Spending the day at freespace on a Saturday… 11am and I roll upstairs pretty much by myself. I meet a lone wanderer and we chat for a bit about github post-commit hooks, but then he takes off and I set up shop for my main task of the day, to get some time lapse video cameras and ninja block sensors wired up for some social science analysis we are running in the space. This is a task that might take me an hour or two at home – unboxing, initial configuration, and some duct tape here and there. At [freespace], I was setting up from 11-8pm!
At first I was frustrated – distracted by all these people… people who want to talk! Who wanted to share ideas, ask questions, be inquisitive… . and then I stepped back and realized that this IS [freespace]. Freespace isn’t about efficiency, it’s about emergence. Here I was generating relationships, collaborations, and new ideas… and yet some part of me was doing it kicking and screaming. We are taught that “progress” and “success” have predefined outcomes, brought about by assembly lines of hipster co-workers listening to pandora and avoiding eye contact, then socializing in prescribed boxes called happy hours.
By contrast, [Freespace] holds space for cultivating wonder and surprise, for efficiency distributed over time, peppered with play and curiosity in ways that by definition we cannot control. It challenges us to be present while also manifesting our dreams. And if I couldn’t hack that, I shouldn’t be there.
Over those many hours, I talked to people about the project and added them to the [freespace/science] facebook group. I painted my nails black while sitting in a chair that sonified my heartbeat. I got distracted by the clothing swap and emerged with 5 new ([free!]) pieces of clothing that I look pretty damn awesome in. I had a conversation about love, and a conversation about the meaning of [free] and new economic systems. And ultimately with some help from people less afraid of heights than me, they climbed high onto ladders and we installed the time lapse cameras that represent the first step taken on one of my own long-time dreams: to study the dynamics of social interactions in build environments.
This is the gift of [freespace].