Zane Estere Gruntmane

Inhabiting a sense of change

© WOW Surfing

As a creative catalyst, Zane Estere Gruntmane‘s research and creative work focus on differentiating perspectives and contextualising strategies. To empower cross-sectoral collaborations via creative expressions and approaches where contemporary challenges and future visions strive to come together in a meaningful way. Zane Estere was responsible for the International dimension of Aveiro 2027 in Portugal – for the city’s candidacy for the European Capital of Culture title. In 2022 she joined the TFCC Europe team as an Associate, working on a set of cultural strategies and evaluations. She is an alumni of The Festival Academy Global Atlejs (2020-2021), OECD Summer Academy Culture and Creative Industries for Local development (2021), and Global Cultural Relations Programme (2022), Music Cities European Exchange (2023); Strategy Group member of Soul for Europe; EFA 70-Years-On Thinking Group member; Validated Ad Hoc Expert in the field of Culture at the URBACT IV programme; included Expert in the Pool of Experts to the Panel of the European Capital of Culture action. The Ocean and the practice of surfing shape the way of her life.

“When hurricanes and cyclones raged
When wind turned dirt to dust
When floods they came or tides they raised
Ever closer became us.”

Future days, Pearl Jam

~ The motion of flow ~

Early in the morning, I traveled on the bus from Porto to Figueira da Foz. I could feel a pulse that slowly was moving the rhythm of this rising day. Every kilometre took me closer to the place and people I planned to meet, transforming “an idea of today” into the “experience of this day”… in such a tangible manner. I observed how subtly but significantly a bus driver was conducting us through the changing landscapes on the road. How the moment of the present time was drawing invisible lines for each of us the passengers, to meet our future day. I was wondering, how do we relate,how do we come closer to change?

We speak today about the need for a change in so many aspects of what we, the people, have advanced and systemised, as much as taken advantage of for decades, even centuries. While one is wishing for a change, others are requesting. Some are rehearsing while many more listen to how to make a change. Daily we are crafting visions and strategies, narratives and approaches that are all intended to bring a change for a better future.

My future day arrived in Figueira da Foz, the city known as the “Queen of Portugal’s Beaches” to visit the exhibition O Mar é a Nossa Terra (Our Land is the Sea) where I was guided kindly through by one of the curators: Miguel Figueira – an architect, activist, and long-time surfer. We talked about contrasts and contradictions, interdependencies and balance – the relations between the sea and the land that so greatly determine our life and activities. About the good waves that travel from far away but are shaped in a meeting point of the sea and mountains. The exhibition highlights the need to understand better the space in which we live. To think about what we build from the perspective of a space that is critically important for the planet – the sea. After I entered the ocean to immerse in the surfing experience I kept thinking, what is the starting point of our future? How do we observe, absorb and inhabit a motion of change in our daily practices? How do we allow a sense of change to come to our homes and our lands, moving us into a flow of cultural change? How can we make the future to be present today?

~ Taking on the rising tides ~

A sense of home upwelled in me ever since I met the Ocean on the Portuguese coast. A sense that any borders may be eliminated. A sense of place where infinity illuminates its proximity. The view towards the horizon moved me into a flow of the will. To follow the rising tides by engaging in a process of change, building a shared future side by side. Courage and dedication accompanied me on this journey to bridge the distance between the present and the future. It turned into a mission to learn attentively about the place and the people that surround the Ocean. I realised that I found myself in the middle of a constantly changing culture that is based on deep traditions, but changes every second. I became aware that it is going to be my lifetime practice in taking on the changing unknown and immersing myself into relationships that form the context for a place, people, and time to meet. To observe characteristics and sense the codes, in order to comprehend the landscape of knowledge and the geographies of behavior. To master a language and gain capacities for practice and adaptability in a new mentality. I reversed my gaze to start learning from the Ocean – an essential partner who has shaped this land and its culture.

Sustainability, change and transition, much as the question of our future are heated topics swelling across cultural, environmental, social and economic discourses. Even in a greater degree, we are witnessing the realities of how extreme weather events occur more frequently in the rhythm of our day(s). These breaking waves compel us to participate by raising awareness of interdependence and relations. But can we behave open and attuned in order to continuously practice our abilities to adapt to this ever-changing nature of our place in time? Can we relate to an experience of the change? What if… we would perceive “sustainability” as a pulsating “heartbeat” of the Ocean… could we become more perceptive observers on how our actions alter its rhythm? What if we were immersed into the “future” as a dynamic experience here and now, could we become more devoted practitioners? If we would attune and empower a collective sense to a process of change, could we accelerate our readiness to act as “change”-makers today? The Ocean may doesn’t know how far can humans go. The Ocean may also don’t know the differences between the social group we see ourselves as belonging to or the identity values we hold dear. But every time when we enter the Ocean, we are urged to let go – a sense of self-ownership and a tendency to control. We are welcomed in a place to strengthen relationships. To sense how the interaction between a place, constant movement and self surrounds and attune to the state of flow in this permanently changing space.

~ Elevate attunement into a sense of the change ~

It’s been a few years since surfing has become an integral part of my life, a way of practicing daily a new way of living. Surfing develops an essential bond with the Ocean and its life. It is a way to experience closer and more intimate energy and sensory interaction between each other. It is a process of learning to read, understand and feel the elements and characterise that define the Ocean behavior in its changing nature, much as the behavior of self. Surfing catalyses the ability to feel freedom in change.

We shall look attentively to the directions we aim towards. We shall practice techniques that allow us to apply our creativity and adaptively in conditions that arises. We shall let go of the fear of failure because the amount of time we will spend inside the conditions and experimenting with the ways of going further and learning details of our behaviors are a way to master skills of adaptability. To gain confidence in making the change.

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Notte Blanca – Festivals Malta © Stephen Buhagiar