Vedran performs again in Sarajevo

April 6, 2012

Vedran Smailovic had not performed in his hometown of Sarajevo for twenty years.

Yesterday, April 5, marked the 20th anniversary of the shelling of that city and Vedran returned to play his cello again.

Cellist of Sarajevo, Vedran Smailović from Marcel van der Steen on Vimeo.

Here’s a news article about the event.–spt.html

I have always viewed Vedran’s actions during the siege as an example of the power of the arts to give people hope. It’s about picking up the pieces and rebuilding and it’s a perfect message to think of once again at Easter. Springtime is a new beginning.

(Above is a video of me reading my book about Vedran Smailovic: “Echoes from the Square” with artwork by my husband, Deryk Houston)

Coping, Resilience and Zimbardo’s presentations in Croatia

September 28, 2009


I received a message via my Youtube account today from someone who had just attended a talk by Dr. Philip Zimbardo during his speaking engagement in Croatia. Here’s a link to that message which is basically to thank me for my video “Echoes from the Square” which Zimbardo had shown as part of the presentation.

My understanding is that Zimbardo is focusing on coping and resilience for this tour. I’m sure he’ll be referencing the Stanford Prison Experiment and his book “The Lucifer Effect”. What is really thrilling to me is that he followed through with his plan of using my video, which tells a story of coping and rebuilding.

Dr Zimbardo had requested permission to use the video  about six months ago and I thought I might never know if he would actually end up presenting it or not. Thank you to Youtube user “TheAshes987” for using the comment feature and letting me know 🙂

Building resilience by admitting a mistake

April 21, 2009

A big chunk of my online time is spent promoting critical thinking/creativity-over-destruction ideas…

e.g. Phil Zimbardo’s Ten Steps to build resilience and resistance.

And here’s a real-world reason why.

The BBC news headline reads:

Cheney enters ‘torture’ memos row

and a quote is as follows “Former US Vice-President Dick Cheney has urged the CIA to release memos which he says show harsh interrogation techniques such as water-boarding work.”

Fortunately, President Obama seems to have read  Zimbardo’s Ten Steps

(especially Step #1 –  admission of our mistakes)

Obama has acknowledged that the interrogation techniques were torture, and he has banned them. Here’s his quote from the same article:

“Don’t be discouraged that we have to acknowledge that potentially we’ve made some mistakes. That’s how we learn.”

That’s how we learn! – as educators, (and in our personal lives) let’s work to model that.

More from Zimbardo’s Step #1:

“Don’t continue to put your money, time, and resources into bad investments. Move on. Doing so openly reduces the need to justify or rationalize our mistakes, and thereby to continue to give support to bad or immoral actions. Confession of error undercuts the motivation to reduce cognitive dissonance; dissonance evaporates when a reality check occurs. “Cutting the bait” instead of resolutely “staying the course” when it is wrong has immediate cost, but it always results in long-term gain.”

Wow! Long term gain in compassion, peace, stress relief, conflict resolution….  things that point to a kind of sustainability the world hasn’t been seeing much of lately.