Words & activation by Yana Papaya.
Tree creation by Victoria Karaman.
Photography by Vladimir Lebedev and Tanya Perova.
The word that can make you feel shiver or at peace.
Family is a social foundation that shapes us all, gives us wings or cuts them down. It stimulates the growth, teaches self-love, proves that no one is perfect. That in return helps to define who you really are, so you may move on with your life without looking back. But if you turn back, the sense of pride and gratitude for what family gave to you would come upon you. Those family gifts are different, some of them are spiced with old memories or unresolved issues, others are filled with endless joy and love.
The world literature poetically explained the role of family gifts in people’s life. Leo Tolstoy said that “happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Bernard Shaw suggested a more cheerful outlook on how we can view the genetic code: “If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.” Others prefer to define the family in not blood-related terms, but more leaning towards those people who make us feel at home. “The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.” ― Richard Bach
Despite the highs and lows, heartbreaks and unconditional love that family gives us, here at Papaya Stories we think it’s important to acknowledge the role of families in our modern lives. It’s important to acknowledge the past no matter how dirty or pure it looks like. It’s important to do to that work, so you get to know yourself better, realise your patterns and wired scenarios, so you may evolve with compassion and won’t repeat the same mistakes in your own family life. It’s important to let go of expectations, take responsibility, forgive wholeheartedly and feel gratitude. That’s what family teaches us.
During the turbulent times, when change is the only thing that is constant, when the cult for individualism is taking over and 50% of marriages end up in separation, it’s important to go back to basics and understand the concept of family. New definitions might occur, but as long as the idea of family doesn’t turn into phantom, we can come together to celebrate it and acknowledge one another.
That was the key idea of our latest activation we worked together with the Wynyard Quarter Placemaking team at Panuku. Inspired by Whanau, Aiga, Family, our Family Tree was be planted on Te Wero Island on Wednesday 15th – 17th of May 2019 to celebrate the International Day of Families along with the International Day of Light, Living in Peace.
Have a listen at the podcast (click the link below), where Leehane Stowers from Panuku Placemaking Team talks about the meaning of the International Day of Families, role of placemaking initiatives, her work life balance, heroes and “sheroes”.
The Family Tree – a three day symbolic placemaking activation offered an opportunity for all to share their whakapapa, stories of their ancestors, roots, where they come from as well as reflect on what family means and looks like to them. We transformed the public space into a place of honour, pride and respect for all generations, cultures and people with the help of our handmade conceptual Family Tree created by talented Victoria Karaman.
The idea behind the tree was simple. Our colourful branches represent New Zealand past ancestors, multicultural society of the present day and future generations. Despite different colours and patterns on the tree, the branches look the same from the inside. Same applies to people, despite our external differences, we are all the same underneath – human beings who crave belonging, connection and love. Standing together, reaching out for light and growth, we can achieve the real equilibrium.
We invited everyone to be a part of this activation by sharing a family story, photo or small note about their cultural or family rootes. Those stories turned into the leaves that brought much more meaning and beauty to the life of tree. It was very special to see how many people from different walks in life felt encouraged to share their story. When the beauty meets your eye and the message hits your heart, no language barriers, socio-economic background really matters. Love wins.
The cozy storytelling corner with The Family Tree on the front yard welcomed over 50 people including international families from Cuba, America, Australia, England, Russia, China, France, South Africa, Samoa, Cook Islands who felt “home” far away from home. There were some Kiwi stories as well, including the special birthday ones when we sang “Happy Birthday Song” to celebrate 84th, 14th and 36th birthdays 😉
Sharing personal stories that navigate us through the sea of uncertainty, is a very personal journey, but it does make us feel more grounded and interconnected.Our tree brought so much colour to the Te Wero Island and strangers who shared their stories and happy smiles with us. Those strangers somehow become our special family. Some of them got captured on the photo lens that we are happy to share with you.
The Family Tree Installation is a great way to bring diverse people together, celebrate cultural diversity, unity and reciprocity. It’s a great way to transform the public spaces and bring more colour and joy to people and places.
We are keen to see what sort of magic our Tree can bring to your space, event or community. Get in touch with us to talk about it further – email: firstname.lastname@example.org
More photos from the event can be found here.