Save the date

READYING. For ‘N’.

Checked out a couple of venues over the last few days. Looking for something that would work well for the guests whom I have met, in person now, by running into them. Looking for the chance encounter is tough, though, and today I’m going to just lay low. Write some things. Reflect on this trip to Hanoi (almost two months). And see if I can share what I have discovered about ‘narrative,’ about the lenses we use to look at things, and maybe tell you some more, too, about the programme I am designing for Tuesday’s ‘N’. More on the way.

I’m sharing the exact location of ‘N’ only with people who are registering… So if you are curious, do get in touch.

At the time of this writing, 11 people have said ‘yes,’ and we are moving to registration. And I’m passing on the twenty something unclaimed invites, in the hope of gathering 16 of us, no more, no fewer, for 16N.

Who’s coming? Surprise.

Where will it be? Also a secret.

What will happen? That, yes. That I can share.

The programme for ‘N’ Hanoi: NARRATIVE, up next.


***

One of 4 venues I scoped in search of a spot for ‘N’ was the low-key cafe, 3.NHU. Best for the afternoon, I think. So not it, as ‘N’ is in the eve.

Ten or maybe eleven

THE POLL IS GOING, and is almost finished, I think, where we are seeing if 16 people can agree on a date for ‘N’. At the time of this writing (12.10PM), ten have. Ten people, people I have just met (some on the street, some on the big road, a few on the cafe hopping tours around the back neighborhoods west of Old Quarter). Ten of these folks, open and curious as they are, are agreeing on a date for ‘N’ Hanoi. One person emailed a ‘yes’, but I think it has to be a check mark on the poll to count. Doesn’t it? Hm.

16 is the magic number. Working my way towards discovering us.

But. 10.

Ten is a lot.

Ten is more than I had imagined, as I still have all of today, all of tomorrow, all of the next day, and all of the day after that, to keep on discovering people and asking them to join me at ‘Secret Event,’ on facebook, if they are there, because this is Asia and though I don’t have a personal facebook (I resist! After closing four accounts, I simply resist this frivolous thing!)…. Even though that, well. Fact: facebook is a giant way that people in this part of the world will communicate about things like this.

 

A. Spaice

IDENTITY. You need to have an online thing. An online thing that people can check out, so they can know you’re real, and even if you’re making an abstract thing like ‘N’, they still need to know that you are really… Credible. I guess that’s understandable. These days you have people walking up to you all the time asking you to do something, buy something, read something. The subtle things like people pretending to be friends with you so they can move you towards their agenda, that’s icky, so I try to just be direct now. [Example: There’s a thing. It’s happening next week. You’re getting this invitation in person because the only way to get an invitation is by meeting me or emailing me, because that’ just how this weird project goes.] I used to do it by Internet, inviting people I mean. I would have all kinds of channels going and sometimes, just sometimes, I would meet someone incredible and they would say, ‘Why not? I’m in,’ just like that. Blind. I totally couldn’t believe that, when it happened, and it made me want to keep going with the Internet seeking. But in Asia, it’s different. I realize that the way people do things here isn’t like how people do things in Western countries. Heck, sending email feels so arcane. I mean, I feel like an anachronism saying, ‘Email me.’ Yet… Email. Is how. I send the invitations. Because I don’t want everyone to know everything all the time. I think we’re sliding back into that kind o fworld, aren’t we? Where we just share in smaller circles? I mean, people think their facebook is ‘just for friends and family,’ but is it really? *skepticism* [Yeah, you can tell I don’t like facebook, right? I don’t. Especially nowadays when it becomes a substitute for real life, in person, impromptu, meandering, organically developed conversation. But then, it’s a fact. Embrace it, right? That’s why I had to make an event page, this time.

