Lessons for Kwanzaa from Pyramid of Peace
- Good Andrius, Pamela, Janet, Franz and others,
As time goes and the world is changing, lots of advances. The year is ending, planning helps us move toward goals but planning helps in many ways as well. Planning is away of communicating our intentions to ourselves and to others as well, "can two walk together, except they be agreed?" unless you have decided where you are going, how can i decide to accompany you? Unless we decide.
I hope you are planning is a way of seeking alternate and optimum solutions to reaching our goal or solving a problem. In this sense, is very much like problem solving. We assume we can reach the goal; we also assume that just as there are many roads that may lead our destination, so there might be many ways in which we could reach our goal. Knowing that something will not work is just valuable as knowing what will work. Better to "fail" on paper than in practice.
Yes! Andrius, we need to plan, but we need planning as as tool, not as an end in itself. There is a tension about plans. Some people love to plan. We can get so wrapped up in planning (which is basically thinking about tomorrow) that we do not live today. Somehow the tension being a " today person" and a "torrow person" needs to be continually worked on. It's never resolved.
Happy new year! To all of you in Mendenyo, Learning from each other and Holistic helping! Cheers! 2011! Samwel.
On Mon Dec 27th, 2010 6:12 PM Etc/GMT+12 Andrius Kulikauskas wrote:
>Janet Feldman, Pamela McLean, Samwel Kongere,
>Thank you for your thoughtful responses to my project for the
>African-American cultural holiday Kwanzaa to present and consider what
>we learned with the Pyramid of Peace to avert genocide in 2008 in Kenya.
>I did get a booth (for $350) at the Kwanzaa festival at the Malcolm X
>community college. The festival is seven days long; tomorrow will be
>the third day. It's quite pleasant in that the booth holders around me
>have become friendly, even though I am unusual here as a "pale-skinned"
>person, as my friend David Ellison-Bey would say. They enjoy my art.
>So far I drew about sixteen portraits, letting people take photos of the
>portraits for free, and buy the originals if they like. In this way, I
>sold two originals for a total of $16. So it's not promising as a way
>to make a living, at least not of itself.
>I'm taking the opportunity to create a larger project. One direction is
>to depict people's deepest values as "superheroes" so that children and
>others might better identify with them. I can create "playing cards"
>and also make spaces where I can draw in people's faces, or they can put
>in a photo of their face, thus taking them up personally. I have a
>printer and a camera with me. I hope to complete some such project by
>the end of the festival so that something useful comes out of it.
>I was thinking of painting a backdrop that represented a crosssection of
>Kenya from Lake Victoria to the Rift Valley to Nakuru, Naivasha and
>Nairobi, with lakes, villages, roads, farmland and slums, where I could
>talk about various episodes we went through, perhaps also connecting
>with cyberspace and episodes in the South Side of Chicago where I gained
>practice in nonviolent engagement. But I didn't have much time to
>prepare and the Pyramid of Peace doesn't seem too relevant for me right
>now. What's relevant for me is what I'm going to do with my own life,
>how will I apply myself to note and share the ways of figuring things
>out as the basis for a culture of truth, the kingdom of heaven, how will
>I work with God, and how will I make a living in this world? I intend
>to explore these questions with drawings and words and engage others to
>think alongside me about their own lives. Perhaps you online might like
>This year I stopped my efforts as a social networker and got a job as a
>tutor to regroup, start repaying my loans ($130,000) and think through
>what I might do in the long run so that I might work from the Lithuanian
>countryside, support a family, but also apply my thinking to organize
>the kingdom of heaven. This fall, however, I stopped getting more
>students from my employer because I think and say that it's
>counterproductive for parents and students to focus on homework and
>tests. I need to find another way to make a living, which for me is
>hard, because I've grown very skeptical that there is honest work, at
>least any kind that would allow me to earn $4,000 a month so that I
>might make my loan payments and pay off my loans.
>Meanwhile, God keeps telling me to do what's relevant for him, which is
>applying my many creative talents to express and share the hundreds of
>ways of figuring things out that I've noted this summer and fall in
>Lithuanian. A nice example is my Christmas card "Do you recognize
>Jesus?" which I made of portraits that I drew
>It illustrates one way of figuring things out, which is listening to a
>person as if God were speaking through them. I'd like to do hundreds of
>such projects. This one was also a rather successful fundraiser for my
>church choir, as 14 people donated $25 each for me to draw and include them.
>I don't know if God is going to lead me to bankruptcy and even
>homelessness, which would not be so bad if I could make sense of it. So
>I'm going to think through and make explicit the logic of my principles
>and also engage God more so that I understand what might he want.
