Friday, 14 December 2012
Rasa, Shelli, Tim, Nik, Maja, Uroš, Bart, Carole, Alkan, Christina, Pacome, Dismas, Natalya, Marko

Notes on the outcome of the Flotilla scenario, our final future_preparedness prehearsal for the Resilients project.

three questions about how we work together on interesting things in this scenario:

  • yourself and the collective
  • the flotilla as a possible future
  • the prehearsal method

Yourself and the collective, + overall reflections

Tim

  • like being permanently stoned in a safe space
  • useful even if something self-imposed, creating a feeling of value by making our lives more difficult then more easy - like setting yourself a small maths problem
  • the ladder added an extra degree of silliness to the proceedings, but was it necessary?
  • gamemaster roles unclear
  • engineering problem with the power - what is the scenario and what is a “real” issue? - unclear where the line was between this
  • made-up responsibilities, but the feast the only real responsibility

(Additionally, via email:)

  • Reminders: having “things to do” that are of (external) usefulness – even if the usefulness is just overcoming a self-imposed restriction – reminds me of and supports self worth. While of course also acting as a distraction from things that might actually be useful to be doing.
  • Mixing of fantasy and plausible reality makes the investigation of responses hard. Nonhumans being probably the most prevalent example here, as the existence of nonhumans indicated a certain large difference from current reality, so investigating adaptions of today's activities to adapt to future circumstances was a bit addled.
  • The celebration took over as being the actual work that was being done, so there was little investigation of how we could work together in a possible future.
  • The flotilla model of being secluded on a vessel is great, as it assists in the removal from current everyday life. Adding deeper elements of that could be useful, For instance:
    • Communication windows, where the networks work for 30-60 minutes several times per day (rational: satellites or other radio based phenomena) so that we had concentrated times of external communication. Perhaps a crow's nest of telecommunication possibility that people could go into to keep being in communication – e.g. the dog situation, which needed more than irregular contact.
    • Roles could get actual jobs: the navigator has to press a button every hour in reaction to stimulus, in order to let everyone be asleep, or working (non pressing sets off a loud alarm).
    • Watches could be 4 hour rather than 8 hour to keep awareness, there is always an off watch so people are more or less forced into sleep / relaxing for 1/3 of the time.
  • The Unconference model of learning / teaching was good, would need more structure somehow. Regular updates of the story that each person has developed at each change of watch. The story cannot be part of the start (although it will be) because there is a variation upon each story for each person. If at each watch change each person tells another 1-5 sentences about their character, their story, their interactions with others, then the story can be built, improvising, from stage to stage.

Carole

  • entering a very pretty and welcoming space, a home but different from home
  • inspired by the names - first session transported me to the ship
  • took me a while to realise about the electricity crisis - need a system in place for critical or dangerous situations
  • names created an imaginary of a faraway land and involved a long rite of passage in choosing, which turned my journey into something else
  • an emergency at home meant I had to leave my persona for the whole afternoon - really affected my personal experience - frustrating
  • need to be very prepared for a 24-hour period in another role
  • enriching over-excitement about so many great ideas and things to do
  • felt everything took a long time to do - took ages to do simple tasks

Bart

  • challenge to still be yourself while being something different
  • difficult for a non-human
  • inspired by Ben Okri
  • I was not an agave plant
  • wanted to stir up things if I was bitten by a rat
  • impressed by the level of activity that developed
  • struggle the first day, next day easier
  • talking/interacting with objects, non-human entities, e.g. automaton
  • lots of ideas about the future development of the non-human
  • people created a multiverse, talking about external world a challenge
  • surprised by the activities - not more done with the mayhem
  • wanted to see people find resilience in their flotilla roles but people took up their typical roles in daily life
  • the fiction vs nonfiction tension

Rasa

  • natural role to play, suited me very well: serving food, organising, etc.
  • festiveness worked well
  • as a collective we have such a great bond with partners - like a family coming together, no need for ice-breaking
  • great diversity
  • group was a nice mix - at least one person you didn’t know but also lots of people you know
  • names were great but difficult to remember
  • creating the feast was extremely special - wow!
  • some things quite silly and not necessary but they brought interesting dynamics

Christina

  • activities very interesting but without aim or purpose
  • only 24 hours to invent these purposes
  • no real tasks or problems to solve (except preparing food)
  • difficult to leave the scene of Marko’s departure and go and meditate
  • constant business - strange to me
  • skills make the group very resilient, but we had to invent tasks to use our skills - we managed this very well

Pacome

  • didn’t want a specific role - nice to be a passenger
  • food - basic task
  • a passenger staying longer becomes something else
  • ritual very important and nice for creating the fiction
  • the mix of reality and fiction: a tool or liability?

