I am fascinated by different cultures, by the way individuals from different cultures manifest themselves and communicate, within their own community or with people from other cultures.
I counsel and coach multi-cultural social systems (individuals, organization, communities, families, couples), and I am amazed by how enriching is to accept my limitations and be a humble "expert" in multi-cultural relationships.
I would like to present Nazook, the Assyrian pastries crafted in Berkeley by Assyrian cook Bellit and her daughter Ninva (www.bellinva.com).
Assyria was a vast empire situated on the extremely fertile territory between two amazing and famous rivers: Tigris and Euphrates. In 934 BC it was the most powerful civilization and it encompassed at some point territories from the nowadays Iraq, Iran, Siria, Egipt, Iran. How often do you have a chance to taste a pastry that comes all the way from Nineveh and Babylon?..
Nazook is made with all natural ingredients, local as much as possible.
And look what I discovered on the pastry makers' Facebook page:
“You, as a food buyer, have the distinct privilege of proactively participating in shaping the world your children will inherit.”
― Joel Salatin
Do you agree, disagree?..
Whatever your answer is, if you are in downtown San Francisco you can have a delicious Nazook at Cafe Bianco, on Sutter St. And if you need company, I am right around the corner, in my Synergis Counseling office: I will always make myself available to accompany you for a coffee and a Nazook!
Individuals with strong opinions are rejected by many groups, employers and institutions, which see them being anything between an annoyance and dangerous. Many institutions and families promote "freedom of thinking", but once that gets translated into dissent, it is immediately sanctioned and the individual who openly expresses the dissent is ignored, cast-out, rejected, or transformed into a scape-goat to justify the problems of that particular social group. Differences of opinion is often accepted just because it looks good in terms of political correctness. It is still trendy to claim "diversity", as long as that doesn't really challenges the already decided course of action. This is what I call the process of McDonaldization of a social group (school, work place, family, nation): it is ok to be African, German, Russian, Pakistani or Chinese under the roof of the same McDonald's, as long as in the end you gobble up what's on the menu.
Some decision makers, says the famous corporate consultant Jamshid Gharajedaghi, are "not interested in the optimum solution. They are only interested in confirming the choices they had already made."
"Scooter covered in lavender" by Alejandro Gheorghe
Dakota Native Americans have a saying:
"When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount"
Many times governmental agencies and even corporations believe they can outsmart the Native Americans. Here are some of their "strategies"*:
1. Buy a stronger whip and use it more often.
2. Change riders.
3. Appoint a committee to study the horse.
4. Arrange to visit other countries, to learn how other cultures ride horses.
5. Lower the standards so that dead horses can be included.
6. Hire outside contractors to try to ride the dead horse.
7. Hire consultants specializing in riding dead horses.
8. Harness several dead horses together to increase speed.
9. Provide extra funding and training to increase the dead horse performance.
10. Perform a productivity study: would lighter riders improve the dead horse's performance.
11. Declare that as the dead horse does not need to be fed, it is less costly, it carries lower overhead and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy that live horses.
12. Rewrite the expected performance requirements for all horses.
And last but not least:
13. Promote the dead horse to a supervisor position.
*(Adapted after Russell Ackoff's "Systems Thinking for Curious Managers")
Since starting to work more and more with people who are in high-tech, web development and bio-tech industry, I have been pleasantly surprised to meet or find out about amazing people, many of them fellow Romanians.
I am therefore happy to read about the Romanian computer scientist Matei Ciocirlie and his project, Robots for Humanity. Mr. Ciocirlie has built robots which help people with severe disabilities. And I like the name of the offices where he works Willow Garage and I love the way he summarizes the difficulty of programming robots:
"The problem with computers is that they do what we tell them to, not what we want them to."
Please read the full article bellow.
For years I've telling my clients (and friends alike) that running all over the place doing things brings only illusion and meaninglessness in our lives. Driving around from one "errance" or "appointment" to another, cramming in "activities" for them and their children, scheduling "playdates" (nobody really notices anymore how close to ridiculous this word is?.. Do you really need a date to play?!.. World renown Danish family therapist Jesper Juul names play as the one of the only 4 things children really need. The other 3 are food, shelter and affection).
It seems to me that anger, anxiety and conflict are the three major symptoms of a life that not only is unnecessarily busy, but it is cluttered in a habitual manner, in order to avoid dealing precisely with the sources of anxiety, anger and conflict.
It is Rollo May, in its "Freedom and Destiny", who points out a truth that we seem to be eager to ignore:
"The pause is especially important for the freedom of being. what I have called essential freedom. For it is in the pause that we experience the context out of which freedom comes. [...] When we don't pause, when we are perpetually hurrying from one appointment to another, from one 'planned activity' to another, we sacrifice the richness of wonder. And we lose communication with our destiny."
And it is the contemporary Tim Kreider who reframes the same issue, just in a more popular manner, in his New York Times article The 'Busy' Trap:
"It’s almost always people whose lamented busyness is purely self-imposed: work and obligations they’ve taken on voluntarily, classes and activities they’ve “encouraged” their kids to participate in. They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence."