THIS IS HAPPENING. It really, really is. Four years of cojournaling. Two calls for interest in Januarys past. One short eBook anthology. And now, a small handful of people in timezones scattered who are saying ‘yes’ to the experiment and conversation that is this thing we made, together. Welcoming very warmly both new and returning guests to this year’s The Mirror. More is on the way, check your inbox. It’s exciting, isn’t it? This is my dashboard. Like it? More
TOMORROW WE START. A new chapter for The Mirror, an online conversation that doubles as a workshop. This year is The Mirror‘s fourth.
In creating our invite list, I’ve been reconnecting with people around the world, these last few days, rekindling old ties and fostering a few new ones. Not everyone, of course. But a few. A few is good. A few is all you need.
We started it in 2014 as an experiment: if we could write with people we didn’t know, could that open space to a new kind of learning? What would happen? In the short compilation that came forth from that year, this was how we descibed the trepidation: ‘… 2014, a small group of people agreed to give me a shot at helping them make space to write more this year. It was unconventional and experimental, exactly what you have to be a little bit of a chance-taker to try, because I was making it all up from scratch. Thanks to their trust in us to create and hold space for writing, and especially for writing together, we were able to connect through words.’ Four years later, I’ve been musing on the changes, shifts. I love the beginning of a thing: a book, a new friendship, a fresh place. But now, I’m learning to appreciate the early-middle. Things brew. Become a little familiar. This is nice, very nice, too. We just finished our registration. Half our guests for The Mirror are returning participants. I am so excited! And I feel lucky, and bewildered, and delighted, as if the party of my life is about to start… In a way it is like a party, my favorite people from real life conversing in virtual rooms, over the coming weeks. The goal is interlink them, meaningfully, not trivially, with this more formed, but not fully formed (and thank goodness for that), version of The Mirror.
Like a four year-old, The Mirror now has grown up a little, and has a will of its own. Inquires, questions, accepts new input, want to discover, test the boundaries, and most of all, play. DK is all about that, if you know us personally or if you worked with us in the past. Let’s look at this in a new way? Let’s consider another perspective? Let’s not pin this down too soon, because we are still learning, still trying things, still letting it be what it wants to become. Along the way in any period of development, though, you see the heart of the thing that is emerging. With a child, their personality comes through clearer and stronger at four, right? They assert a little later, but they kind of have the general sketch and outline of the personality. We are there, with The Mirror, too. Wonderful things to look forward to, but also, extremely cool this evening as we are setting up for tomorrow, to notice the elegant part, that when you do pin down a creative idea it’s time to focus on giving it the kind of attention it needs to really flourish. At this stage, a wide mix of voices and stories, a gathering of people in virtual space, people from around the world who opt to apply and try something new, is what The Mirror is overjoyed about. I like the Englishism, ‘mates,’ as in, ‘I was with me mates.’ That’s the feeling. The Mirror can’t wait to play.
It’s almost time.
A new, more sophisticated, but also fun, what would it be without fun?, version is about to start. And guiding that, without knowing for sure how it will play out, but needing to trust and learning to trust that it will, is our work, here. Spacemaking. For new and different others to find remarkable connexion. We took a chance, we planted a seed. That thing germinated, it began to grow. It would have been so easy to not try, not even bother planting it. To make an excuse, to busy ourselves with ourselves. But the light and the water and the air, the things you used to cultivate that seed, were the beginning, as it flourished, the little buds weren’t just things to mind, but rather, they were part of a new section of yourself. They, slowly you realized it, they grew you.
Let’s go discover. Let’s go see.
Welcome to The Mirror.
I THINK we have it. A theme. For our next zinemaking popup, Atelier S P A C E || Kuala Kumpur. Travel. Transit hub that it is, it makes a great setting for the kinds of meandering that wanderers love. Let’s talk travel, new places, showing up, taking chances, favorite music, best of’s, and more. And let’s do it in real life, with our phones turned off, in a box. Yes? Hit us up for details. Or check out this page.
OUR NEXT ONLINE programme, The Mirror, begins on 8 January. Details are here.
What’s next for you?
