Spaces of (Aesthetic) Experimentation

Luminous Green: gathering
LG 2010, Les contes de Salme, Vielsalm, Belgium
Aug 16th 2010

Gleaned via the wayback machine:

Almost a month after having been in touch with about being able to work together in some shape or form, I received an email letting me know that I was able to participate at the forthcoming Luminous Green (LG) 2010 workshop/gathering/retreat (26-28/07/2010).

Luminous Green 2010 is a retreat about resilience; about a human world, that is enlightened, imaginative, electrified and most importantly – living in a fertile symbiosis with the planet. The retreat offers an exceptional occasion, a place where to learn about and from each other. In the process, the participants will attempt to jointly explore questions related to the theme of the retreat: resilience. What would a resilient human world be like? How do you experience resilience in your life? How do you encourage it in yourself and others? What can we do (or not do) as individuals, communities and organisations to increase the resilience of our environments and cultures?

The retreat aims to stimulate transdisciplinary discussions and collaborations between people from all walks of life – artists, scientists, designers, academics, gardeners, activists, social entrepreneurs, cooks and policy-makers. The invited participants include renowned experts alongside curious enthusiasts, interested in making their work, life or society an example of resilience, innovation and inspiration.

Luminous Green is designed to encourage the interaction and commitment of everyone involved. Inspired by the Art of Hosting, we use a range of participatory facilitation techniques (including Open Space, Appreciative Inquiry and collaborative prototyping) to spawn conversations, contacts and propositions, for looking beyond (and beneath) conservation and sustainability.

A few weeks later I received further emails, providing information and details on what to prepare and bring to Belgium with me. I’ve included this ‘Survival Kit’ at the bottom of this post for those who are interested! Another email provided a checklist and an LG reader (full of background information and suggestions for further reading). I travelled by train to London, and from there by Eurostar to Brussels, with the instructions to meet at “Sam’s Café (with the BIG Zebra)”. Under the Big Zebra I met the others who had been on the same train and before too long, nine of us had squeezed into a large van and were on our way to Vielsalm. Upon arrival, following a lengthy diversion in Liege, I found out that I would not be staying in the same place as the others, but would be in a hotel (actually, not so dissimilar from the other place) along with three others, which was just down the road. I was a little disappointed but told myself it was not too important. Those of us living in the hotel dropped off our bags and walked back up together for drinks (aperitivo on the terrace), a chance to set up a table for the bazaar and listen to a very short introduction to the evening’s activities. Maja welcomed us all and told us that the event was being co-hosted with Hendrik and Simone, that we should take note of the following day’s timetable, and that we would play a quick game, then open the bazaar before dinner.

The game was very simple but was a good chance to meet the other participants: each person was given the name of someone else present at the gathering and they had to ask those they met if they were that person. It meant you had a reason to chat to somebody and you learnt both their name and another name. The game was supposed to end when you found your own name; I had mine within five minutes and so I let go of it again and continued the game a few more times before trading my name tag in for a very strong tasting liquor at the opening of the bazaar.

The bazaar served as a sort of introduction, or appetiser, of the sorts of people present and what they were working on. I kept my table, or offering, very simple: a selection of photos from fieldwork sites (Montreal and Berlin), my notebook, and some shortbread (as part of my commitment to bring at least one item of your local – to be taken quite loosely I decided – food or drink to share with others). I had a wander round the other tables and chatted with other participants, all involved in remarkably different projects. There was little interest in my table, or so it felt, and I was left wondering if perhaps I had not done enough to generate attention. But further on in the hour, a few people came over, seeing me near to the photos, and asked what it was all about. Before I knew it, a few more people had ambled over, and then a few more. It was really rather exciting! I tried to describe some of the spaces, sites and practices I had been interested in and involved with, and talked a little about how my participation at LG10 was also an aspect of my fieldwork.

Generating attention?

