This is an invitation to an experiment, an initial trial of what we’re hoping might become a new tool for unleashing collective imagination in public assemblies.
Everyone is obviously spending a significant portion of their time wondering what’s going to happen after the lockdown ends, what will now be possible that wasn’t before, whether it might be possible to introduce some measure of sanity into the management of public affairs. Does the government’s belated admission that the economy really does have a “pause” (and perhaps an “of”) switch, that it actually is possible to whisk money into being and rearrange institutions, mean that it’s not entirely crazy to imagine how a non-catastrophic social order might work? How we, along with our children, grandparents, etc., might run a city like Newcastle or London – organize our schools, hospitals, traffic, garbage collection, and food delivery, – ourselves? One problem is we don’t even have the tools, let alone the experience, of how to imagine things collectively. This is what we’re trying to develop here.
This is the proposal for our first assembly (obviously, on Zoom):
- an initial, 10-minute presentation by David Wengrow (professor of archaeology at UCL) about egalitarian cities in the past, from Tripolye to Tlaxcalan
- a general facilitated discussion (we don’t know how many people will show up, so how the facilitation will work will depend on whether there’s actually time for everyone to speak or whether we’ll have to rely more heavily on the chat.
This first meeting is a test to fine-tune the content – the nature of consequent assemblies will be defined by this first version. Future versions will be open to more participants and the short-term artworks will be numerous and varied.
Perhaps they will appear in many cities and across many countries. If we use this exercise to create a package there is no limit.