Joining the “Globals” and the “Locals” to Build a World Fit for Purpose

Project Neighbours

In England, I used to work in an office with thirty members of staff. Every day, we’d arrive at roughly the same time, and for about twenty minutes, we’d stand in the kitchen chatting about holiday plans and last night’s TV before migrating to our respective desks.

Throughout the day in an open-plan office, we progressed projects chatting about each other’s pets and occasionally revealing a neighbor’s deathbed confession. At eleven and three o’clock, someone made tea for everybody on the floor. By five in the afternoon, with many tasks ticked off, we said goodnight and turned off the lights.

Around ten o’clock on Fridays, I would go into the meeting room and wait for the green light on the phone to flash at the full hour. I’d pick up and say my name before the person on the other end said, hi, great to hear from you.

For the next sixty minutes, my line manager and I discussed the previous week. We butted heads. At the HQ, decisions had been made, and things moved along, but she hadn’t been involved, so it didn’t count. We must consult her before going ahead.

Once the hour was up, I put down the receiver and walked back to my desk just in time for a tea run and a discussion about changing suppliers.

“Ask my line manager,” I said.

“She’s not here,” a colleague said.

“Call her.”

“I have no time to explain,” the colleague said, rolled his eyes, returned to his desk, and the situation stayed unresolved for months.

I was frustrated with not understanding why my line manager didn’t see the urgency we saw. Whenever I explained what we were dealing with at the HQ, she wouldn’t understand. Her solutions, though well-intentioned, were so far off the mark, I had to smile and look the other way.

I blamed her. Living between countries and seeing myself as the kind of person who inhabits different realities at the same time, I couldn’t imagine what kind of gene she was missing that prevented her from hearing what I was telling her.

This summer I finally left that job to spend some time in Holland, Poland, and France. As I passed the yellow ticket gates of Amsterdam Centraal, England became a mirage, and I could no longer imagine a world where staircases were wide enough, so furniture didn’t need to be brought in through a window.

Driving across the Oder on the way to Poland a few days later, the only world that existed was the one with pine and birch forests growing next to a yellow rape field with a circling stork. Eating pretzels in France, I questioned the legitimacy of anyone speaking English; I wanted to flick the American foreheads and say, parlez français!

I was wide-eyed reading the local papers discovering that we’re all concerned about what’s directly in front of us: our air, our food, our streets, our art, our myths. But I got a spring in my step when I discovered the real thing we all have in common: a deep disdain for anyone from outside telling us how to live.

I thought back to my manager. She was an inspiring woman that I looked up to, but though I wanted a mentor, she couldn’t guide me; she wasn’t where I was. Moreover, she rarely faced consequences of her decisions. Never at the office, she wasn’t present to deal with repercussions.

Reading all these newspapers got me thinking. In our global world, it seems that people who decide are “somewhere there” while people who live are “right here.”

These people who decide often live itinerant lifestyles between airports and golden cages that protect them from the broader context of their host country and the real-life effects of their own judgment. Within short periods, they move from one golden cage to another rarely staying anywhere long enough to see the impact of their actions on the environments that until recently were their own.

When someone from Brussels tells someone in southern Italy to welcome refugees, it is noble for the decision-maker to be outraged at the resistance of the local people.

“How dare you,” some of the remote managers say, “these are people, you have to help them!”

We have to help them.

The problem is, just as my manager was often clueless about the practicalities of the office, very few of the elites understand the practicalities of welcoming refugees. Very few, if any, of the nobly outraged, will be waking up to the daily pain of the people forced out of their home and brought to a place where all they can do is wait.

Fewer still will wake up daily to their own pain at the devastation that a crisis can bring to a region; a region that’s already been neglected by global elites and that’s been damaged by mass emigration of people who lack a future in their hometown.

As a result, “globals” are angry that no one cares about their carefully crafted ideas that took years of education and percolation to develop. The “locals” are angry because their concerns are called “unworldly,” “narrow-minded” or “-phobic.” We all yell, and we retreat to our own. Nothing gets resolved.

The refugee crisis is just one example of the many problems we’re facing. Inequality, fake news, climate change (to name three) are issues that need global action. How can there be global action if the “globals” don’t live a “local” reality? How can there be change if the “locals” aren’t shown a broader perspective in a language they can relate to?

