Elliot Washor's TGIF 9.15.2023
“Are you with me now?” AJ Ryder
Just one more thing….
The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and you spend twenty years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says you have no art, so you dredge that up. Somebody says you have no kingdoms, so you dredge that up. None of this is necessary. There will always be one more thing.” From Noble Laureate Tony Morrison
This quote appeared in an article by author Aminatta Forna who is Director and Lannan Foundation Chair of Poetics of the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice at Georgetown University. It is a great read.
Zero Gravity is a documentary on the life of Wayne Shorter, jazz musician, artist and native son of Newark, NJ. Like everything else Wayne Shorter ever did this film is groundbreaking. Whether he was with Miles Davis or Weather Report with Joe Zawinul (Birdland and Mercy, Mercy, Mercy) and Jaco Pastorius or in this case, melding image and text in a documentary film, he approaches Zero gravity.
“Zero gravity is to say and do things in the present moment,” Shorter explains in the documentary. Free of the weight of the past, unrestrained by limiting notions and expectations.” A great place to be if you can get there.
Marketing 101 – Make yourself visible and bridge the gaps
Last week, I was on a very small boat in the Aegean Sea hopping from island to island about 10 miles off the coast of Turkey. Here’s a very few of the many things that deal with our work. First off, on the boat were two guides. One was an archaeologist named Nota. She was Greek and Turkish. The other was a professor of antiquity named Tony. I haven’t been around academics like this in forever and they were a trip. Lots and lots of talk and lots of book references. On the island of Kos, I found out from them that Hippocrates was born and practiced there but I also found out a lot about Hippocrates that contradicts most of what I knew about the Father of Medicine. Turns out that in Hippocrates’ time, Kos was a place where the Greeks and Romans came to get healed at a temple on top of a mountain that you could see from Turkey which was then part of Greece or Rome depending on the timeframe. The visibility of this temple was Marketing 101. You could spot this temple from afar and making yourself visible in this way was like a flashing neon light. On Kos, Hippocrates was far from the only show in town. There were a whole crowd of healers from medicinal to religious on this island hawking their wares. At that time, you might believe in the Gods causing your problems and ailments or you trusted the healers who had some remedies and procedures or a combination of both. Hmm? It doesn't sound much different than today. Hippocrates bridged the gap and leaned more towards the nascent sciences. Way after Hippocrates, Jesus combined both healing and belief. Some of the apostles and Mary herself lived on the islands we visited. All that said, I was basically in some incredibly fertile lands and the vegetables and fruits and grains were fantastic.
The other part of the trip was also right up my sea lane. In contrast to all of this history of antiquity, the traditional wooden boat I was on called a Gulet was constructed in 8 months by one of the captains, Aytekin who is Turkish. The other captain Yanni was Greek. Yanni spent over 30 years as a captain of large commercial vessels that sailed all over the world. Why two captains? Well, a Turkish boat sailing in Greek waters has to have a Greek captain. In contrast, to their academic counterparts, who spoke nonstop, the knowledge that Yanni and Aytekin had was embodied, they hardly spoke but they knew. I spent quite a bit of time observing them ‘reading’ waves, clouds, wind, land and who knows what else. And, when it came to say our goodbyes, it was the captains who were revered most, hands down.
Also, I spent loads of time grant writing this week for HFF and reviewing this great final evaluation of the LEGO grant for IBPLC, B-U, BPLiving with loads of references to the work of Harbor Freight Fellows. Scott and the team did excellent work. Now, how to get the word out about what happened over the last 18 months is up to our social media efforts. I’ll attach the report next week in my TGIF.