MOOTSPACES & THE SELF- ORGANIZING POWER OF NETWORKS
I’ve been reading a lot recently about “third” places – not your home (#1) or your workplace (#2), but that “informal public gathering place” where everyone knows your name. Or so Cheers would have you believe It got me to thinking about the value and importance of different kinds of social interactions. There’s not a hierarchy, per se, between those relationships you have with people you welcome into your home and those relationships with people you gather with at the corner pub. They’re both essential. I’ve been operating, without knowing it, that the best relationships and interactions were those appropriate to one’s private home. I’ve been seeking out people whom I can invite over for dinner or with whom I can, I don’t know, watch a movie and paint my nails. Something along those lines. I’ve been forgetting the role played by those whom I see at the coffeeshop in the morning and the regulars who nod and smile at the library.
And so the idea of a “mootspace” intrigues me. Do truly democratic spaces already exist? If so, where? And if not, is it as simple as Field of Dreams makes it sound: “if we build it, they will come?” Is building the space enough? Is providing opportunity enough? Or are there other ways to seek input and communication and consensus (if those are even the democratic ideals we’re going for)? Hmm.
Also, the quote from Suzi Gablick: “calls for an end to alienation of artists and aesthetics from social values in a new, inter-relational, audience-oriented art” is spot on. We should always consider the future life of what we make by considering who our work is serving. We as artists/designers/craftsmen/makers/whatever you want to call yourself have a unique opportunity and ( very serious) obligation to serve people other than ourselves.
SENSING and ACTUATING – THE ENVIRONMENT TALKING BACK TO US
The guy on the TED talk mentioned briefly the idea that when you show people a record of where their plastic water bottle goes, proof that it still exists on the planet, that it didn’t disappear when you tossed it in the trashcan, then you might be able to promote some behavioral changes. In other words, show people proof of what’s going on, and they then have something to react against, against which to measure their individual impact and begin to examine how they might influence/change that impact. Seems clear. and obvious.
Saw this in action this morning at church. It was Ministry Sunday this week, the week during the year when the parish asks people to consider participating/volunteering in one or multiple of the ministries that keep the church running. This could mean staffing the food pantry, or coordinating donuts and coffee after Mass, or singing in the choir, or visiting the sick or the homebound, etc. Anyways, at the end of Mass, the priest invited anybody who had, over the years, delivered food from the food pantry to families or individuals who needed it to come forward and be recognized by the congregation. And I thought that 1, it was wonderful that people get applauded and thanked for something they did/do that may go unrecognized or may be an invisible task, and 2, how useful it was for me to see just how many people in the church were actively participating in this one ministry. It made me think that if all these people made time for this, perhaps I could too. Note to self: thanking volunteers – and being able to visually see the number of people involved – is great for enlisting more volunteers.
Conclusion: Seeing evidence gives you something to react against or with.
TOWARDS SUSTAINING THAT WHICH GENUINELY SUSTAINS
Not much to say about this just now, but the idea intrigues me. I love the word “sustain.” Not “sustainability,” with all the baggage that comes along with that term, but simply: “sustain.” Don’t you want something that sustains you? That lasts, that endures, that supports, that grows? How can I be a part of sustaining things?
And as a last note from the Dutch floating city talk: Dubai as “a country with a strong vision”? I’ve never heard Dubai described that way. And while I suppose it’s true, the results of those strong visions are beyond absurd. Case in point: the palm tree islands. Floating towers?