***

MIND YOU, the  event thing discloses pretty much nothing about ‘N’ and how it goes, and who it’s for, and why you should come. Why? Because it’s not that kind of a thing. It’s not ‘cool.’ There will be no free beer, no free pizza, no women in bikinis parading about. At least, I’m 99% sure there won’t be. A party for conversation. A party for ‘the third place’ (see that on Wikipedia, for more about spaces that aren’t for work, and aren’t for home). It’s about… Us. Gathering briefly and once with new and different others for a remarkable connection (leave the design and hosting to me). For honest sharing. Seeing one another. I go on and on about that in the page about the project, here.

Because ‘N’ is not for those who are looking ‘to get something.’ It’s for those of us who remain curious, who still want to converse, connect, but not in a weird or creepy way. ‘N’ makes space. For real life. That’s it. That’s the whole thing. But briefly, and once. For the craic, like, as we used to say when we got influenced by everyone around us in the southwest of Ireland. Ah, but I digress. Meander. Shift. Shape of space. Chance. The encounter. Randomness. Serendipity. The story ahead of us… Ah, but yes. This, to me, this possibility, this is it. Beauty.

To the journeys!

AHEAD. Oh. And… Later today I’ll post a few pictures of the venue we’ve picked, for ‘N’. Can’t wait… And… If you are just joining me, and are curious about ‘N’ and are in Hanoi, request an invitation through the button at the bottom of 16n.strikingly.com.

 

Writing and eating

TWO THINGS today, on the agenda. Going through the conversations, going through the highlights of posts, of sharings to date, of learnings-as-we-went, and the reflections from ‘N’ in Phnom Penh, Bangkok, London, and the ones in progress in Copenhagen and Hanoi.

Today I will focus on getting things into a place where they are share-able with you, those of you who might be coming to this blog now, wondering about ‘N’. Did I invite you recently, to ‘N’ here in Hanoi? NARRATIVE is our theme. I’ll have bits that are easier to take in (than what kind people who mean well are telling me is) an unwieldy, not user-friendly blog. But… Writing. For one, mostly, here. I think. And people looking for places to leave links telling me how they think I should do something else with my ‘talent’ and stuff, which really, I’m so not interested in ‘digital marketing.’ I’m not going to write some compelling bit of fluff so you can sell your, what, wristwatches? I hate consumerism. I hate the junk that we are consuming without even letting ourselves ask, ‘Wait, wait, wait. Is this adding to my life. Really. Is it? IS it? And so on.)

Meantime, here in Hanoi…

‘N’ HANOI. With the help of 15 others, people who are new to one another, who don’t know what’s going to happen, who aren’t sure where this might lead them, but who are open to trying new things, we, together, will make an ‘N’ here in Hanoi. Next week. Now. Off to find some foodstuffs. And blogging. Blogging is a bit of a solo thing, for me, I think, esoteric and inaccessible as most stuff I like to post here tends to be (they said, gently). Anyway, so? It’s been just me, mostly, here at this space. So I welcome you to this conversation, even if it’s an ambient one, and more is on the way for those who get in touch to request an invitation >

This is what it looks like

BEHIND THE SCENES. This (pictured behind the title of this post, above) is the conversation I am having simultaneously with people whom I have already invited to ‘N’ on a poll that lets us all mutually agree on a date. Maybe you can read this post, ‘Save the date, almost’, from yesterday, where I talked about the conferring taking place online that shows which date(s) are most popular. There are a few things that a poll like this takes into account and there are many more things that it doesn’t. For example, it’s very democratic, in a way. But there are some of us who are talking who are more interested in this than other people.

Now what do I do? That is the thing that I have to share about, next.

But in the private space, for just those who are going to be invited, very soon, to register. After I send the ‘save the date’ official note. Registration. That’s when ‘yes’ becomes ‘ticket-yes,’ and this becomes more and more real. Towards the day itself, when we converge from our vectors, our uncrossed ones, to focus on a point in time and space in which there occurs an ‘N’. Designing it so that 16 people who might not have met in that kind of way, in that kind of place, in that kind of moment, are engaged and discovering one another, in a salon thing called ‘N’: NARRATIVE. What are the stories we tell to the world?, asks this ‘N.’ Which ones do we tell ourselves?

