World Congress XIV: The Venue

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As was mentioned previously, World Congress planning is fully underway, with each task (in all of its enormity) being evaluated, broken down, and addressed. At the Wings Meeting last month, multiple stakeholders got together to familiarize themselves with the area and its facilities and to establish a framework for making decisions about the congress. The meeting itself felt unprecedented in its spirit of harmony and collaboration, and everyone felt that this congress has unique potential as a transformative moment for Subud in the world – one that will enable the organization to flower and the latihan to flourish. Present at the meeting were representatives from different wings (including Susila Dharma, SICA, and SYAI), the Muhammad Subuh Foundation, the World Council (the Chair – Luke Penseney, Executive Chair – Maxwell Fraval, and Executive Vice Chair – Maya Korzybska), and the World Congress Organizing Team (WCOT).  To help convey the significance of what came out of the meeting, though, instead of describing the meeting itself, I would rather like to paint the whole picture so that the context allows you to experience it, too.  In this and more posts to come, I will tell you about each of the different aspects of the congress and how they developed over the course of the meeting, from food and accommodation to highlighted parts of the program. Let’s start by talking a little bit about the venue, shall we?

Scenes close to Puebla

Scenes close to Puebla

Puebla itself is a world heritage site. Nestled among the foothills of Central Mexico with regal volcanoes watching over, Puebla is one of the capitals of Mexican culture. It is known for having a church on every corner – so many that a person can go to a different one everyday for a year without repeating. The central square, “el Zocalo,” is a plaza (with free wi-fi, by the way) that basks in the splendor of the main cathedral, built by the Spaniards in the 1600s.

Delicious salsas - why not add them all to your taco?

Delicious salsas – why not add them all to your taco?

There are pedestrian streets lined with colorful shops, and cheap, delicious food on every corner. Salsas and juices are fresh and titillating. Ever had grilled cactus flower? “Nopales” are a tasty complement to tacos and salads, and are apparently one of the healthiest foods on the planet (not scientifically proven, to my knowledge – just hearsay I’m willing to accept!). There are vintage consignment shops, ceramics studios, luxury movie theaters, and plazas where Mariachi bands play as you enjoy your lunch. A busy city, Puebla is alive at all hours, and as a young, single woman, I can tell you from my own experience – having visited Puebla two times, now! – that it is absolutely safe and quiet even for people alone out at night.

Local artisans making handicrafts with thousands of tiny beads

Local artisans making handicrafts with thousands of tiny beads

The congress will be held at the convention center in downtown Puebla. There are large rooms for big latihans and the plenary meetings, some smaller rooms for breakout sessions and testing, a small auditorium, and fabulous outdoor space in the way of a central plaza and an attached large, almost boardwalk-like balcony. Next to the convention center is a beautiful park, and while it’s not suitable for sports playing, its gardens and lounging areas make it an attractive spot to spend time outdoors. Next to the park and convention center are a large school – which was once a monastery – and spacious gallery. The school has tons of rooms that the administration has graciously agreed to open up for our use, as well as three large

On the way to Puebla from Mexico City, a short 2 hour bus ride

On the way to Puebla from Mexico City – a short two-hour bus ride

courtyards and even a dance studio. The gallery is a beautiful, open space that SICA already has brilliant ideas for. There are lots of other venues, as well, including the first theater built in the Americas, which boasts full lighting capabilities and balcony seating; a building belonging to the city administration that offers potential rehearsal and performance spaces; and a lane that trolls through downtown Puebla, cobblestoned and quaint, lined with nooks for artists’ stalls: “la Plaza de los Artistas,” which predictably translates to “the Artists’ Place.” With the collaborative spirit that the city has shown us so far, there are ample spaces for Subud to use to allow the congress – and all its participants – full expression.

Stay tuned for the next post, where I’ll describe what food and accommodation will be like at the congress.  And don’t forget to “like” the World Congress’s Facebook page!

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