I know it seems early to be thinking about the UK trip for next year, but I’m wanting to float some ideas in the ether…
We [the as yet unformed Australian contingent] have had an offer to be part of the Greenbelt worship program, and another to consider being part of the arts program. My natural instinct is always to say yes, but I want to get a measure of who will be coming to the UK next year, and whether people would like to put energy into these things – there’s no way it would be any good if i did it on my own!
It’s raised a few other issues – I’m really keen for next year’s group to be formed into an on-line learning community early in the year. Part of the reason for that is we realised this year that we were heading into new territory for many people – especially in my group – and that if I want to extend that line of exploration further, which I really do, some prior thinking and reflection might help us to shape the questions and conversations differently. It will also get people thinking about questions in their own context, rather than simply doing the translation on return. If we were to offer something at greenbelt, it might be possible through that group – although bloody difficult to manoeuvre a group into that particular kind of space. A learning community involves a bigger commitment than we have invited before, and it reshapes the trip which until now has focussed on exposure not integration. I think we’d reconfigure things a little to have some debriefing time at the end of the trip – a few days in a house somewhere away from everything, solely to talk about where we go from here.
This year my group looked at how public spaces can be created which might allow for transformation. We looked at that primarily through the lens of art. I think next year we want to do similarly but with more of a focus on curation – exploring how to be curators, rather than creators. We’d go with particular questions:
– how do we offer invitational, non outcome focussed spaces
– what are the short and long term spaces that invite people into a different way of being [that move beyond ‘clever’, ‘interesting’, ‘beautiful’]
– what kind of curated spaces help people to ‘lose’ themselves – to find their edges blurring with the other edges of humanity
– how do we negotiate with people who control public spaces
– when are the times its appropriate to subvert the system – and how do we do that with integrity?
Alongside all those thoughts, it seems likely that with the anticipated changes in NSW synod, Nic won’t be running her side of the trip next year. I’m trying to gauge interest in whether people would be interested in coming on that trip if Victas Synod took responsibility for making sure it happened. That would be a group looking at new forms of community [i’m stepping around the dreaded ‘fresh expressions’ terminology. every time i say it i feel like an ad for woolworths]. One option there would be for the groups to travel to the same places, but do different things while there, and come together at different points for focussed conversation. I think that option would depend greatly on the kinds of people who decided they wanted to come – my group last year would have found that quite constricting, as their reference point wasn’t the church at all, and the joint conversations normally fell back into that framework. With a different group it could work quite well.
We’ve also been musing here about whether something would be possible for people who work in school contexts, but the timing seems too tricky to make a greenbelt trip work. Any wisdom on how that might work would be appreciated. I’d also wondered about heading over before greenbelt, but i can’t see that working. Too many people we’d want to meet with are too busy with greenbelt. It’s a pity because so many of the summer exhibitions in galleries finish the weekend after greenbelt, and it makes everything a bit crowded.
So many questions…
I’ve had a number of people talk to me about coming next year – especially a fairly large contingent of New Zealanders. i’d love feedback on all of this, if you’re thinking of coming. Otherwise i’ll just make up a trip that i’d like to go on, and hope everyone else has a good time too! And if you’re not from Australia or New Zealand, i guess that would be possible too…
[Somebody will be reading this and thinking about cost: The trip, in the past, has cost $2500. That covers everything except the big flight [Australia to London], and food. It normally runs for about 15 days.]