Journey with the Indigenous of Brazil
October 23, 2019

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Our Online Learning Journey for Earth in Solidarity with Indigenous

Screenshot taken during our second session: https://pad.disroot.org/p/BeyondEducation

This document is an artifact, harvested from the digital learning journey that ran in sync with the Cobra Canoa learning journey in Brazil (New application are now open for 2020 journey), where 15 expeditioners traveled through Brazil for 10 days to learn with indigenous communities. 

 Our harvesting session was facilitated by Fyodor Ovchinnikov of Institute for Evolutionary Leadership, and Naomi Joy Smith, designer of the Digital Hikoi and coordinator of the Beyond Us community engagement.

Also participating in this harvest, was:

Screenshot of the ‘Wedding Table’ data visualization model developed by Lauren Moore Nignon — eventually each participant will be able to connect all the conversations they’ve taken part in, track notes, follow up on action items, side discussions, missed connections and context from conversations that they missed.

Indigenous leaders, Educators and Storytellers
Starting the Learning Journey

We would like the world to know that the Cobra Canoa is the beginning: it’s the beginning and it’s happening. It’s happening during a time when humanity is talking about the sixth mass extinction, when nature is actually in an evolution of falling apart due to the popular term called “climate change”.

It’s a shared story that was co-created during a learning journey initiated from Rio de Janiero to São Paulo, and it was given the name Cobra Canoa as a symbol of regeneration of a cosmology that connects humans back to nature and back to the we-ness or belonging to a community — a community of happiness, joy, and companionship, not only between humans but between all life that is part of the bigger cosmology of being human.

This new story happened when a group of people from different places on the planet, disconnected from each other, started using technology to have live interactive learning journey and actively co-creating new stories and new patterns for understanding life better. Life in itself was a classroom, nature was a classroom. The purpose of this in terms of our mission is to inspire people to create more learner centered schools, to empower students.


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In co-creating a new story, the networks are like a forest. The power of a story is really telling a story that is beyond us, where we are enmeshed with one another again — collective humanity rediscovering our belonging in the web of life, reawakening to our tribe activated and alive.

This united narrative was stated by traveling teachers, travelling storytellers who are connecting languages and people coming from different parts of life, learning as much as we possibly can from every encounter and accelerating this educational shift as a radical emergency call by people who are connected to nature — not only indigenous people, but people from all cultures of the world that are really feeling compassion and love for all life on the planet.

It was fascinating to discover many intersections: perpetual learning, learning journeys, indigenous wisdom, connective storytelling, networked movements, collective leadership. Some of us have been working in these and other related intersections in theoretical, practical, and creative community contexts for the last decade and it was nice to find others — not as isolating.

Reconnecting to indigenous leadership on climate change at CCC19 — a catalyst for Beyond Us

Decolonizing, Grieving, Healing, and Reconciling

One of the words that kept coming up as a pattern was “decolonization”. We talked about what that process really entails, how specifically the Xucuru people are experiencing this, and that even these calls that we are doing are a part of that decolonization for them and a service to them as well as ourselves.

They spoke a lot from a spiritual aspect where pretty much everything that they do is rooted in their spirituality and the wisdom of their ancestors. This is definitely something that we have lost in the Western culture and forget about a lot. It was a great reminder. It felt like something that was being remembered or gained is lost and forgotten in a lot of the ways that we work in Western culture.

How are we going to get back in touch with that even if our science these days is almost catching up with this mystery of what we are all doing here and what we need to do in the future?

There is a healing, there is grief, there is a reconciliation process that really has to tap our emotions into grief, sadness, even madness for the chaos we have created on the planet. Above us, the stimuli of the environment moves us like starlings in murmuration; as we connect to the dark parts of ourselves, our shadows, our grief, and our trauma, our collective patterns move us like the mycelium under the earth connects the roots of the trees.

