Monday, December 08, 2014


I have taught at all levels, nursery school, junior high, high school, university, graduate students. I see our present economy crashing because we do not educate fittingly. At Princeton I spent many hours talking Julian Jaynes into the writing and publishing of the controversial best-seller The Origin of Consciousness of the Bicameral Mind. Later came holistic thinking in the counter culture, and later still, neuroscience finding Jaynes' concept about the functioning of the brain as true. At present our education, churning out bureaucrats, technocrats, is mechanistic, linear, checking/ticking boxes, rigid. And it doesn't work. Here in Italy young people find no work. And cannot work with their hands, their bodies, while their minds have become a trap. They live with their parents whose pensions support them, and cannot marry and have families, lacking a house, a job.

Our educational system is designed for ivory tower universities, derived from Greco-Arabic misogyny adopted by western crusading Christianity in the twelfth century, out of sync with nature, with humanity. There was an earlier and healthier form. Monasteries and convents used, and still use, the body, the mind, the soul, in self-sufficient but celibate communities, balancing work, study and prayer, the learned genders in the greater span of Christianity having been separate but equal. 'Use it or lose it' is a wise statement. One cannot only be in prayer, or only in study, or only in work. Combining all three keeps all three aspects in harmony, in health.

Accidentally I have discovered that if one has a garden (mine is a cemetery) and a library, the two things Cicero said were needed for happiness, one has the ideal setting for education. We combine the German concept of 'kindergarten', but for all ages, we use Margaret McMillan's early childhood education for those in poverty, Dr Maria Montessori's concept of freedom to explore tanglible surfaces and shapes learning through the body's senses in tandem with the brain, Don Lorenzo Milani's education of the most deprived, Fernando Cardenal/Paulo Freire concept of alphabetization for all ages, and we do this in a library in a cemetery where on Sundays Romanian Roma families come to learn and work joyously.

Just as the irises we plant in this garden multiply and need separating so do the books in this library multiply from its rule that to become a member one gives it a book a year. So, with Progetto Agata Smeralda, we create library schools, with each of seven Roma families receiving an encyclopedia, school books, children's books, an illustrated Dante, Commedia, alphabet sheets, books the Roma themselves write and illustrate in four languages, these going to six mothers and a widow, each receiving a monthly stipend so they do not need to return to Florence to beg, leaving their babies with grandmothers. If they came and begged with their children they would be imprisoned.

Sitting around two tables, the men at one, the women and children at another, for they are very traditional and the women won't allow themselves in a room with men not their husbands, we discuss their poverty, their lack of housing, sleeping in streets in Florence, in camps with mud in Roma, in overcrowded council housing with concrete where children can't play and where TB is rampant, and they suggest the solution, since they are no longer allowed their caravans, could be garden cities, with libraries, with orchestres, with market gardens, with botteghe workshops, families becoming self-sufficient, interdependent, cultured intellectually if not rich materially with unnatural machines of metal and plastic.

So from our Alphabet School I took this proposal to the European State of the Union meeting held in Florence this year:

Debate Question: EU Labour Market and Migration Policy (

Could the European Union in this time of austerity and scapegoating racism restore hope by responding to its EU citizens' needs for work and housing by enabling 'green' garden cities, like Florence's Isolotto, Yorkshire’s Saltaire? With housing and landscaping to be built and maintained in part by EU citizens currently out of work and homeless, including nationals and Roma/Traveller EU citizens, western and eastern EU citizens, working and living side by side? Garden cities that would have space for children to play and learn, with bicycle and bus transportation, workshops for craftspeople and apprentices, vegetable gardens and farmers' markets, libraries and orchestres. Priority for work and housing to be for EU citizens. Non-EU citizens could have dormitories, the right to study, to make and sell artefacts, to grow and sell garden produce, to share their skills with citizens, eventually themselves to achieve citizenship, but not factory or construction work needed by EU citizens. Land could be obtained by raising taxes on abandoned industrial properties, then re-zoned as residential with lowered taxes where 'green' garden cities are being built. One member to be guaranteed work to house, educate and receive medical care for his or her family, achieving this through fair taxation, while reducing EU bureaucracy that currently does not reach its increasingly impoverished EU citizens?

