As always with me, choosing where to focus, next, and what to make, has taken a bit of time and reflection. Because this time, I added, ‘for whom.’ The answer quite surprised me. Went offline for delving deeper, and came up with some new metrics for S P C, its goals, and the people I feel I most gel with when it comes to co-creating. Like ES said, once, ‘It’s not for everyone.’
Dipika Kohli’s Interactive Papers Project..
Thanks to all who have submitted applications. If you’ve been selected to register, you’ll have been notified by now. To those who’ve already confirmed by registering, check your inbox—just sent you an email.
I thought I was done with ‘N’ for a while. I thought I had these rules around it: the old page for it and my best attempt to share the story so far, is here. (I had some other side sites going to “document the journey,” or whatever, but that became tiring. People wanted me to do that kind of thing, because they said it would be good, so sure, I was new at experience design project S P A C E jam stuff, back then, so I tried to do it their way.) Kind of went like this:
Them: ‘You need to explain it, DK. Don’t you have pictures? So they can see what it’s going to be like? You have to sell it to them.’
Me: ‘WTF, it’s art. You don’t explain art. You experience it. Then you decide for yourself what it means.’
‘Why am I even.. asking you? Gosh. You’re just not. Getting this, are you. F, f, f.’
‘Maybe I’m not that clever enough…’
‘You want to be spoon-fed or something?’
‘Yes! Tell it to me like–‘
UNDOCUMENTED. So mostly, there are no pictures. I think it gets in the way of the intimacy of the space. I do have one 16-persons-in-a-pic ‘N’ selfie. I did take a few shots in Phnom Penh and London, because, wow, it was just… beautiful to have the whole 16-way blind date idea in real life and so yeah, documented those but they’re like not that great of pictures because, iPad?, and also, dark. So? I have them. I have the memories, though, and I cherish those far, far more. I don’t have to share them anywhere. So yeah. I didn’t keep up with the whole side site journal documenting thing. Things like that to ‘maintain buzz’ and ‘include people who couldn’t be there’ got to the point where the mood to do that just… ended. So I casually was okay with it if I forgot the passwords or maintaining it got too hard and I just… let it go. These things happen, too. I said, after ‘N’ Penang: NOSTALGIA, that I was done for a while. That I would take a break.
But, then… I fell in love with a venue. Yeah, I did.
It just has that vibe.
It’s perfect, for ‘N’.
Yup, I found a crazy cool venue, with an ‘N’ in its name, in a city that has an ‘N’ in it, and *these are among the criteria* that I look for when I choose to throw an ‘N’ party. An ‘N’ party is a big blind date where 16 people show up to meet each other, in real life, to talk about a topic that starts with… guess what letter!
So yeah. I’m here, and I’m starting to go through the old conversations in old emails and seeing who might like to be part of ‘N’ in the secret city where I am going to be when it might happen. Yes! I am going to decide later! I am going to leave it open, for now. I am going to confirm, when I feel like it, when it’s closer to then, if it is happening or not. (To everyone, that is, who isn’t already ‘in’ on the conversations, where we confirm stuff and send agendas and meetpoints and homework. Not everyone needs to know. So I’ll be vague and casual and noncommittal with anyone who is not, of course, actually saying ‘yes’ to my direct invitation. If you just got email from me, this is the jam.
The hosting of an ‘N’
The people who come are the right people. The things that happen are the only things that could have. It starts when it starts (but we’ll probably say 7PM), and it’s over when it’s over (this can last years), and the last thing is, if you’re not having a good time or learning something, you can leave. That’s ‘the law of two feet.’ I didn’t make these up; these are the basic frame making rules of what’s called Open Space Technology, HT MC, who left the book Open Space Technologies on purpose for the random passerby to find it, in her cafe in Battambang, where said passerby (yours truly, DK) chanced to go (solo trip! Battambang 2014!!) and see it, read it, and begin to host everything in Open Space style, from that point on.
So… Who got my email? Email me back and I’ll send the next e-note in that sequence. I wrote it in 2014, but it still fits the mood of this cookie, and I’m ready to do an ‘N’ jam, again, with 16 people who are going to like what they see when they read this invitation and follow through the links.
Are you there, curious, reading, listening, and wondering? People have come from out of the city and out of the country to join ‘N’, so please get in touch if you are resonating with this. We’re looking for you, if yes. If you got the invite and said ‘no,’ that’s cool, really, it is, but, um, no way ever am I going to ‘keep you updated on future things!!’
‘N’ is a filter, for me. What kind of people say ‘yes’ to this wacky, crazy invitation to show up in real life for something that you don’t even know what it is yet?
My kind of people.
S P A C E kind of people.
Artful, curious, and ready-for-the-things people.
