(framing notes for workshop_201501)

FoAM - transdisciplinary lab established in 2000, with labs in several European countries

  • transdisciplinary - 'a mash-up', people from all walks of life who consider themselves generalists and work to find connections across different fields and cultures
  • a 'lab' - a place for questioning the status quo, asking how things could be otherwise and then designing experiments to test these ideas.

We’re excited to be here, in another 'lab setting', a lab without a fixed 'laboratory' in which we’ll take some of our experimental sensibilities and apply them in a different context, but with the same focus on experiment: we’re all motivated and care about oceans, but don’t exactly know how to resolve the current challenges. We believe that participatory, co-creative processes should help us formulate and implement experiments iteratively - design, experiment, reflect, learn, re-design, etc. When dealing with oceans there are high expectations & motivation, high stakes. We believe that a lab approach can help with fear & apathy that can arise when the stakes are high…

Why this initiative is interesting for us - aside from it being a lab? It’s Marine CoLABoration’s connection between environment, culture and society. In the past we organised a series of retreats called luminous green where we forged 'unholy alliances' between people who would otherwise not speak to each other, by participants as people not professions or affiliation and only when establishing this common ground talk about sensitive issues. We believe that from differences much more robust outcomes. Another relevant example of our work is the project called Resilients, where we looked at what aspects of contemporary human culture are resilient enough to withstand environmental & economic turbulences. In Resilients we explored and expanded our ideas of future thinking and different approaches to adaptation. Most techniques today will be based on our experiences in these projects.

We were invited to design this series of workshops for the Marine CoLABoration, with the purpose to:

  • create a shared vision for marine coLABoration
  • understand what each of you brings to the initiative, what drives and engages you
  • uncover the connections between you and your works
  • craft an inspiring and feasible plan of action for the coming 2 years

Today’s focus:

  • get to know each other as creative & committed individuals with diverse backgrounds, skills and knowledge
  • uncover your values and assumptions: lenses through which you look at the world, as they can provide a shared focus and direction for the group
  • learn where we are and where we might like to go when it comes to valuing the ocean
  • explore what possible scenarios for marine coLABoration might be

How will we do this?

  • You've probably seen the online poll we used to find out which question resonates most in this group. The question that received most votes was: “How could the Marine CoLABoration change the world?
  • It is an ambitious question, exactly what we need to come up with engaging visions of what we'd like to achieve within the duration of the initiative

Even though we have selected this question to work with today, the others will remain in consideration.

To be able to answer the question:

“How could the Marine CoLABoration change the world?”

we’ll look at several things today:

  • Who makes up the marine colaboration - i.e. we want to explore your personal experiences, knowledge, values and assumptions, as it is you who will shape the initiative
  • What is the 'world' - what do we know, presume and not know about the wider context in which Marine CoLABoration exists?
  • How is this world changing?
  • From there we’ll create a several scenarios for Marine CoLABoration. The scenarios even though about the future, shouldn’t be considered as predictions, rather different 'vantage points' from which we can look at our current situation and see more clearly how the different futures could emerge.
  • We will ask how Marine CoLABoration can change these different worlds, and which values are important for oceans in them and then look at how to communicate these values
  • By the end of the day we should have a sense of what you find important and how you might define success for Marine CoLABoration and get a sense of who else is along for the journey.

It is a lot to cover in a day, so expect that it will be quite intense, but hopefully also energising.

We’ll guide you through the day, so you don’t have to worry about the programme or what comes next, just focus completely on what you’re doing in the present and on the conversations you’re having.

In order to end the day with a result we’d like, we need your complete commitment to the process - participatory, so it depends on you what we come up with. We have a few simple rules that we invite you to follow:

  • Be present: communication w/outside world minimal, only during breaks
  • Be patient: accept that the process sometimes takes time to start, or ends prematurely - whatever happens, it’s ok.
  • Be respectful: listen to each other, ask clarifying questions and give each other space to express yourself
  • Be agile: listen to your intuition, if you’re tired feel free to step out for a while; if you aren’t engaged or feel the need to change perspective, do move between different groups - we need 'pollinators between different discussions. 'use your two feet'
  • Be responsible for your own experience - it is up to you to make the most of today.

Enjoy!