason why New Zealand refused to join the Australian federation in 1901, even though the Australian constitution includes it (an offer that remains to this day). Or maybe even 1,200 of them, as Sir John Hall declared in Melbourne while representing New Zealand at the federation talks, referring to the miles between them. Long before they were nations, Australia and New Zealand began as a great big We, locked in a geological embrace along with Antarctica known as Gondwana. About 83 million years ago, they broke apart. This event defined a separate Australia, which has remained a continuous landmass since the break-up, and Zealandia, a continent about half the size that submerged under the sea. Out where the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates meet, New Zealand rose up out of the rift and volcanoes to form the youngest country, geologically speaking. Isolated from the rest of the world and also each other, Australia and New Zealand made unique evolutionary environments. The Australian outback, a harsh bush landscape of red, dry soil with a sparse canopy of eucalyptus, spurred the evolution of all manner of killer animals. Deadly snakes and spiders, baby-stealing dingoes and snapping crocodiles loom large, at least in the folklore if not most Australians' current urban reality. It’s simultaneously the cradle to many of the cutest animals that ever lived, including the strange and wondrous monotremes, egg-laying mammals such as the echidna and platypus, and marsupials, mammals with pouches like kangaroos, wallabies, koalas and wombats.


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In contrast to Australia's extreme wildlife, New Zealand's lush green podocarp forests, blue glacier-fed lakes and fertile soils nurtured a curiously mild life, where birds occupied all the major ecological niches. Birds like the giant flightless moa, the largest species of which reached 3.7m/12 ft tall and weighed around 230kg/510 lbs, and the kiwi, New Zealand’s national symbol, which is about the size of a chicken and the only bird with mammalian qualities of bone marrow and nostrils at the end of its beak. Pekapeka, New Zealand's small bats, are the country’s only native land mammal, though a rich and diverse array of marine mammals developed as suitable for a submerged continent, including Hector’s dolphins, rare beaked whales, NZ sea lions and NZ fur seals.

As with the land itself, Australia has some of the longest history of human activity, possibly twice as long as Western Europe, while New Zealand has the briefest. The Australian Aborigines’ history goes back at least 40,000-60,000 years. In contrast, New Zealand was one of the last lands to be settled by humans, with Maori arriving in Aotearoa (Maori name for New Zealand, literally “Land of the Long White Cloud”) from Polynesia sometime before 1300 via waka, beautifully carved sea-faring vessels. There’s no recorded history of interaction between the Aborigines and Maori until after the first recorded European arrival to Australia and New Zealand, which was made by Abel Tasman, a Dutch seafarer, in 1642 and 1644. His boat was attacked by Maori in waka as he approached New Zealand, and it was over a century before James Cook, the next European visitor, braved a visit. Australia’s European settlement began as a penal colony, but New Zealand’s developed from trickles of free settlers who started whaling and sealing communities. Initially the Maori and European settlers got along, but disputes and fighting eventually arose. The British governor and Maori chiefs signed the

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Treaty of Waitangi, intending for both to be able to live together peacefully while recognizing Māori ownersip of their lands and offering Māori people the rights of British subjects. Though the English and Maori language versions differed so greatly regarding sovereignty that land wars followed and an ongoing tribunal is still working on the claims, that experience still differed vastly from that of the Aborigines in Australia, where the law never recognized native title and the Australian frontier wars decimated Aboriginal populations.