With that set, there’s no way that you can go wrong, as a host. Because the people who come, like Open Space says, are the right people. Guess what? We don’t care how popular or good-looking or smart or rich you are. We just want you to want to be part of it. That’s it. That’s the whole thing, the center of it. ‘N’ quests you.
Agile. Agile design, agile publishing, and agile ‘N’.
This is how we roll.
Comments are open for a bit, in case someone wants to say something about all this ? Email also open. The new new address, not the old new address. Tx.
LOOKING BACK, it must have been at the conversation salon ‘The State of Publishing’ that I got the first inkling of what the thing is that today I call S P A C E. In which new and different others gather for a unique, once-off, real-life moment for remarkable connexion.
This is me, at that event:
SO MUCH happened there. So many old ties, crisscrossing with new ones. There had been a decade interval since the time I was in the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, NC, for those who are not familiar). I had been there for university and my first jobs, including freelance work in photography and illustration, back in the 90s. So I of course had to invite some of the editors I knew from those days, including the people behind what was then the cool creative nonfiction-style not-a-magazine, and not-a-newspaper that was called the Urban Hiker. UH had run my first-ever first-person story, ‘Midmorning Lakeshimmer,’ which had been about sitting lakeside in Udaipur, Rajasthan, enjoying, guess what, a conversation. With a fellow passerby. The content of that conversation, and the publication in which it ran, set in motion, I think, to me, the notion that we can tell our first-person true stories, in the ways we like, if we just make a space to publish them. It was with great admiration that I continued to follow UH, until I read somewhere from the other side of the country, or perhaps when I was abroad in Ireland, prior to that, that it folded. Well, then. But the spirit of writing, conversing, connecting, and sharing: that was glittery. And that’s what I think I am carrying forward, here, in my own way, with the zines and salons in S P A C E programmes near, far, and online.
More to say about these ideas, about a hat tip to the past salons and of course, to the people who came, who shared, and who, in the end, made the magic moments happen. It’s all about showing up; showing up is Art, to me, and making the space for new and different others to convene in remarkable ways is what I’m up to here, at DK. Come a long way since freelancing for the then Spectator in Raleigh, I’d say. But then again, I remember walking into that office, asking what’s up, and getting a commission, on the spot. Not bad. Same thing happened over the years, repeating, telling me and confirming for me that yes, people want to hear about others, read about places, discover through the simple act of sharing what it is to go beyond the edges, and see what gems one might discover there. Thinking about these things, considering the tracks since I was back in NC, one of my many homes.
Another pic from State of Publishing:
OF COURSE IT IS IMPERATIVE that we have a strong sense of self before we can really engage in the kind of peaceful dialogue that will help all of us quell the ills of the world, what with its many division-making tendencies. Too this or too that, you’re relegated to too ‘out.’ You stay in the margins long enough and you discover other people are there, too. That’s how it happened, really. That’s how DK got going. We were wacky. We were curious. We were open. We were not buying into the program. We wanted new things, but didn’t know where to find them, or how they would change us, or why we felt compelled to go further into the ‘out there.’ The unknown. The not-yet-knowable. The uncertain, the different, the new. In the end, it’s because of the chance encounter with that one guest at SoP that led to the thought that it was no longer interesting for me to be in North Carolina, that I had things to do, somewhere else, wherever ‘somewhere else’ might be. I knew, after I put it down, and spent 9 hours writing a blog post that got circulated a little (and accidentally deleted when, well, it’s a long story, has to do with not making backups, something that people who aren’t as organized as they wish they could be have a tendency to fail to do), and yea, it was that time, and the people I met, and the things we said, and the books that got recommended, and the reading of those books, that led to new things.
Philosophy, I read recently, is the work to examine questions that will allow us to live more pleasurably. As I write from my very last night on the long, twelve-week stretch of being still for the ‘slow moment’ in northern Finland, I’m thinking about that. I’m thiningabout the chance encounters and the conversations and the people and what we made together. I’m curious about what will come of this, in my own thinking, and the style that will become what it will, as ar result of all the influences of being here. I remember a 17 year-old girl walking, at sunset, letting me stop and say hello, letting me say, ‘Thank you for participating in that workshop we did, the other day. It was nice to meet you.’ Letting me talk a little more about my feelings about being here, in a rural place, and sharing her own ideas, too. Then meeting her mother. Meeting a woman whose poise and patience were both of the highest level I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a lot of leaders in my life, and I saw that she was of that kind of upper crust calibre, and I saw that she did that work of mothering with the kind of gentle hand that we need to see in leadership today, in every walk of life. Because the mothers of the world know how to be tender. How to listen, with love, how to give of our affection. We aren’t expecting anything, when we’re mothering at our best. We just do. We just be. That’s the lesson I’ve learned, too, from being here, in Finland.
To the journeys, then. The new, the near, the now, and the next.