"View from my window" was originally created to connect people from all over the world during the Corona lockdown, by sharing their views on a FB group. The project was launched by Barbara Duriau on March 23rd, 2020. If you haven't had a look at the group please do so now, you will thank me later. It is an extraordinary collection of window views, simple, unedited, portraying the sight made available within the basic rectangular frame of the poster's window. These windows for a while were the only extension any of us could afford towards the world outside. Yet, because of this limitation, we also learnt to appreciate them very much, to be overly joyful about the small changes conceded by weather and seasons, or by the passing of the hours in long days that seemed all too similar to one another.
The collection spans from grandiose expanses in the plains of Tennessee, to the stunning megacity's beehives of Bangladesh, going through suburban concrete backyards in Germany, lush gardens in South Africa and post industrial rooftops views in the UK.
The group was born on Facebook, not on Instagram, a good hint that the photos are not meant to be "performative" in any way, but rather intimate, rather an innocent gesture to share one's whereabouts, familiar places, in an equal exchange, without winners and losers. And maybe precisely because of this not a single photo fails to capture fully our attention: we feel almost immediately what the person in that room must feel, we have an immediate impulse of compassion, of recognition: if we could, we would look at them and smile, shake hands, and say thanks, thanks for inviting me, your place is beautiful, I see why you love it, I see why you call it home. I was myself awed by some of the pictures, and flabbergasted by others. But that sense of intimacy, given by the gaze of the one taking the photo, that was common to all my reactions, allowing me to almost see, touch, the dignity of someone's else life.
We tend to forget how many good things we learnt about ourselves, humanity, our vulnerability, our dreams and our place on the planet, during the 2 years of pandemic.
In many ways we were reminded of how much we need to consider the uniquiness of each one of us (the toll of deaths in everyone's proximity made this painfully clear), the vastity of this diversity, yet the basic ground of our shared existential needs, and the importance of not losing even a single specimen of this variety no matter what we do.
Back to working life, now approaching a new turn of the wheel, the first winter without a global pandemic, yet with persistent wars around the globe, famine and so many lives in all biological kingdoms being lost every day, we should really retain (or refresh) the hyper sensitivity we matured during these last years: when we collaborate, envision strategies, make plans, establish processes and regulate work dynamics, we can question with our whole heart what it means to place everyone involved in a condition of harmony and balance, to aknowledge the preciousness of each unique point of view, and really add up rather than averaging down. And we could then expand from our inner organisational works, to the outer impact of our vision, of our alliances, our pledges, our stance towards the world at large, its economics, politics, values: are we still always and in all cases preserving what we came here to save? Is that basic dignity of each and everyone's life (human and not, similar or different, close or far) guiding every action we take?
In the "Books of Lives" which followed the FB group's postings, you can discover everyday an infinitesimal corner of this beautiful planet as seen by just one of its human inhabitants: the diversity, the intimacy of each different prospective, the richness of it all, the beauty, the harmony even in chaos, and the distance, seemingly separating us but making our voices sigh for the same reasons.
I rejoice thinking that the person who posted, from that room, and the people who click and like, feel this exact same simple, yet fulfilling, recognition.
This helps me regaining trust and gratitude, feeling part of a whole that is good, not bad, and reminds me that my hands are joined to those of everyone else, my fellow humans, no matter how different and far from me, all trying to create, and all searching for, the same peace and the same love.
Maybe you find it a simple, beautiful thing, that can be useful to you too.
"VFMW is a unique way to see the world through the personal lens of ordinary people, from the mundane to the glorious. Behind every picture is the story of an ordinary person, his outlook on life.
Everyone is a member of a real human chain whose members hold hands as a sign of solidarity, support, benevolence... VFMW is just someone’s little corner of our world.
The very first View from my window Exhibition will take place in Brussels, Belgium, from March 24th, 2022 till May 29th, 2023!
M.G. Testa is an Executive, Mentor and Advisor. She lives in Amsterdam, leading organisations and people in transition since 1998. You can reach her here.