Social Art Project Roles

Social spacesHad a great meeting of some of the folk rallying behind Tessy Britton under the banner of Social Spaces.

Tessy is embarking on a trip around the UK holding Travelling Pantry workshops helping local community groups to think through what they’re doing and expose them to the sort of thinking, but more importantly *doing* that Hand Made is chock-full of.

My initial reaction to this (so far self-funded) marathon was “it’s like #tuttle2texas only with less cash and more hard work!” It also reminded me that when I got back from the US I was thinking a lot about the sorts of roles that we as individuals in a group had played as we made our way cross-country. So I share these as ideas primarily for those of us supporting Tessy but also for anyone else doing this sort of work.

They’re not in any particular order here. No one person did all of these throughout, they can be passed from person to person and sometimes more than one person needed to take the role on at a time. Also the names don’t matter, I’m not aiming to create anything special or precious here, just trying to explore the ideas.

Planner – someone to hold onto the structure and make practical arrangements, however little structure there is. Someone might have to pick this up when everyone else is going overboard on being visionary.

Visionary – someone to hold on and remind the group of what this is all about, what the higher purpose is that we’re pursuing.

Recorder – someone to document all the gorgeous things that happpen. Yes, ideally this should be everyone involved and maybe as a compulsive documenter I overplay its importance but since this can be as simple as a posterous blog that everyone e-mails to it should be the easy bit.

Tech Guru – someone who feels comfortable with finding the wifi and piping social media content through to various places. This includes being the human interface for people who you come into contact with. If you want civilians to input into your documentation, someone will have to explain it.

Uncertainty Holder – someone needs occasionally to be the person who says “No, we don’t know how it’s going to turn out, but it’s going to be fine. Really.”

Good Parent – makes sure you drink enough water, have meals at fairly regular times, get some rest, stop working, play a bit and have a laugh, help you to remember the important things in life, nag you to do the things for yourself that make you feel cared for.

Treasurer – similar to the planner, this isn’t a budget holder, or financial director, but it’s someone who deals with money issues when everyone else is getting flaky.

Shaker-upper – someone to help zhuzh things up when they’re getting boring and samey or the group is all thinking the same (in a way that is not productive)

Scout – sometimes you need one of the group to go off ahead (even if only mentally) to see what’s coming up next and what unplanned activities you might be able to do. While everyone else is immersed in what exciting things you’re doing now, perhaps someone can be finding out what’s fun in the next town.

Writing about these reveals something about my approach to group dynamics. These roles are often about thinking differently from the rest of the group, stepping out and pulling people in a different direction – zapping things when they’re getting too dull, slowing things down when they’re getting too manic. Zigging when everyone else is zagging – that’s me…

What I want to do next

Penton riseSo in all this talk about what I’ve done and why that means I’m worth supporting right now and going forwards, it’s easy to lose sight of what it is that I’m doing and want to do next. After all, I’m asking for micropatronage in order to keep working, not so that you can reward me in retrospect.

I am midway through my residency at Centre for Creative Collaboration. I’m Social Artist there and I’m starting (after 7 months…) to understand what that might mean and how I can live it best and start to generate revenue through it for myself and for the Centre. I still enjoy facilitating #tuttle on Friday mornings as part of this.

I’m hoping that I will be presenting a panel at SXSWi next March looking back at the trip some of us did this year under the banner of #tuttle2texas. In any case I am intending to do a similar trip, possibly reversing direction and starting on the West coast of the US. I’m exploring how to turn this into a sustainable way of working to explore any theme, idea or geographical space.

I enjoy performing and working as a musician and singer. While I’ve only sung and accompanied myself for a number of years, I’ve just started playing with a band. I love being part of an ensemble after playing alone for so long although it’s challenging (I don’t get to choose the keys for example!)

I’m enjoying making things for sale out of stuff that I’ve done. The first example of this is my postcards. I want to do more with writing, photography and other drawing that I’ve already created. Not only do I enjoy the initial creative work, but I enjoy the process of turning them into product and taking them to market. This should not be surprising. Markets are, after all, conversations.

And now I remember that this is supposed to be the content of my newsletter. So I leave this post as a tease and suggest you sign up for the list if you want to know more about any of these. First one next week. Promise!

Last tenner

I just broke my last tenner buying stuff for breakfast tomorrow. Hmmm… it wasn’t supposed to still be like this but the truth is that it isn’t a sob story, it’s just the way things are for today and things can change very quickly. [UPDATE: micropatrons & postcard buyers have saved the bacon for now… thankyou! proper update later]

I was reminded of this today when I found myself telling the #tuttle2texas story again, to a bunch of people who knew very little about me or the social web. I talked, as usual, about how I learned to keep asking for help and keep trusting that the right help would turn up. They were primarily gobsmacked that I took the accomplishment of traveling the breadth of the USA, fuelled by social capital so lightly, that I didn’t talk about how proud I am of what we did or speak with more enthusiasm about how amazing it was.

It *was* amazing. Lots of you helped make it that way. I could not have done it without you. But here’s something: I don’t think I’ve acknowledged for myself yet that you might never have done it without me.

Same goes for Tuttle as a whole. It isn’t about me, it never has been, I couldn’t do it on my own. But the people who are interested in the social web in London (and Birmingham, Cornwall, Long Beach etc) probably wouldn’t have otherwise done something quite the same.

That’s one of the insights I’ve been given as a result of asking for Linked-in recommendations. There’s stuff hanging about in this world that wouldn’t be here if I had been around. Good stuff, that people like and value. Not necessarily big stuff, but stuff that’s important to those people whose lives it has touched.

To those who’ve been trying to tell me this for years, I’m sorry, I’m a bit slow to catch up.