(I’m going to keep posting here, a little more in public space, but more about the process of designing and hosting this and less about the people because that is by design a mystery. It’s a 16-way blind date, in a way, but not in that kind of way that you would think. This kind of blind date is more about conversation conversation conversation, in the shape of space that is by design meant to be safe, comfrotable, inviting, welcoming, all of the things that I think… I think if you know me personally, you know I most enjoy. Not too pretentious, a little bit scruffy, the perfect kind of venue that matches this, and more. I am writing and I am also listening to Boss tell me that there is another magazine called S P A C E and that I should be worried about that, but I’m not.

There is only one particular S P A C E I am interested in, and it is the quality, (where is Quality, asks ‘N’?) invite-only, sustaining space for great conversation, the kind that moves, progresses, goes into… the big, and open-ended, and connects us in ways that might surprise us, if we let ourselves go there… SO much to say here.

OPEN & CLOSED CIRCLES. More of this kind of talk will be shared in the closed circles. Because this is a very special kind of a conversation, and I am designing ‘N’ to be a specific kind of space, and this kind of space involves, necessarily, some exclusivity, so that we can have the right kind of stage set for the day.) For ‘N’. Otherwise, well. Otherwise it’s just like any other ol’ event, isn’t it? Bo-ring. And ‘N’ designs out the boring, the mundane, the ‘regular,’ the he-said-she-said ho-hum yes, yes, yes, we all know what that is like. And so, here I go, writing and emailing and conferring and circling back and following up, asking for registrations, reconfirmations, and finally, sending the agenda, meetpoint, and programme to 16 people. Sixteen ‘N’.

Will it? Can it?

Let’s see.

Meantime, I wanted to share, I know it’s just a screenshot of some email, but that’s my main view, from here. Today.

 

16 tickets for ‘N’ Hanoi.

Art of Not Knowing: Invite the spontaneous

VERY FUN, very nice, very relaxing to talk quite openly and frankly for some giant length of time (two hours? Five?) about… nothing and everything. With JO. (Thank you!)

I like it when people say ‘yes’ to my impromptu invitations. As did our walk in the slight rain just south of the Old Quarter of Ha Noi, our conversation wandered. Which is exactly right, and it felt like S P A C E was getting made.

Made.

NOT designed. See, I always write about designing the bounded box. But this was… improvised. And not my initiative, fully. So that was cool, and fun, and really neat. Much like when I met SY, also in recent days in Hanoi.

Not because of anything that came beforehand, just… spontaneously. This was new. This was different. You can design for S P A C E that’s quality, or you can just let yourself be part of it when you see it’s emerging. See? That’s kind of fun, isn’t it? And when we used to let ourselves be spontaneous, such great things fell forth, didn’t they?

A new melody plays. A new love forms. A new shift, in the shape of space.

Is there a need for philosophy? Is there a place for salons? Is it important to connect with (and then, by design, interconnect) new and different others? For real life learning, together? I think so. I think we are losing our grip, ‘we’ as in the Western malaise and ennui drifting crowds. It’s not better in Asia. I mean, people have problems everywhere. Obviously. I’m not a sociologist, a psychologist, a commentator on Society, or anything. I am a connector. I always was. I will continue to be. And when this used to involve clients and meetings, I would bring in interns and photographers and illustrators—always invite the new and different others (and ‘others’ is an important part, for the sake of inclusion) into the circle to create and co-create. This wasn’t working well in Seattle, or Durham NC. So I left those places. I am now in Asia. Wandering about, looking for the resonance. Looking to make (or become part of, that’s the new learning from yesterday) the kind of space that feels good, feels like it’s right

Where you can be who you are

Where you can let your guard down

Where you don’t have to fear being judged

Or googled…

Where you can just… be.

That. That, to me, is high-quality space.