Julia Bolton Holloway, Ph.D. Citizenship: United Kingdom, EU; Residency, Florence

I'm afraid the eyes of Mario Monti and Jose Manuel Barroso just glazed over when I said these words. The left-hemisphere technocrats cannot understand the holistic, natural, human concepts of the right-hemisphere synapses. But it is access to the land we need most for our economy to recover and flourish, the sense of the Commonwealth that Florence and Rome and Athens once had from which came their rich cultural flowering. Money becomes meaningless unless it is anchored to work, study, prayer, in harmony. We need gardens, workshops, libraries. We are not machines, but flesh and blood, marvelously made by our Creator, and needing to be in harmony with Creation.

Monday, July 28, 2014


A section of our library with its hand-made rocking cradle is on exclusion from power due to race and gender, believing that in this study we can find the causes of war, genocide and slavery, undoing these trauma crimes against our common humanity. These shelves contain books on the Holocaust, on Aborigines, on Native Americans, on Afro-Americans, on Roma, on women. Its shelves are built by Roma women who participate in our Alphabet School on Sundays while speaking together in Romanì, their language descended from Sanscrit.

Genetics: Biologically we are generally either female or male in order to reproduce the species. Culture and law have tended to further differentiate and define our gender status. Our DNA carries our haplogroup coding from the past, the male through the incomplete Y chromosone, the mitochondria for both. Our DNA can be altered by trauma, perpetuating it to future generations. We can also maintain, or attempt to restore, our cultural and linguistic purity or lose its identity and its language to a dominant other - or we can share our heritage.

Tectonics/Migrations: To study this genetic coding as it makes up distinct racial groups with their concomitant cultures, art forms (such as embroidery, tattooing, scripts, etc.), and languages, requires us first to look at the template of plate tectonics, the shifting of land and sea masses and the patterns of migrations through time. Gondwana becoming Pangaea, then separating. For instance, Brazil, Africa and Australia were once the same land mass which drifted apart. It is thought that man, Adam, our common ancestor, began in Africa, while the Americas were later populated from the Asian land mass in the Clovis migration by the bridge of the Bering Straits, yet in Brazil archeologists have found far earlier traces of human activity in cave paintings, tools, a skull, connected with Africa. While the Aborigine in Australia date back 50,000 years. The waves of Semitic migrations took place around 5000 years ago from Iraq's Fertile Crescent and its record keeping in cuneiform to Canaan, Phoenicia, Palestine, the Israelites adopting and adapting the Semites' Ugaritic alphabet for written Hebrew. Our own Indo-European makeup and our languages come from migrations similarly around 5,000 years ago, and which adopted and adapted the Phoenician runes, pirated as the Greek and Roman alphabets - while the migrations of the Roma from India reached Europe a thousand years ago. The Indo-European migrations to North America began with the Icelandic settlers a thousand years ago.

Interruption: A young Roma mother and her child have come. The baby carriage has broken. She asks for help for carrying her baby. So we put little Sonia in the wooden rocking cradle we had made and which we keep in the library while I sewed for her a marsupial, giving her mother material and needle and thread so she can sew two more.

Aurica was noticing the design I had painted on the cradle and around the chandelier that I had copied from the fresco in the villa of the Cardinal Bessarione in Rome when I was twenty-one and with my first baby, fifty-six years ago. I was telling her of how the Renaissance began because this Greek scholar brought manuscripts from Constantinople to Italy, and briefly re-joined the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. We as women know we cannot be rigid amongst such needs as Aurica's and Sonia's, that we must drop the intellectual essay-writing, the false paradigm for the real world, to care instead manually and physically for the nurturing of a baby's body, mind and soul, and once that task is finished, then we can return to the abstracting computer. And can share together that intellectual world of cosmopolitan enriching cultures, too.