>Today I purchased a book "Gamestorming" by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown and
>James Macanufo. http://www.gogamestorm.com It's relevant for me because
>games, I think, are the ideal form for communicating the ways of
>figuring things out. They focus on games that unleash business
>innovation in collaborative settings, whereas my own ways are generally
>activities that I do on my own.
>I look forward to sharing my thoughts as I develop them. I welcome your
>+1 (773) 306-3807
>Dear Andrius and All,
>Wonderful to hear from you, and what a fantastic and meaningful way to
>approach both Kwanzaa and our Pyramid of Peace project. There are some
>important and timely linkages that can be made between them, in
>particular reinforcing personal and communal values that can be found in
>Africa, the African Diaspora--and descendents thereof--and around the world.
>There are many artists who have responded creatively to what happened in
>Kenya in 2008, and this project will help to carry on that legacy. In
>fact, there is an article on the ActALIVE website that I wrote on that
>subject, called "Rising from the Ashes: Kenyan Artists and Peace
>Activists Re-Create Community from Conflict," which was a feature story
>in the arts and development journal, "artishake", Issue #8. If you click
>onto the "Art4Development" page of our site, and follow the link at the
>bottom of the page, the full article is also there.
>I hope that many of us will contribute creativity and thoughtful spirit
>to your own project. Engaging people via expression of their deepest
>values is marvelous, and can show the universality of hopes, fears,
>love, anger, and so much more that motivates and informs human behavior.
>I'm sure that specific connections can be made between Kenya and the
>south side of Chicago, both in terms of how violence comes about, and
>how it can be ameliorated if not transformed.
>There is also a terrific project that is building bridges between
>Brooklyn, USA and Kenya: called Brookenya, it is another example of how
>the local can become the global, and vice versa, especially via
>creativity. See http://www.brookenya.org I know the
>creators-organizers, if anyone is interested in being in touch with them.
>On the Kickstarter note, a recent film on HIV/AIDS, men, and
>condoms--about which I posted to Holistic Helping--was helped by the
>Kickstarter project. A $10,000 amount was raised to translate the film
>into another African language (it is already in several African
>languages), so that several million more people can more easily
>understand the messages of the film. Kickstarter is a great facilitator,
>and I hope you and we will be able to utilize it accordingly.
>Peace and conflict are still very present in the Kenyan context (as they
>are worldwide) as issues, and what happened in 2008 might still occur
>again. This is why the peace-related efforts of individuals and entities
>remain so imperative, and lessons from the past are so important to
>(re-)learn and apply to the current time.
>With blessings and happiest holidays to all, and a fervent hope that
>there will truly be peace on earth, as well as goodwill to all wo/men.
>Love and greatest appreciation, Janet
>I wish you well at the celebration of Kwanzaa, sharing lessons from
>Pyramid of Peace. I have copied your letter below.
>I agree that Pyramid of Peace (PoP) was a wonderful initiative - both
>for what it did and for how it did it. The archive (of all the emails
>and the chats and the fund transfers) is outstanding. There are so many
>lessons to be learned from it - and relevant to so many different
>Academics and "us"
>I think PoP should be a topic for serious academic research (and I
>believe that the value of its archive will be recognised at some future
>point). There are so many lessons to learn from it. However I seriously
>wonder how long it will be before the academic community sees the
>research potential of PoP (and other on the ground initiatives).
>I was at ICTD2010 last week - with a personal agenda of "better links
>between academics and practitioners". There were interesting discussions
>there about collaboration - but it seemed that the practitioners were
>reaching out to academics far more than the other way around. I am
>learning lessons about this and increasingly recognise that even if
>academics do wish to engage with practitioners the systemic barriers
>preventing them from so doing are considerable.
>I re-learned what I already knew - that academics, like many others,
>are trapped by funding mechanisms that - from my view point - are
>archaic and which reward people for answering "the wrong kind of
>questions" and measuring "the wrong outcomes" - far too much support for
>"Hooray for my thingy" type of work (ICTD2010 - Research needs from a
>developing world perspective and ICTD2010- Let's Bridge Those Divides
>by Pamela McLean and Dadamac - the Internet-enabled alternative to
>top-down development )
>By the way - the "funding mismatch" is why, at an early point I
>abandoned my own attempts to get any formal direct funding. I decided it
>would be less frustrating if I just plodded on with no funding but
>plenty of freedom. Obviously if I saw a funding opportunity for what I
>do I would take it - but I am not wasting time trying to sqeeze myself
>into funding strait-jackets that don't even come close to fitting. I
>stayed with the balancing act of minimising my paid work (and my related
>discretionary income) in order to maximise the discretionary time I had
>available to spend on my "information-related activities - learning by
>doing and discussing with others". (I didn't do it as extremely as you
>did. I was more financially cautious in the continuing attention I gave
>to a certain minimum of paid work.) Regarding funding I didn't want to
>waste time chasing money to do things that would be fixed in advance in
>some tick list that never really reflected what I was trying to do anyhow.