We started Project Neighbours to bridge the gap between the “globals” and the “locals.” In this web-based series of interviews, we talk about what’s important. We hope to bring our realities closer to each other so we can build a world fit for purpose. You can read the stories on our website where you can also find out how to get involved. Keep in touch on Twitter @zuzannafiminska or email us at projectneighbours[at]gmail.com.

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Zuzanna Fimińska is the community organizer behind Project Neighbours and a writer aiming to fill the world with great conversations and many points of view.  Her work has been published Mslexia, eyeforpharma, Time Out Amsterdam, Polish Express, TRANSITION, Cadaverine, Hospital Drive, Prick of the Spindle, Examined Life and others.  She occasionally performs and a podcast featuring her short story is forthcoming with The Other Stories.

 

 

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Writing in the Digital Age

Sometimes I come across words and I think: did I miss something? Usually this has to do with digital advances. The new word I discovered recently existed well before the Internet, but I don’t think it was named until blogs began and the genre took real flight: the listicle. For those like me who have never heard of it before, it’s a mix of list and article and simply refers to a published article written in the form of a list.

It got me googling. What other new genres are out there that I’ve never heard of before. And in that spirit, I’ve written a listicle pointing out three other genres that grabbed my attention.

  1. Photo essays / Horizontal stories

I believe these are the same, although I’ve seen both names used. It’s a collection of photos on the same subject, each photo has a caption and they are presented in a specific order. The horizontal refers to swiping through the photos.

  1. Twitter Fiction

I’m not a twitter fan, so I completely missed this genre and I do realize that I’m extremely late. It’s a genre tried out by a lot of current writers like David Mitchell, Margret Attwood and Philip Pullman.

Read more on: The Rise of Twitter Fiction.

  1. iStory

An iStory is shorter than flash fiction, at a maximum of 150 words, but more than twitter fiction and the more widely known six-sentence story. Originally created for an iPod, Narrative Magazine still publishes iStory submissions.

 

Vanessa

Procrastination: Worse Than Writer’s Block

I’m supposed to be doing some freelance work today. The problem is that there’s no hard deadline (‘sometime in the coming week or so is fine’). So what do I do? Procrastinate, of course. I’m a deadline kinda girl. And while I was supposed to be working, so that I won’t have to work nights next week, I’m flicking through YouTube videos. A favourite is Ted Talks where I can convince myself that I’m actually doing something useful with my time because I’m learning something. Then I watched this one:

 

 

OMG! That’s me. That’s so me.

I realise that although I always make my deadlines and I do the work well, I’m unable to do non-deadline work. It’s the reason I still haven’t finished all those novels on my hard drive. It’s the reason I’ve hardly sent off any of the picture book stories I’ve written to publishers. It’s the reason I’m bummed on Mondays because I hardly managed to do any writing the previous week. It’s not performance anxiety. And it’s not writer’s block. It’s the absence of the panic monster.

It’s time I worked on this. Right after I’ve finished this blog post. And I’ve done the freelance work I’m supposed to do. And…

Vanessa

There Are Now 100 Cecile’s Writers!

This week our magazine has published work from the hundredth intercultural writer. We are so proud that there are now a hundred Cecile’s writers living in almost 30 countries all over the world from Algeria to Vietnam. We have authors from 44 different nationalities, showing that many of our writers are writing in their second language.

Our Cecile’s writers have the following nationalities:

Algerian, American, Australian, Brazilian, British, Canadian, Chilean, Chinese, Costa Rican, Dutch, Egyptian, Estonian, Filipino, Finish, French, German, Greek, Guyanese, Hungarian, Indian, Irish, Israeli, Italian, Japanese, Kenyan, Kuwaiti, Malawian, Maltese, New Zealander, Nigerian, Pakistani, Peruvian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, South Korean, Spanish, Sudanese, Swedish, Swiss, Taiwanese, Tunisian, Turkish, Vietnamese.

And live in the following countries

Algeria, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Malta, Netherlands, Nigeria, Philippines, Russia, Suriname, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America, Vietnam.

