Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Working on Whiteness

I ran my first ever Working on Whiteness introduction conversation/workshop last night and I want to share many of the details. I want this to be the beginning of much more work of this nature, and so I want to explain it thoroughly so more people will feel compelled to attend, and will invite those who won’t be able to come to the conclusion for themselves.

I have made a deliberate choice to keep this work exclusively white. Ironically, POC are more comfortable and supportive of this. Friends I have spoken to have articulated how being black and having to explain over and over what their pain and anger looks and feels like to white people is exhausting and often futile. It is my opinion that white people need to do a lot of work before entering into the conversation on diversity. White people need better tools and more information to have those conversations. We need to start before those.

Anyway. The lead up to last night’s workshop was an invitation through email and on Facebook and Linked in to all white friends, connections, colleagues, associates and friends of friends, who live (or found themselves) in Cape Town to attend. I think I shared it personally with over 1000 people. Many people contacted me to say that they thought it sounded good but they were previously engaged/out of town and couldn’t make this one but would still like to come if there ever was another one. There will be.

There were eight participants. The evening was divided into improv games, storytelling exercises and facilitated conversation. And it was a gentle start in the right direction. Of course, the people in the room were already conscious that there were issues like racism, white privilege, white guilt, systemic racism and virtue signalling. What we unpacked was some of that.

We are like trapeze artists who could fall into the traps at any time. It is a lot of hard work, constant reflection, and deep listening to hear, see, feel, and stay on it and in it.

An earnest desire helps, but we have to keep pushing ourselves into the uncomfortable place of this work.

Here is some of what participants had to say.

“There is often resistance to having this kind of conversation informally in a group and if the subject of ‘whiteness’ comes up, the conversation can often become quite defensive.

I wondered (worried about) what would be asked of me in a workshop like this. I had been thinking in the privacy of my own mind about myself as a white person. The thought of going to a workshop to unpack whiteness was confronting, but I decided to go.

I am very glad I did. It was hugely worthwhile. Megan held the group expertly and led us though a number of really easy and fun exercises which were designed help us begin this conversation.

Once we began the conversation to look at our/my whiteness, it felt really easy and natural to do so in the environment that had been created. The feeling in the room felt very comfortable to me.

It was amazing to hear the thoughts of others in the group and good to share my own”. – L.S.

“When you finish a two-hour workshop and race conversation with a group of ten white people saying they could continue for another hour and want to sign up for an ongoing course, you know something special has happened. Megan Furniss’ ability to hold uncomfortable spaces gently while firmly pushing into the tough areas that desperately need to be talked about is key to this much-needed work. It was just the tip of a very large iceberg, but the fact that people paid to be in the room and were engaged for two hours with no sign of wanting to leave or stall was testimony to what we need to see so much more of.” B. A

Contact me if you want to start this, or even continue with this work.

Industrial theatre, storytelling, improv news

I am currently working on a 15 minute industrial theatre play around AIDS and HIV awareness. I have written the script and it is really entertaining. It has to be. Audiences have terrible AIDS awareness fatigue. This two-hander has a delicious format, really cute characters, and it is very honest and forthright. It has been commissioned by a client, but I would love to sell it on to anyone who wants to do something for AIDS day on December 1. Let me know if you’d like more info, or would like to book it.

I am also doing beautiful storytelling workshops. Improv and personal narrative come together in this fun, moving and connecting space, where people get to know themselves and each other better.

And of course there is pure improv. You need this in your workspace to revolutionise how you work as a team, be co-creative and understand how important it is to be present and and an active listener.

Lastly, and deeply personally, I am offering tarot readings, either in person or over Skype. Email me to book an appointment for this lovely, focussed look at an area of your life.

All queries on megan@improvision.co.za

A Dream of a Beach

(A semi-true story. The feelings are real.)

I feel the pull back to familiarity. There is a soft, furry body lying alongside me. Early risers; those getting children to school or off early to miss the worst of the traffic slam car doors or call loudly from the street to someone still inside.

 

I keep my eyes closed, not ready to let go of the feelings of my dream even though the images are still to coalesce in my mind. Loss. Longing.