The Roma, like the Palestinians, are subjected to much discrimination and poverty. They are for us the Jungian 'Other', who is really everything about ourselves we cannot accept. Genetically the Roma are like ourselves, as Indo-Europeans, from India, though in a later migration, coming to Europe a thousand years ago. Because of that discrimination they are generally denied access to land, to water, to decent housing, to education, to medicine. Genetically the Palestinians are not like ourselves. Instead they are from the Fertile Crescent, the Semites, their genetic makeup that of the Jews, most so with the Sephardim, less so with the Ashkenazim, who are mixed with the Khazar converts to Judaism. The Palestinians are denied access to their land, to water, their homes destroyed, in punishment for desiring freedom. How can we learn to see the 'Other' as ourselves? To stop projecting our 'Shadow' onto scapegaot others. To stop the bloodshed. To stop the trauma.

I was in the United States before Civil Rights. I came from Europe where we idealize Native Americans. I saw park benches and drinking fountains labeled 'Whites Only'. I heard people say of Black Americans, who had been their slaves, that they were congenitally criminal and subnormal. I hear people say the Roma are thieves in their DNA. I saw - and see - how enslavement requires this Platonic mythology, Plato's 'Myth of the Metals'. That illiterate slaves are only iron, that educated people are silver, that the king is golden. It is a lie but if both oppressor and oppressed can be made to believe it, how very convenient it is for the rich, for the privileged, for those in power. The settlers fail to subdue the indigenous peoples, so massacre them, and/or corrall them on reservations, next they import foreign workers to build their land, again along racial lines, using the greatest contrasting skin colour. First from Africa, next from Latin America. Or outsource manufacturing to China and Bangladesh. Women no longer sew their own clothes. They do not know who does. The clothes themselves become less beautiful.

The Biblical geneaology of Adam, Eve/ Shem, Ham and Japheth is largely validated by the studies of genetic sequences. We are one, but, with patterns of nomadic migration and/or indigenous isolation, we come to differ, to separate. Traumatically we tend to enslave what seems to be most the 'Other'. Traumatically we tend to wage war against what is most ourselves. Civil War. Which is an oxymoron. Recently the worst wars have been fought over 'nationalism'. Julian Benda, in Trahison des Clercs, the Betrayal of the Intellectuals, prophetically warned against political nationalism. Yet our different genes, our different histories, our different languages, are treasures, both old and new. Internally, the dominant group may silence the 'Other', the Romans obliterating the Etruscan culture and its language, the Spartans enslaving the Helots. This will create a military caste. In its classism lie the seeds of Empire. From which, in the nineteenth century, nations sought freedom, Poland from Russia, Hungary from Austria, Ireland from Britain, Europe from Napoleon, Italy from the Pope, the Austrians, the French, the Spanish, a fracturing, a cantonization. Just as also religion splinters into warring sects. In the twentieth Germany and Italy sought to be Empires. Now America is Empire. Eisenhower warned against the Military/Industrial complex. It is really the Military/Industrial/Academic complex and it seeks to brainwash whole populations into being the Myth of the Metals, into being the iron of slaves, the CEOs, the silver, all subservient to the 'gold' of a tyrant.

Neuroscience: Years ago I worked with Julian Jaynes on his book, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, in which he discussed the cultural evolution, through religion and education, of the brain, shifting it from a balance of the right and left hemispheres to becoming left hemisphere dominant through literacy, a culture we adopted with the alphabet from the race which invented it, the Semites. Shem's descendants. Bible, Gospel, Koran shaped the Middle East, Europe and the East, become the genetic coding of our neighbouring cultures. While Chinese culture in the Far East adopted a different literacy. The problem with left hemisphere dominance is that it is less flexible, prefering linearity, and it rigidly differentiates itself from the Other. It becomes Pharisaical (a word which means 'separation'). For centuries education was carried out with flogging, with sexual trauma, with paedophilia, religion even resorting to genital mutilation, of both genders, as these short-circuit the brain's electrical chemistry. It produced a result that seems rational but is not, that seems to be conservative of values but can be insanely destructive of them, leading to Holocausts. Jayne's theoretical work was later validated by the neuroscientist Jill Bolt Taylor's own experiencing of a cerebal shutdown in My Stroke of Insight. Naomi Klein brilliantly describes this social engineering carried out through 'Shock Doctrine'. And warns us against it.