LG2010 bazaar

Dinner was delicious, and I was struck again by the importance of food, or rather the cultivation of a warm, hospitable and above all, friendly atmosphere. Eating together; sharing food and conversation was both relaxing and stimulating. At no point during the gathering did the intensity or energy of the conversations dissipate, and although not always focused would invariably return to the notion of resilience or luminosity. I headed back to the hotel, to bed, to sleep, and as I was slumped lazily in the room zapped between the various TV channels, a rare delight. After the twentieth zap or so, I came across a familiar face. The documentary ‘Space is process’ about Olafur Eliasson was on, in French! I couldn’t help but re-watch it to the end (I have seen it in English) and I was left thinking about my work’s entangled ideas, people and words as I drifted off to sleep.




  • What can you expect
  • What is expected from you
  • How can you prepare
  • What to bring

Background information

  • Why Luminous Green
  • What is the purpose of Luminous Green 2010
  • Who is participating
  • What would FoAm like to get out of the retreat

Luminous Green retreat 2010
At: Les contes de Salme, Vielsalm, Belgium
From: Monday 26th of July, 6PM
To: Wednesday 28th of July, 4PM

FoAM, Koolmijnenkaai 30-34, 1080 Brussels, Belgium

The Venue:
Les contes de Salme, 6, rue Jean Bertholet, 6690 Vielsalm (BE)
Les contes de Salme is a large building at the edge of the village Vielsalm, renovated using recycled materials from demolished farms and castles.

Rooms are shared from 2 to 6 people. Bed linen and towels are provided. Network connection is available, as are simple presentation facilities (projector, speakers, large papers, post-its & markers).

Travel to Vielsalm:
As soon as the travel plan is finalised, you will receive an email about how to get there.

Food: Vegetarian food will be prepared at the venue every day, using local and organic ingredients when possible. If you have any particular dietary requirements, please let me know.

What can you expect?

Luminous Green is a workshop in a rural location, aka – a retreat. We have designed the workshop around four questions:

  • what are possible paths towards a luminous green world?
  • what happens to us & our paths in turbulent times?
  • how can we recognise and cultivate resilient behaviours?
  • why resilience?

We will explore these questions through a varied programme – from conversations to walks to visualisations & prototyping. We will do our best to create an open space (literally using OST, as well as other facilitation methods) to encourage your pro-active participation. Early in the workshop we will plan and design the sessions together. You can propose to host sessions, to participate in sessions initiated by others, or jointly design one on the spot. We will offer a context and some guidance, plenty of food & a place to stay, the rest is up to you.

More about:

What is expected of you?

In an open space event the key thing to remember is that you are responsible for your own experience. We expect you to be yourself – curious, open-minded and motivated. We encourage you to explore both common & uncommon grounds. Hope to be surprised and be unafraid of being challenged by your fellow participants, regardless of their background and experience.

More concretely, there are a few things that we’d like you to do:

1. Bazaar
On the first night we will hold a small ‘bazaar’ – to get an overview who is present and what people are working on. We’d like to ask you to bring some of your publications, documentation, physical objects, photographs, or a poster that people could browse through. If you have something to exchange or sell, that’s fine too. Whatever you bring, it should be easy to lay out on a table, floor or wall.

2. Sessions
Many sessions at the retreat will be open for you to design and host. A session can last from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Sometimes the best way to engage with a topic can be a presentation or a discussion, but other times you might benefit from an improvised jam-session, an expedition, an ikebana exercise, or anything else to engage with your fellow participants. If you are not comfortable proposing a session, don’t worry, it is just as important to be a motivated participant.

3. Harvesting
We’d like to ask for your help in ‘harvesting’ the process and the outcomes of the retreat. Whether you prefer writing text or poems, blogging, taking photos or drawing, there are many ways in which we could document and share what’s going on at Luminous Green.

How can you prepare?

1. By reading this email before you arrive

2. You are subscribed to the mailing list You can start by reading current posts or list archives, as well as posting anything you feel relates to the topic of Luminous Green. The others on the list are also workshop participants (from 2007 to 2010).

3. If you’re interested in the philosophy behind Luminous Green, have a read of this article: If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can meander through the LG wiki – reading, editing or expanding:

4. If you are planning to host a session, you can prepare by thinking about issues which you find relevant and how best to explore them in a small group. Let me know if you need any assistance from FoAM beforehand – arranging equipment or materials for example.

