we shall have to think up signs, sketch a landscape, fabricate a plan
on the double page
of day and paper.
Tomorrow, we shall have to invent,
the reality of this world.”
— Octavio Paz
Woods in the City are a contact zone for transdisciplinary encounters and exchange. These events series are dedicated to the unified field, to human and cultural transformation towards multi-layered sustainability, to an exploration of questions around how do we want to live in the contemporary world in more conscious, regenerative, and poetic ways. These woods in an urban setting take place in 3 main formats: * research in public + * creathon + * immersive experience, all aim to foster and deepen encounters between different disciplines, creation and research, culture and society. Woods for us is a metaphor for a holistic being, a sustainable eco-system, something real and symbolic at the same time. Each Woods in the City event from the moment of its idea through the process of its organisation and the happening itself is a lived practice from the inside out, based on embodied principles listed below that unite all event formats.
* Holistic approach and Diversity
We are multitudes. We are complex multi-dimensional organisms. As far as we know, through the millions of years of our evolution we had to sacrifice one of our senses (and the tail). The senses we are left with (arguably 5 to 15) need to be cultivated and celebrated in order to survive the digital age. Humans also have multiple intelligences with a similar destiny. Parts of us can become endangered species unless we pay attention to them, to our perception and life experience through them. With our events we aim to create spaces for protection of multitudes of life forms in people. They merge together different aspects of being human, each finding their place “in the family of things”. As in the whole project of LaForesta, we are interested in re-integration of the world in a larger sense. Also on the individual level, our health is in our re-connection, in that all parts of ourselves are integrated: our heart, mind, senses, intuition, physicality, different aspects of our experience are playing together like a jazz band, unified in free play. Diversity of subjects, interests, people’s backgrounds, ways of knowing and forms of expression is part of holistic approach. People tick differently and engage with life in different ways. In our events we invite a variety of forms of being, thinking and expression to engage into a shared experience and exchange of perspectives — intellectual, physical, poetic, sensuous, and so on.
Related to the first principle, we are convinced that sustainable collaborative creativity are powerful forces to tackle world challenges of today. This can’t be done by one industry or one school of thought but is a process of bringing together people from different walks of life to learn from and be inspired by each other, to experience and experiment, to imagine and co-create new forms. An event becomes a space for implementing the values in pursuit of more holistic vision through diverse ways of being, thinking, relating, sharing knowledge and experiences. In order to deal with complexities of modern life we need complex abilities, our worldview needs to expand, our outlook and perspectives need to be continuously refreshed and updated. This happens when different disciplines, backgrounds, ways of being and thinking come together, and engage in conversations, with openness to learn from one another.
* Personal engagement
Our events aim for 1:1 human scale as a counterpoint to the monumental and the scaled. Personal engagement is also about the meeting between theory and practice, it means entering and immersing oneself in an experience rather than staying at a distance of an evaluating observation. It’s important to us that our contributors are personally involved with subjects of their work, not staying on the intellectual level but being connected to the felt and the visceral experience. This way any question becomes connected to lived life of an individual and stops being an abstraction, it acknowledges the complex web of influences and one’s own embeddedness in the very world that one seeks to study. Personal engagement makes people poets and philosophers exploring life from a unique standpoint of their true interests and perception.
* Collective potential and Sense of community
We are interested in human togetherness, social bonds, and honest encounters, in gathering and sharing, in rejuvenation of real face-to-face community in contrast to a widespread logic of alienation. We aim to create a “safe space” that grants a permission to be vulnerable, foster sense of belonging, care and responsibility for being in the world. We see this as a cultural shift toward deeper community of conscious coming together, people experiencing personal growth and societal transformation as one process. Antidote to shallowness are deeper relationships that are formed by collectivity and individuality, a community that is not homogeneous, not necessarily agreeing on everything but always finding a way to engage in a dialogue. Collective potential is an ethical practice that fosters both singularity and solidarity as a means to arrive to new understandings. The space of one event reflects an emergent demand for new ways to think and act in the public sphere, and it is therefore a space of and opportunities for affection, potential action, and the multiplication of voices and narratives.
* Space for new forms
Experiment is our mode of inquiry. Following the kindred thinking of Olafur Eliasson we are convinced that to insist on a continuous generous interaction with reality, challenging the established norms by which we live and understand the world, it is crucial to engage in experimentation as a way to keep this interaction with the ever-changing reality alive. We explore new forms, rhythms and strategies of engagement researching and re-imagining key ideas within the future of work, education, and what sustainable living can mean. Through a collective reflection and recalibration to cultivate an enhanced palette of tools and understandings with which to more fully embrace – and know ourselves part of – a complex, interdependent world, with its multiple connections and relations.
* Optimized for serendipity
Each event is a meeting between the planned and the unknown, moments of inputs from contributors and moments for individual reflection, moments of silence and moments of exchange within the group. Leaving space for unorganised, unknown, unpredicted to occur and for Wu Wei to take over. Trusting the flow and paying attention to what wants to emerge, without forcing ideas onto reality. 無 爲
* Liminal spaces and the Outdoors
Fascination and love for nature and the experiences it gives us is one of the major driving forces of our work. La Foresta stands for a forest, real and symbolic, inner and outer. We are convinced that 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. To learn from nature we need to spend time with nature. We aim for the experiences we design to take place in the natural environments or in the liminal spaces, close to the presence of nature. Natural environments provide for a higher-level of concentration, deeper inner and outer awareness, and a healthy grounds for the flourishing of all senses.