From the beginning of the New Zealand colony, Maori had equal voting rights, while in Australia, Aborigines were not considered full Australians or granted the right to vote until 1962. New Zealand was also the first country where women had the right to vote, from 1893. The lack of inclusion in Australia's constitution was one of the factors why New Zealand declined to join the Australian Federation in 1901. From 1902, Australia granted Maori the same immigration and voting rights as White New Zealanders, giving them a status above Australia’s own indigenous people, along with non-Aboriginal women.) Both young nations are now massively multicultural, but Australia’s dominant culture extends from its English heritage and language, and the legacy from one of the first acts passed after Australia’s federation, the Immigration Restriction Act, which set up a White Australia Policy that lasted until 1973. It’s a very different feeling from New Zealand, where Maori is an official language alongside English, non-Maori of European heritage define themselves as Pakeha, a Maori term, and many words and customs have become an integral part of New Zealand culture. Though both nations have dynamic cultures with many influences, New Zealand feels specifically Pacific and emergent, synthesizing modern and indigenous, European and Maori, and other Polynesian and Asian cultures that are finding a home in New Zealand into a new hybrid. That palpable sense of New in land and biology, And in the culture, and also a sense of Zeal, made me fall in love with New Zealand. When Kiwis have a dream and show passion for a purpose, the intimate scale of the country means that it doesn’t take many to create a tipping point for change. Just a few


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examples include the 2008 Internet Blackout protest against proposed guilt-upon-accusation laws of Copyright Act section 92A, standing up against South African apartheid during the Springbok tour of 1981, and New Zealand declaring itself a nuclear-free zone in 1987.

Looking Outward to the Future New Zealand and Australia’s relationship seems close, mature and stable, and both are more focused outward these days on deepening relationships with larger markets. The distance between New Zealand and Australia and the rest of the Earth may seem a little less remote in the near future as the Pacific Fibre project for new high-capacity undersea internet cables between Australia, New Zealand and the United States gets underway. The distance from other planets may be getting shorter too, if the Australia and New Zealand Square Kilometer Array SKA project takes off. The SKA aims to listen to the universe with a setup that’s vastly more sensitive than the world's best existing radio telescopes and answer questions about how our universe evolved. Then it may turn out Australia and New Zealand lie near the edge of the whole universe ... or its heart.

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A Space For Knowledge, A Space For WE 

Lourdes Gomez

A recent wall post on my Facebook page said, ‘Melbourne Free University ... check it out.’ My instant reaction was to simply 'Like' it. Anything with the words free and then university in it, I had to instantly ‘Like’ really. But as I actually did what the individual should do and investigate a little further into the link, I discovered that this was actually something I should ‘Like.’ No matter what people will say about technology and the internet and how it might be ruining ‘community,’ the truth of the matter is that humans find ways to gather. WE are so intent on connecting with others and those in our community that WE have actually turned the internet around so that it is a tool WE use to communicate better with those we want to connect with. We are using, in particular, social media to organise protests, organise parties, organise group meetings, stay in contact with those in far distances, organise business meetings, conference calls on skype, promote events where people can gather again such as gallery exhibitions, city festivals and most importantly, share information. Besides organising parties, protests and meetings, sharing information is also a way of connecting and recreating community. The way we share information is done in myriad ways but perhaps the most effective way is through the internet, anyone, anywhere, anytime can access it. Now, why would I like Melbourne Free University and what has it got to do with the internet?

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Lourdes Gomez Student, full time worker, living in Brisbane, Australia. I like a bit of politics, a bit of philosophy, a bit of art and a lot of peace studies.

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Well a lot actually. Spaces for knowledge delivery have become part of institutions that are registered to deliver knowledge. Knowledge is almost not appreciated unless it has been confirmed on a piece of paper that says you have acquired knowledge. One of the most popular answers I get when I ask my friends what they will study is, ‘I want something that will get me a job.’ That response tends me to make me quite uneasy, if we are pursuing study just to earn money, what has happened to knowledge? The way in which we are ‘commodifying’ knowledge is causing some to create spaces where knowledge can be pursued for knowledge’s sake. That is where Melbourne Free University comes in. In Australia, two Universities are classified as ‘free’, Melbourne Free University and Free University of Bellingen. The Free University of Bellingen describes itself as an ‘independent forum for learning that is open and free to everyone. In contrast to the instrumental and outcome driven concerns in today’s university system, the FUB celebrates the high intrinsic value of learning for its own sake and especially as a means of promoting vibrant, democratic citizenship.’ Melbourne Free University describes itself as ‘a platform for learning, discussion and debate which is open to everyone …in response to Australia’s increasingly outcome oriented education system, and aims to offer space for independent engagement with important contemporary ideas and issues.’