We are so honoured that these hundred writers have shared their high-quality stories and poems in Cecile’s Writers Magazine. We are looking forward to further expanding our community and publishing more wonderful works from intercultural writers all over the world.

CW Team

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Reading to Your Children: A Treat or a Chore?

The best part of my day is story time at the end of the day, just before bedtime. Of course, partly because I know that me-time is not too far off, but mostly because I love sharing my love of stories with my children. I enjoy how they laugh, gasp and sigh as I read. I even enjoy the upset faces when the chapter has ended. “No mum, just one more chapter! Please, I need to know what happens next.”

The upside of story time is that it’s really good for children’s creative and linguistic development. It’s known to improve vocabulary as well as empathy. It gives you some calm ‘together-time’ after a usually hectic day, and it will teach kids to love reading for themselves. I think this is something known to most parents, yet surveys have shown that less and less parents are doing it regularly. Read More

The House of a Famous Character

This year, we spent our holidays in the Lake District in North West England. The plans was to go for hikes, which we had practiced for the last couple of weeks. Taking a 16-month-old with us was a bit of a gamble. We had no idea what his reaction would be to sleeping in a tent; we expected the walking part to be fine, since he did not mind the walks we had done so far.

One of the walks we set out for would go through a hamlet called Watendlath. A place where we not only could enjoy a lovely cream tea in the teahouse, but also visit the farm where Judith Parish lived. The house has a plaque and everything. The name did not ring any bells. Luckily, the description of the walk informed us who this illustrious person was. A famous character from a best seller in the 1930s.By not available (Hampshire Bookshop Collection) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In the early 1920s, writer Hugh Walpole moved to the Lake District. Walpole was a famous writer in his time, he wrote countless books between 1909 and his death in 1941, an average of one book per year. An impressive feat that critics used against him, they considered his work outdated and described Walpole as “a sentimental ego” and “workmanlike writer who was not much appreciated among other writers”.  In 1921, he settled in Keswick, Cumbria, where he wrote The Herries Chronicles – a series set in the Lake District. Read More

Tsundoku – the looming stack of books…

https://www.flickr.com/photos/austinevan/1225274637I know you have one, admit it. If you like to read, you are definitely guilty of having the TSUNDOKU (cue the ominous thunderclap). It sounds like a Japanese horror movie. Well, it is Japanese and the kanji (or written characters) are: 積ん読.

(Read all about Cecile’s own TSUNDOKO here.)

I can’t read kanji and I hope that I don’t offend anyone or the beautiful Japanese written language, but don’t they just look like stacked books, then a whimsical line, and then more books?

These lovely kanji, literly mean to pile up reading. (A word of caution, the link is to a wiki. However, there is a blog post on it at oxforddictionaries.com).

Mine accumulates with every passing year, because I love books! Books, books, glorious books! Can you smell them? New or old, whichever your prefer, heck, even dusty books smell great, moldy ones, why not? They smell like words and stories and things I don’t know yet. Far away places, imagined spaces, even ‘getting real’ with Dr.Phil sounds like an adventure.

While looking at “There’s a Word for That: 25 Expressions You Should Have in Your Vocabulary”, I found this little word: Tsundoku.

My Tsundoku has, a couple of classics, several ‘science for the layman’ type of books (think Dawkins, Gleick, etc), several self help books (I love reading those), and a couple of half finished best-sellers books.

What does yours have?

Happy reading!

Sofia

 

Raping Africa

Chinweizu is a powerful and persuasive writer, and his views on Afrocentrism are extreme—as they rightfully should be. But for those who know little of this vociferous person and his singling out and attacking Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka’s Eurocentric Africanism, here is an excerpt from a poem of his (in the anthology that he also edited: Voices from Twentieth Century Africa):

Ah, this land

This black whore

This manacled bitch

Tied to a post and raped

By every passing white dog

The dog of the crescent sword

The dog of the militant cross

The dog of the red star!

Listen! Listen to the pack

Of scavenger dogs from white heartlands

Snarling in their gang rape of Africa!

excerpt: Admonition to the Black World

This anthology contains gems of African writing that are difficult to come by, including oratory tales, folktales, poetry, excerpts from translated novels and so on. Highly recommended for any avid reader of African literature.

 

Samir Rawas Sarayji