* Nomadic Nature
We are not settled in one place by choice. We are convinced that nomadic and mobile life-style is a great teacher. Traveling and shifting perspectives physically you also shift inner perspectives of how you see things. We strongly value multicultural cosmopolitan worldview, especially in the contexts of shared identities, “othering”, and multitudes of ways of being in the world.
Woods in the City. Experience
Woods Experience merges cultural encounters, artistic interventions, multi-sensory food experience, embodied inquiry, conversations and other ways of expression into one journey, fusing the subject and object, the situation and experience. What is being born out of this encounter is a cultural, intellectual, physical, emotional, and culinary journey.
These events are born from a collaborative synergy of people from different walks of life. To give space to unique forms of creative expression to emerge, for each journey we invite a new team of artists, thinkers, practitioners, and chefs to come and co-create this Gesamtkunstwerk. It emphasises the experience of immersion rather than evaluating observation. Each such laboratory for a holistic experience contains a mixture between stories and food, philosophical outlook and embodied awareness, cultural layer and artistic dimension, impulses and silence, serendipity and the unknown.
Do you recognise that feeling — when you are surrounded by friends and like-minded individuals, you feel supported in this togetherness, you are inspired by new inputs, you bounce ideas off each other, and suddenly new clarity reveals itself, doors open, new horizons become visible, undiscovered perspectives come to life. From these moments usually best projects are born. Woods in the City is a doula for this kind of meaningful experiences. People from different walks of life come and co-create this multi-layered journey within a larger subject of sustainable living. We believe in the power of creativity and cross-disciplinary pollination to fuel meaningful action.
Woods in the City. Research in Public
Woods Symposiums, or Research in Public, are dedicated to unified human intelligence, its tangible and intangible nature. It’s a participatory research in public. Each time we invite people from different professions to look together at a chosen subject, be it Language, Time, or Education. We try to create a space for many different perspectives to meet in the format of a 2-day symposium and open space.
Symposium format for us is a participatory research and exchange of insights and practices since it is driven by a wish to create a meeting space for encounters where true collaboration becomes possible. We search to build a space for collective intelligence beyond one-method-approach developed by an individual or an established school of thought, for sharing knowledge without the necessity to make others believe in something, whether in esoteric ideas or complex scientific concepts. We want to collaborate with people who are serious about their work towards making life on Earth more sustainable in its many layers and dimensions, and who search for meaningful exchange with other people who care. We are interested in sharing knowledge and practices in ways that relate to direct experiences of lived life and that can be understood by anyone independently of their background. There are no secrets, just different perspectives, different things we notice and experiences we live through; so we come together to share them. We also believe in artistic expression being equally important as lectures and conversations, therefore artists are part of all our events.
The base of these events, as of the whole LaForesta, is embodied culture. In the context of contemporary Western society human body is usually looked at from the aesthetic, performative, or health-related angles. What drives us to create events and research labs dedicated to a more embodied culture is an interest in the intelligence of the body connected to lived life, in the relationship between physical states and states of mind, in the body as our perceiving, thinking, feeling, moving, and acting in the world. We look at the body as a process and a totality of our lived experiences, as a mediator between external forces: events, expectations, cultural beliefs; and inner forces: internal drives, conscious or unconscious desires, and invisible currents that move us. Body is an encounter between these socio-cultural, phenomenological, biological, intuitive and embodied cognitive conscious and unconscious phenomena — all taking part in orchestrating our engagement with life. To put it simply, we are interested in the body as a place where life happens and where we find out what is real and true for us, where our multiple intelligences meet (emotional, intellectual, somatic, intuitive, etc), which we are convinced is very needed in the context of global contemporary culture and its crisis. So any subject we choose to look and study collectively during the Symposium, will have embodied culture as a base.
An insight into Woods Research in Public >> here
Woods in the City. Creathon
Creathon is a challenge, a call to thinking and acting, that lasts between a few hours and a few days and invites participants to think about and develop ideas/concepts/products/projects within the chosen subject in an interdisciplinary setting. Subjects can be anything that is important to humanity at the moment. It can be something general like: what is the future of food, education, relationships, cities, mobility, etc etc. Or something concrete like: How can innovative practices in the arts provide alternative ways of looking at social impact? Workflow is divided between inputs from both the ‘external world’ professionals (artists, scientists, designers, academics, etc) and ‘internal world’ explorers (embodiment, movement, body attention, and wellbeing mentors-artists-poets), as well as the implementation sessions where participants are working on their projects in groups and individually.
The program of a Creathon is designed to allow individuals and organizations to tackle challenges using collaborative innovation: access to a diverse community of innovators, tools, prototyping capabilities, a variety of methodologies that help to bring their ideas and projects to the next level. Whether it’s a team of students with an idea, a startup looking to build a new business, a company planning its innovation strategy or creating a new product, Creathon is designed to support the process and help you achieve a breakthrough. We often integrate Creathon format into Woods in the City Research in Public (click here for an example), as well as into Woods For the City.