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The first questions to the Fontys “communication” students were “how does a community arise?” and “how do you keep a community alive?”. These questions were a warm-up for the essential question why we as AiREAS and study group had come together, namely “how can AiREAS involve young people in the challenge of health and air quality”. Five groups of three people, aged around 23, mixed male and female, sometimes only ladies due to the large amount of female presence in the group, set to work on the challenge. The initiative for this challenge had come from the students themselves, especially Hannah van den Hurk, who had participated in the recent AiREAS executive conference as youthful challenger of the management committee. After the introduction of Jean-Paul Close, people had about 90 minutes to come up with concrete proposals.
In those 90 minutes, the young people had to master the challenge of AiREAS because it was unknown territory for them? Then they should discuss together whether they could come up with a project for connection and communication? And finally prepare and deliver a presentation. Both the teacher and Jean-Paul Close did their rounds to assist the students with their questions or background information. They set to work with enthusiasm in an extremely relaxed and creative way. And the result may be there. Five applicable and executable project propositions were presented in a professional manner. It is unimaginable how free, open and creative these young people can be if they are given the space and incentives.
Naturally, these creative young people were challenged to implement their 4 x WIN ideas with the help of the AiREAS community. Without exception, they accepted the challenge. Hats off to these beautiful, involved people. They give us hope and trust in the future!
The 7th sense
Communication is a rationalized skill that we tend to take for granted. Yet it is one of the most complex influential factors, in addition to our other 6 natural senses (smell, taste, touch, sight, hearing and spirituality, the latter being the equally underestimated inner or gut feeling, the 6th sense).
Communication has to do with expression, interpretation and influencing. We use ALL our senses to give communication a rationalized content but treat information in a processed way using existing formats stored in our minds. The 7th sense is a summing up of our regulated preception, expressed by putting it into words or some other means, influencing others with our points of view. The interaction between people and their expressions adds a unique dimension to our existence, one that is manipulated, subject to scientific research, learning processen and awareness breakthroughs . In “normal” situations our communication can be largely predictable, which is our biggest trap of blocked and distorted realities.
In our current days, with radio, television, internet, etc this unique 7th sense is determining largely how humankind will develop, liberating itself from old dogmas, hierarchies of power and destructive social structures. This movement of liberation affects us all and has many expressions prior to arriving at a common consensus of value driven progress and harmony.
To understand our own senses and skills we first need to become rationally, rather than intuitively, fully aware of their existence, including the true value and threat of our own 7th sense and the effect of it upon us when influenced by others. Then we’ll also become aware of our entrapment, potential freedom and in the end maybe of more things, such as “responsibility” and “sustainable progress”.
Deaf and deprived of communication
To clarify my point just have a look at this African boy, Patrick, that seemed to be deprived from this 7th sense, unaware of his own potential, even though he has all the other underlying senses, except hearing. See what happens when he becomes aware of this 7th sense, available to him despite his hearing handicap:
The new Patrick has a world of difference ahead of him. Did you see him smile. What a change! From fearful, locked up misery to open brightness and interaction. He is a visualized example of someone who experiences a new level of awareness and breakthrough. He entered a new paradigm. It is easy to understand his breaking through and may fill us with joy as we identify and emphasise with the boy. Yet it is very difficult to see ourselves as Patricks, each with our own sensory handicap(s) or lack of open, transparant rationalization abilities using all our 7 senses. We tend to believe we use them all until something happens that shows that we don’t. Looking back we will see the same transformation but beforehand it seems impossible to anticipate.
It can however be learned.
We all tend to be like the old Patrick, deprived of our senses
In our daily lives communication tends to become a routine that does not reach our awareness anymore. We automatically react (for 99%) to impulses that we are used to, educated to interprete, and fear everything else. This is normal.
A new born baby opens the eyes and watches the faces of the parents while hearing their voices. We become familiarized with the sounds and images that belong to it. We observe the reaction of those images when we produce early sounds ourselves. A crying baby for instance will set off a whole series of natural responses. The baby learns to interact with sounds and gestures by interpreting the reactions. As we grow older there is a lot that we can predict in our action/reaction routines and we give it no second thought. It becomes automated.
