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What Happened‽ So what‽ Now what‽

2011 Gregorian. Such a quiet year for the Omphalos.

Even before New Year’s a year past, this blog had begun a mostly uninterrupted slumber beginning in 2009, what with most of my activity focused on directing the Open Siddur Project (2009-present), studying at Yeshivat Hadar (2009-2010), teaching with the Teva Learning Alliance (2010-2011), studying Hebrew and pedagogy in the Experiential Education program in the Davidson School of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (2011-present), and currently, studying the complexity of modern Israel along with more Hebrew in the Kesher Ḥadash program of the Davidson School.

Most of these activities were documented publicly semi-privately via my twitter, Facebook,‎ and Google+ accounts, with all the caveats that proprietary social networks provide for archiving and redistributing creativity. Over the next few months, I hope to look back over the last few years and share publicly whatever output I’ve produced privately that might be worthwhile to share.

Through this effort I hope to document and construct a somewhat coherent narrative of my work since I left post-hurricane Louisiana after working there as an urban/environmental/GIS planner 2006-2008. Privately, I tell variations of this story to friends without the benefit of illustrations, but with the benefit of long walks and digressions. I think it’s time I explain myself, in the manner of Italo Calvino’s Marco Polo in Invisible Cities — with pantomime, gesticulation, unexplicated esotericism, and a translation that relies entirely on your patience and interest. Before my Kublai Khan, I have to present endless yarns spun from ever accumulating navel lint, an assemblage of obtuse details the connection of one to the other might otherwise seem ponderous, but I hope not pretentious. So bare with me, please.

I still hope to work and contribute as an urban/environmental planner, public historian and educator. I still harbor sage-like aspirations. I’m still hopelessly entangled in a great vein of string spun by others to document their own progress through the vast labyrinth of psychedelic and gnostic insight. Freedom, compassion, creativity, and awareness remain the touchstones of my intention, the grounding for my empathy and the foundation of my commitment in my work. Twelve years ago I learned some wonderful things while bicycling along the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia and the consequence of this gnosis is that I now can’t help but see prisons and cages everywhere. Facilitating creative activities, constructing open spaces, helping to recover lost wisdom — these express my intentions. And I’m still searching for that loose alliance of friends who share these objectives in bringing more people into the next age.

About Aharon N. Varady


Aharon’s Omphalos is the hobbit hole of Aharon Varady, founding director of the Open Siddur Project. He is a community planner and environmental educator working to improve stewardship of the Public Domain, be it the physical and natural commons of urban park systems or the creative and cultural commons of libraries and museums. His advocacy for open-source strategies in the Jewish community has been written about in the Atlantic Magazine, Tablet, and Haaretz. He is particularly interested in pedagogies for advancing ecological wisdom, developing creative and emotional intelligence, and realizing effective theurgical praxes . He welcomes your comments, personal messages, and kind words.

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