Andrea K Lawson Artist
I create colorful visual stories of humanity, nature, joy, rebirth, mystery and memory


(posted on 21 Apr 2018)

Blogpost earth day 4-22-2018



Active Hope


Artefacts is an artist collective who focuses “on artifacts from the future, play based art and healing sacred spaces with art”. 

Last January I went to an inspiring experiential workshop called “We Almost Didn’t Make It” led by artist Beverly Naidus and members of Artefacts and sponsored by COCA (Center on Contemporary Art) in conjunction with the January 2018 art show at the same location, Pioneer Square, Seattle, Washington.


It turns out that the workshop was informed by a book by Joanna Macy PhD, Buddhist scholar and Chris Johnstone called Active Hope, published by New World Library 2012.

Active Hope is a thoughtful and useful book that helps show “How to face the mess we’re in without going crazy”. Not just cheerleading but a practical approach! The book talks about the concept of being able to face our problems before we can act. And to connect to each other and our planet in order to feel part of the change. When we feel alone, it’s too overwhelming. Active Hope will give you numerous insights and productive ways to change how you view yourself and the world as a whole. It made me feel hope that we can tackle even our most dire problems. 


       In Chapter 9, Catching an Inspiring Vision, the authors explain more about what active hope is by showing a diagram about Static Thinking versus Process Thinking.The Static Thinking box shows a single frame that says: “This is how things are. If something isn’t in the picture, it just isn’t going to happen.” On the next page they demonstrate Process Thinking in three film strip frames: “This is how things are now/But choices I make influence what happens next. /So what is my hope? And how can I be active in moving toward that?” 


The book contains practical exercises for discovering a different view of the self and facing world problems; simple breathing and empowerment exercises, and more involved exercises like writing letters to the future.  


During the workshop we did some of the  exercises from the book. We found ourselves feeling intensely sad and hopeful as we imagined ourselves in the future looking back at today. Our group  listed evidence of dystopia and then evidence of “the great turning”.  As I understand it, The Great Turning is a Buddhist concept that happens when our society’s priorities shift and we think of ourselves not as separate selfish entities but as part of the earth together, identifying with the interconnectedness of all the earth. We are then able to work to create positive change to stop ecological disasters such as global warming, poverty and war from destroying our planet. 


Towards the end of the workshop, we were led in a visualizing exercise to picture something from today that we would miss in the future if it was to become only a memory. People in the group thought of all sorts of things from an acorn, clean water and a blue heron to concepts like love. We broke into pairs and created future artifacts out of a panoply of cloth scraps and art materials, placing a commitment to action inside our “artifacts”.( My team made a blue heron and an acorn artifact). We were invited to place these “artifacts” in the We Almost Didn’t Make It show in the COCA gallery. Having space to feel the pain of all of our problems, helped to face the problems and to become part of the change. This is a form of time travel where we had a chance imagine what our legacy of today would look like to future beings. Thank you Artefact collective for doing this work connecting art and social change! If you are feeling frustrated or overwhelmed about how to create a better future, connect with past and future generations or want to learn more about the story of “The Great Turning” read Active Hope!

My Blue Heron "artifact"


Making future artifact in Artefact workshop


Lovely acorn and my wacky bird artifact  on our "Change" drawing


Workshop participants created a  clean water artifact.

We Almost Didn't Make It at COCA




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