What We Mean by Co-Creation

In most of our communications about GroundShift, we’ve been talking about it as a “co-created” event. This word gets tossed around a lot, and can have different meanings, so we thought it’d be helpful to describe what it means for us, and the ways we hope to foster a spirit of co-creation on-site.

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In general, for us as conveners, co-creation means that we’re trying to create a container for participation and conversation more than a particular event. We believe and are trying to put into practice the idea that everyone who chooses to come GroundShift -- attendees, workshops leaders, facilitators, artists, even the organizing team -- has permission to enter as a creative contributor, as equally capable of adding their ideas, knowledge, skills, stories, and experiences to our collective creation.

Hopefully this shows up on every level: in how we eat, how we relate, how we learn together. In our programming, for example, we’re centering collective conversations and participatory workshops. Here are a few more examples:

  • Our Artists-in-Residence will be crafting immersive installations that build on our collective memories.

  • Our Voices-in-Residence won’t just be sharing their own stories -- they’ll be helping us all find how our stories, and inviting us to share them.

We are also asking to participants to tangibly participate in two ways:

  • As part of the experience, the incredible Interference Archive is curating a reading room, with books and archival materials from past social movements. We are inviting every attendee to bring a book that has marked their personal, political, or spiritual development. Over the weekend we’ll be conducting a kind of collective conversation about those books, in the hopes of teasing out new themes and points of intersectionality and interdependence. At the end, participants will get their books back, or choose to take a new one. Hopefully, with a new relationship to the work. 

  • We are also asking attendees to bring an object that has some personal resonance for them -- something attached to a story, or a memory, or with some other significance. Over the weekend, we'll be offering opportunities to share those objects and the stories attached, as a way to get to know each other and remind ourselves of our attachments in the world. 

Generally, we hope its clear that we’re trying to put a lot of thought and energy into helping everyone feel welcome and safe, while also trying to leave room for emergence, in the spirit of adrienne maree brown, so that we can collectively discover, in real time, the experiences  we want to be sharing. This will especially be the case on Sunday, which we're leaving almost entirely flexible. During an "open space" session, anyone can offer a topic for exploration (you can read more about open space here). Then our closing ceremony will be designed together, so we can decide in real time how we want to carry each other out of the experience, and back into our lives and the world.

Our goal, through it all, is to help build relationships that feel real, and inclusive. We sincerely believe that by moving "at the speed of trust,” and by leaning into the values that we believe are essential to our common humanity -- values such as humility, inclusion, interdependence, and hope -- we can create something unexpected and beautiful.

Duncan Wall