S P A C E.

Ask me anything. Connect at ‘A little S P A C E.’ Through the link under our ‘contact’ page. See it there, at the top. That’s where to go.

 

 

Save the date, almost

SOME OF THE PEOPLE reading this page today will recognize what this means. The poll. Where the people who say ‘yes’ to an ‘N’ event work together to mutually agree on a date.

At the time of this writing, we have 6 people ‘in’ for the same date for ‘N’ Hanoi.

WHICH SIX, and which date, however, are yet TBD. But I am working to confirm things, to gather the ‘yes I’ll really be there’ assurances that will let me know which date, and which people, and how many invitations are left to make, and how much more walking about Hanoi I will calculate is needed such that we can arrive at the magic number of 16. Has to be 16. I am sort of obsessed about this number, if only because i like small groups, four groups of four, for one of the things we do at each ‘N’. Meantime, I’m optimistic that the right gathering will come into shape organically, intuitively, without being… forced. We are starting to converge on some things, some options, some details. It’s going to be very clear, very soon, who is coming, for real, and we will share the location details with only those who register. That’s how it works. That’s how we play 16N. To the journeys! To the new, the near, the now and the next. ‘Don’t push the river,’ a friend, CH, says on the bottom of her emails, ‘it flows by itself.’

ARE YOU CURIOUS? And in Hanoi? Request an invite >

The narrative of ‘N’ Hanoi, Part 4

At the time of this writing, we have 4 people ‘in’ for ‘N’ Hanoi.

IN THE MIDDLE, that’s where we’ll begin.

At the time of this writing, we have 4 people ‘in’ for ‘N’ Hanoi.

  • __, from the bus.
  • __, from the… um. The internet.
  • __, from a public event.
  • __, from upstairs. Who was first to join ‘N’ Hanoi. A spot that I am always eternally grateful to someone for saying ‘yes’ to. More on the ‘why’ of this, below.

SOMETIME IN THE COMING DAYS I will circle back to Parts I-III. About how it has been going all this time, since I first started to share out in the open about the journey of ‘N’ Hanoi.

From the time we started with having discovered the venue, to when the decision came in a sort of weird inward insight to commit to the doing, to starting the ‘N’ journey in this blog for the first time really talking about all the uncertainty as it’s going on, et cetera. And how I think I found 2 or 3 of us (but, in the end, was wrong about. Hm. Happens.)

Ups. Downs. Movements in between. Still at it, though. Still working towards gathering 16 total strangers for a conversation installation in Hanoi in June on the theme, NARRATIVE. ‘What are the stories we tell the world? What are the ones we tell our selves?’ A low-key conversation, in which no prior experience or expertise is necessary. It’s about the who, more than the where or when, so I am starting with invitations to people I don’t know. Asking them to add their preferred dates to a secret poll online. Asking us to confirm whether we can do this, whether 16 of us can ‘say yes’ and ‘show up.’ The two most important things you need to have happen before the magic moment of ‘N’ can even begin to come within gravitational reach. More about ‘N’ is at the ’16N’ link, in our menu bar at the top of this page. Check it out.

Those things happened, and between then and now Parts I-III of the narrative of ‘N’ Hanoi did, too, and I shared a little with the S P A C E community, which is what? Which is something you can find out about when you click the box here, and so on. There’s so many layers to this, isn’t there?

After the first ticket moved in Bangkok, I got this coffee.

 

***

 

When someone joins ‘N’ for the first spot, I know that the ball is in motion. The onus is now on me to gather the rest of us, somehow. It feels hard, sometimes, like trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat. But other times it’s very natural, very casual, very normal. Like today, when I met ___. I hope you will read this, __, I hope you will discover that this is part of an interactive story, not just me writing and blogging and ‘documenting.’ I used to have comments open on everything here, but they are always taken over by people in car sales or something like that, and it gets ugly going through all  the spam, so I don’t do that now. But my comment box is always open here, in case you are reading, or someone else whom I shared about ‘N’ with today (or in recent weeks). I guess I only just started talking about it out loud because I got the feeling, after the first ‘yes’, that there was scope for this, here. Hanoi is on for ‘N’, I think. People are game, I think. People say yes and people sometimes even show up, and once in a while people co-host things with me, too. That is beautiful, when it happens. That is conversation at its upper limit best. Co-creation. Conversation. Making things up, together, as we go.

