Saturday, September 24, 2005

Greenbelt Pt 4

The Debates

As Holy Joes we had three late night debates which we think went ok … hampered by the usual things like the worship thing before us one night over running by twenty minutes and deciding it was inappropriate to clear them out … well it would have cut across the mood a little … but it gave us a bit of a time constraint that night as we still had to finish by 1am … sound crew being delayed (not their fault) and me having to fill for ten minutes while they sorted stuff out … me just talking abut stuff I had seen around site and one woman walking out because I made an observation about someone I had seen earlier in the day … her argument was that I shouldn’t be talking about people that weren’t there … which frankly as a rule would make for some serious restrictions on discussion … I suspect she didn’t like the fact that I was remarking on the persons unsuitable legs for wearing pink fishnet stockings … it was just an observation … really not being mean at all

We think we have decided that what doesn’t work for us is the notion of a panel … it is very greenbelt and we have always kinda just done it because it is the norm … but at holy joes and other places we host debates we tend to start off then let the audience dictate the direction with the odd nudge from me if it stalls … think we need to have the courage of our convictions and dispense with panels … it kind of sets people up to be ‘experts’ and I am not sure when we are talking about people’s journey and their feelings about things it is altogether necessary … there are plenty of places at Greenbelt where you can hear experts speak maybe our late night oasis should be about hearing each other

At the end of one night a lady approached me with apparently ‘a word’ from either God or herself she didn’t seem sure … I stopped her and explained that I did not engage in this kind of thing and hadn’t for a very long time … the next morning I couldn’t find my sunglasses anywhere … I spent the 15 minutes journey into site wondering if the ‘word’ she’d had was to tell me where my sunglasses where and I had ignored it … my sane friends pointed out that with hurricanes/famine/wars and pestilence running rife it was unlikely that God had bothered to leave a post it type note with someone else about my lost sunglasses … they also warned me about getting sucked into the subculture … I heeded the warning and took off my rainbow guitar strap

Very odd postscript was a panel member coming up to after the festival had finished to complain about the session he was involved in … he said I had been abusive and offensive and he was going to write to the chair of greenbelt and cc me into it … when I asked him to explain how I had been abusive and offensive he said he didn’t want to talk about it … so that left me in a weird place … not sure what his problem was … it was the night we discussed sex and I’ve spoken with others who were there and none of us can think of anything that would fit … so no idea what he got so upset about but no doubt I will hear about it in due course … from our point of view one letter of complaint is quite good going … I do love how people add stuff into the equation like ‘lots of people were offended’

… nobody walked out that night … nobody said anything to any member of the team or myself … and nobody has said anything to anybody over the rest of the weekend … I mean if I had been as he said abusive and offensive I would have thought someone would have done at least one of those things … sometimes just the nature of what we do and how we do it is enough to cause offence

it never feels as if we have enough time and what would be easier in a small room of twenty or so people becomes a bit weird in a large marquee ... the fact that it is late - the audience are a bit sleepy - everyone having full brains from all they have seen ... all combine to make it difficult to predict what shape the discussion will take ... i still feel it is something we should committed to doing ... if only that it provides a space for people to speak


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Kathryn said...

Hi Steve
As you know, i'm Mrs "Avoid-Confrontation-at-all-Costs"...but I managed to cope even with Monday night (there were one or two "Oh please NOOO ...he IS going to say that...oh make it all stop" moments along the way, but overall no probs). I'd agree that maybe abandoning the panel format might did tend to make the rest of us feel that maybe it wasn't "up to us" to speak somehow...I know I spent ages mulling over a really rather insignificant remark or two, because it felt as if things ought to be polished. Almost certainly more to do with my being pathetic than with the structure of the sessions, but I offer it fwiw.
Really enjoyed being there.