What to bring?

a. Comfortable clothing, walking shoes & swimming gear

  • weather can be quite unpredictable, so you may want to bring things for hot, chilly & rainy conditions.

b. At least one item of your local food or drink, to share with others.

c. Personal hygiene items such as soap/toothbrush etc.

d. Books, movies, music, games…

  • things that inspire you and with which you’d like to inspire others.

e. A sample from your work & life for the bazaar

  • stuff that is easy to lay out on a table or hang on a wall – books, posters, images, physical objects… (see above).

f. Props & materials for session(s) you’re planning to host

  • the more visual and tactile the results of your sessions, the more they may contribute to the atmosphere of the retreat – so think about bringing printed photos, diagrams, physical objects, textiles, tools…

g. Accessories for morning practice (yoga, meditation, krav maga…)

  • optional, depending on what you’d like to do (loose clothing, mats and/or cushions, etc.).


Why Luminous Green?

Luminous Green is a series of gatherings (workshops, retreats, symposia) for people who are committed to and engaged in creating a ‘luminous green world’. What do we mean by that? FoAM’s vision of a thriving future is firstly green – fresh, lush & flourishing. It includes humans living in symbiosis with the rest of the planet. The ‘luminous’ suggests ‘illuminated, electrified and imaginative’. Illuminated in the sense of enlightened, where we can act from a place of considered reflection and awareness of the reality around us. Electrified as in sparkling, energetic & vigorous, as well as literally producing & consuming electricity to feed an open, connected and clean technological development. Finally, a human world becomes truly luminous & radiant by drawing upon the imagination of everyone involved.

A luminous green world is a place that FoAM is committed to cultivating, through our various activities. The gathering in which you are participating is one of these activities, inviting a diverse group of people to briefly step out of their daily maelstroms and help us look at what’s around us today, as well as thinking about various paths that we could take, to make our lives more luminous – as individuals, organisations, communities & even species. We emphasize the importance of the involvement of artists, designers and other cultural creatives in transdisciplinary strategies.

What is the purpose of Luminous Green 2010?

Keeping in mind our aim to cultivate a luminous green world, this year we want to look at how to maintain flexibility and resilience in turbulent times. How do we keep our options open in the face of uncertainty? Whether environmental catastrophes, economic downturns, illnesses, miscommunication, or any other obstacles can become opportunities to increase luminosity. This ability to face the unknown by observing & absorbing, to respond, adapt and transform is what we understand as resilience.

During the retreat, we are interested in exploring ideas & techniques to help us cultivate resilience in individuals, societies and cultures. On the other hand, we’d like to dissect the concept of ‘resilience’ and question it from multiple perspectives.

We have designed the retreat around four main questions

  • what are possible paths towards a luminous green world?
  • what happens to us & our paths in turbulent times?
  • how can we recognise and cultivate resilient behaviours?
  • why resilience?

We’d like to explore these questions across different scales (from human scale to planetary scale), from perspectives of different disciplines and cultures, using the mental, manual & ephemeral skills at our disposal. In other words – we would like to stimulate a diversity of ideas, approaches and methods, to help us untangle the complexity of our present condition, in a playful and inspiring manner. Vague? Complex? Ambitious? Perhaps, but we invited you to participate, because we think you can shed light on vague things, clarify complexity & have the ability to implement ambitious plans. We thought you could help.

Who is participating?

Audrone Alijosiute: Works to connect Lithuanian environmentalists & improve their communication at ECAT in Lithuania

Rasa Alksnyte: Choreographs, cooks, gardens & teaches at Zanzi & FoAM,

Pippa Buchanan: Educates, programs, works with plants & people, coordinates P2P University

Carole Collet: Researches, teaches and designs sustainable textiles at the Textile Futures Department of Central Saint Martin’s

Blaine Cook: Develops open source software, curious about food, currently works at BT, previously leading development of Twitter

Pieter Dewel: Passionate about mixology, storytelling & Raconteurism

Cocky Eek: Works with play & lightweight structures to stretch physical borders of human possibilities, co-founder of Foamlab in Amsterdam

Sara Engelen: Writes & edits about transdisciplinary issues, co-ordinates Crosstalks & Pecha Kucha Brussels

Trudo Engels: Able to assume imaginary personalities, while coordinating the art lab Nadine