Raining in Hanoi

RAIN. In Hanoi. Rainy morning.

Construction is still on next door, for some reason. Oh, wait. I think it stopped. Oh… no, no. I’m wrong. Well, anyway. Maybe it’s an indoor kind of renovation. Maybe they are on a deadline. Perhaps its just irrelevant about this being a Saturday, for them. Maybe, maybe. Speculations.

Meantime it is raining. That means I have to figure out an alternate plan for this morning. Was going to be a walk in the park, a stroll through the gardens there. Some frisbee, maybe. Some walking around and talking to people, striking up conversation, maybe, and seeing where they are coming from, where they are going. But I think last weekend that was a bit tough. It’s a park, and people are already used to people walking up to them in parks asking questions, mostly about food items for sale and would you like to buy one, that kind of thing.

I sort of wish I could speak Vietnamese, then I could ask better questions and learn more. But then again, it’s not about language, is it? The fact of our language, the skill levels of our language, the communication details of our language are not where we have real communication, I am finding the longer I spend in countries where I don’t speak the language. I’m finding myself doing the things I always did when I was stuck. Smile, gesture, be a polite person as best you can. People will relax. And when we all relax a little, we find out something better and brighter about each other because we’re not trying to put the words into little boxes and embellish them with writerly flourishy ribbons. It’s simpler just to say, directly, ‘Hello. I see you there. Where are you coming from? Where are you going? Let’s talk.’ But this! This idea in and of itself is… ludicrous. (‘Who does that?’)

But there is someone who does that.

‘N’.

 

Discover ‘N’… Open the box.

 

I THINK the rain stopped. Let’s go see what’s going on. In the park. Or if not the park, then a little further east, in the city. Four people are ‘in’ for helping decide a date for ‘N’ Hanoi. I’m looking for 12 more. Let’s see what happens. Let’s see what unfolds.

From new angles

THIS WEEK IN S P A C E, some sharing.

Of how we got to ‘N’…

  • 1997. ‘Let’s start a design studio. I’ll set up a hotmail.’
  • 1999. ‘You what? You want to hire us? Oh… Sure, yeah. I’ll do that. I have Freehand.’
  • 2000. ‘Let’s move. You can work at __.’
  • 2004. ‘Let’s move. I’ll work at __.’
  • 2006. ‘Let’s do that design studio thing we talked about. Should we get an office? Official! Shall we get an $800 color laser printer? Yes!’
  • 2007. ‘What the? People think design is Photoshop. Like, it’s the tools that matter, or something. Why? It’s not! Design isn’t about the pixels. It’s about the conversation. How good the conversation is will be a direct influencer in how strong the concept will be. Because it has to come from the person who wants to… It’s about… getting there… together, learning about the story of them, and listening… Isn’t that… obvious? No? Well, hm.’
  • 2008. ‘Let’s host some conversation parties.’
  • 2009. ‘This is. Interesting. But why is it so intense? Why is real life conversation so hard? Should we do this more? Should we make them into workshoppy things?’
  • 2013. ‘Argh. I prefer just mini-conversations to workshoppy things. People have too many… expectations. Half the fun is exploring! Let’s forget workshops. Let’s forget design in general. Let’s focus on conversations. Of quality. Yes! Conversations of quality are getting really tough to make happen. Outside of my couple of standing dates with __ and __, I just don’t feel like things are progressing. So, hm. What should we do? Maybe go on the road. That’ll shake things up.’
  • 2014. ‘I like this place. Phnom Penh. Can we stop here for a bit? I love this architecture.’
  • 2015. ‘This is fun. I’m going to do this thing. ’16N’. On NORMALITY. You know, I think I’ll give it a whirl…’
  • 2016. ‘Wow. That was fun. How about taking it on the road?’
  • 2017. ‘How about making ‘N’ in Hanoi?…’

HELLO, there, Hanoi…

Shall we play 16N?