And then there’s the invisible stuff. A common thread in some of the recommendations I’ve had this week is the idea that you might not see what it is that I do.

David Jennings says “His craft works so well… that it’s almost invisible – ditto his leadership…”

Johnnie Moore puts it like this: “… one of his finest qualities is his humility and reluctance to show off and put other people in the shadow.” and “He will help make connections and realise the potential of networks and he’ll do it so skilfully that you might not notice him doing it.”

Jo Jacobs uses the ‘c’ word: “His work… has been the catalyst for so many other collaborative ventures and meetings”.

Nathalie McDermott says: “Lloyd… provides the perfect conditions for others to meet, spark off each other and make things happen which is a rare talent.”.

But if you can’t see it (unless you get to know me and look up close), how do you know whether it’s really there? How do you distinguish this from the Emperor’s New Clothes? And if you didn’t pay for it and it went away, how would you know? Would you really miss it? What difference would it really make?

No other earth-shattering insights for now. If you can see something obvious that I can’t, please do point it out.

If you’re reading this you’ve probably dipped in your pockets or helped in some other way already. Thank you. If you’re inclined to do one more thing perhaps you could encourage others to do the same as you did for me.

If you’re just catching up you can find other posts about it here and here.

macro works too

I’ve asked a number of people to write recommendations for me on linked-in – it’s been a(nother) humbling experience to see myself as others see me.

This snip from Dave Briggs has grabbed a few folks’ attention:

“Lloyd has the bravery to make himself and his life an integral part of his work. He literally lives and breathes this stuff. If I had lots of money, I would give a pile of it to Lloyd to just carry on being him. You should, too.”

So if you’ve avoided micropatronage so far because it’s just not big enough, listen to Dave ;)

You can see my linked-in profile here

Outlining Outdesking

#c4cc after another #tuttleI had a short conversation with Oli Barrett on Monday about the Centre for Creative Collaboration and we came up with an idea that Oli called Outdesking. I just thought I’d outline my notes on it here to get some feedback while working it up as a commercial offer.

As they say, pull something out of the hat and see if it hops…

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“Outdesking” is like hotdesking but on the outside of an organisation and with an added element of personal development.

What is it?
Take a desk for a day in one of London’s most innovative creative spaces, working alongside its resident “Social Artist”.

Your day will combine some coaching and learning about the use of the social web with exposure to a different work environment and introductions to interesting & creative people.

Who’s it for?
For anyone who needs to:

  • incorporate creativity into their work;
  • learn how to collaborate more effectively; or
  • broaden their network of potential collaborators to new influences.

Also for people who need a blast of inspiration to shake up well-established working patterns or those who need a gentle nudge and encouragement to start making the most of social technologies in their work.

An alternative angle might be to pitch it at companies to pay for people who are taking a redundancy package and could do with some help adjusting to life outside an organisation.

What happens?
Visitors spend the day (or a number of days) with Lloyd Davis, working at the Centre, exploring their particular needs and developing potential practical strategies to achieve their goals. Part of the day will include shadowing Lloyd in whatever he’s doing and being introduced to some of the creative collaborative projects that are housed in the Centre. However, it’s not entirely a day away from work, part of the experience is an introduction to working in a third-space, not the office, not at home – so visitors should bring some work to get on with too.

When can we do it?
Visitors can be accommodated any weekday except Friday given enough notice. Get in touch to discuss your needs whether you’re interested in a one-off day, once-a-week or once-a-month options

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Questions as ever:
Does it hop?
Where does it need more beef?
To whom would you prioritise marketing & sales activity?
How many shekels would you expect to exchange for a day of such riches?
Does the name work?

Plus ca change

“You wouldn’t steal a car, you wouldn’t steal a baby” I spotted this while flicking through @kamintone‘s bound collection of The Melody Maker (Syncopation and Dance Band News) from 1931.

Melody Maker 1931

Note it talks about “Unlawful importation” as well as performance – looks like even possession of copyrighted American arrangements would get you in trouble.

Festival as social object

Bude jazz festival 2010This is the parade band from Bank Holiday Monday in Bude. Marching up Belle Vue past the spot where I had been busking the day before.

An interesting part of attending a small-ish festival in a small-ish town is the way that local people react. My experience of SXSWi in Austin – much bigger affair of course but probably proportionately so – was that I was surprised to find that lots of people weren’t even aware that the festival was going on.

Not so in Bude, I suppose it helps when a band plays loudly around the main streets of the town, followed by ladies waving umbrellas.

The point is, that the festival acts as a mediating point between people. It gives them something to connect about – that might not be positive. I didn’t hear anyone say this, but doubtless there are people muttering about the crazy jazz people and how they should keep the noise down.

My personal experience was that it eased social interactions everywhere. Just carrying my uke around marked me as one of the crowd. Getting up and playing in the street – I busked both of the mornings that I was there – helped this enormously and for the first time, I found my presence not only tolerated but actually welcomed.

The owner of “Sweets and Treats”, the shop you can see above wanted to know all about my ukulele and my playing. He sent his daughter out with bottled water to keep me going and chucked a few quid in the pot himself as well as encouraging me to come and play closer to his shop when I set up a little further down the road on the second day.

I don’t know what was going on in the shop while I was playing, but I imagine that I became a social object to help smooth things between him and his customers, a talking point, a beginning of conversation, no matter how irrelevant to the actual sale of beachballs and suncream – the fact that I was there and could not be ignored was enough to make things easier for him.

And I imagine that the whole festival works like this too. Especially when a parade is going through, people can agree to love it, agree to hate it, or disagree completely, but at least they connect, rather then just walking along in their own little worlds.