[S+P2] Film/Forest Open Discussion

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mina vacant
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[S+P2] Film/Forest Open Discussion

Post by mina vacant » Sun Mar 20, 2011 3:42 pm

Hey Everyone!

Thanks for coming to watch my film, all who were there last Sunday! It's gonna be screened again in the cafe every evening at 5pm from Sun 20th-Wed 23rd March, so if you didn't catch it, wanna see it again to refresh your memory of what you saw, or know of anyone who hasn't seen it who wants to... there's your opportunity. I have also left a copy at Old Hat Books, so you can borrow it from there whenever you like:-)

As mentioned at the screening, I made this film largely for an audience that may not know that places like The Forest exist – may not have come across the idea of organising 'non-hierarchically', and might have questions about how an 'autonomous' community operates. But I also envisaged that it may be a good opportunity to spark off discussion amongst ourselves about how we run/operate internally and in relation to others, etc.

I was really happy that the post-screening discussion brought up a lot of topics that I thought might come up – but it was more a forum for bringing issues out in the open, rather than it being the place to continue discussion or have any questions satisfactorily answered.

That's what I'd like us to do here...

To jog people's memory ever so quickly, here are a few things that came up:

The Forest 'Barring' process – collective 'values', and how they are enforced.
Behaviour in meetings – how non-hierarchical are we? How much does it matter?
Money and transparency, money and how it's spent (and who gets a say in that)
How we communicate our 'mission' and our organisational structure (and how to get involved) to people who may not yet know.
And probably lots more, but I don't have my notes on me at the moment...

So who's gonna start us off? :wink:
If you truly love film, I think the healthiest thing to do is not read books on the subject. I prefer the glossy film magazines with their big colour photos and gossip columns, or the National Enquirer. Such vulgarity is healthy and safe. ~ Werner Herzog

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Re: [S+P2] Film/Forest Open Discussion

Post by Margarida » Mon Mar 21, 2011 10:59 pm

Well... if no one elses starts, i'll do it :lol:
(Oh and sorry if this turn out to be a way-too-long post - sometimes i just ramble. A lot. :oops: )

Anyway, as i've had the chance to tell you, i really loved it!

First than anything, i can't help but being human and start with how i relate what i've seen in the film with my personal experience and the way it affected how i situate myself in the Forest. It hasn't been a month since i arrived and the whole concept of non-hierarchically-autonomous community was something i've never been in touch with. Not only because i've never looked for it before but also because i grew up in a country where hierarchy is a cultural must have.
That was one of the main reasons why i've applied for the EVS at the Forest - i was absolutely smitten by the concept and knew it was exactly the kind of new experience i needed in my life.

Despite this, and as with everything else, a few paragraphs resuming the concept will never be enough to fully understand the whole scope of the Forest action and impact on the people that make this community. Ever since i arrived it has been really important to me to understand as much how does the Forest work and what does the Forest do.

Slowly, i've managed to start understanding these issues but there was one point still a bit blurry - the people. Who were the "foresters", what was the bigger soul-creature lurking behind every effort and dedication i've had already realized so many people put into the Forest. 'Why' has always been a omnipresent word in my life and this was no exception. Not that i couldn't understand the obvious in-your-face why, quite clear every time you walk in through the Forest door. But there was still an important and central key missing.

The film finally gave me the clear answer i was looking for. I wish i could clearly express it in words but you've managed to show it so well with the film that i've been trying for days to translate that consciouness into clear sentences and i still can't. That difficulty in a logical vocabulary translation is probably the biggest secret of the Forest and the reason why it really is so special. And when i saw the film again yesterday the whole [S+P2] formula somehow made more sense to me. Equations are our representation of the basic bricks of reality and i loved it how, to me, you really have to go as far as that to explain the forest in it's most basic shape/sense.

And it wasn't only that one side of the screen; i managed to grasp that notion from this side of the showing as well, with the way everyone on the room reacted to the different moments of the film. This dual consideration is always important and, in the case of the Forest, i think more than anywhere else.

The whole discussion that followed the showing was really interesting and all of the questions quite pertinent. I think the one that tickled everyone's confort zone was definitely the barring process and the Forest values, leading inevitably to a discussion on freedom. These are always a bit tricky mainly because you'll always end up discussing 'limits'; particularly for an autonomous collective like the Forest, i think that the discussion after the film was a good example of that.

Some people said that the movie portrayed a negative image of the Forest because of the particular focus it made on one complicated situation. I don't think it was that focused on that situation as many people seemed to think and i don't feel like it portrayed a negative image of the Forest. I got the impression that, to many of the people present in the café on that day, it meant more probably because they knew the situation and the people involved beforehand and, in some way, were more emotional attached to it.

To me, being completely unaware of the whole situation and knowing only what you showed on the film, i definitely don't think it gave a negative image of the Forest. Quite the contrary: to me it all showed an effort on dialogue, awareness and inclusion - because by the end of the day it IS a community and efforts must be made from both sides (collective and individual) - and you can never be too conscious of that.