Yes! >

 

 

Registration page for ‘N’ Hanoi: NARRATIVE

TODAY IS THE DAY. Registration page is up for ‘N’ Hanoi.

Related: What is ‘N?’ >
Related: Pushing Back on the Culture of Maybe >

For ‘N’ in Hanoi, our theme is NARRATIVE. ‘What are the stories we tell to the world? What are the ones we tell to ourselves?’

‘N’ is an invite-only event for just 16 people. We are curating a guestlist that we hope will reflect a wide mix of voices.

  • Were you invited to join us at ‘N’ Hanoi? If yes, please proceed to registration >
  • Not sure what this is, but curious? If yes, and you are in Hanoi 25 June – 2 July, we will be hosting ‘N’ sometime in that timeframe. Do request an invitation. You can do that here.

How I think I found 2 or 3 of us

THE THING IS, you just have no idea. When you go and say, ‘I’m here for a thing. A salon, sort of, but not really. It’s not a performance, well, wait, it IS, kind of. It’s an improvised play. together, the 16 of us, together is the important bit. Because who cares about ‘the arts’ or stuff on the walls these days in snooty galleries, who cares about what’s in our phones, who cares about the old books by dead people that line the halls of libraries in parts of the world where those books might have been interesting and important at one time, because, well, now, lookit. That way of schooling us just didn’t get us places. Did it? [Aside: I’m not a political theorist, or a sociologist, a psychiatrist, or an expert in cultural theory, science, et cetera. No. But I am an artist; and that means, I feel. I feel terrible about the way that the things that They Told Us Would Be Good For Us turned out to fragment and isolate us, turn on our fears and anxieties, and generally keep us from discovering our ‘edge,’ and most importantly, seeing what we are each capable of achieving as individuals with unique, one-uva-kind flair. I’m talking about us noticing ourselves, being who we really are, mirthful and fulfilled. Money and power and the chase, the hierarchies… that stuff… was someone else’s dream for something else. A time that died, that got dusty, but which we couldn’t let ourselves be pulled away from. The future happened, already. I met someone the other day at my second-favorite Indian restaurant in Hanoi. Who knows who he is. (Dude. If you are reading this, you need to really fill out the form about the conversation salon ‘N’, because those things where you actually show up are where the real learning happens, not these blogs that are written by people behind screens at all hours of the night on the other sides of your screens, because writing is a medium that is tired, so tired, sad as it is to admit this because it is my favorite medium (and yours, maybe?), but podcasting is where it’s at now.) And I don’t do that. So I am going to be quietly left behind the curve of Innovation and Evolution and Forwardness because I am too tired and probably too old to go out and buy some equipment to record myself and try to Get Famous. No, thanks. I’ll just write and blog and tie my shoes the old-fashioned way; one at a time. Here we go.]