>Of course we need money, and it is frustrating to see it go on things
>that we don't value, especially when it goes on things that seem to us
>to be a complete waste of financial resources (and a waste of brain
>power too in the case of academia) - but until those with money start to
>see value in our wealth of information there is little we can do - other
>than to live as best we can in the two parallel societies:
> * the information and knowledge one (where we continue to get
>richer and richer in information and knowledge)
> * the material one - where we need to engage in ways that at least
>cover our essential material needs
>I also understood, before ICTD2010, that academics seem trapped in a
>system which is heavily reliant on "academics impressing each other" -
>publishing in peer reviewed journals, writing in each others books,
>going to each others conferences, getting more and more visible in the
>To a visitor like me, the academic world seems a weird mixture of
>co-operation (creating and sharing knowledge) and competition (competing
>for funding and for personal career advancement). I don't really
>I do know that in "my world" - learning online, in a self directed way,
>it is a world of sharing openly (to the nth degree in your case:
>including very personal hopes and circumstances, more cautiously in my
>own, sharing knowledge and my learning journey). We do not have
>peer-review where information is only shared if our "peers" agree that
>our information is "worthy of publication" (although we do have some
>moderation, to keep out spammers and other 'inappropriate content").
>Instead of filtering through peer review we share our information freely
>in online spaces where it costs nothing to share information - and (I
>would suggest) our "peers" are the people who have an interest that
>overlaps our own. If "our peers" value what we write then they will read
>it, and share it, and comment on it. If they don't then it will fade
>away. It may be that sometimes we are only writing to ourselves. That is
>okay too, if by making the effort to put something in writing we learn
>something that we did not know before.
>As a learner, interested in exploring new "socio-tech" knowledge and
>insights, I loved the freedom of Minciu Sodas as a place to learn. I
>think that, for me, the greatest value of Minciu Sodas was the fact that
>I was encouraged to "think aloud" - without having to frame carefully
>what I was going to say beforehand, and without having to find someone
>else's discussion group that (more or less) overlapped some portion of
>my own interests and concerns. My peer group was simply people who
>wanted to exchange information with me. (At some point Andrius I would
>like to explore the overlaps between our past shared work in Minciu
>Sodas, and your developing work now, and my present and future work in
>I now discover (through the ICTD2010 keynote on Wednesday morning) that
>it is difficult for academics to co-operate with each other, if they are
>in different disciplines - never mind trying to connect with people
>outside who have practical overlapping interests. It seems that people
>in one discipline write to one kind of journal, and people in another
>discipline write to another kind of journal, and so on, and that
>somehow, "never the twain shall meet". If that is so, then it is not
>surprising that there seems to be little connection between ICTD -
>research and ICT - real-life, except through a few exceptional individuals.
>Quoting and answering Andrius
>Andrius' email (copied in full below) ended "What lessons have we
>learned, large and small, thinking back? What stories would we like to
>tell? Who would we like to hear from? What creativity might we
>contribute to express our stories? I will tell my story, and certainly,
>I hope you might tell yours, likewise, in the Public Domain, for all to
>I'm glad to hear from us!"
>Sorry I have not really addressed your questions Andrius - I just
>responded to the "glad to hear from us".
>You may also be glad to know, regarding openness, that session 4108 at
>ICTD2010, organised by Laurent Elder of IDRC-CDRI was on "Open
>Development" - they are moving away from ICTD programmes to Open
>Development programmes. See www.idrc.ca/en/ev-131099-201-1-DO_TOPIC.html
>and www.idrc.ca/en-133699-201-1-DO_TOPIC.html. So maybe things are
>starting to move in a direction where there will be more overlap between
>researchers and open practitioners. They were talking about trying to
>get people to make "open" the default rather than the exception.
>Posted to Dadamac's Posterous by Pamela McLean email
>For more about people or organisations named in my posts try -
>Dadamac - Integrating Education and Development in Africa and Online. We
>introduce people. We help them to work together or to learn from each
>other. How can we help you?
