From the Founder: Reflections on knowledge, philosophy and who we are

 

Friends,

Do you sometimes wonder who we are?

For thousands of years humanity has sought the answer to the great question: what it means to know yourself. That’s why knowing yourself is one of the values that guide us.

I sat down with a pen to jot this down to our team, and wanted to share it with you. I sat looking at the blank page a year after bushfires were converging on where we lived, as the pandemic marched on, 16 years after we have sweated the work of building a fairer world, and four years since we took the brave leap to see if we could do that across the planet. I sat down to write this note with anxiety in my heart, watching the US election after four years of living in New York under a Trump presidency, 20 years after studying media and communications, my jaw has been on the ground as I've watched where we gather information move from trusted sources, to a dislocated disrupted wave of unreality. I sat down to write this 18 months after we walked away from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, at a loss with the platforms' inability to offer complex spaces for human beings to have long, deep dialogue, to genuinely build bridges, and we set our sights on writing books, making films, and connecting with people one on one, and in small groups offline because we wanted to keep building a complex social network for good.

And so I wrote this memo to our team and to you.

What's success for us? It's the ideas, the knowledge we acquire. It's our role as mentors.

As I look out at our future, I’m inspired by our potential to do the work and for the work to be enough. I'm inspired by Hilma af Klint who painted for a lifetime, and asked that her work to be kept secret for at least 20 years after her death. She wanted to wait until the world was ready for them.

I think that we are in a trap and we should politely remove ourselves from it.

The trap is called growth. The trap is called more money equalling more success. The trap is called reputation defining worth, not the work itself.

The trap is media, and social media.

The trap is outside of reality.

The trap is New York media empires that promise the world that leads to no Hooded Scholars.

Reality is the Hooded Hustle.

Reality is Hilma and her canvases.

Reality is us contacting a school, asking them if they want some help and giving ROCKET as a stage for them and their kids to rise up, teachers to change their mindsets, and the village to come into the school.

Reality is the books we are writing for IMAGI-NATION {University} - the tools that will last for as long as humankind can read.

Reality is the professors at IMAGI-NATION {University}, working to unlock the knowledge fields of imagination, mentoring, building bridges, flipping the script, hoodie economics and organising change.

Reality is the Mentors in Residence lining up to work with us because they believe in our vision.

Reality is the swathe of people enrolling in IMAGI-NATION {University}.

Reality is IMAGI-NATION {TV} specials that lift the conversation and bring knowledge and value into people’s lives.

Reality is these mailouts which gives you and 70k people a chance to work with us, and the world around you.

Reality is our hoodie.

Reality is the 600 or so Year 12 kids graduating this year, some of whom - called The Class of 2020 - we have made a Graduation Hoodie with and for, our first ever Hero Hoodie which we'll release during NAIDOC next week.

Reality is the job connections we create for those Year 12 kids through the AIME Marketplace.

So my reflection is this.

We are a group of people driven by ARTISTS, PHILOSOPHERS, and DESIGNERS committed to unlocking TOOLS and KNOWLEDGE for the betterment of humanity. That is our reality.

We believe in a free world:  free ideas, free knowledge, free minds.

We started out as a volunteer model, run for free. We do this work because we think it’s the right thing to do, and to ensure that the world’s most marginalised kids get a fair shot at life. At our heart, we started this to create something for the kids - to do something good :) And that’s why we get up every day.

Our ultimate goal is to eventually leave behind an IMAGI-NATION {Library} of tools, from art to books to films, that is free, that doesn’t need maintenance or a staff to organise it, that is something that humankind built for each other, for today, for tomorrow, for all of us.

We are not here for reputation.

We are not here for influence.

We are not here for money.

We are not chasing growth for success.

We are here for meaningful connections.

We are here for change.

We are here to work our butts off to learn, to acquire KNOWLEDGE so we can teach and share that knowledge. We are doing what ARTISTS and PHILOSOPHERS and DESIGNERS do - enter deep wide terrains, uncharted territory. We are drawing lines between the 60,000 years of knowledge we have inherited and the next 60,000 years.

We are driven to make the world better than when we entered it, to make it fairer, and our contribution will be the contribution that is at the heart of mentoring - knowledge.

It is this work that will define us.

We will show impact; we will research the work.

We are kind.

We are driven.

We are artists.

We are here for the long road.

We are striving to make AIME free and the knowledge of the human race free, day in, day out, to do ourselves out of a job, and leave behind tools for the kindness of humans to leave each generation of life on earth stronger than when we entered it.

We are working on knowledge and tools that will last, not for the next 25 minutes, but the next 2,500 years.

We’ll keep those interested updated via IMAGI-NATION {News} and the Humans of {IMAGI-NATION} through our mailing list. And you’ll see us on IMAGI-NATION {TV} wrestling with the big knowledge areas of IMAGI-NATION - Imagination, Mentoring, Building Bridges, Flipping the Script, Hoodie Economics and Organising Change.

You won’t see us on social media, and very rarely in the media. You won’t hear us talking about ourselves at large. Because like Hilma af Klint, we’ll be head down focusing on a lifetime body of work, something that can help us all, and live on beyond us all.

You’ll see a strategy from us for the next three years. It’s to guide us, as goals can do, but not define us. We ain’t a business, we ain’t a smiley faced program; we are a group of humans, working their butts off to organise change. To engage hearts and minds and leave behind a generation of citizens as mentors organising change for a fairer world. 

We believe a small group of committed citizens can change the world and that one by one we’ll get it done.

And so I write to you at this time to say we are going to do our best to make tools for us all, to share what we've learned, to say to kids, "We don't see you as a problem to be fixed but the solution and we'll give you the stage through IMAGI-NATION {University}, ROCKET, our Hoodie, and the stories we tell".

We won't be tempted by growth for someone else's measurement of success. We'll let instant reputational judgements sit in the orbit of whatever world values  eight-second stories, and we'll be working day in, day out on tools for us all to get to work.

Yesterday I sat with a cricked neck on the couch watching TV (maybe brought on via the US election first night results) and once the US had gone to sleep with Biden seemingly moving ahead, I clicked over to watch the original Muppet movie. I watched Kermit and thought of a brave bold Jim Henson who dreamed of a world of kindness, of the best versions of us, of a world of pure imagination. I thought about my time at Kaufman Studios in Queens, looking at the permanent Jim Henson exhibition and being struck with inspiration that puppets were the key to us teaching kids and adults around the world. I thought about yesterday, with our own puppets - The Professors, led by Professor Hope - building their own world of IMAGI-NATION {University}, and as the close of the Muppet movie landed, I was swept up by this sentiment as the heart of our pursuit as well. Over to you Jim, Kermit and friends to close:

"Life's like a movie. Write your own ending. Keep believing, keep pretending. We've done what we set out to do, thanks to the lovers, the dreamers, and you.

Jack Manning Bancroft

AIME Founder

6 November 2020

 

 

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