Maureen Evans: Writes about flesh and bone, politics and landscape, language and women, food and anarchism

Nik Gaffney: Connects everything with everything else, thinks in systems and is on his way to become partially luminous, co-founder of FoAM in Belgium

Vinay Gupta: Focuses on the stuff nobody else will touch…

Dougald Hine: Writes, speaks, makes ideas into reality in places such as the Dark Mountain School of Everything and the Institute of Collapsonomics

Loes Jacobs: Writes, organises and operates as the silent engine behind Nadine

Thomas Jellis: Studies spaces for alternative experimentation at the University of Oxford, recently completed field-work at TML, Institut für Raumexperimente & Office for Experiments

Theun Karelse: Illustrates, works on a graphic novel, works with urban permaculture & foraging, picks fruits & plays football, co-founder of Foamlab in Amsterdam,

Lina Kusaite: Creates characters for games & books, works with textiles, plants & urban gardens, responsible for logistics at LG, co-founder of FoAM in Brussels

Maja Kuzmanovic: Writes, speaks, cooks, designs social systems and events, coaches individuals & facilitates transdisciplinary collaborations, works as FoAM’s principal invigorator, initiator & co-founder of FoAM in Brussels & Amsterdam

Wietske Maes: Writes, researches, Hunts & gathers in urban environments one of the founders of Urbanibalism

Tapio Makela: Researches, exhibits and writes about media, society, culture, the environment (…), currently at the Creative Technologies dept at the University of Salford

Annabel Meuleman: Enthousiastically cooks delicious vegetarian dishes for groups from 2 – 500 people with amazing ease, founder of Picnik catering in Brussels

Mahmood Nisar: Coaches, hosts dialogues, initiates projects, teaches & facilitates group processes in Germany & Middle East, curious about direct experiences with a background in sufism

Anna Maria Orru: Worked as an architect at ARUP, now designed and founded SCENE thinking to help her clients incorporate systems thinking in their working environments and processes.

Nenad Popov: aka Jitter Jeday, studiesat ArtScience, works with software and media

Simone Poutnik: Facilitates & motivates collaborative processes, serving the evolution of consciousness , co-founder of The Hub and Natural Innovation in Brussels,

Maarten Roels: Working on his PhD at the Centre for Sustainable Development, active as a member of Klorofil and other community building initiatives,

Christina Stadlbauer: Practices bee-keeping and shiatsu informed by her background in chemistry, currently working at FoAM in Brussels

Bart Vandeput (Bartaku): seeks poetry in photovoltaics, conducts workshops, performs, creates kitchen-style solar cells, with strong links to Europe, Africa & South America.

Angelo Vermeulen: Merges art, technology and biology, by entangling living organisms such as plants and cockroaches with games and digital glitches. Currently working with ESA to explore possibilities of ecological habitats on space voyages.

Hendrik Tiesinga: Facilitates processes and dialogues, , curious about social innovation & sustainable finance, previously worked with Pioneers of Change & Change Labs, recently co-founded Natural Innovation.

Johan Zetterquist: Works as industrial designer at the Development Office looking at interdisciplinary collaborations to increase sustainability, recently co-initiated the project Foodprints with Anna Maria Orru

What would FoAM like to get out of this retreat?

For FoAM, Luminous Green is a way to broaden our views and question our assumptions, to be able to make our activities relevant and interesting to people like yourself. One way of achieving that is to have good documentation that we can look back on and share with people we work with. A less tangible outcome, but in a way much more fundamental, is that we hope you will take something away that is meaningful to your work & life. What that something is, we can’t say in advance. In the past, this has included ideas for new projects, new friendships, and new directions. Others found unexpected answers to old questions or opened up new questions. Finally, we especially hope for your continued contact & involvement with FoAM. But first, let’s meet and see what happens!

joe says: August 18, 2010 at 23:55

offbeat, quirky and exciting – did you have sensory overload from it all?

that momentary glimpse of Olafur must have been serendipitously satisfying moment of affirmation in your fieldwork? a transient space of clarity amongst the chaos(ophy) of fieldlife????

See also:

  • luminous/lg_review_thomas_jellis.txt
  • Last modified: 2023-01-31 09:25
  • by maja