>Replies - Respond publicly by posting a comment on Dadamac's posterous
>or privately by emailing me
>Did you get this "open letter" sent to you as a personal email? If
>so.you may wonder what happens when you reply. If you "reply to all"
>including post@... then you will get a reply from posterous
>(inviting you to use posterous). Your reply will only appear on
>posterous if you also post it as a comment.
>Privacy and Openness - I only share my own emails on posterous (or ones
>I have been given permission to share). I often post my own emails as
>open letters, for future reference or general interest.
>Your email address - Even if I post to you and to posterous at the same
>time, your email address will not show on posterous.
>Twitter - http://twitter.com/pamela_mclean and #dadamac Website -
>Ok thanks Andrius & All,
>The lessons for Kwanzaa from pyramid of peace! Good, we were sitting
>down with Ken Owino at one time in one city slum in Nairobi and decided
>to have a pyramid of people which changed abruptly to "pyramid of peace"
>at envergence of election violence in Kenya 2008. Our values at MS Lab
>had the purpose and goal for peace, start by making a list of all the
>goals that values upheld. The list doesn't have to be in any particular
>order, but it is sometimes helpful to put them down in logical in
>logical groups. The result will be a very long list of goals like values
>the pyramid of peace project we underwent unrecognized. And there is
>nothing more frutrating or discrouging than to presend a long of items
>and being asked to rank them in values, say one through hundred! The
>mind can't hold all the information.
>Besides, you are comparing each item with the other 99, and as soon as
>you identified one goal as number one value (motivation through
>sacrifice), it automatically means that all the rest are less than one.
>And life doesn't work that way, does it? Motivation and Personality.
>Therefore: there is no reason why we have one value that will make our
>top priority. We are more likely to have a number of goals/goals, all of
>which we consider 'number one'.
>There is 'must do' or very high value, 'should do' or medium value, 'can
>do' or low value.
>Ok Andrius, i wish you well in the Kwanzaa Lessons for bringing the
>pyramid of peace to another limelight and audience" can we, make
>'pyramid of peace trust' international?
>Hi from Chicago. I'm going to have a booth at the Malcolm X celebration
>of Kwanzaa, which is an African American cultural celebration that takes
>place from December 26th to January 1st.
>Perhaps you'd like to add your thoughts and your creativity to my project?
>As an artist, I'm going to depict the lessons I and others learned from
>our stories of the Pyramid of Peace to avert genocide in Kenya in 2008.
>Recently, accusations were made in the International Criminal Court
>against six men suspected of fueling ethnic violence.
>I and others understood at the time that somebody was deliberately
>fostering the violence and we responded to good effect. I will tell my
>As I tell my story, I will focus on *how* I and others learned and grew
>and shared. I will also highlight our values at play, notably, our
>deepest values in life. I will be drawing people's portraits and
>depicting their values and showing how they might imagine themselves in
>our story. I will draw human figures with which I can also describe the
>events so we can discuss them. I will make photos and videos and that
>will help tell the story.
>Kwanzaa celebrates seven basic values of African culture:
>* Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family,
>community, nation, and race.
>* Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name
>ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
>* Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our
>community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our
>problems, and to solve them together.
>* Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores,
>shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
>* Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and
>developing of our community in order to restore our people to their
>* Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we
>can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than
>we inherited it.
>* Imani (Faith): To believe with all our heart in our people, our
>parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of
>the above is taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwanzaa see
>I'm going to focus on the values that we exhibited and note how
>Kwanzaa's values came into play, rather than the other way around. I've
>collected answers from hundreds of people about their deepest values in
>life, and I'd like for people who come to think about their own and see
>how theirs fit in among others, like stars in the sky, each seeing the
>whole sky from their own vantage point. Kwanzaa is a new celebration
>that I imagine is still finding its way. We lived through a profound
>victory in Africa that inspires reflection on values.
>In particular, I will note how the lessons I learned about engaging the
>violent in the South Side of Chicago were key for our success in Kenya.
>Monday, I will speak with organizer Jessica Holloway about my ideas. We
>already discussed that I might lead video bridges with Pyramid of Peace
>participants in Kenya and around the world. I also think there might be
>broader interest that could lead to support for a Kickstarter project
>that I might organize to document our stories, and ultimately, to apply
>our experience in new challenges.
>What lessons have we learned, large and small, thinking back? What
>stories would we like to tell? Who would we like to hear from? What
>creativity might we contribute to express our stories? I will tell my
>story, and certainly, I hope you might tell yours, likewise, in the
>Public Domain, for all to share creatively.
>I'm glad to hear from us!