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I wonder if my friends and I are destined to continue acting out elements of our teenage rebellion for the rest of our lives? I believe that the wild intense yet healthy soup of adolescence is so misunderstood and shunned in our society that it is vital we honour this part of ourselves throughout the whole of our lives.

Bill Plotkin claims that “A deeper understanding of adolescence is where our hope lies”. He also describes how we live in a what he calls a ‘patho-adolescent society’, where many people of all ages suffer from a variety of adolescent psychopathologies – incapacitating social insecurities, identity confusion, extremely low self esteem, few or no social skills, narcissism, relentless greed, arrested moral development, recurrent physical violence, materialistic obsessions, little or no capacity for intimacy or empathy, substance addictions and emotional numbness.”

These are not the attributes I am talking about when describing the ‘intense wild soup of adolescence’. It is because we are surrounded by so much of what Plotkin describes in the previous quote that many have the need to act differently and to push against what is creating these pathologies.

Walking down a busy business street I watched the suited, high-healed, briefcase-wielding grey people. Their pristine and immaculate facades are far from nature. If I think about some of the ways the people I love move around life, it would be like comparing a concrete pavement to a very life-filled hedgerow. These stiff ways of being arising out of some sort of damage I imagine, are what makes us want to jump aboard what I am calling the pirate ship.

This pirate ship is magnificent and grand, yet humble and shabby. One knows this ship is arriving by the bright lights, bonfires and raucous laughter. One might even be afraid of the unusual impending aura of love. Loud music might be playing, fiddles, flutes or dirty electronic beats perhaps. Good quality conversations are abundant on this ship. Unique clothing attire is often worn and a tremendous sense of freedom is celebrated by all aboard.

The sort of sub-culture I am describing, using the metaphor of the pirate ship, can be seen and experienced at festivals across the world, in squats and dingy flats, in arts venues and underground bars. It can be seen in strange little towns in the south of England and elsewhere too. As well as in those who associate with being part of a sub-culture or alternative movement, I see these qualities in other groups of people, qualities of openness, warmth, connection to self and others, aliveness, agile intelligence and more. In the UK I have experience this kind of rich culture being more alive in the Celtic regions of Scotland, Ireland and Wales although it still is in other places in the UK. In Africa I have met more raw aliveness in a higher percentage of people than anywhere else in the world. Interestingly, Africa is certainly somewhere that many forms of rites of passage still exist and where the role of young people is more recognized and valued. This maybe changing in more urbanised locations where there is a stronger westernising influence. My interest though and where most of my work focus has been on is understanding the fine line between a healthy, vibrant and rebellious ‘pirate ship’ and the more destructive and escapist behavior of those seeming to be more lost and traumatised.

I would argue that young people climb aboard in the hope that this will be where they will find something as powerful and meaningful as a rite of passage experience or ceremony. Many of the ingredients are on board and, perhaps for the first time they feel they are surrounded by people who understand. The music might take them deeply into their bodies. Substances such as ecstasy, hallucinogens and cannabis seem to open eyes to new ways of being and doors to other levels of reality. This might radically undo unhelpful conditioning and free someone from all manner of constraints but it can be argued that these things are cop-out shortcuts from the hard work that it takes to grow up.

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My Full BSc University project portfolio is open to the public in it’s full raw form for one month: Click link here to view.

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Building our castles

Do you like my castle?
Can you even see it gleaming, golden orange?
It is located between yonder hill and my wonderful imagination.

I want start to build it for real soon,
Will I have to build it on my own or will you help me?

You can’t build it for me,
You don’t even know what it looks like,
You might think the towers are square when actually they are round.

Shining concrete,
Mud brick,
Canvas,
wood,
A quiet castle, musical, busy, small large?

Let us build our castles side by side,
I will help you in your way and you can help me in mine.

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Where are we?
In a perpetual juggling act
With a medley of ways of being
Traitors to ourselves some days
Breakers of our own promises.

We are inspiration and bright lights seen by some
To others we are just lost dancers
Shining examples
In self sabotaging muddles

This is hard work.

Now stumbling around a field big eyed and blurry
We wander and wonder, why?
Bang bang blast blast silence at last?
Why does being so steady and sensible make us want to roar?
Life is too tame some days.

We are upright responsible and aware,
We are other things that we are not aloud share.

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Berlin is:
Walls and walls covered in graffiti
A Market with many shoes
Tears on a windowsill
A vegan supermarket
Tired feet and sore shoulders
A meat market trance club
Dancehall reggae by the river
Muddy finger nails
(Amelia)

Berlin is:
Wheels on the concrete
Graffiti on the walls
Beer by the river
Faffy market stalls
Psy dub darkness
Sleepless strolls
Vibrams and hangdrums
Mini ramp falls
(Joshua)

Danish drinking games
Laughter down under
Minds teased open
Alcohol plunder
Spinning bottle smash!
Spinning head…
Flag still flying
The wind is dead.
(Joshua)

Berlin is:
A lost green purse
Itchy feet all night long
Space tights and flip flops
Joshua and Amelia cups, hanging on my bag
A shower and a real bed at last
(Amelia)

Berlin is:
Skaters paradise
Love tears and laughter
And a ….. Super food salad!
(UALIA)

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And a hush fell over the Internet……. It is story time!
Here is a story about an adventure to a deep turquoise pool. This is one of a years worth of stories about children from a tipi village. I have been inventing and telling these stories to the children at ‘a place to grow- a yurt based education initiative that I helped to start and run in Stroud.

Click this link to listen to the story

Image

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=igA2jb5FKDo&feature=plcp

This is a short video of the serious marshmallow toasting that took place at my leaving party at A place to grow- yurt based education initiative in Stroud where I have been working/ playing for the last year!