If taking time to consider that very question thoughtfully sounds interesting to you (yes, we know it’s hard, of course it is, but is it interesting?…) then I invite you to apply for The Mirror. It is my favorite of our online workshops. I guess I like it because I’ve see transformations. So far, more than 50 people have taken part in our online programmes since we first opened spaces three years ago, all these would be online, for the kind of salon-style dialogue that: progresses; is carefully moderated; and is kept to a very self-selecting, small set of people. Real breakthroughs happen. I see it every year. You don’t have to be a pro at writing. Mistakes, drafts are welcome. It’s a journal, not a report. 😉 Since early 2014, DK has hosted The Mirror, this interactive and small-scale experiment in journaling with others online. The framing question for its design was:
What if we could discover something together with those we didn’t know, but who were also exploring the same themes?
Great conversations emerged, resulting in a short eBook anthology, The Mirror. In recent days new conversations have inspired a fresh sequence of prompts, those that will, we hope, encourage people to break free of rigid thinking that ultimately confines us. For this I have CC to thank, in large part. (Glad I got to tell you.) If you are returning, there is more to share, on email, about the new things and a special group for alums.
The Mirror 2018 will circle in the new guests we are meeting in real life at our Atelier S P A C E programmes with our existing online community.
It’s fun, light.
Curious? Apply by 2 January. Apply here >
IT IS INCREDIBLE. The road. How it teaches. You just have no idea where you are going to go, and then, there you are. Writing today from a small unexpectedly well-connected wifi place. Fast. Lucky. Reflecting lately on the journeys, typing and sharing the gems in S P A C E. Enjoying offline random conversations. So many! A few intriguing people; no, no, that’s understating. More than a few. A dozen? Atelier S P A C E has brought me to them. A Programme that is by design about bumping into chance encounters, during specific windows of time in selected spaces. Going and finding these ‘boxes’, be they cafes or lounges, bars or museums, whatever and however it works it works, but the important part is that there has to be a good feeling about them. Chemistry is big. What is the quality of the space that we are shaping? Something like ‘the third place,’ is the closest I’ve found. But with a spark: a little twinge of !*, an ‘I didn’t see that coming!’ And ‘Huh!’ I like to think of it as the magic moment. You have to design for it. And you can. It’s pretty neat.
There was more here, before, but I deleted it. I guess it just felt pretty personal, and it was hard to get so full-on intimate outside of the boxes that we make, in our ateliers, and in our online ‘rooms’ for conversation. Something has changed, I guess, for me. More interested in small scales, human scale dialogues. With new, and different others. So many of the people I *just met*, for example, are exceedingly interesting—for a time. in the shape of space that moves and shifts, these encounters linger and press a kind of memory. But the new news is this. Memories of memories change, in fact, too. What do we think about, how we feel, where we were, what’s next… All questions to think about, if you are the thinking-about-questions sort. If you are, let me know. We have more things ahead, in S P A C E.
Blink, and 2017 ended.
TODAY AND TOMORROW, we are in Cameron Highlands hosting a popup salon-workshop. The theme this time is photography, and travel in general. Never thought that I would start writing and blogging and conversing about #travel, you know, with the hashtags and everything. It seems so overdone, these days. It seems like people all over the place want to write about all their places they go and all the people they meet and collect them up on social media and pretend like everything is supersaturated, perfect-perfect posty-posty. You know what I’m talking about, right? Anyway, I got inspired to host this when I found this place, and stuck around long enough to have gotten a feel for it. It is authentic. That’s why we’re doing the popup here. Let’s talk travel, wanderlust, showing up, real life, and authentically gathering and sharing stories. We will do this together in a very small circle, with those who opt-in to join me for Atelier S P A C E || Cameron. In Cameron Highlands? Discover more about this popup atelier, when you click ‘upcomings’ and the details are all there. To the journeys! The new, and the next.
WELCOME. S P A C E is where you are.
S P A C E is an eZine, a print zine, and a series of real life ateliers.
WHY MAKE SPACE. We are doing this because we love new people, new places, and sharing from our 20 years of experience in calling out some of the best of conversation through carefully designed and well-facilitated space for real dialogue.
VALUES. Authenticity and sincerity over coolness and broadcasting, for us. No posers. No fakes. No phonies. (And no phones, please. When you join one of our ateliers, we will ask you to put yours in a box, stow it away, and attend to it when we are finished).
