Why are Process Philosophers Going to China?
See also Paul Bube's Creative Localization: Ecological Civilization in Rural China,
Annie Ingram's It All Starts with Dancing: How the Environmental Humanities can Learn from China, and
Stephen Field's Environmental Education: Learning from China for a more complete picture of emerging hopes.
We returned to the Whitehead kindergarten in Beijing and had a tour. This is a remarkable facility. It is a private school that will serve about 200 students as I recall. They integrate creativity, hands-on education, interaction—all based on Whitehead’s philosophy of education. I hope we can go back after it opens. Each of us was asked to write something in a scrapbook for the dedication. I wrote: “Wisdom of the past; creativity in the present; hope for the future.” In many ways, those words sum up my entire experience of what is going on in China.
Partial Transcript of Interview
Jay: So, my name is Jay. What is your name?
Liu Qiao Zhen: My name is Liu Qiao Zhen.
Jay: I would like for you to write that down. Thank you.
Jay: What work do you do at the academy?
Liu Qiao Zhen: I’m a long term volunteer. I help with housing, food, etc.
Jay: Why is this important to you? What do you like about the academy?
Liu Qiao Zhen: In the beginning I didn’t know the importance of Chines culture. After I attended a lecture on what is a happy life I realized that a happy life and harmony could come from Chinese culture and agriculture.
Jay: Do other members of your family work here?
Liu Qiao Zhen: My father-in-law, my husband, and I are long term volunteers.
Jay: Has working here given you new ideas?
Liu Qiao Zhen: Yes, family harmony and ecological awareness are very important.
Jay: Where were you born?
Liu Qiao Zhen: In the second of the three natural villages.
Jay: What kind of schooling have you had?
Liu Qiao Zhen: I graduated junior high school.
Jay: Did you like school? Was it hard?
Liu Qiao Zhen: I didn’t like school because of all the memorization.
Jay: Is the academy more exciting and creative?
Liu Qiao Zhen: Yes.
Jay: What is your view of America?
Liu Qiao Zhen: America has a great economy.
Jay: What do you do for fun?
Liu Qiao Zhen: Plaza dancing.
Jay: Imagine your village five years from now—what will it be like?
Liu Qiao Zhen: (face lit up with enthusiasm) My husband and I will develop our own land, three acres, with organic farming and set an example for other farmers. City folk can come here and find the chi of the earth.
Jay: I hope you are proud of what you’re doing here
Process philosophers are going to China because they are looking for concrete hope. A concrete hope is a living experiment in ecological civilization, undertaken by people who draw from the best of their past in order to create a more sustainable future for themselves and others. The people can do it in rural villages and in kindergartens. Process philosophers believe the philosophy of Whitehead can support such concrete hopes, but they know the hopes are as important as the philosophy. This is what Paul Bube had in mind as he spent two weeks in China in the summer of 2014. He shares a journal from six days of the two weeks. If you are curious about rural China, or just need a little concrete hope, please enjoy:
Six Days in China