Sorry these have taken so long to do – a hazard of both organising and minuting a meeting!
So… the intention that I set out for the meeting was to discuss what Black Lab could become, talk about names and intentions and how it could be described both internally and externally.
The group that were present were all very clear that a name was not important – we all felt happy with simply ‘Lab’ or ‘No Name lab’ or ‘Lab with No Name’. We didn’t feel we needed to change from the new blog Andy has set up (this one!). This was discussed at the end of the meeting put it feels most appropriate to say it now, in these minutes.
We started by Dan reading a text he found in a book. It was a letter written by 16 Beaver http://www.16beavergroup.org/ which outlined some of what they had done and might do. What really stood out was the idea of ‘could be’ – that there was no manifesto or list of rules or goals but rather a sense of what could be – an ongoing list that can be added to as things develop with the Lab. Dan will hopefully add this to the blog as it was really inspirational for us.
It was from this idea of ‘could be’ that the rest of the meeting took a hold.
We discussed many things that it is hard to relay in detail here so I will simply try to sum up! I wrote a series of post-it notes on the night relating to words I thought were important in the conversation. Below are those words with some explanation.
In no particular order.
The group should remain loose structured and organised to allow for organic development and what ‘could be’
The momentum that was achieved at Green Sands was essential and kept things moving forward and lively. It perhaps caused added stress, however, as it put tension on the group to do things in a set time period. Somehow we need to retain a sense of momentum without too much pressure!
Meeting on regular dates helps people to come in and out and get on with their lives. It also helps to open the Lab to other people.
Structure to allow business to be done
No matter how much ‘could be’ there is, there will always be business to be done – such as arranging meetings, events, trips, equipment and the more esoteric stuff like feedback and sharing ideas. We all felt that it was an essential part of the progress of the Lab to have business type meetings. See below for how we worked on this.
Relating to the above – the activity of Black Lab emerged from a process of events, meetings, talking. We need to retain a structure to allow this process to happen.
Everyone agreed that a really important part of Black Lab was that it was a chance to see friends, chat, drink, eat and that the social part should not be neglected or sidelined in the Lab!
Ability to take ideas into a deeper focus – this is where spin off events, meetings, listening sessions etc. can be really useful – for those that want to go deeper into topics that have arisen in the regular meetings.
Tensions and emotions
It was commented that a number of people had actually been upset by Black Lab meetings (not a particular one, or because of individuals). It was acknowledged that the Lab could stir emotions and it can be a challenge to keep coming. This shouldn’t be swept aside or dismissed, nor should it stop passion and debate!
Where issues are particularly of interest, activities could be established (such as a reading or discussion group) to explore these further.
Working with people
The process of putting on events, running workshops etc. allowed people to work together who wouldn’t have done so otherwise
Trust our instincts
Moving on to things of a more practical nature…..How the Lab operates from here…..
Starts from the meeting
The basis of the Lab is a bi-weekly meeting, 2 per month, on Tuesday nights.
The first part of the meeting is relating to the business of the Lab and would include critical feedback on other meetings/events/sessions that have taken place since the last meeting.
The second part of the meeting could be a film screening, a poetry recital, a reading, a music workshop, a walk, a visit to the pub, it could be anything! But they would be activities that could take place on a Tuesday night. Activities that need a more prolonged time or just a different day (like the 24hr music jam) would be organised separately.
The Lab does not have to stay in one place. Whilst the Black Dogs have Saw Mill Yard it makes sense to use this when it is appropriate and it gives a good solid base to get things going from. But the Lab is not defined by venue. If an activity needs to be somewhere else, or is better suited to being elsewhere, then it should be. This includes the bi-weekly meetings. See the image for ideas of where we could go e.g urban or rural hiking, graveyards, Sheffield, Pubs, Lumen, people’s houses…..
The structure does not define the Lab – it simply gives it a logistical framework
In order to maintain momentum, forward planning would be a damn good idea. Keeping a calendar that is used to plan 8 weeks ahead could encourage activities outside of the bi-weekly meetings to actually happen.
For events the person organising it should set the invite list according to what they feel is appropriate or manageable.
We also discussed making the bi-weekly meetings more approachable and open. It was discussed that specifically inviting people you know, and repeating that invitation a few times would be a good way to entice new folk along.
In relation to the Saw Mill Yard space we discussed there being 8 key holders that wouldn’t just be members of Black Dogs. This means that a member of Black Dogs isn’t obliged to be at meetings unless one they are convening it; although they probably will want to be there most of the time anyway!
Key holders would need to take turns to open up for meetings and events. With their being 8 this shouldn’t need to be very often.
Volunteers at the meeting/current holders:
Lucy and Stu Bannister
I am going to try summing up:
No Name Lab (Lab, The Lab with No Name) is a peripatetic group of individuals that meet twice a month to share conversations about and through creative outputs that are their own and other people’s.
It could be many things; the list of what it could be will continue to grow as the Lab evolves.
The Lab meet regularly on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month.
Activities are not restricted to the regular meetings; these simply offer a structure to the Lab in order to generate momentum and a process of investigation. They allow an entry point for people to join in and for activities to be discussed, organised and staged.
All Lab attendees are invited to convene the regular meetings, to organise activities, arrange appropriate venues, generate specific conversations for deeper exploration, or any of the other possibilities that can be seen to be feasible within the Lab.