The style and spirit in which projects start can set the tone for the way in which they continue, so I have high hopes for the results of a modest get-together in Hyde Park the other day. We all sat on the grass to talk about what fun, sociability and non-sporting games might spin off from the 2012 London Olympics with a little help from digital media and creative industries.
It was stylistically a world away from Government's new Culture and Creativity Advisory Forum where Senior Arts World Figures Pledged Support for a Cultural Olympics, and reported:
... members made clear that they believe that the 2012 Olympics in London are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase the very best of Britain's arts, culture and creativity to a world-wide audience and to encourage excellence and greater participation by children, young people and communities across the country.
The group in the park - brought together by Steve Moore of Policy Unplugged and Frank Boyd of Unexpected Media - also thought there was potential for tremendous spin-off, but hoped for something rather less formal. I particularly liked Ed Mitchell's hope that people might stage an impromptu mass Hokey-Cokey and Frank Boyd's aspiration for city-wide games of a not-necessarily sporting kind.
Lloyd Davis has already given us his thoughts on the event. As he says, we talked a lot about welcoming people ... yet are we up for it?
.... as I walked across to Marble Arch I couldn't help thinking that the park was already full of guests from all over the world today - how welcome do they feel? What do we do to help them out? Do we talk to them? Do we even recognise that they're there? And I started to feel a little more uneasy about the preparedness we have to share our culture with visitors. I think it's going to be fun trying to turn that around.
Anyway - you can hear for yourselves. Here's the contributions from Ed, Lloyd and Frank. Click to play - or see links at the end.
Dan Dixon was hopeful that the intangible spin-offs from an Olympic fringe would yield some social as well as physical capital, and Richard Stubbs explained that over in Newham, East London, volunteers were already getting organised for their role as local hosts. Leon Benjamin has written a book as well as a blog about Winning by Sharing, and so had his ideas well organised on how now's a good time to think about the role of events like the Olympics in promoting international collaboration. View Dan, Richard and Leon below.
The whole event was very relaxed with people coming and going, including Melissa Mean and colleagues from Demos. They could legitimately point out that they've been thinking about the role of the Olympics in culture, diplomacy and social legacy for a little while ... but this time it wasn't a competitive thing. Videos next time, I hope.
I have to declare a personal interest, since I've been working with Steve Moore and friends at Policy Unplugged over the past few months on what Steve calls social conferencing. That usually takes place with the benefit of some substantial prior organising, a facilitator and a weather-proof venue, so I asked Steve what he felt had been achieved on the grass, and what happens next. On the last point the immediate plan was simple - take a stroll to the pub. In the slightly longer term I gather that Frank Boyd and colleagues will be organising more under the auspices of Insync at Zero One. I'll add details when available.
The movies above should open in a pop up with Quicktime. If you prefer Flash, try these links. Ed Mitchell, Loyd Davis, Frank Boyd, Dan Dixon, Richard Stubbs, Leon Benjamin, Steve Moore.