Saturday, April 7, 2012

What's the Story of the RadJoy Bird?

A friend asked me recently about our Radical Joy for Hard Times symbol, a bird, sometimes depicted flying into trouble spots, or a thorny graphic depiction of trouble spots. It's actually a wonderful story.

At our very first board meeting, right after RadJoy was formed in the spring of 2009, one of our members brought art supplies and we stuck pieces of paper together, then all worked together in silence for about an hour, moving around the paper, drawing, writing, adding to what others had done... with the intention of coming up with our collective vision in a non-verbal way. When we finished, we brought the painting outside to a little park across the street. We couldn't make any sense of it at all. Then one man stood on a picnic table, and suddenly exclaimed, "It's a bird!" And then we saw it: a crazy bird facing all the dark stuff of wounded places and flying into it, singing.

So that bird became our symbol. It arose out of our collective unconscious. On a more general scale, birds remind us of transcendence. They keep on singing no matter what's going on. They make their homes in all kinds of places. (Once in an abandoned weapons testing site in Florida, I saw swallows nesting in the artillery holes in the cliffs.) Also, the bird is a symbol that is recognizable and relateable to people of all cultures.