UPDATE: A Future Urban Nature Mandala
This week feels like the front edge of a really busy season for us. Busy, but also inspiring and enjoyable in its own way. I want to share some concepts we have been working on for an outdoor festival here in Daejeon. Put on by the city’s “Social Innovation Center,” this festival as a whole is for citizens to re-imagine an equitable future for their city, and to question what we value. More than a dozen teams are involved, each producing their own kind of interactive concept. It’s cool to see a city supporting this kind of thing.
Working together with Suhee and our friend Nartzz, our team chose to use the local mountain, Bomunsan as the core subject for our future vision. What does a mountain have to do with the future? Well, we posit that in the future, citizens might come to realize how “Bomunsan is You,” meaning that the mountain, forest, city and its people are in fact, one living entity. This is a truth that we do not often find value in. What happens when we catch this realization and hold it inside for a moment?
The installation uses mostly local, renewable or recycled (aka found) materials for construction, and is built around a central ‘mountain forest mandala’.
I have long loved the mandala. Wrapped up in the act of producing one are lessons, of appreciating slowness, impermanence, and awareness, and how these work in concert to—seemingly spontaneously—create beauty. It is a wonderful solitary practice.
However … when you make a mandala in a social situation, suddenly you are working in a different dimension. In a social context, the mandala becomes an exercise in applying all of these lessons—the slowness, the letting go, the awareness and acceptance of the world around you—not only to the natural materials, but to other humans, too!
Making a mandala from local natural materials always seems to bring people to the next level in terms of teamwork and awareness. We have done many such workshops, most recently at the Daejeon Museum of Art this past week. The reaction—to how much a little bit of slowness and attentiveness can change our perception of the world—gets me every time.
This upcoming version of the nature mandala is a bit different. Instead of placing fallen leaves and flowers during an hour workshop, visitors select and place living plants as they wish over the course of a few days.
The three structures around the garden mandala are simple. Built with bamboo, rope, and paper, they will have various kinds of performance art and workshops taking place in them. Forest watching. Blending herb teas from the garden. Forest room design.
We call this little garden village a "For Rest Forest" and I should note that this is all taking place as a temporary 'makeover' of a parking lot. That in itself is an added cool factor for me. Happy to have the support of Commonz Field Daejeon to make this happen.
Maybe this all might turn out to be a little something like Burning Man, except with free admission, less drugs and nudity, and no fire (unfortunately, though we did suggest it).
Well, you’ve got to start somewhere.
Thanks for reading dear friends. Next week resumes the Bomunsan Forest Protocols. Until then, please be healthy and keep sharing The Possible City with more lovely people!
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