In partnership with a coaching company called New Ventures West, and with the support of the Department of Public Works, San Francisco, this project consisted in conducting a three hour experiment on the streets of downtown San Francisco. Participants wore sandwich board signs while cleaning the streets in small teams. They received text messages every 20 minutes which challenged them to experiment in social space- for example crossing from public into private space- and to interact, collaborate, and sing with people on the street.
“As part of being human, we all construct public identities, private self-images, and ways of life that support both of these constructs. We then act, speak and relate from within our own personal self-protective field to keep all of this in place. We seek friends, partners, work, and even educational, spiritual and developmental opportunities that validate, maintain and strengthen this field. With so many personal orbiting enclosures, it’s no wonder that we experience gridlock in solving the bigger problems the world faces today. Although we often feel a tinge of guilt, loneliness, or a general pessimistic outlook on the world on account of living in these protective bubbles, for the most part we do not seek experiences outside of it. Our body and emotions give us big signals of danger and discomfort when we try. And since our friends and family are equally threatened by our living outside of the field, they encourage us, tease us, and—on occasion—shame us, and this shrinks our world.
There is a time-honored path to expanding the world and making the impossible possible, and this is the path of radical experimentation. We can consciously, deliberately place ourselves in situations where we try on new public identities and new private self-images. In this workshop, drawing on experiences from the Occupy movement, interactive art, Buddhist practice, and projects in genuine democracy and spontaneous/improvisational learning, we will we do just that: we will experiment with the edges of our world.”