They sit in a small room on the second floor of a very old building. Five learners sitting on the
paint-covered tile patterned floor. Three of them sit on the narrow metal grated bed with a white
linen cover. The wind blows through the open many paned window. Gusts of spring swirl
through: the smell of green and turned earth, the smell of the stew from the compound’s kitchen--
barley, meat, potatoes. The smell of sunlight drapes over the nine people in the room to mix with
the smell of oil paint, turpentine.
The one chair in the room is slightly broken. It’s back leg is splintered. The small round-
shouldered man with large eyes and red-greying hair uses his body to keep the chair steady. He
leans himself forward to one side as he speaks softly to the listeners. He stops and waves his hand
towards the easel to his left. The bright light coming in from the window behind him obscures the
expressions on his face.
The visitors follow his hand to the canvas. They pay attention to lines of the undercoat painting: a
beginning scene where trees act to define the painting’s horizon. The light passes through, then
out of the room as they hear the telling of how he came to this place, why he is resting and so
tired. There are questions that they will ask but somehow all of them understand in their own
bodies that it is not the time to ask many questions. They feel how eager he is to talk to them
about what he sees, what he understands. They are careful not to interrupt him. Just behind the
building, a bright sound of bells from the bellcote. The whole group startles;; they stretch and look
at one another in surprise from the loud ringing sound.
A woman with a round face wearing a white and grey uniform/dress comes to the doorway. She
smiles motioning them all to come to the monastery’s dining room. Two of the guests walk
towards the disoriented man with the red-greying hair. They each stretch out a hand so that he
might walk with them should he wish to.
These eight visitors will continue with their lesson through the meal noticing smells, tastes, what
they feel or hear, noticing the words they don’t know yet, the textures of what is familiar or not.
They see that some people are in the grey and white clothing; how others are dressed like their
new friend, Vincent who wears a plain white shirt with loose brown pants. Many of the people are
sad and sometimes strange with a laugh or a cry that resounds in the large room of long wooden
tables and fragrant tureens of stew alongside bread, cheeses and wine. Although five hours will
have passed by the time they have to return, it’s a tacit agreement: most of the learners will want
to come back sooner.
They thank their new friend who walks them to the gate. They walk through a doorway of the
learning center of the museum. The compound of 19th century France, a small town near
Provence, fades. The curator, who designed their lesson, is fiddling with a program that she is
tweaking for another group. She looks up and smiles at them as they walk solemnly through her
open source office. It’s a round room with a skylight and its circular wall is filled with a few
interactive flat depictions of places, people, and objects that she will generate in different patterns
by loading specific information according to the various needs of a group.
She sees Celie and calls her over to her working platform. She points out a storyboard that she is
contextualizing around another artist named Marina that she herself had shadowed when she was
a younger learner. Celie gives Carmen a hug and she peers at the panel looking at a horizontal
map of how Marina intersected with people back in 2010. “She’s pretty spread-out isn’t she?”
Carmen points: “Look who she reaches directly. Yes she is a pivotal artist and like so many who
were brought up to think within a very insular environment she speaks to the same crowd of
people who protected themselves from many of the issues our parents had to redress and clean
up-- the societies based upon very different value systems that left a lot of people out. I love her
work because she did something very real in a very disconnected time of museum/art history, but
it’s still very different than who or what an artist is today…
You still on the artist track Celie?” Carmen laughs at herself and her own seriousness.
Carmen knows Celie since Celie was two and wouldn’t leave the museum even when her parent
would pick her up to practically run out the doors with her because Celie could scream so
fervently when she wanted to stay.
Celie: “Yes I am. Did you meet her?”
Carmen answers: “No though I was born in 2008 by the time I was nine that was when the early
phasing and restructuring of shared global community models were emerging alongside the
dissolution of nation-states. It was a very intense learning curve that my parents, your
grandparents I think, were integrating. Museums were coming into their own as you see them in
action today, but at that time they didn’t know what they were or who they were for yet because
historically speaking what they had been was going to be radically different. Everything was
changing-- We had no idea what was going to happen to us as a species.
It took us between ten to fifteen years to figure out the Earth as we know it now-- Pretty fast.
Museums were working to keep up, figuring out where they were going to land and make sense
for everyone concerned. Who knew they would become the glue to just about all communities?
You my friend, never knew anything other than lateral participation. I was born just before
communities all over the world were about to agree we had to move from hierarchy to inclusive
participation. They had had enough. That was when all systems and communities around the
world reviewed what worked and didn’t work and found common agreements of what the value
of our lives is about regardless of cultural differences. Of course, this understanding is a work in
Dumi interrupts. “Hey Celie are you coming?” And Celie squeezes Carmen’s shoulder and
hurries over to her cohort waiting in the next room.
Usually after an intense time of focused group learning this particular group will go to work in the
communal garden, or greenhouse. A few today are tired and opt to rest or do something quiet
before their next activity outside. Celie and Dumi decide they need a break and they decide to
race along a path through the woods to a vista to see if the eagles were nesting yet.
Today each of them needs to physically expel some of what was unsettling about the place, Saint
Paul-de-Mausole. None of them had ever heard stories or even conceived of a sanitarium.
This group is mature enough to learn hard things about how the Earth was managed before, how
infrastructures and societal norms were heavy handed in terms of expectations and limitations
toward many of its peoples. That’s why Carmen introduces them to Vincent towards the end of
his lifetime. She understands that they are ready to learn something unpleasant that will help
guide their choices and interests in good ways.
Before they leave the museum each member enters a room by themselves and does a simple
recording of what their first impressions were from that morning’s experience:
What they learned, what surprised them, what they want to pursue that they want to
understand more about, and also a reflection of anything different inside their own
sense of themselves--who they are now.
It’s a process that is part of their daily rhythm. These younger learners work together in a
structured/designed way three days a week. Each of them has a record of themselves that is theirs,
that they also archive at the museum-- It is their museum after all.
While they are alive they can share it or not. These reflections are a way for all the people to see
themselves, to learn from their own learning. It’s also a repository of experiences as experiences
are things that people from all over the Earth collect and build from in the year 2040.
These personal time-lines are also for the future peoples/communities: if there is a need to learn
from the people in the present, everyone is willing to share their lives with the people of the
future. Even when children are young (though people will continue with formal intensive
learning-experiencing-sharing their whole lives) no one knows what gifts are emerging through
any human being: all stories and the layering of stories is critical to the honoring of the past, to
the present, and to the future.
It was an incredible reframe that the world undertook with unforeseeable good will, a reframe that
the elders still talk about as a global miracle.
In truth what happened back in 2017 was that people all over the Earth begin to understand that
the latent potentials in all human beings were alive and that with these gifts used together, people
would find pathways to jibe in successful matrixes of responses toward the undeniable problems
that laced and damaged all infrastructures and living systems across the Earth. A shared
conclusion was experienced: people understood relationships are more important than objects.
This 180 turnaround and the simultaneous recognition through all sectors of human life brought
about what a museum would be and what learning was to a human life.
It couldn’t have been more fortuitous that many indigenous peoples from around the world gifted
viable meaningful community models that were “translated” across the Earth. These models
helped communities shift to practices where they would willingly, respectfully share and
replenish resources as learning-experiencing took the place of owning. Overnight people found
that there was enough for everyone and all that was damaged began to heal.
It’s evening and Celie is home.
“I like Vincent, he’s a great painter and he paints so alone. He’s confused. Sometimes it hurts to
listen to him talk. He sees beauty, even though he doesn’t trust it, even though they were so mean
“Are you sure you want him to guide you next year?” Celie’s mom asks.
“Yeah. I want to know everything I can about the France region, that land, and their art. I want to
learn how they saw color, the way they lived. They sure eat good food.”
Celie’s mom smiles. She knows her daughter eats enough for three people-- She’s growing so
“Something about his sadness and the fact that he’s so lonely. He looks at everything like art so I
think he’d be a good guide and I’m pretty sure we’ll teach each other. I’ll talk it over with Lodi.
She hasn’t decided yet where she will focus her one-on one program next year. I want to see how
my study will fit in with hers. After all we are learning buddies across the planet since forever.”
The system of multi-support simultaneous learning and sharing platforms both local and global
were well established by the time Celie was born. Her mom recognizes that this next generation
of human beings understands something before they turn ten;; things that she herself was only
beginning to feel.
“I like him mom. He’s soulful, he doesn’t know he’s remembered. He didn’t have any friends.
It’s so weird that people can live so alone and still make something beautiful. Who would I be if I
didn’t have everybody that I love-- I don’t think I would even try.”
Who would we be indeed? Celie’s mom hugs her daughter.