Jane and Rod returned last week from leading 3 workshops on the Universe Story in Portugal. It was an exciting and rewarding time exploring and interpreting our 14 billion year story with teachers and parents in Portugal. We visited Viano do Castelo, Porto and Lisbon.
Our first workshop, at Viano do Castelo, was held at a Secondary school. First thing in the morning our good friend and host Teresa, set up the room, (which incidentally was really cold - the Portuguese are so poor these days that their schools can't afford to put the heating on even in winter) meanwhile Jane and I stepped outside. We then paced out 1000 steps up a nearby hill. Stopping at the end of a road we claimed this point as the Big Bang! We then walked back to the school and marked out all the major points of the Timeline up until the present moment. This was preparation for our 'Deep Time Walk.' The aim was to physically embody learning by actually walking the timeline with all of the key events appearing at the correct scale along a 1km distance. This walk was also a central feature of the other 2 workshops. An example of one of the benefits of walking the timeline is a new appreciation of how long humans have been around and how limited is our usual view of what our history really is. It's one thing to intellectually appreciate that humans haven't been around for long but quite another to walk 1 Km and then see a thin line of chalk on the ground and perceive that our modern existence has occurred within the width of the chalk mark.
In the old town of Porto our workshop was held in a new free school. Many parents who were dissatisfied with traditional education were sending their children to this school. It was hoped that with our Universe Story work, we would support their work in bringing a bigger perspective. As with the other workshops we brought a sense of mythos to what science is now revealing, working with creation stories, values, sitting Still, free fall writing and collective story telling.
After the 3 workshops we both looked back and reflected upon our experience. We felt that one of the elements that was so rewarding was that our Portuguese friends were extremely open and receptive and willing to embrace new ideas. They were a joy to engage with and we both can't wait to go back again!
This is what Teresa Leite Gonçalves from the Awakened Families Project who organised the workshop series, had to say about her experience:
“when we told the story of the universe, each time someone spoke about a part of the story, whether they were bacteria or dinosaurs, it seemed like it was a single voice speaking. There was a sense of the past connecting to the present and reaching for a new future. There was something personal about each of us threaded through the story.”