Personal and Global Sustainability
sustainability is a mindset
The whole picture includes no less than everything
Forest is a living creature. It's growing and changing, going through seasons and different rhythms. Forest stands for multitudes. It contains everything and gives everything space to be. It's a place where all kinds of species coexist and live together. Everyone is being authentically who they are: a tree is a tree, a rock is a rock, a hare is a hare even if she changes her colour for a winter.
La Foresta is a forest too. A forest of stories, experiences and events, dedicated to the living ecology of everyday life, to personal and global sustainability. The main ingredients of our work with these subjects are transdisciplinary approach, artistic sensibilities and embodied culture — a culture that shares its values with the forest and grows from the place of deeper listening and more sincere communication, interconnection and organic unfolding. We are interested in re-unification of human intelligence, body and mind, thinking and feeling, doing and being, theory and practice, inner and outer worlds. La Foresta is celebrating collaborative creativity and sustainable living, de-standardisation of human life and search for more poetry and purpose. It seeks to invite people into experiences of what a nourishing life can be.
Foresta Collective are people taking care of and contributing to the forest of La Foresta, its stories, academy and events. It's not a fixated and defined entity. As a real forest does, La Foresta too is relentlessly evolving and growing into itself, transforming through meaningful encounters. It is a process of continuous ‘becoming’ (as Gilles Deleuze put it) and ‘becoming with’ (as Donna Haraway extended). Some of the wisest and most sustainable methods developed to tackle the problems of modern life are based on nature's holistic ways of being. The union between nature and culture is our inspiration. Strolling through this website you will find insights into things we do in order to contribute to the creation of culture we wish for. We write stories and conduct interviews, we design events, as well as immersive and educational experiences. New approaches to work and education, to creativity and arts, human relationality and togetherness, transdisciplinary practices and embodied intelligence — these are the core subjects at the heart of our interests and the work we do. Finding new forms of those are the key elements in making space for a more sustainable society to emerge, that is inspiring people to live and develop in their plurality being part of Earth's ecosystems and cherishing all life forms on this planet.
Stories are born in the journeys. They contain bits and pieces of the world we notice. Stories are conversations in words and images, through which we explore subjects we care about, such as human creativity and connection to the natural world, wellbeing and embodiment, new cultures of learning and working, and how these and other contexts contribute to living a fulfilling sustainable life. You will also find here our online gallery space, featuring works of our selected artists - authors of La Foresta's seasonal portraits.
Encounters with others can be mirrors or windows through which we see pieces of ourselves or learn something valuable about the world. We don’t know the others we only know ourselves. We don’t know ourselves we only know the others. Here you will find dates and snapshots of “Woods in the City” events that we organise in different formats: symposium, creathon, and immersive multi-sensorial experiences. These woods in an urban setting are a contact zone for transdisciplinary encounters and exchange.
We design and facilitate learning experiences for a variety of different audiences in a larger context of embodied culture. The subjects range from Permaculture Gardening to Aesthetics, Storytelling to Personal Sustainability, Creative Thinking to Collaborative Mindset. Formats vary between workshops, labs, courses and retreats. Dedicated to the art of being human.
We also create projects for children and young people of different ages that grow from the values of sustainable culture as we understand it. Based on learning through experience, transdisciplinary connections, collaborative interaction, diversity of forms of expression, as well as movement and embodied awareness being an integral part of any creative process we design for kids.
Our projects grow within a larger context of embodied culture. Culture is like the soil we are in. It nurtures us and shapes us in profound ways. We look at embodied culture as a holistic force that fosters social transformation and leads to more sustainability and creativity in life. And if we cultivate culture like we cultivate the ground, we feel it’s time for re-rooting, working the ground — re-orientating our culture. So what do we mean by embodied culture? Here are its key values and principles:
Awareness and Presence
Embodied culture is a culture with an expanded field of awareness at its roots, inspired by the integrity of Earth’s living systems. Embodied culture is based on listening. More deeply than we usually do. It’s about showing up and tuning in. For real. About presence and attention. About detaching from the many stories we tell ourselves. Detaching from the established beliefs, landing into the present moment and paying honest attention to every situation, to the knowing that comes from direct experience. It is often subtle, so we need to listen carefully. Through this process we become more conscious. More aware. More present in the unfolding of life that is happening every moment. Less stuck in prejudices, outdated ideas, or anything else that comes from lack of attention to the present.
