It’s a question that has haunted philosophers for centuries – one that’s been examined in classrooms and whispered in kitchens, buried in clear-cut forests and sunk into uneasy conversation: what does it mean to be human? Jordan O’Donnell’s political satire, Zoon Garden: The Decline of a Nation faces this question even as its characters inhabit symbolic animal roles, and the Zoon Garden Team has used this question to inspire connection on their socially distant book tour this summer.
“I think to truly be human means to experience all aspects of life,” says O’Donnell. “The sadness, the suffering, the joys, the laughs, the sorrows, the bliss, the infatuation – to live a life balanced between good and evil and work every day to allow the good to win.”
Mallory Nolte, the team’s Videographer and Content Creator, emphasizes the humanity of recognizing mistakes and overcoming challenges. “Working remotely this week has been a huge change in speed,” she says. “I have to find new ways to keep the vlogs interesting, which relates back to the question. I’m well aware that not much ‘vlog-worthy’ content is going on right now, but I still have to push myself to create interesting videos.”
Leanne Weaver, the team’s Website and SEO Manager, cites a quote from Kevyn Aucoin: “Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain…to feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today, I choose to feel life, not deny my humanity but embrace it.”
The honest expression of humanity amidst material challenges has driven deep, long-lasting connection between team members.
“In 4 weeks we have experienced a lot together, more than some family members or lifelong friends,” says O’Donnell. “We have laughed long and deep, cried, yelled, stood in wonder of amazing sites, had deep conversation, been completely authentic. I think we have shared our raw humanity with one another and that has taught us a lot about humanity as a whole.”