INVITEES. Anyway, the lady who was with the person who I met was one of the two or three I think would be into ‘N’. And the new person. The one I met… yesterday? At the cool new cafe with the nice latte art? The too-cool, I think, cafe. A slightly-too-cool to be a place to host an ‘N’, but definitely isn’t a bad place for people watching. I love Hanoi for this one aspect, it might just be my favorite sport. Or maybe trying to make an ‘N’ is? That’s not a sport though is it. That’s just an impossible challenge. Well, mostly impossible. But not quite. And that sliver of almost-maybe is where ‘N’ lives. It is trying to be the thing that no one things can happen: 16 strangers saying ‘yes’ to showing up at an agreed-upon date, place, and time. For a salon. This one, this time, is on NARRATIVE. Are you ready, Hanoi? Are you there? Is anyone listening? See because that is the major part of it; you don’t know if your things that you talk about on the blogs actually have resonance in the real world. And the real world is where life happens. So I’ve been coming out of hiding a bit more and more, showing up at things, going out of my box. Saying hello to people who don’t say hello to me first. Saying nothing when they ignore me at the goodbye. Discovering it’s not personal, it never was, this online weirdness, this strange way of conversing the that nothing at all to do with the fact that some of us like to write and even at one point made a living from it, and others just like emojis. I hate emojis, but I think you know that, if you know me, personally, or if you see that I never use them, here or in the emails, or texts. Texts are rare. I hardly text. I text, though. I do. I sometimes text. Why am I telling you this?

BECAUSE ‘N’. ‘N’ is the kind of thing that brings up all sorts of things. You wonder, you think out loud, you wander. You go where you don’t think you should go (a bridge, yesterday) and you look out for people who seem like they might be the kind who would return your ‘hello’ instead of flee to their phones and glare into the glowing rectangles into the middle of the night. I am trying not to be cynical. I am typing into a glowing screen myself. Just, with a keyboard. That doesn’t make it any better, though, does it? I am still trying to find people who are interested in connecting. Just not through the usual ‘normal’ ways now. I do not do Tinder. I don’t care much for Meetup. I am not a fan of LinkedIn. I am, however, interested in chance, serendipity, looking around and walking about and running into it. The third person that I think would be a good fit for ‘N’? A lad. A youth. Let me tell you…

Is someone who I think would really get a lot out of it, on account of it being New and Different, and knowing what I know about being young and angry with the world, feeling like it’s all bad and everything, until, this one thing happens, this kind of bright light shines for a second on a spot that you didn’t see before. You see it for that one glimpse of a moment, and then, poof, it’s gone. Keeping it forever isn’t the point. NOTICING it, that is the place where we go from living to something more than just taking in sustenance… we go to places that connect us to things beyond just our day-to-day, our routines that might not involve little side conversations or the smile and hello that you would have seen if you had not grown up in a way that involves texting more than real phone calls. Real phone calls are so intense now, aren’t they? Well. ‘N’ is even more real life than that. And that is why I care so much about it. To the journeys, then. Pressing on. I made some real invitations, on email. And twitter. Good people are there, saying ‘tell me more,’ which makes me happy. Must not quit this. Must keep showing up. Must not let it bother me that the world is ‘too busy!’ and ‘thanks but next time’ and you know what? There is no next time. Onceness, noticing it, the shiny thing that’s there now!, that’s the entire point. The good news is there is still some time. My visa is good for another couple of weeks. WEEKS. I remember discovering four people in Bangkok on the four days ahead of ‘N’ there, and in London… SEVEN. So the odds are good. People here are a bit more open, too. I like this. I like it very, very much. To the journeys, then! To the next. —AS

 

How I start an ‘N’

16N‘ if you are hearing about this for the first time, is a conversation salon. A very specific kind, in which 16 people whose paths have never crossed will connect once, but briefly. In a city that has an ‘N’ in it. To discover together more in hosted conversation space about a topic that starts with an ‘N’.

Now, if that is weird, then that’s fine.

Because we are not trying to be conventional here. None of our events are about the usual things. We are not creating networking opportunities for you to bring your business cards to. Nor is this about meeting someone with a hope that you might develop some kind of romantic interest, because these kinds of things are, as far as we are concerned, ‘regular.’ Regular kinds of events, quite honestly, are becoming enormously dull to me. I’m not looking for work or a relationships, so that makes most regular events hard to go to. For a long while, I simply stopped socializing. I just stayed home. As a general rule, I avoid going out anywhere after 5PM on a Friday or Saturday. Those are the days when I write, here in my little abode, wherever I happen to be in some part of Asia at the time. Not that I travel that much. (When I do travel, it’s for ‘N’.)