Uroš

  • came late to the ship which changed my experience - missed the rite of passage, of leaving something behind
  • at first tried hard to observe and analyse
  • then just enjoyed being at FoAM - a time off, a different tempo
  • roles not very structured, not boredom, though some element of laziness

Dismas

  • French kissing created quite a lot of poisons…
  • choosing the name, chance to read about the culture novels
  • collective responsibilities confused with many ideas
  • being a cook was flexible - learnt a lot of things, e.g. making bread, schnapps, French kissing workshop, gardening
  • working and living together with diverse people really good
  • flotilla structure perfect
  • all activities a bit chaotic
  • openness about sharing information
  • getting answer from flexible demeanour you got a flexible answer
  • Theun was always trying to find time to sleep
  • power cut - contingency plans for this
  • real world vs imagined scenario - need to preempt the future
  • never tried yoga - everyone talking about energy - bringing energy to people
  • collecting resources for the future

Shell

  • entry to the Flotilla very moving, opening it up to people not currently at FoAM
  • enthusiasm and stress about the costumes was really touching because it showed how important they were for everyone
  • many different roles esp. with documentation - really nice but on reflection maybe just one role would have been better - as a quiet meditation
  • meditation on responsibility
  • relationship to the collective - sometimes I need my own space
  • didn’t take time to be there for myself
  • dinner was magical
  • a vague scheme materialises
  • sense of humour really resilient
  • to see the space transformed into the Flotilla was magical
  • not sure if I understood the role switch - getting into character - maybe more distance to get into character
  • magic to be floated away on the Flotilla

Maja

  • continuous weight of responsibility of captain
  • this ship would have sunk
  • things going wrong - electricity was a simple thing but nothing happened
  • magnifying glass on how things already are in this group
  • amazingly strong with simple clear fun tasks, celebrations - rare to find such trust and ease of togetherness - we could run a restaurant or club easily
  • but I’d be really scared to rely on other when things go wrong
  • marko’s escape got done really well
  • but the shared purpose part was lost in the flurry of activities that are nice but not relevant beyond the group
  • very painful because it became crystal clear that many things need to change

Nik

  • three main components of the exercise:
    • feast
    • publication
    • maintaining and exploring the scenario
  • good at randomly dissipating nervous energy - exciting and frivolous things
  • a distance between activities and scenario - making the connection was difficult
  • feast leaving behind apocalyptic visions
  • the world didn’t end
  • publication a good task to reflect on
  • brought into focus patterns and antipatterns
  • getting into character and finding a place within the scenario enjoyable
  • we were building something, but it was very unclear

Natalya

  • as a mushroom, mixed feelings
  • didn’t know the people or the space
  • confused with the costumes - over costumed, over-theatrical - just wanted to shake people out of this
  • wanted to some inner connection
  • lack of observation, decisions about how and what to do - ok for one day but not longer
  • overplayed and artificial, but very enjoyable - still need to digest the experience
  • Slovenia was very different - more time to develop
  • good to see the same people in different situations but still within one network

Marko

  • lost my resilience
  • just had an intense month of real-world practices
  • liberating situation - thought it was going to be very different - expected very concrete tasks - realised this was not the case
  • stoned or removed from reality but shared common interests
  • leaving the Flotilla was like bringing an inner world into the outer world - great sense of purpose in the morning - we actually had the ladder, otherwise would have to use sheets
  • interesting to see what we were doing made sense
  • role-playing was great
  • sleeping arrangements and rhythms of sleeping interesting - rest extremely important for resilience
  • tendency to sleep in this scenario - in any normal gathering no one would just start sleeping - quite beautiful
  • morning really well executed - really sad to leave
  • sent SMSs to report my progress after disembarking the Flotilla
  • met the Slovenian prime minister (surrounded by about 20-35 women) at the airport after the Flotilla - how to explain where I’d just come from?
  • 24 hours very short - read the bulk of the documentation just before the scenario
  • shows we still have a child inside - this is the most important and resilient lesson we can learn
  • how I described the Flotilla to others: “I was just with a group of very beautiful people”

Alkan

  • had a screw loose
  • struggle with the whole issue of personal vs collective
  • compressed 24 hours was a nightmare come true, was dreading it
  • will never be resilient in this kind of scenario
  • planning was nice, but got flu just before starting - this made the lack of inner connection to the scenario more pronounced and made it unenjoyable
  • but lot of beautiful little moments - like the the late-night silent “ghost” party
  • but difficult to find a connection with prehearsal overall

Cocky [via email]

  • the group dynamics were going down the drain
  • the ones not willing to participate or giving to the whole might have the hardest time, and were just sucking energy from the others
  • this mechanism amplified on the Flotilla
  • everybody was sort of more floating around rather than heading towards a clear direction
  • for myself, I would prefer not to to dedicate myself for/in a community (unless i could fulfil the role of a passenger)
  • feels too enclosed - the Flotilla felt more like a cut off entity from the world instead of living in the world

Trudo [via email]

  • IMO it proves that linear, and non linear travel are best suited as a way of working, collaborating, or simply getting together
  • overall, the 24-hour timeframe, and the politeness of the participants prevented much of the fragility to break
  • timeframe was short, on the positive: no need for a lot of magic to make us believe in the trip

Nico [via email]

  • it is not an everyday thing for me to find company to speculate without boundaries
  • somehow it ended happening that about a couple of dozen of us where gathered in the same space at the same time
  • it is a efficient exercise to spend the most valuable resource that we all have (time) under this conditions
  • being shameless in proposing new subjects which are then fed by the others is a dynamic in such interesting projects
  • I just found a great tool that can be used many times and that will be shared with many others

Loes [via email]

  • I think the well established setting (location, costumes, food supplies, gifts) was very good and turned out very important
  • appropriating a role went quite naturally when you can stay close to your own person
  • there was place for different ambiences: serious thoughts, silence at the campfire, fun, party, ..
  • open questions that were posed:
    • what does the outside world look like during flotilla?
    • what catastrophes would make us actually change our lives this drastically?
    • would you ever join a community like flotilla?
  • the prehearsal reflects very well the travels and experiments we've taken during Resilients - it was good to have this experience with the whole group

What was resilient and what was fragile?