Photo taken by Inger-Mette Stenseth from the Norway hub gathering on Oct 8th

Sharing Adaptive and Regenerative Stories Through Various Media

Something that kept coming up was the challenge of communicating with each other, with other cultures when we don’t speak the same language. How do we really do that? It felt very important and crucial to continue and have more conversations like we had with this overlapping of the cultures.

We learn again how to make meaning through the stories of common ground between each of us. What we are sharing is going beyond the logical and back into the biological. The story is coming through all of us, it’s coming as a calling that each of us is responding to in our own way as we connect again to nature.

Separation has been an illusion that has kept us apart from the web of life for so long. But as we learn to respond in love, not in fear, we can let go and find that at the end of our grasp we have woven around a web that protects us, that even if not directly receiving for what we have given, it comes around back to restore, just like the sun is always giving more.

So the cosmology of the indigenous, the Cobra Canoa, is the beginning and it’s happening, and as we were talking about communicating this message to the world, we spoke a lot about stories and how there is a lot of stories that need to be told, but also we need to be careful and cognizant, aware of really asking more questions than telling. We need to tell stories that are adaptive and regenerative. We need to tell a more compelling story of what it means to be human and connect all of the dots so that the story becomes for everyone. Healing needs to be a part of the story.

The key to all that is that we are going to produce a film, but we also mentioned that in order to really get these communications across on a wider scale overlapping various kinds of media, we need to explore many outlets. We need to bring more imagery and also more in-person gatherings. As a lot of loss is happening in this digital media, so along with the digital we need to have the in-person, to figure out how to bring people together, maybe regionally.

Naiara Yusió and Philippe Greier in design planning with Naomi Joy Smith prior to the synchronized journeys

Modeling Healing and Decolonization through Hosting

Hosting this whole process was a challenge. Patterns that were mentioned included the difficulty of co-creating this process as the hosts wish it would happen because there was a lot of tension, a lot of stress, a lot of things moving very quickly and just so many things happening at the same time between making this and the documentary and moving that there were moments where the hosts were not able to recognize each other in ways that were warm and felt good. They had to accept a lot of the limitations of time, to accept just how many things were happening at the same time when they merely wanted to be exploring the potentials that we could discover through these interactions during the learning journey.

The journey started out with Philippe leading the process, but then later on as things got going Bishop, Naiara, Silvinha, Eduardo, and the Cobra Canoa crew were able to take more ownership, responsibility, and commitment to the whole process that was going on. This moment too was a part of the decolonization that was even occurring on a small scale. This is something that happened on the back end that is very important to mention.

We did not invite indigenous to give speeches or present them as wisdom keepers but to meet each other on the same level and involve everyone in the creation process. Respecting different rhythms and approaches.

It was not a project for indigenous but with indigenous.
-Philippe Greier

One thing that was very helpful that we can explore further is how we can celebrate more what we are doing. We are adapting together, it’s an amazing thing, and we should be celebrating this and bringing more life, energy, music, dance, and just enjoyment to the process, because that’s what we are about and that’s what we are doing here. How can we do that more? Maybe getting each other and organizing ways to get into festivals, music festivals or creating small ones.

Screenshot from the launch party at Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janiero: https://pad.disroot.org/p/SystemsCultureCrises

Where Will We Go from Here?

The experience as a whole was a very nourishing one: we had nourishing conversations to really reconnect with the wisdom of the indigenous. How we understand the human brain and how digital networks are connecting each of us together in a virtual realm of learning and education for wisdom and prosperity and regeneration of wisdom from nature? Right now, all of us are connecting faster than light particles through our digital camera screens. Where will we go from here? What questions will take us onto the next step?

That is the story of the Cobra Canoa connecting different educational stories from all parts of the globe. We have a crowdfunding campaign going on to help fund the Cobra Canoa efforts and the documentary. At the moment we have raised almost €1,000, but we need €10,000 as a minimum.
So please, please help share that as much as you can wide and far.

Naomi Joy Smith
Naomi Joy Smith