 

I dreamed of a beach.

 

I was on my way home, walking through familiar streets, totally confident that I knew the way. I greeted passers-by and smiled and waved. And then I took a different path between two pale and old buildings, following a kitten who had looked at me with recognition on its dirty ginger face.

 

Then I was staring at a beach.

 

I remember thinking in my dream that my street had been close to the sea, right up until a hundred years ago. Woodstock Beach had been filled with swimmers, fishermen and strollers. I remember seeing black and white photos suspended on metal wires in a trendy, retro craft gin store. And I remembered this in my dream. I remembered that I drive on Beach Road.

 

In my dream this was Woodstock Beach. Accessible only to me. I alone knew that it was right there, a few metres from home. Nobody in today’s world would ever find it. It was safe. Our secret.

 

Between the grey, crumbling dolosse birds had made nests. A white whale skeleton formed a ghost wedding arch in the sand. Gentle, pretty seaweed and crusty mussels grew in a rockpool. Another was filled with giant purple and ruby red gem stones. I looked down at my feet making soft dunes where I walked. At the water’s edge I turned around to look back. The city was a smouldering, crumbling urban monster. It was exploding in a disorganisation of more building, more development, more greed.

 

I saw an old woman wave at me from under the frame of a beach umbrella. She looked like she had always been there although I had only noticed her in that moment.

 

I wanted to stay. I started taking my clothes off to get into the water but up close the surface was densely packed with completely transparent plastic bottles.

 

“You can walk on it, but you can’t swim” yelled the woman. Now she was surrounded by crime tape, held by four estate agent boards. She stood up and I saw her police uniform.

 

I thought about leaving and my heart shuddered. If I left I would never find this secret Woodstock beach again. I started scooping the sand in my hand, the damp sand. Could I build a house here? There was nothing to make it with. A hole. I would dig a hole.

A Poem for My Gran and the World

My gran

A long Craven A cigarette with two centimetres of ash

Hanging, hands free, from her lip

Would say

“Too terrible”

When she would recount the hopeless relationships

In the soapies she followed.

“Too terrible” was also for the callers who phoned in

to talk shows with their incurable aches and pains.

My gran could relate.

She said “too terrible” about the food at the function

Which was mostly inedible – she had tried all the cakes to make sure.

And a special, drawn out “too terrible” was reserved

For the fashions of the day, worn by me

The first-born grandchild with “a mind of her own, mind you”.

“Too terrible” was for how she felt after a restless night,

Or how the Joburg summer heat made sweat bead on her upper lip

Or darken her silk neckline.

And it was “too terrible” the way people were treated,

Or the way others drove, or hooted, or slammed on brakes.

 

My gran, whose telephone voice

And jewellery box, and teiglach I miss

Managed to capture a helpless, hilarious, and most deep humanity

In those words, “too terrible”

It’s “too terrible for words”.

Aquafaba Meringue

I thought I would tell you about my latest vegan hack. I have tried, and failed at aquafaba meringues a few times (also aquafaba chocolate mousse), but yesterday’s attempt was my most successful. They were a little over baked, but they didn’t flop, stick, slide, burn or bubble into a lava mess and I think I know why.

For the first time ever I used the aquafaba from a can of Woolworths organic chickpeas, so there was no added salt, or stabiliser or anything else, just water. The aquafaba was gloopy, which is good, apparently.

All I did was whip the aquafaba, add a mix of castor and brown sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla essence, and bake for 1.5 hours on 120°c. Next time I will make the oven cooler.

Here is a pic of the last three.

Beautiful Cabbage Salad

I just made this beautiful vegan cabbage salad and it is too good not to share.

The ingredients are; a small baby cabbage, shredded, a sliced stick of table celery, sliced sugar snap peas, grated raw turnip, fresh sliced green chillies, a few sliced dates, a spoonful of cocoa nibs, and sunflower seeds. The dressing is olive oil, white vinegar and lemon juice, with salt and pepper. It is so fresh and good.

Off to eat it now.

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