In Florence the Romanian Roma are forced to sleep in the hard streets in the rain. In Rome they must live in the mud of camps. In Romania in social housing with concrete. They were the slaves of the monasteries and the nobles from the Middle Ages until Uncle Tom's Cabin was translated into Romanian. They were taken away to gulags with no shelter, no food, just the bare earth into which they had to dig for shelter. The grandmothers as small orphan girls remember walking back to Romania from the killing fields. Roma were massacred in the Holocaust. No reparations were paid to them. They cope by not remembering the past, not thinking of the future. But they have told me that what would work for them would be garden cities, where Roma and Gadge (non-Roma) families could live together, with workshops and vegetable gardens, a market, a library, an orchestre, with bicycles and buses, not cars, to downsize from petroleum dependency. For me they garden magnificently in a cosmopolitan anti-slavery cemetery in the heart of Florence, where slave and noble, Austrian and Hungarian, Russian and Pole, Swiss and English, women and men, even the Romanian nobles who once owned the Roma as their slaves, lie peaceably side by side. Elsewhere the Roma are not allowed to work or to sell, they can only beg or steal for survival, here they restore tombs, harvest lavender, make cradles and library shelves, and learn, for the first time for many of them, how to write their name, the alphabet.

Homer says that when a man becomes a slave he loses half his soul, his life energy. But he also tells of Achilles in Hades wishing he could be his father's poorest slave and alive instead of King of all the Dead. 'Death is a slave's freedom'. Best of all is life and freedom, the love of God and neighbour, not worldly power or wealth or fame.

What if Palestianian and Israeli could live together, as families, in garden cities? What if we downsized our economies from its militarized globalization, those airport checks, the control of all our electronic communication? What if we studied each others' languages, our shared alphabet in its genetic forms, Hebrew characters, Arabic script, so we would be less threatened by our different likenesses? What if we shared our manual skills, our books, our music, our land? What if we became Citizens of a Gardened Earth? And raised our babies, skin on skin, cradled, loved? Repairing the cracks of the world (tikkun olam/תיקון עולם). Healing our human DNA from its Cain and Abel trauma?

Saturday, May 10, 2014


So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 'Kubla Khan'/1

We recognize that the European Union is at a crisis, a crisis occurring simultaneously with climate change, increasing unrest in Africa, Syria, Ukraine (following wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that were waged without taxing for them), along with the melt-down of global indebtedness./2 Loyalty to the EU is being shattered by its desire to be inclusive while many EU citizens in the face of austerity seek a return to the nationalism that had caused the genocide of WWII./3

There is a partial solution that is ecological and inclusive while at the same time serving EU citizens and others with their greatest needs for sustainability: for work and for housing, without which they cannot raise a family. I see young Florentines graffitoing their schools, even the Ospedale degli Innocenti, in their anger that there is no hope for their employment when they leave school. I hear Italian artigiani, craftspeople, complaining that their rent and taxes are too high and they must abandon their skills. Florence is a microcosm of Europe. In the past it flourished because of its skilled craftspeople and its careful banking. It invented the florin, Europe's first Euro. But the florin was based on work, the work of its citizens. Now work is outsourced to the Third World as being cheaper, slave labour. It is even insourced with Chinese workers in Prato creating cheap good with labels, 'Made in Italy'. This is a failed economy. Henry Ford made it possible for his workers to buy a Model T. Now Detroit moulders.

Instead of falsely relying on high technology to fix economic problems, we need to balance it with the human dimension: the family; the house. To enable an economy in which one member can work to support his or her family. Eliminating car ownership through the intelligent use of land in this model would decrease the cost of raising a family. Reducing carbon energy.

This essay proposes building garden cities,/4 microcosms of the European Community within the European Union. Around our cities are abandoned industrial sites. Where these are not polluted such areas could be subjected to high taxation unless released for the building of garden cities, a mixture of balconied and arcaded buildings and cottages with verandas, with tree-lined landscaping where children can play and learn. The garden cities should contain workspace for craftspeople and their apprentices, and at the periphery allotments for vegetable gardens supplying produce to a central market place. Bicycles and bus service could provide transport, reducing the carbon footprint. There should be a library, an orchestra, a park, a school.

