Coming down with some international witch-brew of a flu seem to be a common side effect of going to an inspirational meeting of any sort. Once the flu is gone, so is inspiration. Although the memory of greatness, fun, people and learning lingers, the real momentum of “let’s do it!” can easily drown in the ordinary catching-up after a sick leave or just the not-so-helpful comments of colleagues asking if it was “fun”.
Knutpunkt is an annual conference on one of the most interesting forms of participatory learning and performance art: larp. This year, an unusual number of program items (ranging from an open mic night to insightful panels on cultural appropriation) contained loads of inspiration. As usual, some are also coming downs with a post-knutpunkt flu, called the KP-plague.
To me though, the real plague is not the cold itself. To me, after this and other such gatherings, it is always the lack of action that is the biggest loss. It seems we all too often pick up next year right where we left off, both with friendships and, more unfortunately, with our ideas and collaborations as well. Of course not everyone is affected. A lot of inspired, exciting and otherwise mind-blowing stuff happens, but what if we could somehow make that the rule rather than the exception?
As an educator in the NGO field I face this issue quite a lot and that’s why one of the best presentations for me this year was the one done by Trine Lise Lindahl, Lizzie Stark and Elin Nielsen. It was about writing scripts. Of course I was interested in the topic, but what made it more effective than other talks, as interesting and inspiring as they were, was that I could start then and there. Not just to try out what their method, but to try it out on one of my own projects and connect it to something I already wanted to do. It is always easier to continue something you already started when you had the slides in front of you, than to try to remember and start on your own when everything else competes for your attention.
This is to me one example of how workshop facilitators and lecturers can help us make better use of the marvels of coming together. There are certainly more techniques. Everyone at a conference is an expert in something, if nothing else, an expert of being new to that setting or of their own experiences. To make room for us to share that, without every presentation having to collapse into public debates, is another challenge I see way too few attempts to take on in most conferences, despite the wealth of experience in most scenes.
Most facilitators and lecturers are not professionally trained to do this. Instead they are generously giving from their other areas of knowledge and knowhow. The challenge is then for the conference itself, for organizers, program planners and for the participants together to change the culture. In larp this is something we know how to do. We need adequate tools and to learn how to use them. Instead of taking up creative energy for the new tools we need in larp we could easily use existing ones. Maybe there could even be instructions from the organizers handed out to those who respond to call for program items, covering participation and documentation?
So here’s a call for participation! I’d like to hear about your best ideas of making a presentation worthwhile. It can be anything from full on manuals on participatory workshop techniques to:
At the beginning of a lecture to ask participants to think about a few things to make it more worthwhile: Take a moment and decide in which capacity you are here now. As an organizer for a particular game, curious gamer or maybe a colleague? During the talk, try to put what is said into that context.
Let’s make tools for better workshops and lectures available to this community! Lets talk about this before next year!