When we grow up in a particular culture we get “educated” in perceiving our reality in a certain way. We apply our safely rationalized, automated 99% as if we are living inside a preprogrammed bubble of action and reactions that are all considered “normal”. Just look at YouTube films of traffic in places around the world. For those who live the daily reality it is normal. For other who observe from elsewhere it is a drama.
Our entire society is made up out of such communicative coloring of our “normative” reality. Internet is breaking through these bubbles as we can suddenly peak into new realities that are different from ours. We get into an emotional tension of determining what is right. Our world views or what we observe from elsewhere. Especially when we are questioning our own reality out of personal pain or need for inspiration we open up for paradigm shifts. We call this “the evolution of ethics”.
My own bubble of perception burst the first time when I left my well payed executive job in Spain. Everything that had seemed normal was gone and nothing had taken its place. I had to become aware again of ALL my senses and when that happened my face illuminated just like that of Patrick. In my international career I had learned to cancel out my senses and tune in solely on the status and money driven reality. When my senses were activated again, breaking through into my rational world, a totally new perception of reality displayed itself to me. I became aware again of colors, smells, spiritual connectivity, etc. It had of course always been there but my senses had been blocked. I had been deaf, blind and mentally disturbed for a long time.
The second time it happened to me was when I moved back to Holland, my country of birth, and noticed that the original genetic energy that I carried as a Dutchman was not the same anymore as the reigning energy within the country. It opened up my mind to try to find out why. Slowly I discovered that my fellow Dutch had eliminated many of their senses, making them vulnerable and dependent at the same time. They had become old Patricks living in a bubble full of fear and deprived of a sense of full reality. Deaf, blind, speechless and insensitive to the 6th sense. It was often impossible for me to communicate with them. They all would react like the old Patrick, fearful and evasive.
I realized that it was not just the Dutch. Billions of people in the world live their robotized life in their 99% bubbles of fear and deprived freedom. My own liberation had come through intense changes in my personal situation that had opened up my original 6 senses changing my usage of the 7th sense (communication). Instead of trying to sell my views to people I started to invite them to my extrasensory world.
How to orchestrated our senses, even if we lack one?
The teacher of Patrick showed caringly that being deaf is not a handicap that stands communication in the way. We all need to accept that all 7 senses exist and are available to us. We can learn how to use them to the full for our joy, benefit and sustainable progress, without the depriving manipulations or handicapped fears.
All people have all these 7 senses but certain malicious human forces have tried to manipulate them for many thousands of years. When we gain access, through crises or voluntary exercise, we see reality in a new way and things start to happen in freedom of creativity and self regulatory forces. One of the biggest challenges is to give humankind her senses back and step up evolution.
A simple creative expression we share here. If you want to share one of your own please feel free to react to this post:
One of the citizen’s sustainocratic initiatives that we initiated in Eindhoven (Netherlands) is the co-creation of the healthiest city of the world using air quality as guiding principle. We invited the local government, business enterprises and scientific researchers to take responsibility with us. That is how the formal Local AiREAS Eindhoven was born in 2011. Air pollution is one of the most deadly problems that we face in the world. Since mid October this year the World Health Organization recognised it to be level 1 cancer producing.
Now what? How do we deal with it as a citizen’s cooperative with institutional memberships? We seem to know that pollution comes from high level concentrations of burning stuf (fuel, wood, waste, etc) but our entire lifestyle depends on that. Mobility, heating, industry, logistics….if we want a healthy city we would need to change everything, from design to culture.
Where do we start? No one wants cancer and no one wants to give up a wealthy lifestyle. The consequences however do not just show in economics due to illness, lack of productivity or costs of health care. They also show in quality of life, global problems and huge amount of people with chronic diseases. This mismatch suggests a transformation process. But how do we choose our priorities?
