May.2007.Sometimes the destination is unclear, as it was heading up to Sweden to the international Clowns Without Borders meeting. Administrators and artists were gathering from Spain, France, Sweden, Canada, USA, Belgium, along with new members: Ireland, Germany and South Africa.
Does it look like Stockholm? If you have ever been there you would probably say no.
Does it matter? not to me!
This spot is a good 30 minutes outside that amazing archipelago gathering of islands they call Stockholm. There are project high rises visible from where I am staying, a little apartment that is part of a tower, at the end of a building, part of a complex housing the national circus school as well as the modern circus ‘Cirkus Cirkor.’ There should be photos, but I deleted a whole slew by mistake.
I am here with 19 other clowns without borders people, from 9 different countries, for our 3rd annual summit. Slowly the group moves from a meeting of rather separate organizations in 6 countries, to one where we are discussing projects in common, and looking to official-ize a Clowns Without Borders International organization. Yours truly is the international ambassador, and facilitator and moderator for the meeting. Three days in the circus environment, our meeting room right above my little apartment, a tower at one end of the building.
The meeting room is full of light, windows on all sides, and the discussions are full of light as well.
The talking stick:
How can one possibly have orderly meetings when you bring together a bunch of clowns?? the plastic hammer in the foreground of the photo above is our talking stick and moderation tool-if anyone gets out of hand, they get the hammer! Which of course makes a loud squeek, doesn’t hurt, everyone laughs and we move on. The hammer barely gets any use all weekend. And when it does, there is great theatricality involved, and we are reminded of our purpose. That it sat around unused is to say that there were lot’s of positive discussions about how to cooperate more, and get more laughter into places where it is needed.
the circus school is quite a story in itself, a few trailers are parked in the lot outside the building, with some students living in them. The school is very active, offering professional training as well as an alternative high school path. Sorry no photos. but here is a link to their site:
Behind the school are the woods,
and a few minutes away is a small lake, a complex of small apartments, all painted in yellow, and community gardens.
I get caught up in taking a photo of blue chairs in front of one of the yellow apartments. In the middle of my artistic deliberations, I am interrupted by a voice from the balcony above-a man who wishes to know just what I am doing, first in Swedish, then English. A long discussion about just why I am taking the photos ensues. He doesn’t like my answer ‘ because I like the blue chairs.’ He doesn’t laugh when I put on the clown nose, however it does disarm him a bit; enough to ask if I am taking pictures because i am interested in buying the place (whether he likes it or not). The tone of his voice strongly suggests that he suspects I’m a buyer, and evidently the clown nose is not enough to convince him otherwise, but somehow accompanied by words of reassurance and respect allows the conversation to end on a pleasant note.