Integrity and Honesty
Embodied culture is seeking re-integration of the world in a larger sense. It seeks to bring the disciplines back together, and also on the human level — our health is in our re-connection, in that all parts of ourselves are integrated. Thinking, feeling, senses, intuition, rationality, physicality — all the different aspects of human experience are playing together like a jazz band, unified in free play. Researchers, scientists and philosophers, are slowly acknowledging power and wisdom of emotional world, subconscious world, the world of the body, and its connection to the whole ecosystem of the earth. Integrity also means the integration of our inner and outer worlds, our physical and non-physical being. Integrity is unified human intelligence, its tangible and intangible nature. In the body all systems work with each other. Each is there for something. Integrity also has to do with integration between theory and practice, with overcoming discrepancy between what we say and what we do, with living our values, embodying what we know or believe is true. Doing something and being aware of the “why” we are doing it. Without being embodied and lived values loose their meaning.
Sustainability and Embeddedness into Environment
Being continually "embedded" into the "flesh" of the world, we experience a constant exchange or "traffic" with our environment in ways that both exceed and inform our rational mind. Body, through its senses, is continuously aware of the quality of its living environment, of what is favourable and good for it and what isn’t. This also includes personal sustainability. Gabor Mate wrote about human beings as biopsychosocial creatures whose “health or illness reflects our relationship with the world we inhabit—including all the variables of family, class, gender, race, political status, and the physical ecology of which we are a part.” He goes on saying that our emotional patterns are responses to our psychological and social environment, so in his research he discovered that individual illness “always tells us about the multigenerational family of origin and the broader culture in which that person’s life unfolds”. When we are attuned to the world around and our compass of inner and outer awareness is leading us through life, we start seeing how everything is connected, how sustainability of our environments are liked to our personal sustainability and vice versa.
Plurality and Balance
Like forests we contain multitudes. Embodying all the different aspects and qualities of ourselves, we invite more integrity and balance into our lives. Plurality also means embracing the full spectrum of being human, the bliss, the challenges, the past, the heritage you have from where you come from, the future, the possibilities that are there for you. Embodied culture is a lifestyle where human intelligence is unified in its multifacetedness, where human needs are respected in their plurality — physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, inter-personal, environmental, and so on. People are porous, mouldable. If you treat someone with a certain assumption it is very likely that the individual will grow to be what you expected — as a response to the way you treated them in the first place they will develop one-sidedly. We live in a world governed by plenty of beliefs and assumptions. Neoclassical theory of economics is based on the assumption that humans are selfish and the main things they want is to maximise their own gain. In reality humans are very complex, multilayered, multifaceted beings. Our mental, physical, emotional, social, environmental well-being are not separated from one another. We genuinely care for all of these. But what happens if the structures around us do not? If we are educated to develop one-sidedly, to develop on assumptions others are inflecting upon us, we do not inhabit all of ourselves, instead putting on glasses that will colour everything into one tone. Embodied culture strives to give space to the different aspects of each person to be there and nourish each other, from the aspects of our cultured and civilised self to the impulses of a wild and untamed one.
Flow and Creativity
Flow is connected to balance between human control and respect for natural state and development of everything. Many contemporary structures are still largely based on control alone (to make people do things, to educate them and often force them into certain ways of being, to land agendas, to fit reality into someone’s ideas, etc). In embodied culture the structures are based on attention — what is naturally evolving or wants to evolve and how can it best be guided, how to co-create with reality and with each other. It’s a reorientation of culture from the excess of effort (anything that includes forcing something into being predictable, like singular simplistic identities) to a more balanced one that pays more attention to listening, not only to doing. When things are not being forced into being but allowed to unfold real creativity becomes possible. Creativity that gives space to originality, to personal honest expression, and replaces a fear-based need for learned stereotypes or repetitive ideas belonging to the past. Creativity and flow also have to do with our cyclical nature. Our personal rhythms and rhythms of the year, everything in nature is cyclical. Linear segmentation of life is not always fitting. It means that our understanding of time also needs to change. Not everything can be scheduled and controlled. If we start to associate the schedule with reality, and ourselves and the flow of life expressed through our desires, rhythms, and situations as a disturbance, we are alienating from ourselves and denying the experience of the context in which we are in a wider sense. The balance between our controlled intentions and flow is a continuous process, context-based and situationally appropriate. Like with speaking many languages, we use them depending on where we are and with whom are we talking.
Relationality and Togetherness
In the same way as body experiences the quality of our living environment it experiences quality of communication and relationships with people around. Embodied partnerships are based on eye-level encounters and listening, trust and respect, honest engagement and courage. Collaborative mindset replaces competitive one. Strong individual agency and connection to others and the environment exist together. Everyone is different. Differently oriented to how we perceive and notice things, how we feel, what we want. When this is acknowledged, when old patterns of communication based on dominance, compliance and standardisation are let go of, relationships can be free of manipulations, everyone can be in their strength and jealousy is redundant. Embodied culture is not based on making people be or do something someone else has planned for them, it is not based on carrot and a stick, no awards and punishments, no top-down power, and therefore no fear-based power-games, no straight line of education toward a norm. Norm is individually chosen. The individual becomes their own agency. Boundaries are an important aspect of personal agency: establishing them where they are needed and removing them where they are unnecessary is a continuous process. From this practice individuals meet each other from a different place, and a more honest, empowering and liberating togetherness becomes possible.
Simplicity and Complexity
A more embodied culture is a culture of better discernment. When discernment comes from a deeper place than judgment, from inner sensing and resonance that we experience with our whole being, when this experience becomes more available to us, things become more simple. It’s like having a tuned-in navigation system that guides us through life. We are then less stuck in established beliefs, inherited prejudices, or unquestioned ideas. We are more real, more present in the moment, perceiving what is unfolding right in front of us. Relationships become more simple, with more clarity that comes from detachment from repetitive patterns and honest attention to direct experience. Simplicity also comes from feeling what we need and what we don’t need. Greed becomes redundant. Like with food, we feel when it’s enough, when we are full and overeating would harm us. At the same time reality becomes more complex. It’s a complexity of being part of a rich interconnected world, that calls for our humbleness and openness towards the mysterious unfolding of life on this planet.
In the world where everything moves all the time uncertainty is part of a healthy life. If we think we have all the answers, or even that a certain subject is clear and “settled”, we might lose humility and curiosity in the face of this conceit. In reality our understanding of any given subject is never complete. Striving to be comfortable challenging the received wisdom, to avoid the “insightful ignorance” (term by Columbia neuroscience professor Stuart Firestein), learning becomes experience-based, balancing between knowledge and mystery.
Wellbeing is an integration of all of the above. It comes from co-ownership of one’s own path with life, from being involved and engaged, not a passive figure to be moved by someone else. It comes when individual agency connects with others and forms healthy partnerships, embodying active connection, belonging and shaping the world together. When everyone is able to survive as themselves, stay true to themselves, stay whole, integrated, and be able to do their best work, then individual wellbeing is also social and environmental well-being. It comes from inner integrity and outer integrity with & within living systems, surroundings, living beings and things.
What is the practice towards a more embodied culture? This is the question at the center of our work as Foresta Collective. We see it as a shift of mindset towards more attentive, thoughtful and also artistic living. We join Elliot Eisner in his reflection on art as a literacy of the heart, and a way to reach one’s poetic capacities, to learn to say what cannot be said. We also see it as a way to continually reinvent ourselves and the world around, to learn to dance with the unknown and to realise that questions can have more than one answer. To continue reading on how we see art entering life click here. To continue reading on attention and thoughtfulness as embodied experience click here.
Formats We Work In
interventions and events for broader audience
educational programmes and workshops
writing and publishing