Who’s interested? It’s not for everyone, real life. But it’s where we like hanging out it.
S P A C E is invisible. But S P A C E connects us all.
How did we find these themes?
Each is based on what conversations emerge when we meet new people in real life in those places, and simply take time to talk. Then we work on a piece that is cohesive, and is hyperlocal to the place and the contemporary narratives. These pop up from real life when we converse offline with new and different others. It brings storyfinding back to person to person contact, while ‘journalism’ becomes increasingly less human-centered. Who will we tell our real selves to? Each other, in real life, offline, away from package-making for others and towards more listening for common threads and similar experiences. In so doing, we feel more connected, DK have found, and inspired to improve, too.
What is Atelier S P A C E trying to do?
Consider possibilities. Try new things. Stay open. In a nutshell, it’s about helping people find ways to get out of their box. Comfort zones can be places where it seems cozy, but actually, lulls us into a creatively deadening complacency.
Our atelier is about designing a custom framework in each place that will set the stage for really interesting thinking and human connexion to actually *happen*, and DK select very carefully the venues, times of day, and themes so that guests of Atelier S P A C E can experience a relaxed, intellectually stimulating, space for dialogue. Dialogue of the kind with a center, and not sides.
It isn’t for everyone, this style of looking for the new and making zines in-situ, on the spot, with those we are inviting to play in S P A C E, but it works for people seeking a personal challenge to try new things and grow. Especially useful for people who have done a lot, careerwise, and seen firsthand that there are massive limits to what anyone can do on her own, yet few ways to invite truly engaging collaboration.
So we created Atelier S P A C E for this set of us. It is best for those who are interested in developing a creative voice, and making what is artful. DK has been practicing this since 2008 in Seattle, Durham NC, and Phnom Penh in workshops for a wide mix of people, and is sharing now through these popup ateliers tools, tips, and anecdotes that equip guests to become more confident creatively. Atelier S P A C E is a self-funded project.
Read about what’s coming up in 2018 at our calendar, here.
ATELIER S P A C E is just underway here in George Town Penang.
In a planning session, ‘Creative Process’ came up. Questions about the approach towards creating new things. Most important, one guest said, is that there is a chance to reflect on one’s own self and self-learning–that this is more important, perhaps, than sharing. There were some counterpoints, too. If it’s not something a person can grasp, then why should there be interest, for ex. A thought: how much of the creative process is important to make space for public sharing, and how much is for personal discovery? Where can we explore how to make a thing both intriguing (to us) and relatable (to others)? Or is that even important? (If it’s Art, maybe not. If it’s Design, maybe so. Or?)
Our theme for S P A C E || Penang is Growth.
Check out all that’s ahead in Penang at this page.
Next stop, KL.
WIFI. Is scarce, here, in Penang. So, more offline time.
As I talk in real life about the why of Atelier S P A C E, it’s doing something, it’s making it clearer.
As in, why.
As in, for whom, and where.
I seek cozy spaces that might not be ‘regular’ for philosophical and nonlinear meanders into the abstract. But… That’s what it is. Think about it. Space is invisible. But space connects us al. That particular S P A C E. Is what we are designing, in Atelier S P A C E. Really.
Don’t believe me?
NEW & DIFFERENT. Wherever you look going to be a wallop of awakening; that’s because you’re in the newness, you’re in a spot that you haven’t been, and though it might be ho-hum routine for those who are living and working there usually, for you it is New. I didn’t tell you about S., did I? This weirdo installation… Involving… Well, wait. it’s too personal to put on this blog.
In the last 20 years of trying to find ways to engage people (so that I can get more engaged with the design work I think is better as a result, to be really honest), I have learned that the high-quality space that I want to create more of in this world resides in the real life bounded box of time, and location, which is set. Which is intentional. And good because we are *there*.
So yeah. If we meet, in one of the cities where I’ll be traveling, in 2018, I can share there.
(More for members of our online community, S P A C E, in exquisite and intricate details. Curious? Subscribe here.)
PART OF THE PROJECT OF ATELIER S P A C E is, when I forget to be concerned about Programme design and making sure all the pieces are in the right order is letting things just happen.