The first project of AiREAS was to create a backbone infrastructure of measurement equipment to visualize our air pollution in the finest detail. One of the most modern requirements is to analyse the ultra fine dust that we create through combustion of fuels or wood and friction. These particles are smaller than a virus and settle in our arteries, creating infections that can give rise to all kinds of health problems, even cancer. Larger particles may be captured by our natural defences, such as nose moisture and small hairs. But the smaller ones go straight through.
Measuring such minute air particles in the open air in a city is very difficult. Expensive technology so far only reached to a certain point of detail. At AiREAS we managed to cocreate much less expensive equipment that measures a vast amount of variables, and in real time. In Holland we say that “measurement is knowledge”. But what do we know when we measure?
Just imagine this little red dot:
This represents a particle in the free, open air in your city. Now we want to know what it is and how it affects our wellbeing? One way to do this is to filter the air through a membrane. We can then analyse the membrane and whatever it has captured. This did not work for us because we wanted to measure in real time, all the time, without having to go to the measurement station (normally hung up on a light post or so) to change filters or tubes. Another technique is with to measure with light or laser. Air in an air chamber of the measurement station is analysed by the way light is distorted by air particles.
Now we know the quantity of particles per cubic “something” in space somewhere in the city in close to real time. We also know the size. We can distinguish particulate matter (PM) from below 1 micron to the traditional 2.5 and 10 PM.
This is great and already a huge advantage over other measurement techniques in the world. Scientists helped define the location of the measurement equipment so that information could be interpreted with some degree of reality. But what reality? We are interested in human health. So where can we measure, link with the respiratory reality and health consequences? Why would the measurement at 2.5 meters above a sidewalk under a light post be representative for what happens with people who live in the area? Scientific research talks about modulation. This is a mathematical technique to extrapolate our knowledge at the point of measurement and its validity for interpretation at a certain distance.
Modulation has to do with smart guessing based on behaviour models that take all kinds of variables into account. Every situation is different. Think of the way the wind affects the particles, or rain, gravity, temperature, turbulence around buildings, etc. Should we measure at the light post close to where pollution originates or at home of a local resident where people spend most of the time? Is the health hazard related to what we ingale while on the move or when we are at home? Or is it the accumulation of both. How then does pollution spread? Are our modulation models correct for interpretation? Do we measure at the right places for correct judgement.
These are relevant questions because based on the answers we influence policies on where roads should be changed, how traffic is routed, what needs to be changed in our lifestyle by law or suggestion, etc. These are big responsibilities.
The second backbone we put in place in the city is a health measurement infrastructure with real doctors measuring heart, lung, arteries. By choosing the spots right we could get to see if adjustments in the city or our behaviour would prove to be successful, not just by showing an improvement in air quality but also in related health and quality of life.
Linking public health and air pollution in true real life research with the involvement of the entire city population is quite unique. It is a living lab that teaches us as much as the rest of the world, especially because we do it with all participants at the table, not just fragmented research topics. That is also why we can react instantly on impulses that occur and surprise us. We become aware and conscious as we move.
Recently for instance we had a huge storm, up to hurricane power. This sucked all the polluted air right out of the city. The measurements however did not show uniformity. Strange things happened. The particles did not behave the same way and certainly not the way we would have expected.
Going back to our red dot we realize that we know only the size and quantity of particles. We do not know their weight, mass or properties. So in reality we know very little. These properties behave differently in different circumstances where gravity, climate, weather, electromagnetism, turbulence, etc influence them all the time. How can we interpret air pollution and attach values to it if we have so many doubts? How can we communicate pollution to the public if we don’t even know what kind of pollution we are talking about? How can we take measures in the city if we don’t know how the particles behave before they even get to our lungs and arteries?
We concluded that we need to initiate a new scientific project just to focus on “interpretation” of data.
We decided two things:
1. With two years of citizen’s cooperative work at AiREAS we have accumulated much awareness and experiences to share with others. We will get people to visit us for regular seminars that will allow them to do the same in their home town.
2. We will establish a research team to see how we go about interpretation and communication. We will finance the research through the income from education. Like this we keep ahead of the crowd so to say but let the others in on all our experience building through the trainings.
If of interest please mail. You can also forward this initiative and progress to people in your network who deal with this complex issue.