We all are on a journey, and the journey takes us places we never imagined... And when we think we want to step into the world to serve, and serve in a role of leading, we may find that the person we are leading the most is ourselves.
- Dr. Heidi Steltzer
I recently "met" Dr. Steltzer in her YouTube video where she very movingly talks about her personal transformation from environmental scientist to... something more! It's inspiring.
What really got me was her experience with Community Readiness, (jump to 39:36 in the video) and coming up against what may feel like overwhelming resistance, in this case, from established institutions... obstacles that are not yet ready for transformation. I have felt this in my own profession of landscape architecture.
I have also felt this in Feldi classes... when a movement seems completely impossible and my body says "Nope, I don't do that."
So, what do we do in a lesson? Forcing or fighting or banging our heads against the wall will only hurt us.
Instead, we soften, we explore, we think of new possibilities, we DIVERSIFY. We broaden how we think, how we move, and how we think about moving. Even if we CAN do a movement, we find many ways, new ways of doing it. We imagine new possibilities. We get creative, and then something magical happens...
Feldi is just practice for how to do everything else.
With regard to institutions, we can do as Dr. Steltzer and reimagine institutional norms by creating new ways of communicating, relating, interacting, and being. We can also find the cracks within an established system, and gently work those cracks until they grow wider, ever so slowly. I've seen this happening in landscape architecture.
From the moment I stepped into grad school until not so long ago, I felt like an outsider assimilating to the culture of landscape architecture. My mindset, the life experience and outlook I brought to the profession was not mainstream. I felt pressure from my professors in academia and from the expectations of my colleagues to conform. It wasn't that my views were so radical, but they deviated enough that I could feel the judgement and/or dismissiveness that would arise when I shared them. So I didn't. For many years.
In 2019, the National Landscape Architecture Conference was trying out a new 3 hour presentation format called a “Deep Dive.” Oooh, I thought… this can allow me the flexibility to bring Feldenkrais & landscape architecture together! So, on a whim, I submitted a proposal on the mind/body connection that focused on something mysterious, yet essential to design… Creativity.
To my surprise, it was accepted! To my even greater surprise, the workshop was so well received, it was overflowing into the hallways, and the feedback positively effusive. Since then, I have presented in 4 out of the last 5 years (and they give me bigger rooms now!)
In 2019, mine was the only non-traditional presentation, and every year, there have been increasing numbers of talks that seem more edgy, fringe, out-there, radical, experimental, counter-culture… you name it!
The profession is hungry for a different kind of relationship to the environment and connection to each other… one of kindness, humility & reciprocity (as opposed to hierarchy, control, & manipulation - irregardless of having the best intentions.) The paradigm shift of non-dualistic thinking, deep connection, and slowing down to listen more is beginning to take hold. Bit by bit, the cracks are getting wider.