It has been not quite two weeks since DK shifted from Singapore to scope the scene here in Penang. But already I feel like it’s been, in many ways, like meeting someone you’ve always known in a way but haven’t fully seen.
Like a pen pal. Or a distant cousin.
There are overlays that you can’t deny, a cultural identity that’s shared in a very tangential way, for me, here by the side streets of a warm and seaside town. I love this village feeling, it reminds me of Skibbereen, and very shortly I think I will feel ready to start sharing out loud and not just blogging into the obscure about Atelier S P A C E || Penang. That’s here.
Meantime it is just now posted, details and tickets and everything, to Eventbrite.
THINGS ARE GETTING going here in Penang for Atelier S P A C E || Penang. Like in Singapore and in Battambang before that, the idea is to get people talking together and learn new things. Maybe about each other, their own selves, or, as in the case here yesterday throughout the day, philosophy. Making S P A C E for remarkable connexion, we are just settling in to begin the discovery, meantime some zines are at this weekend’s Georgetown Literary Festival. Special thanks to the festival for including S P A C E. See you there.
LAST CALL to register for Atelier S P A C E in Singapore.
Tickets for the 3-day atelier are SGD $180. Register here.
We are ready, and we are set. Look forward to meeting our registered guests tonight at the *secret meetpoint* at the National Gallery.
S P A C E. Meantime, if you are not in Singapore, but are wondering about how all this will play, do consider subscribing to our online magazine, S P A C E. It’s a weekly. Going since 2014. See what we will be writing, sharing, and co-creating. Find out more at this page.
EARLIER THIS WEEK, in the regular Tuesday posting of our subscription eZine S P A C E, I wrote all about my feelings connected to this picture. So very many angles here, in one frame. It is a highly personal story, not for public consumption here, but it is hitting the notes that play a chord that chimes in resonance with dozens of real life conversations with local people here, all week, on the feeling of creating within a very tightly bounded box.
Many emotional clips were shared with me in confidence, as I and our team at DK had reached out to more than 65 people, groups, businesses, and nongovernmental organizations to find out what to make in SG. (We tried to talk to government groups, but found out that one can’t call a mobile number in Cambodia, do skype, or reply to us with any less than 20 emails, going in a useless loop. Hmm.) That’s okay. We are pressing on.
Once, just this weekend, and that’s it. Recurring theme, brevity. And onceness. Celebrating the moment, the urgency of now.
I STAYED UP far too late last night reading a short story about loneliness. Some part of me was totally depressed reading how the main character was so lonely he paid someone to watch him on the video stream on his laptop. But then, going around this gleaming city each day, watching people with their own portable screens and streaming on the go, I got less sad. This is the reality we are in. We can’t talk to each other, face to face; that’s too weird. It has to be vetted, now, first. There has to be a real reason to know you have something to say to me, personally and I can’t do that if you are approaching me, in 3D, out of nowhere, and now ‘nowhere’ is the real world. Then, it happened. I met someone. Late, late, late. In the lobby of the hotel. Shared space. Common rooms. Where I found the book. The *oddest* things took place, things I can’t talk about on this blog because this blog is public space in the modern, new, updated, revised way, it’s public like ‘I can see what you write and think and feel,’ and not public like ‘I’m in this room with you, right now.’ A younger version of myself would have wanted to construct a blog post today that would outline for you the weirdness, in discrete segments of particularities, (because we all know it’s the details that make a story good), of what happened next, after our awkward greeting. (But I am saving that for next Tuesday’s S P A C E. Subscribe? http://gum.co/space). The shape of space of the evening was total alienation; bizarre and disjointed. It was, however, a theatrical rendition of the modern mindscape. We are bedazzled by spectacles, but we can’t see the presence of the thing that is the true miracle, which is this moment of a shared here and now.
ART. What is there to do but to continue to make S P A C E, for real life, the framing of the magic of chance connections, and the ongoing awakening that can happen, if we let it, when people who notice the detail of now and the slowing of a full moment in which no other pictures or sounds or other people’s annotated commentaries on That Which They Deem Interesting can eclipse this here… Who cares about what a friend, colleague, boss, or lover thinks or shares at a distance, far from me? I care about here. Now. If you walk into this stage, for even a second, there it will begin, the play.