Some of the most important words in these philosophies are ‘learning …open to everyone…in response to outcome driven education system …’ Academics from different universities are gathering to deliver ‘free lectures’ on their respective specialisations and areas of interest to anyone who wants to come along and listen, learn and discuss. Anyone. There is no enrolment, there are no fees and there are no barriers. It is driven by the community and it is intended for the community.

WE like to talk ... It may seem like a foreign concept to many but it is actually intensely human. Thousands of cultures live on today through oral traditions without having written anything down to record their language, the indigenous South American people with the language of Quechua is just one example and there are many. Information was delivered through the spoken word. Then places of learning are further demonstrated during the Greek and Roman times, with places such as an Agora or a Forum respectively. These were places where people would gather to discuss, debate and produce many of the philosophical traditions Western society employs on a daily basis, such as democracy. Philosophers like Plato, Aristotle and Socrates would frequent the Agora in Greek times. It is evident that the Agora as a public meeting space where places where debate, discussion and learning were heavily encouraged. Likewise the Roman Forum acted as the hub for all human activity, social and political. While different times and different places, these are still areas where learning was actively sought and it was a space where people gathered and debated and philosophised about cornerstone ideas such as democracy, ethics and justice. All ideas

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throughout the course of human history are as valuable today as they were at the time of inception, it is therefore incredibly crucial to maintain spaces where knowledge is welcome. Spaces where knowledge is accessible and most importantly, spaces where knowledge is free. For had not these great ideas been discussed, would the questions of democracy, ethics and justice even be addressed? Would there have been an opportunity to ask these questions to seek something greater, to discuss and discover emancipation?

WE like to interact ...

The human need to gather, to debate, to connect and to discover is of intense attraction. Technology is no barrier. If anything, technology is the modern Agora or the modern Forum. It is the modern manifestation of orally transferred knowledge. It may be written at times but it is also spoken: Skype, Google Video and iPhone Facetime. There is nothing ‘antiquated’ or ‘outdated’ about oral knowledge, it is in fact what we try to achieve through the improvements to technology. Knowledge may be available online now but we are still being charged fees to learn more about philosophy, politics, film and science.

What WE believe ... In an interview with Aurelien Mondon, one of the founders of Melbourne Free University, I discovered a complete leap of philosophy. ‘It is not an alternative to traditional universities, it is more a different philosophy of education.’He said, ‘We are not opposed to universities, it is more opening a space that’s not present in society anymore, opening this space for knowledge for its own sake,stepping outside the commodification of the world, where everything is a commodity, the symbol of the MFU is to show this space is possible.’ This is a space where learning is really just about learning, about gathering together to discuss ideas and debate and it is absolutely open to everyone. It is a different level of intellectual engagement and socialisation, there are absolutely no barriers to anyone. The role this plays in entrenching equality is extremely crucial. It is not however trying to ‘reach equality’ because as so well articulated by Mr Mondon, ‘equality is not something to be reached, it is already there. Everybody is equal.’ Thus there is no level of equality that needs to be reached, it is already there. Everybody is already equal and making access available to everyone only re-affirms this truth.

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WE origins ... Beginning in April 2010, already there are 48 recordings of lectures available online and that is with a few missing. They range from Indigenous Perspectives, War and Peace to MFU Media and Sustainability and Permaculture. You just click on a recording and away you go listening to whatever captures your interest and if you


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want to join in on the discussion, you can go along to any of the free lectures at specified place. So, if anyone can come along, I wonder what potential there is for all new kinds of discoveries? Imagine the engagement of those that would otherwise not be able to afford engagement in education institutions, imagine listening to voices on topics that you have never had the opportunity to listen to, imagine engaging in topics you never thought you would ever participate in, imagine becoming part of a community of people who seek knowledge but not to get a job and not to get a piece of paper, but to really discuss and debate and discover. The idea behind MFU however is not to open up a space for debate that is exclusive to Melbourne or Bellingen for that matter, it is to encourage that community get together to create their own spaces where knowledge can be sought without the barriers of financial constraints, educational constraints or physical constraints.