THERE ARE THREE CITIES in which ‘N’ has been completed. These are: Phnom Penh, Bangkok, and London. Currently I am in Hanoi. I am, really. I didn’t think I would be. I had given up hope that in the next four weeks I could find and gather 16 total strangers in an ‘N’ moment. I am going to blog about this journey, this time, because for the last few I have been a little… Um. Opaque? Yeah. I didn’t share about the feelings as they were being felt, about the trepidation that comes with ‘showing up!’, when in fact you have no idea if anyone else will. This is a clear, honest and wide-open fact.

At the time of this writing, there are 0 tickets moved for ‘N’ Hanoi.

But that’s probably because I haven’t shared the registration page with anyone, yet. I have been, to be really honest, sort of… Worried. After a couple of small events here around town in recent weeks, I kind of felt like maybe this wasn’t the city for ‘N’, after all. Like, people say they’re interested but they don’t really show up. Then again, that’s true anywhere. ANYWHERE. And I don’t think, correct me if I’m wrong?, in 2017, it simply is not… Normal to actually go to a thing just because you said you would. For a while, I was adamant that ‘N’ ought to be about ‘pushing back on the Culture of Maybe.’ Now I know ‘N’ is something else. It’s own thing. Designed on the spot, like an improvised theater piece… As much as I like to talk about the theory of it, each ‘N’ is its own kind of jam. (Maybe that’s what it’s like to have several children? Each one is so different, but you give them equal love.)

Lately in this world of many things happening and options galore, I noticed in order to really go to something special like ‘N’ or something, you have to commit with something more than your word, now. A ticket. An obligation. A something else. I am going with tickets, for ‘N.’ What I did was this. I just extended my visa, so that buys me 4 weeks.

FOUR WEEKS.

Will I find 16N in that time?

Let us see.

Let me just blog it as I go, shall I?

That way you will see the nervous fray that sometimes happens, here. I am terribly excited to be back in Hanoi after 4 years. It’s a good city. A great city, really. Exquisite details, so much to note. Our theme for this one is NARRATIVE. I find, on a personal note, that I’m much different, too, having come to this side of the world as a very different person compared to who I have become, today. Asia. Living here. Getting to know the methods, how to read the air, between the lines, how you kind of understand another language without knowing the words, after practicing that, too, in Phnom Penh. I had imagined that I had to live in a  city where English was the first language, because, here I am, writing in native language English and isn’t that what matters for communication? Answer: NO. What matters is the ‘getting.’ Of being ‘gotten.’ I see you, I hear you. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, as long as this connection is genuine.

Of being there. And showing up. SHOWING UP, so important to me.

NOW, IF YOU ARE just discovering this ‘N’ thing and you are in Hanoi, I would like to make your acquaintance. Do connect. Here is the page with a form, [updated, now it’s working!]… just fill it out… to let me know you’re curious about ‘N’ Hanoi: NARRATIVE. Happening… Sometime in the next… Four weeks. I think. More to follow. On this, and other things. Designing as we go. Making it up as we go. Improvising, looking, listening, sharing this time. WILL IT HAPPEN? As with each ‘N’ preceding Hanoi, the answer is the same: We shall see. –AS

 

Meet me in Vientiane: ‘N’ is NEXT

16N gathers 16 strangers in real life. To talk about a thing that starts with an ‘N’…

 

‘N’ Vientiane: NEXT

LET’S MEET IN REAL LIFE. Just 16 people. To talk together about the idea of ‘NEXT.’ This is the idea of 16N: to gather people whose paths might not have otherwise have crossed. Briefly. Once. For a conversation of the kind you’ve never experienced before: it’s not a workshop, it’s not a party. It’s nothing like you’d expect. That’s what people have told us, at ‘N’ events in Phnom Penh, Bangkok, and London. ‘N’ Vientiane is NEXT.

#play16n

More information, including details of how to request an invite, is at this page >

16N