  • respect
  • agreement on shared means
  • shared supply issues
  • issues with taking care of your own trash, awareness of your traces - cleaning up after yourself but goes beyond this to an awareness of the space, of others, of what you use
  • as a group we could have resolved this - seeing the real problems and addressing them immediately with people able and willing to help
  • issues of self-sustainability and responsibility
  • documentation - important but fragile
  • lack of clarity in certain situations - e.g. in an emergency: what is an emergency and what to do?
  • but this is in conflict with the fiction
  • weird in-and-out fiction-real situation contributed to this feeling of being lost
  • set of principles (not rules)
  • imbalance in principles
  • rules and responsibilities emerging spontaneously
  • how to self-organise when working together
  • roles and real things - if every role had a concrete duty it might have enhanced the prehearsal
  • practical down-to-earth survival vs cultural creative resilience - Carole did not know we were doing both - work and life - bot resilient and fragile
  • ritual important - concretely for the group and keeping the fiction alive - bridge between everyday life and the fiction
  • no game master, laws of physics - fragile
  • 100% commitment fragile
  • sharing knowledge, resources - resilient
  • number of people involved - a limit to the number of people in a group that can function without resorting to formal rules - 25 people?
  • original idea of flotilla to have 100-200 people - a mini-society
  • demon of resilience - high expectations
  • angel - playfulness and lightness
  • and for non-humans? - they are both angels and demons
  • time for feedback
  • e.g. group photos a time for feedback, time out, “reality” checks

Prehearsal method

  • names - good for another role but took too long to remember
  • introduced a fictional element that had less to do with us or our context
  • made the exchange more difficult
  • everything too complex to do in 24 hours
  • people went out of role
  • first shift too short - too many things to do
  • first shift too long?
  • boat metaphor good
  • 4 hours a good time - long enough but short enough
  • actual design of the flotilla not clear
  • unexpected future but no unexpected things happening
  • Rasa for example had lots of predefined tasks - she knew what would happen - but most of us didn’t have this sense
  • Rasa not aware we would have to divide roles so strictly beforehand
  • unequal situation - e.g. Rasa was at home and knew the space/scenario
  • time to allow roles to evolve - part of the [pre]design or collectively decided
  • everyone involved in the prehearsal should be involved in the scenario preparation from beginning to end - or else have a much more defined structure
  • dilemma of more or less structure - if other people are coming in more structure is needed
  • a neutral or new space
  • methodology really important and takes time - is it really in character, performing, are you playing roles or is this necessary?
  • extrapolation of yourself - what would have made this more clear?
  • email terrible way of communicating complex stuff - so much left unsaid, what is really important and not
  • briefing as important as the prehearsal: more time to talk before going into the prehearsal - deeper collective briefing
  • no focus on the dinner the night before, and the morning was also chaotic
  • last big meeting 6 months ago, wanted to catch up and talk about our projects but if I’m this character what do I do?
  • an unstructured day where there were no roles, names, responsibilities would have been good
  • but with formal thing first then people are committed
  • tried the informal gathering in June but only two people would have been there
  • handbook discussion first?
  • preparation vs playing - different between preparing it for ourselves and preparing it for others
  • confusion over playing for yourself and for others
  • Marko’s role can fit in the scenario - so let it happen
  • strictness vs spontaneity
  • we could work Marko beforehand, didn’t know about Bart’s
  • several briefings?
  • e.g. only told our stories once
  • but if at every shift change there was an elaboration of the story it would be more effective
  • sit down for 20 minutes to write down our roles as a ritual
  • prehearsing a skill you can learn?
  • if we were on a ship, where are we going, what was the weather, sensual experience of being on the sea?
  • scenario round the ship itself - out to sea on its own, travelling round from place to place?
  • work on narrative details would have made it more effective
  • lots of details not decided on - the network, the water, etc.
  • world-building - more frequent discussions would helped this
  • integrate a crisis plan for all participants
  • building up the values of the flotilla - curiosity, integrity…
  • characters - picked beforehand, not changing characters quickly
  • confusing changes of characters
  • could have made roles more clear from the beginning
  • observers - where the ship was heading to - observing even the music as a way of telling where we were
  • clearly integrated we could know where we were
  • never put your eggs in one basket
  • never put all resilients in one boat
  • world-building vs improvisation
  • develop links, foster the mycelia, where will the mushrooms pop up