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Innovate Berkeley Social Dinner: Marco Cochrane

Peggy Reskin
Peggy Reskin
Peggy Reskin

The Impact Hub Berkeley hosted the Innovate Berkeley Social Dinner last night and what a rich and exciting evening it was, gratifying on every level. The excitement about Marco Cochrane who would be featured with his wife, Julia to talk about Truth as Beauty in The Bliss Project of Burning Man. Inspired artists, creative thinkers and social activists, Burning Man artists all came together as a scrumptious dinner prepared feet away and visible to all by Amy Murray, Chief and Owner of Revival Bar and Restaurant. Four years ago, Amy brought her significant palette, polished and refreshing original menu of organic local sustainable food from which each offering is presented. As Chef of Revival and Venus in Berkeley, Amy has brightened and expanded the availability of a great dinner in downtown Berkeley born of visiting 26 countries to expand her rich sense of flavor and taste which she brings to her menu. Each course is imaginative and enjoyed as we mingle, and move toward the presentation for the evening.

James Hanusa, co founder of Innovate Berkeley opens the evening presentation with an introduction of Marco. Marco Cochrane with his wife Julia Whitelaw Cochrane, a collaborative attorney in Marin and partner to Marco as interviewer began with Marco quickly as he quickly gets to the heart of his work and his message, and his life:

“What would it be like in the world if women felt safe and what would it take to have women feel safe?” Known for his series Truth is Beauty in The Bliss Project of Burning Man, Marco's ‘Woman’ made from mesh wire a 55 foot essence and form of a woman reaching with every inch of herself toward the sky. She is felt as well as seen, and celebrated at Burning Man’s annual celebration in the desserts of Nevada.

Marco is speaking at the Innovate Berkeley event at the Impact Hub Berkeley as creative artists, writers, welders, designers and mostly people excited about life and its possibilities gather for his presentation. Marco describes himself as the child of hippie parents raised in Berkeley in his early years. He was introduced to antiwar and feminism viewpoints and by age 7 was aware and sensitive to the possibility of the need for radical change from that young age. He was aware of the insanity of war and saw how people treated each other and wondered why and what that was about from early age. His radical question also comes from the attention and focus not just on the inches and hills and valleys of a woman’s body in the process of sculpturing the Truth is Beauty series, but noticing the silence, the holding back, the absence of exposure behind the unspoken speaking by women around him.

Marco’s question “What would it take to have women feel safe” brings to mind that because of their silence, the withdrawal of their presence, humanity has less to work with. Marco expresses the value that women feeling safe and free to express would make their feminine energy to the world. He has observed his response, his speaking is available to him, and that is not the case with women. He observes that men don’t need to have permission to speak, that men fear other men, knowing they carry so much aggression from fear of survival, they sense it in other men. The violence against women, rape and abuse he describes as a coping mechanism to keep women silent. The effect is to shut down women.

“We need the direction from women that would make the world a different place.” He does not mention specifically what we all know if we read the newspapers. We have a world where rape and assault, not just in far off worlds, but in our military, in our universities, in our churches, in our schools are constantly being revealed. The revelations generally come through exposure by a woman who at significant cost to herself and often under duress speaks out. The different energy that women contribute and its potential to the world is where the world will find its answers is what Marco’s words convey, and it will come through women feeling safe.

If women felt safe, their silence would end and the feminine energy of connectedness, transparency, creative possibilities would be available to the world, and is needed. Marco points out. Women feeling safe did not come through the feminist movements or the hippie movements of the 60’s, 70’s or 80’s, he asserts. Marcos is intent on the challenge of having women feel safe being taken up by all. The implication is that everyone who wants to see the end of violence against women and in the world needs to be up for the job. He suggests “Do it because it’s the right thing to do. Do it because it’s fun, not generosity,” emphasizing the difference.

“Its going to take all of us to do it,” Marco says in closing. In saying all of us, there is the implication that that means women as well as men making it safe for women I’m thinking. Women making it safe for women to speak out is the basis for women’s groups and the trust that builds there. But out here in life, in the office, meeting or social event-with our daughters- making it safe for other women is our job as women certainly would be true. Women know the women in their lives who make it safe for them and trust them.

Marco has traveled around countries far and wide to speak to people about Truth is Beauty, his magnificent sculptures celebrating the beauty and spirit of women, but it seems that his quest is in making it safe for women, and what that can contribute to humanity. The connection is clear. The job is out there for each of us is what we are left with as we leave the evening at the Innovate Berkeley Dinner presentation. Amy and Revival has filled us with excellent food, and our minds and hearts are a great deal richer than when we entered because the opening provided by Marcos. That opening is an opening is as high and solid as the 55 foot sculpture Woman - and then some.

Note: Saturday July 19th 11-9 PM Berkeley Civic Center SPARK 2.0 Arts and Technology Festivale: all are welcome. Take the link for description of the day.

Innovate Berkeley hosted by: The Impact Hub Berkeley

2150 Allston Way-David Brower Center

Berkeley, CA 94704

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