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!