Action can be personal, social, societal, civilizational. The Russians and Americans gathered in St. Petersburg for the Whom Do We Trust 2019 conference experienced each and, it seems to me, in the end, all of it together. JOPP was there to guide participants through new ways of connecting and relating, which, at heart, was what this gathering was about.We are after all humans, and the world we inhabit is undeniably of our own making. As Lao Tzu said long ago, life is a piece of wood we hold in our hands, which we shape to our own purposes.

Russia

Whom Do We Trust 2019

The following is from an article written by Evelyn Messinger for Track Two on September 25, 2019: Evelyn reported her impressions of the JOPP workshops.

Perhaps the larger goal of the gathering was to help young people shape their futures in a way that will sustain the future of the whole world.

If this is our purpose, it was realized by the Artistic Director of the Joe Orrach Performance Project (JOPP). Joe Orrach is an actor, dancer and singer dedicated to outreach in multiple communities, for whom heart and soul are the most important ingredients. When you are spending many hours sweating the details of cybercrime, mass migration, nuclear war and climate change, taking the time – to breathe, to look into another person’s eyes – can make all the difference.

Everyone paired up in this exercise and mirrored each other’s movement. It was a lovely moment – and it makes for nice photos, right?

But Joe also had something deeper in mind: He used a method that JOPP puts in play in many contexts and communities. Each of us told another a personal story, then reversed roles, so each person heard someone else’s story. The following day, Joe asked us each to tell the story we had heard, but using the pronoun I, that is, as if the story had been our own.

By truly listening to each other, by becoming the other, a space opened up for everyone in the room. And got us ready for the next, and final act, of the conference.

Without wasting time, let me say this was a session of many ideas that had percolated up on the issues people care about. So we moved from the personal outward, grappling with the need to create and hold vital relationships with each other and our societies, with how to help this sad and damaged world find peace and grace.

Written by Evelyn Messinger for Track Two on September 25, 2019