Considering this film as a way of communicate the Forest's mission and work i think it does the job pretty well. Some people showed in the discussion some doubts about it's viability as a sort of banner for the Forest. Well, it's not an advertising film in the institutional way and it definitely wouldn't spark as much curiosity and interest as it did if it were only a bunch of images from all of the Forest spaces and faces put together in a too-optimistic-to-be-true-way.

On a general impression, i think the film managed to praise the Forest as a bold and courageous inovative project (oh so many adjectives!) who, inevitably, will have sometimes to face complicated and sensible situations (even more complicated because being something unique, the problems will be unique as well) but, that in the end of the day, will always be worth the effort because of what it gives back to people (conclusion which i felt you showed perfectly with the 'happy birthday' moment - that was a untainted moment of emotion which any human being is able to recognize, even if he or she can't find a word to describe it).

I think the film deserves to be used as a way of divulging the Forest because i believe that 'outsiders' will definitely respond very well to what they're being shown.

I was actually thinking (i don't know if you would be interested in that) in trying to contact the portuguese public television - they have two channels and the second one is mostly devoted to documentaries, short films, etc. They're quite open to this sort of film and i think there might be a good chance of getting them to broadcast it. If that is something you would be interested in, just let me know and i'll bugger the tv-guys until they bend to my will 8)

Oh well, thank you for the film. I loved it. I really did :D
Sorry for the huge post. Ahaha
only when the clock stops does time come to life

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Re: [S+P2] Film/Forest Open Discussion

Post by tickle » Tue Mar 22, 2011 12:00 pm

ha. i agree with the poster above that the small scene with the unhappy dude didn't reflect badly on the forest at all.

i thought the collective decision making bit was very interesting as there appeared to be someone taking the lead and he seemed to slightly push his suggestion about rubber stamping tofu over the previous suggestion of using a stencil. i found it funny that we later saw the first suggestion used and it suggested that "leader"ish folk don't neccessarily get their way but more seriously i wondered how consensual the decisions were?

and that's just the easy tofu based decisions. i also thought that the hand raising measure of satisfaction that the "lead" person used was a bit conducive to getting agreement out of people without specifically asking if they agreed.

i know that consensus decision making can be influenced by more forceful characters and it would have been interesting to see more of these kind of things as that's a special area of interest to me.

overall i thought it would be an excellent film for people who haven't been to the forest or a space like it. not so smooth as to be propaganda but defintely a doc that would get me along if i'd not been down before. especially cos you could be a regular coffee drinker at the forest and still not have picked up what it was all about.


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Re: [S+P2] Film/Forest Open Discussion

Post by HGiles » Wed Mar 23, 2011 5:45 pm

I liked the film very much. I think it threaded together a few interesting and insightful stories about Forest with admirable balance. Of course there's no such thing as a neutral perspective, but there was an earnest attempt to show conflicts, their sources and how they get resolved. I too think it's essential for any organisation to look critically at itself and be open to criticism of itself.

(For what it's worth, which is not very much from a newbie and non-filmytype, the only shot I thought was unfair was the banquet's empty donation jar: presented without knowing when in the night that was or what the context of donations was, it made a cheeky argument without much information.)

It's provoked me to bung a few thoughts down about Forest. Now, I'm still pretty new to being heavily involved in the work of Forest, and am still getting my head round all the history, the processes, and the dreams. So I'm coming at this from more of an ideological perspective than a carefully considered perspective.

I love the attempts at non-hierarchical organisation, alternative economy, free space (with "free" not just meaning "not paid for"), and concerted support for radical arts and politics groups. That's what I want to be involved in Forest. I passionately believe in those things, and I think Forest has had some damn good shots at them. The film helped me remember why I love the place (which is needed when I'm up to my ears in obnoxious funding applications &c., which risk alienating me from my labour.)

I don't love what a mess the whole thing is. Non-hierarchical and free spaces take commitment and care. Forest's general approach is "Well, let's just do it." That means that lots of stuff happens, but also that lots of stuff tends to get forgotten, or procrastinated, or left for someone else to deal with ("lunched out", in activist terms). That's everything from cleaning a room to making an organisational decision. The "just do stuff and don't be a dick" approach to organisation tends both to produce hierarchies (of experience, of commitment, &c.) and to reproduce those already present in society (esp. those from gender, language, class). I really think Forest would benefit from a more structured approach to non-hierarchical decison-making and organisation: I think this would help us resolve conflicts in a less contentious (and lastingly unresolved) way, and make us more effective in general. And I think the film helped me see

I also don't love how insular Forest can be. It isn't always, but I can be. Because of what we are, we genuinely do provide a space for people who might otherwise be marginalised, might not otherwise be able to acceess a safe space, or facilities and events like ours. Bu we don't focus on growing this capacity, or on outreach to other organisations. I think that better outreach and a better understanding of our privilege woul strengthen us, and help to dispel some of the myths at large about us, which do us no good in times like these. Again, the film showed this issue up for me.

There we are, thoughts! Half-formed, but still thoughts. Thanks for them.

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