The architects should plan and discuss the landscaping and buildings with those who will build and maintain them, immigrants and nationals, working and living side by side, learning each others’ cultures and skills. In this way there can be hope for families to have living and working space with access to land and fresh air and to create self-sufficient economies, with a family-run bakery, grocery, laundry, ironmonger. We need to return to that sense of economy, which in its Greek meant 'home'. To centre it on the home of the family, sheltering it, sustaining it, serving it. Without damaging the environment.

Some positive models are these:

Saltaire in Yorkshire was built as the antithesis to the crowding, squallor and disease of Bradford as a model mill town by Sir Titus Salt, then doubled in size by Sir James Roberts. It is built on the river Aire, an adjacent canal and a railroad with a station in the countryside. Its 800 row houses for the workers are built of stone next to the great wool mills. Salt designed the village with wide streets, a large dining hall and kitchens, baths and washhouses, an almshouse for retired workers, hospital and dispensary, educational institute and church, ample recreational land and allotments, in order to improve the diet of the workers. Four lions flank its main street, named 'War', 'Peace, 'Diligence', 'Vigilance'. The architecture is borrowed from the Italian Renaissance. Now mainly used for a computer centre since the mills shut down, it is filled with crafts people selling their wares. The local people flock to it for its beauty and friendliness. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Isolotto in Florence, designed partly by Giovanni Michelucci for the mayor, Giorgio La Pira, following WWII, was built on the periphery of the city to give 1000 poor families, who had lived in San Frediano in crowded, often windowless, slum dwellings, apartments within buildings and cottages set amongst trees by the river Arno./5 It is still beautiful though it has lost its original library.

The University of California after the war bought up shipyard builders' housing in the township of Albany on the San Francisco Bay. The original family barracks are now replaced by more tasteful buildings but which are still set amongst a landscape where children can play and which has always included a childcare centre. The students are from all parts of the globe, reach the university by bus or bicycle, and live here as in a Global Village.

Negative models are the following: crowded inner cities with stone and cement paving; suburban subdivisions based on car ownership as in the US and in Melbourne, Australia, where matching homes are built each with their own lawns that use too much water, and which are serviced by vast shopping malls with concrete parking lots at a considerable distance from the homes; Roma camps set in polluted mud on the peripheries of cities.

Such garden cities in Romania could reduce the migration of Roma to Italy, France and elsewhere, as these families seek space in which to raise their children and work alongside Romanians. Such garden cities in the British Isles could provide homes for British and Travellers also to live alongside each other. Vandana Shiva is speaking of the need for access to land, a diminishing of the control of multinationals creating debt cycles in agriculture, and of common good of seeds. When I spoke with her about this concept of garden cities for Europe she immediately saw that it provided, through the government, beneficial infrastructure for its citizens, the interlacing of the earth and the people. Which is the true task of government.


1. Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem describes the yurt of gold and wicker as summer palace built by the nomadic Emperor Kubla Khan. This essay seeks to explore ways in which the EU could enable the housing of its own largest minority, the nomadic Roma, who themselves say they cannot accept social housing with cement or camps with polluted mud, but could acclimatize themselves to garden cities. In poor housing they become ill with TB. Before, in their caravans with their outdoor living, they were free of the disease.

2. I am writing these lines following the May 7-9 State of the Union of the European Union in Fiesole and Florence where all these topics were under discussion except that of climate change.

3. Julian Benda, La Trahison des Clercs (The Betrayal of the Intellectuals), 1927, presciently saw the growing danger of nationalism. Germany, between the wars, on top of the costs of World War I, was made by the Allies to pay reparations, often funded by loans at interest. In turn Jews, because they were bankers, were scapegoated. The Holocaust by Germany thus had its partial cause in these reparations paid to France, Belgium; Italy and England. None of our nations is innocent. See


5. From the Fondazione Michelucci: Firenze: Tracce di un'altra storia/traces of another history, 2002; 1954-2004, Città nella citta: Il quartiere dell'Isolotto a Firenze, 2006; Firenze verso la città moderna: Itinerari urbanistici nella città estesa tra Ottocento e Novecento, eds. Andrea Aleardi, Corrado Marcetti, Giulio Manetti, n.d.; Firenze crocevia di culture, 2010.