MONASTERY NEW YEAR GATHERING SUMMARY (2015/16)
This New Year many participants of the Monastery of Dreams project regrouped at Ponderosa, Berlin, to live and dance as a community into 2016.
We emerged from many days of intensive group process and organization with a combination of starry and blurry eyes and with a clear direction back to Pontos this summer to live as community and host a dance-arts program.
Our setting was the established east German dance venue, Ponderosa. It is a colder, smaller, more structured space than our southern home that supported developing focus, clarity and maturity of the group. Within these conditions a joyful reconnection emerged; a heartfull coming together of ages, backgrounds, and energies over older eating rituals and learned northern European behaviors based on longer, darker evenings, saunas, and a piano.
There was a rich dialogue between issues of the heart on the one hand, and of structure and action on the other. A growing trust and a growing pragmatism danced together; fluidly sharing the weight and the vision of the project from one moment to the next. We were happy to witness a fresh balance between flowing and cutting shapes, and taking decisions!
So now to a summary of key points identified and explored through the week. We opened the group space around the bonfire as Mike introduced a vision of the monastery as an eco-somatic research center. In a written document, SOMA, he proposed an ecological heart to the community and highlighted issues of representation and identity formation. This initial meeting also sparked a list of urgent questions that we used to anchor the week’s investigations. On 1st January we hit the ground running with a 9am brainstorm on WAYS TO MAKE MONEY. By the afternoon we were on to Noel and Jenny’s ECONOMIC MODELS and a discussion of financial principles exploring sustainability and distribution of responsibility. The coming days witnessed deep sharing on the role of capital in determining INCLUSION and EXCLUSION, and debating a definition of FAIRNESS we would like to promote within the community. Do we want fairness based on an objective weighing scales and/or sensitivity to different backgrounds and constitutions? Often in these moments the group held a beautiful space that allowed specters from the last summer residency to emerge in the sharp, European light to be seen, aired, processed. Still now, in mid-February, a dynamic debate continues over potential financial models...
By the end of the gathering most individuals formally stated their commitment to a 6 month summer CONTRACT at the Pontos monastery and those that are able-resourced stated their contribution to the rent and financial risk. This produced a wider distribution of responsibility and risk. Based on members stated contribution we can afford the rent proposed by the owner.
We also sketched a preliminary SUMMER PROGRAM. This proposes one event per month following a seasonal arc beginning with a spring gardening-moving action, explodes at the mid-point, sun-high with a solstice contact improvisation festival, and closes with autumnal harvest celebrations. There are all manner of sweet things planned in-between, including Aguahara, bodyweather, Butoh festival, improvisation performance, family and children time, a wedding…the full schedule is available here.
The organization of SPACE and ARCHITECTURE were quickly flagged up as a sensitive issue. A subgroup proposed various visions of dividing the space to reduce the point of impact of incoming guests on community life. And there was an identification of the need for deeper sharing/feedback FORUMS and an experimentation of different formats with the aspiration to tailor and embed a form into community life.
In the final days the group identified and defined FUNCTIONS to be fulfilled between now and re-entering the building in spring, that included FUNDRAISING, LEGAL ASSOCIATION, CONTRACT, PROGRAM, LOGISTICS, SPACE, ACCOMODATION, FINANCIAL PRINCIPLES, SOCIAL MEDIA/IDENTITY, MEMBERSHIP AND CONSTITUTION and STRUCTURAL ORGANISATION.
On the last full day we undertook a SOCIOCRATIC ELECTION marathon to create a smaller interim group. This group is responsible for coordinating the tasks we face as a community to secure a spring time return to the monastery and establish the frame for a successful summer of living and moving together. The Sociocratic decision-making model of debating until consensus engendered a meaty investigation of power that supported a greater collective trust that a smaller team could serve the community. It was a full-hearted process in which the qualities and skills of members were communally valued and celebrated, leaving us with a “quiet satisfaction” as warned by John Buck and Sharon Villines in their discussion of Sociocracy, We the People (2007).
So to the election results; by consent of the people present on 6th January 2016 Mara, Nirvan, Sonja and Mike constitute the Interim Kollective, otherwise known as INK! In the vision co-created during elections the INK roles are aspiring not to the consolidation and rigid constellation of power or responsibility but should be lending greater efficiency to a wide distribution of work among committed members. The name INK indicates the group’s intention to empower the team not with authorship of our story but with our ink. Below right is Nirvan’s visualization of the interim structure that the group has been working through since the New Year, whereby one coordinator is attached to different sub-groups that concern each task/function. We agreed to review the working groups and re-distribute responsibilities and tasks one or two weeks after moving back onto the site.
As spring sprints onwards so too does a return to the monastery through the full power and commitment of many individuals. With renewed intentions, interests and frames -and maybe even a new name- we will open the gates in late April. We hope you will bless us with your dancing presence again!
17th February 2016