Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Reverse Ark Workshops

Inclusionary tool: Free and open workshops that occur in public spaces

This past summer, in correlation with the FutureFarmers exhibition at the contemporary, there were a series of workshops that were open to anyone in the city and applied the ideas presented in the show to real, educational situations. These events allowed attendees to reclaim the role of student, but in a way that was very experiential and focused on the city itself, and how we exist in it.

I think these stand as good examples of inclusionary events because they existed with the goal of teaching. Teaching, itself, could be thought of as exclusionary, or elitist, as some types of language and organization can be difficult to follow, but the Reverse Ark events focused on the group experience above all else, which allowed the students discover their shared level of understanding. The workshops led by people from out of town (as opposed to from MICA) felt more successful in achieving this sense of inclusion because everyone in the situation was forced to experience something completely new. This newness also seemed to make the attendees even more attentive and interested in the subject matter. I found it fascinating that anyone could submit a proposal for a workshop, which seems in line with what the Baltimore Free School does (though less formal).

I found out about these workshops through friends and posters in and around the MICA community, but generally wasn’t familiar with the subject matter before attending. Many of the attendees were people I knew already, but working with these people in different ways with a specific goal in mind allowed me to understand them better. I was always excited at these events when people I had never met were in attendance, or when people wandered in during a workshop and asked to participate. It was reassuring to see that people outside of the specific MICA population were interested in learning about these things, and that they weren't afraid to put themselves in a foreign situation.

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