Mr Mondon said that and doing it themselves, our aim was to create this space to show that ‘it is about communities coming together and doing it themselves, our aim was to create this space to show that it’s possible. Eventually, we want to release a guide on how to create a free university then take a step back and let the MFU be run by the community itself. Our aim is not for the MFU to be ours, we want it to be for the community around us and just like we would like to see a Brisbane Free University or Sydney Free University to be for the community and by the community. To show that people can do it, anyone can do it.’

While other communities slowly gather ... The recordings of lectures are available online where people anywhere are able to access the lectures. This initiative not only extinguishes barriers locally but also globally. The physical space of Melbourne Free University is very much transported to the virtual and this sends an important message about equality. Not just those in Melbourne are able to access this knowledge but those in Madrid, those in Lima, those in Berlin, those in Port Moresby, those in Casablanca and those in Sao Paulo are able to access this knowledge. Social media and technology are used so widely to spread information but this information as is governed by the philosophy behind MFU is not limited to those who can pay for it. ‘The aim is to put as many lectures online as possible because we are aware that many people might not be able to come, we want to get the knowledge out there ... we don’t have copyrights or anything like that ...’

If people post these lectures up on external websites, they are not to make any profit out of it and thus must be free of any website.

What if what WE knew, was actually what WE didn’t know and there was something that WE were supposed to know ...? If what I think about and what you think about becomes what WE discuss, then it is no longer about you or I, it is now about US. The concept of a Free University allows all to engage with education at a level that no longer emphasises the indivi-

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dual pursuit of success but rather about the process of dialogue. The process of engaging in dialogue and if we have known anything about dialogue, it is a process of transferring knowledge and it is a process in which the discovery of the truth can be realised. We can refer to Socrates, Hegel and Habermas to further discuss the notion of the dialectic. By extending the game of dialogue to voices previously unheard by removing financial and administrative barriers and using the reach of technology to engage those at an international level, gives the debate a new flavour. It makes what WE hold to be truths, potentially not so true anymore and means that what WE know is that there are things WE don't know and what WE can discover. The space that Melbourne Free University and the Free University of Bellingen open up is a space where the ‘WE’ can truly be discovered and that technology is being utilised to make that WE even greater. Where intellectual engagement is not kept within the confines of a physically immutable structure, where intellectual engagement is not limited to those who have the means in which to participate and where the same knowledge is not repeated to produce working individuals but where knowledge is pursued for knowledge’s sake. Perhaps there is another ‘Enlightenment’ in the works and for too long we have been holding it prisoner within the bricks and mortar of our modern Universities.

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The technological path of Enlightenment ...? Could the creation of free universities and spaces for open knowledge be a force of change? Would we discover that we haven’t actually discovered anything at all and there is still more to discover? Perhaps the best way to do this is by using the very tool that is supposed to turn us into the numb, mindless, technology-obsessed beings? Everybody has probably seen those images of somebody sitting in front of a computer leading their sedentary lifestyle in the office but is that really the case? Has the urge to always be a WE broken that path and transformed it into something that helps us communicate, helps us discover and helps us realise that hierarchy, class and difference is only an imagination.

Thank you to Aurelien Mondon and Melbourne Free University for giving me the time to interview on a Saturday! It just shows that the belief in WE never stops.


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Let’s connect the dots and build a GREATER WE! #globalchange, October 15, 2011


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http://www.we-magazine.net

WE_australia  

Finally – here it is ... ! What an effort ...

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