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Sep 19, 2017

Colombia, an Utter Surprise!

Medellin's Botanical Gardens, ringed with memorials to notable women.
Growing up in the US, I always associated Colombia with drug wars, and none more than the city of Medellin. But I'm astonished at how out-of-date my view is now that I'm visiting for the first time! Since last year's historic peace deal ending the 52-year war with the FARC rebels, the nation has plunged into new social development plans that make Western Civilization seem downright sluggish. (Or in the case of the US now, clearly retrograde!)

The new national focus isn't just another cold capitalist dream of economic growth, it's the very humanitarian one of EDUCATION! For one thing, the government has borrowed an idea from Mexico that is transforming that country, the concept of "tutor teaching", in which students choose a subject which interests them, that they then teach to their peers. It's a way of engaging the kids naturally and and keeping everyone involved interested in the process of learning rather than attaining a certain level of test results, as if students were products.

A machine for buying transit tickets by turning in plastic bottles!
Meanwhile, there's a concerted effort to make the country bi-lingual in a few years; libraries are being built in the mountain slums of the city to make the poor feel that they too are important citizens. They are the focus of further social interest with the (relatively inexpensive) construction of escalators and cable cars that give them easier access to the city. The inviting new mass transit system is the pride of Medellin, evidenced by its astonishing cleanliness and safety. You can even turn plastic bottles into tickets! We did and bought cable car tickets into a gorgeous cloud forest park above the city.

In Colombia, I'm astonished how often people greet me on the street. Of course on a crowded street everyone doesn't say hi to everyone else, but when I pass someone, (even a woman at night!) often they will say "buenos noches", reaching out to me, a stranger. What a civil attitude!

With its serious focus on the arts, public value and small business, I predict that Colombia will be a powerhouse in the coming decade because they are focusing development on people, not money. I think we'll see that this is a winning strategy for everyone, and one that the "developed" world had better learn very quickly if we're not to be drowned by the inequalities of predatory capitalism that we so rapidly spread around the world.

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Tim Holmes Studio

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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.