How my work as cultural animator started.

Philosophical Emergency: Questions more important than answers

How to creatively and innovatively use philosophy in programs aimed at the elderly.

It all started with my interest in a philosophical therapy -- an idea not very popular in Poland at the time I graduated from college. I conceptualized a couple of meetings during which participants would talk about philosophy, compare different theories with their life experiences, and feel better. I had just moved to Warsaw after graduating, with my head full of ideas, and was trying to find a way to realize them. It was November 2009. I found The Association of the Creative Initiatives “ę” -- an organization that helps debuting cultural animators realize their first projects. I spent my next few weeks in multiple meetings, discussions, library research, and performing participant outreach -- I spent time on everything that finally gave shape to what was to be called Philosophical Emergency.

Philosophical Emergency was a project that assumed that philosophy can have beneficial influence on people. The project included workshops and provided a space for discussions about matters important to everyone and which were considered within the context of different philosophical theories. Diverse guests were invited for the meetings. The project lasted for three years and was realized in Warsaw, Poland. It gathered a constant group of people but was nonetheless always open to new participants. The form evolved with time, from simple discussion meetings it turned into more experimental and sometimes artistic happenings, often in public space: philosophy readings in the parks, street surveys during which existential questions were raised, etc. The meetings were focused on a theme: a human, an animal, a plant, or values such as happiness, good, tolerance, etc. Sometimes the topic was a concrete text: Roland Barthes’ The Pleasure of the Text, John Locke’s “A Letter Concerning Toleration,” and many others. In the participants’ opinions Philosophical Emergency was a space where people with diverse experience and opinions could meet and talk -- free from judgment -- and allowed them to see the same thing from different perspectives and hence gain a healthy distance to the issue at hand. It also helped them to slow down and think about matters for which there is no time for in day to day existence. For me, as the leader, it was a great opportunity to meet a group of extraordinary individuals, confront my theoretical knowledge with priceless life experience and overcome my weaknesses. It was also a source of great friendship and, last but not least, a chance to promote philosophy as a field that can be close to life in contrary to its stereotypical image as an abstract and incomprehensible domain, which for me, as a student of Philosophy, was essential.

Philosophical Emergency was realized as a project of The Association of the Creative Initiatives “ę” with the cooperation of the National Cultural Center, by Marta Pawlaczek with cooperation from Karolina Pluta and Dorota Ogrodzka.

Issue Lab – Foundation Center

Are you searching for different types of data for your organizartion? The Foundation Center's Issue Lab publish updated reports on different subjects: youth, elderly, giving in USA, and much more!

Here are some upsetting facts from the last report about America's Children:
'Every fifth child (16.1 million) is poor, and every tenth child (7.1 million) is extremely poor. Children are the poorest age group and the younger they are the poorer they are. Every fourth infant, toddler and preschool child (5 million) is poor; 1 in 8 is extremely poor.'

The entire report is available here.

Giving Tuesday

Some basic information about Giving Tuesday – an important day for non-profits in America:

Where Is Home?

A TED talk (with Polish subtitles).

I recommend lectures as an inspiring material for cultural workshops.