The Stranger Festival culminates a year of conversations and meditations about the dynamics of hospitality in Durham, from tiny daily acts of civility to the impacts of rapidly changing public policy.  Duke students, faculty and Durham citizens, in collaboration with guest artists from Sojourn Theatre, host a series of micro-events on a city scale, intersecting with and exploring Durham’s daily patterns through workshops, encounters, performance and mobile art events.

Posted in Durham, Hospitality | Leave a comment


Here’s an image of the great invitation that Kim put together for our Sunday gathering. The printed copies are now available for everyone to pick up at Torry and Nina’s mailboxes in Page.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Weekly Gathering 11/3

On Thursday 11/3, Kim Welch, Jenny Sherman, Michael Oliver, Linda Yi, Dan Ellison, Torry Bend, Nina Prieur, Jules and Sophie Odendahl-James, and (a Skyped in) Shannon Scrofano got together to plan our upcoming events surrounding Shannon and Michael’s 11/13-11/16 visit to Durham.


Linda and Alex isolated the following core research questions from the longer list we generated at a previous gathering:

*What is strange to you? Who are your strangers? What makes a stranger a stranger? When in your life have you felt like a stranger?

*Where do you feel safe? Where do you feel unsafe? Where are your circles of belonging?

*What was the most radical act of hospitality you’ve ever performed? Received? What is the simplest act of hospitality you can imagine? What is the simplest act you can imagine that would have the deepest impact?

*How does hospitality change across cultures? Or does it change? Or does it simply involve different manifestations of what is at root the same?


We decided to hold our larger Sunday event in the downtown Durham plaza right across the street from Dan’s storefront, which may possibly house an aesthetic object we create from the research process.


Kim is designing invitations for the event and has decided to have paper invitations printed to emphasize the interpersonal, embodied act of inviting rather than our usual ways of inviting people by clicking “send” on our computers. Each invitation will be hand delivered whenever possible and will include another invitation inside it so that each invitee we reach out to will be encouraged to personally invite someone else. Kim’s design includes puzzle pieces that when cut out would actually fit together, and we brainstormed how we might develop an exercise involving invitation puzzle pieces for a spring event.


As we discussed activities for Sunday’s gathering, we talked about how hospitality is of most interest to us when approached in terms of acts or practices rather than identity-based categories.  Shannon spoke to her interest in how hospitable acts can “bridge a stranger reality” and Jenny spoke about the power of telling stories rather than responding to prompts about self-identification.

Stay tuned for more updates on our 11/13 gathering in the coming days!

Posted in Hospitality, Meetings | Leave a comment

Identifying as a Stranger

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The State of Southern Manners?

The New York Times is contemplating southern “manners,” in contemporary practice, and just how complicated race and regional histories are in this equation.

Here’s the article.

And, from Jules… and earlier address of the case from Loop21 is here.

Definitely worth checking out.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Experimonth at Durham’s Museum of Life & Science

I think I mentioned that Durham’s Museum of Life and Science was hosting the exhibit Race: are we so different? from mid-October until January 22, 2012. Today, November 1 begins their “Experimonth,” which they describe as:

a month-long participatory Facebook project where we’ll join together to document and discuss race in our communities with Durham-based researcher and psychologist, April Harris-Britt, and artist and designer, Dave Alsobrooks.

I signed up for the application. You can choose your level of participation from once a day, week, or month actions. I was intrigued by the list of engagements especially the “Cultural Plunge” in relationship to what we’ve been talking about regarding hospitality, thresholds, stranger/friend distinctions, and performance encounters. I also wondered whether you all felt there was a presumed audience for the experiment emerging from the language of the engagement.

Continue reading

Posted in Durham, Hospitality | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Measuring Measures

Measure for Measure is an “all media” exhibition that debuted in 2010 at Gallery 825 in Los Angeles and will have another showing Nov. 3-Dec. 22, 2011 at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University. I read about it in relationship to another interest of mine, because its curators were an art and science pairing: Dr. Lisa Randall, a theoretical physicist at Harvard University and painter/photographer Lia Halloran, who teaches at Chapman University.

As I poured through the included artists’ different approaches to “scale,” I found this intriguing description of “Let them eat cupcakes” or “The Cupcake Project” a performance and installation by Elizabeth Tobias.

Continue reading

Posted in Hospitality | Leave a comment

Hospitality fable

Sometimes I select library books for my six-year-old based solely on the illustrator. I want her to experience a visual world that is quirky, beautiful but not perfect, filled details that amplify the playfulness of language, color, form, and meaning(s). Since it’s close to Halloween, she’s been enjoying Hogula: Dread Pig of Night by Jean Gralley. Gralley is both author and illustrator so following my plan of action after we find a book we like, I looked up Gralley’s other offerings and found Yonderfel’s Castle: A Medieval Fable.

Continue reading

Posted in Hospitality | Leave a comment

Durham receives ‘Citizen-Engaged Community’ Award

I’ve been keeping my eye out on Twitter and FB for news that might be relevant to Duke, Durham, and our project. Today this story was posted by the Old West Durham Neighborhood Association. I believe the parameters of “Old West Durham” come near or encompass Torry’s house! In any event, I went to the website for the “Public Technology Institute,” which announced that Durham was the recipient of a “Citizen-Engaged Communities” Award for 2011-2013. Here’s how they describe the circumstances that led to the creation of the award:

Continue reading

Posted in Durham | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Derrida School of Hospitality.

Well, I admit I wrestled with how to share this a number of different ways, and got some very beautiful bruises indeed.  I’ve landed on sharing selected quotes… with enthusiastic encouragement to anyone to dive head into On Hospitality (with Anna Dufourmantelle – who herself is a perfectly matched hostess to Derrida’s thought paths) or Adieu to Emmanual Levinas. Either is an exhilarating trip, truly.  Expect more guest Derrida posts in the future.


On hospitality as a law, and related to the threshold:

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment