Hasta La Vista


“Goodbye’s too good a word, so I’ll just say fare thee well.”

Bob Dylan

And so, it comes to this. As it does with most earthly things. For every beginning there has to be an end. Relationships, formed in hope and excitement have their own natural course to run. As Buddha says, “Nothing lasts forever, except change.”

Goodbyes are rarely happy events or occasions. Witness any departures terminal in airports that are transformed into tear-filled theatres of sadness; a famine of words, unspoken communications and taut embraces contribute to a crescendo of painful silence. We have all been actors in, or witness to, such scenarios. I wrote the below piece many years ago.

‘There were 32 people waving them off in the departure lounge at Dublin airport on that day in July 1977. As they moved slowly towards the departure gates and airside, he remembers their movements accompanied by a diminishing series of backward glances, the distance between them and the waving crowd lengthening, blurring the image, as if in soft focus. His memory’s misty lens has maintained a picture of the cover of the Sergeant Peppers LP. This was the first of many farewell scenes that would pepper their lives over the next 40 years. And Byron’s words echoed throughout: ‘All farewells should be sudden,’ compounded by the Bard’s ‘Do not tarry upon your goodbye.’


In the life of the EEA and Norway Grants partnership you have now reached a critical phase. A long-heralded parting of the ways. Will this be a culmination or a mutation? Only time can reveal its secrets.

For now, with an overhanging sense of ‘moving on,’ of ‘the end of the affair, ‘there will be the inevitable stock-taking, analysis, and lessons learned, peppered with a lexicon of ‘what if’ and ‘if only.’ There is the temptation, in the prevailing mood, to be hastened into erroneous evaluations and expectations. However blunted emotions may be, please be aware of what you have been part of, what you have contributed towards, what you have done.

The collective work, the selfless investment of time and energy, the summation of your efforts in diverse sectors, with multiple communities, across borders has brought real change to peoples lives and livelihoods. There have also been many intangible, invisible benefits. You have been responsible for the creation of space, the growth of confidence, the gestation of hope. You have created a vast panorama of possibilities.

Your achievements, and there have been many, have laid foundations for the future. Then there are those that continue to be work-in-progress projects, some of which – generated and nurtured by you – will now move along on their own momentum, mature, discover their own confidence; others  will need a constant stoking of the furnace to keep the fires burning, while others might need to be shepherded to new fields.

Whatever future unfolds, you will have left behind a lasting legacy and bequeathed so many with an inheritance that offers more positive horizons.

And now, like parents preparing their children for lives beyond their care and tutelage, they often forget to prepare themselves for the voids in their new life.  Such is life, conforming to chronology.

Your projects, your work has defied monumental challenges over the past four years, against and through backgrounds of Covid; wars in Ukraine and the Middle East; energy crise; stratospheric rises in the cost of living; the tilting to the right in policies of immigration; efforts at silencing independent media and the growth of disinformation and misinformation; the restrictions of space and movement of civil society; the rise of populism. Yet, you are still there and so are all the people you have helped, defiant and resilient.

I am proud, humble and grateful to have been a small cog in the relentless wheeling forward of your initiatives and projects. Mine has been that of a bit player, an extra called intermittently to the stage. This monthly foreword/preface enjoys incongruous positioning in the front pages of the following anthology of actions and activities. But I am delighted to be part of that, by association.

And then there is Gian Luca, the never invisible and often audible Magister Ludi, the patron of your works, advisor, confessor, motivator infusing your work with the oxygen of visibility. None of this would be possible without the invaluable inputs of Malgorzata and her support, along with Mateusz and Francesca. Through their efforts and the rest of the players in this international team you have evolved into a transnational Family with a joint heart and soul


Back in 2020, I wrote the following paragraphs in a longer piece about the pandemic. Almost four years later I think it has even more resonance and relevance now.

‘A lot of life’s certainties and assumptions have been eroded, and it may be time now to press the reset button on erstwhile truths and convictions. Coronavirus has imbued an awareness of how little we know, how little we really control in our lives, and how easy it is to lose sight of what really is important. The staggering speed with which the virus has spread makes it impossible for any rational person not to understand the reality of human interdependence.

This experience teaches us that, as humans, we can only survive in interdependence. The borders and divisions we have constructed to mark out our own territories – what we own, what we defend – are exposed, even as we seek to repair the problems by closing those very borders,

The ordinary and mundane have become difficult and dangerous. The football pitch, the cinema, the church the office, public transport – the spaces in which we mark and measure out our lives – are now potential danger areas.

Even after the virus is mitigated, its aftershocks and the new constraints it imposes will define what we do, how we work, how we travel and interact, how we socialise for the next decade. As we all embark on a restoration project, to pick up again the pieces scattered by the virus, we need to assess what we have learned, what to take with us, what to leave behind. This will be crucial as we review our work practices, principles and desired outcomes.  There is currently a momentous shift from competition to cooperation, from individualism to group endeavour and from privatised to public and state means of working together. This is not a bad thing.

The long, reflective, meditative period, caused by the physical incarcerations, may be soon over, and it will be time to harvest the wealth of ideas and thoughts. The magazine offers a wonderful treasure chest, a clearing house, for the exchange and hopeful enactment of some of those ideas.  Your experiences of the effects of the virus on your work will help bring that work into sharper focus, underlining its possibilities and potentialities. These shared experiences and thoughts/ideas need wider amplification via the magazine’s expansive outreach. It, in turn, can harvest and reflect these ideas, and can offer an engine room for the driving principles that should govern your work: Interdependence, Rationalisation, Relevance.’


I leave you with the words of the American writer  — William Arthur Ward, which could serve as your epitaph.

“Do more than belong: participate.
Do more than care: help.
Do more than believe: practice.
Do more than be fair: be kind.
Do more than forgive: forget.
Do more than dream: work.”

Hasta la vista


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