In Praise of Conviviality.
I have a fetish for words (and people) that are making a comeback. Recently, I imagined that “conviviality” was one of those words. Ngram showed that it’s used three times as much today than it was forty years ago.
It makes sense as "con vivo" is all about living together, and the world could use a master class on conviviality these days.
Conviviality is a concept that is inherently relational and optimistic. The word 'conviviality' derives from a Spanish word and relates to the historical experience of Muslims, Catholics, and Jews living together in relative peace on the Iberian Peninsula.
A more recent use of the word takes us back to the 1973 book "Tools for Conviviality," written by Roman Catholic priest, theologian, philosopher, social critic, and "errant pilgrim" Ivan Illich. This radical critique of modern urbanism could be an ode to the simple life of Cuba or Bhutan, two places that have barely been touched by time and two countries that have unique forms of conviviality. Illich used the word conviviality to mean the autonomous and creative relationship between people, people and their environment, and with technology.
In the context of MEA, this word perfectly describes the "collective effervescence" that emerges in the course of a workshop week together. One alum asked me, "How can we practice this magic in normal society? In other words, how could conviviality be a foundational part of our day-to-day life?" Great questions, and I know my co-founder Jeff Hamaoui has spent quite a bit of time playfully pondering this when thinking about our MEA Regenerative Communities.
No doubt, people are thirsty for community. But, when you hear that, drill down on what it actually means. It doesn’t often imply more Zoom time or professional networking. It means sharing life without intermediation or practical purpose. It means having the time to see the beauty in someone else and they in you. It means getting to know each other from the inside out instead of our default "outside-in" approach. Yes, it can mean living the good life, being a bon vivant, and knowing how to throw a helluva party as well. And, for that, I always defer to my other co-founder Christine Sperber.
If you want to experience some conviviality, MEA is re-opening for weekly workshops starting the week after Thanksgiving, and our whole 2022 workshop calendar can now be viewed on the MEA workshop. We look forward to seeing you in Baja.