Children and artists in the Butterfly Peace Garden of Batticaloa, Sri Lanka, created their own teaching toys and practices during a decade of civil war, economic insecurity and environmental devastation. They uplifted the spirits of a whole community in distress and, coincidentally, inspired development of the Out-of-the-Box curriculum repurposed in Playing for Real to correspond with contemporary North American realities.
Here in Canada we have welcomed significant numbers of migrants and refugees. There are also many homeless youths living rough in the streets and parks, some born here, others not. Just look wherever you don’t want to see the sorrows of the world and there you will find them, sorrowful young souls wandering lost in the city, seeing no future for themselves in a doomed planet.
The future belongs to the young. If we lose them we lose everything. So we choose to dream of a future of caring for the earth and love for one another. The Garden Path Out-of-the-Box Curriculum nurtures this dream.
York University’s Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research has challenged us to renew the original Garden Path Out-of-the-Box Curriculum from Batticaloa to address the needs of youth in Toronto and other urban settings. This book is a response to that challenge.
“The exercises in this book are a rehearsal. Just as a snake sheds its skin, a person little by little sheds timidity, fear, loneliness and anxiety by acknowledging and embracing it, thereby transforming into a new person, the one they really want to be. Going through this process we realize that these perilous times are not the end of everything but the dawning of a new day of light and hope.
“If you understand this, then get the book and start playing for real. If you don’t understand it, all the more reason to get the book.” – from the foreword by Father Paul Satkunanayagam SJ
Beautiful Nonsense follows one man’s meander re-inventing the real in a dystopian world increasingly defined by speed and a deluge of digital distractions. Paul Hogan is an artist from Canada who has worked for forty years with image, story, myth and theatre in creative collaboration with forgotten and marginalized people at home and abroad. Starting with apparitional street theatre in Toronto in the early 70’s he helped develop gardens of healing for physically challenged children in Canada and for youth affected by war, natural disaster and genocide in Sri Lanka and Cambodia. He now works with the Garden Path “Project Phoenix” in Sri Lanka and with local artists in Toronto adapting his Out-of-the-Box Curriculum to contemporary North American conditions.
“Before meeting Paul Hogan at the Butterfly Peace Garden in Sri Lanka I had seen many children’s trauma programs. But never had I seen one that so completely embraced the non-rational imagination of children in the service of healing. Paul has created a therapeutic process for all time, a portable Garden experience that can be used with traumatized children throughout the world.
“Read this book. Enjoy its stories. Allow your imagination to resonate with the images. Then apply it to the treatment of children everywhere.” – from the preface by Rev. Dr. John R. Van Eenwyk