The Agency: Community Event

Yo Roisin meet me in the Asda car park in 10 minutes or else….

I can’t make it on my own!!!

This was how the community event started. Two BAC employees staggering down from Asda to Providence House laden with the ingredients for a sumptuous spread to complement the diverse array of Ideas the battersea community would be hearing about from the Agents, as they were invited to walk round Providence and learn what each of the Agents proposed to do to transform and improve the territory.

11 – 1.30 was preparation time. Deanna was already at P House when we arrived with our snack basket. She was set to work making displays of all the mind-maps and inventories we had produced over the course of the last 10-weeks and preparing each space for it’s resident Team of Agents. In true Faustini-methodological style here is an inventory of who and what was where:

Agency 29th Nov 2014-13

In the Craft Room (off to the left of the main hall)

Talentsea – Christian

Microphone

XLR Cable

Mic Stand

Pop Shield

Digital SLR with Lights

Macbook Pro with Logic 10

Amp (to act as PA for local talent to hear themselves)

A bowl of rhubarb and custard sweets

A bowl of dolly mixture

Panels to separate his space from the miscellaneous boxes of the Providence Craft Room

Pictures of his Talentsea App complete with Artist Roster and Drop Down menus photo-shopped onto iPhone cut-outs

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In the Main Hall

Sydney

No sweets

Tressell Table

4 Chairs

Bowl of hot soap water

Exfoliant Hand Scrub (Coffee granules, Honey, Lavender Oil,…something else)

3 different naturally fragranced shea butter based moisturisers

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Other Side of the Main Hall

The Big Debate…a little bit different (Kayon, Rochelle, Charlene, Stevanie, Renee)

A tressel table

5 chairs

A circular box of celebrations

A box of other sweets (drumsticks etc…)

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True Battersea Stories (Teddy & Zack)

Laptop

Projector showing videos of Zack & Teddy’s past projects

Professional lighting equipment

Agency 29th Nov 2014-61Upstairs in the Gym

Get Fit Fast (Mohammed & Arnold)

Football

Sports Hall with goals

Blue mats labelled for press ups, sit ups, skipping etc…

Skipping Rope

Weights

Whistles

Headbands

Boxing gloves and pads

Now we’ve got that out the way we can move on to what was actually happening! Once the community members arrived they went to each of the stations in turn. Once there each of the Agents or teams would pitch the community members their ideas that would lead into a ‘scratch’ of their idea. So, as you might have gathered from the above, Sydney was demonstrating her home made products and trying out the idea of a pop-up stall. It was super awesome. My hands have never felt so smooth (even though I did find the initial dollop of sticky brown liquid spooned onto my hands quite a surprise!) the result was absolutely amazing and it was so nice to be talked through the process of production while having the treatment. It could almost have been a talk show. It was also really wonderful to see Sydney actually doing what she loved, having heard her talk about it for so long. The idea of everyone ‘scratching’ an element of their Idea really helped contextualise everything.

Around the walls there were questions, prompts, printed on A4 that said ‘Do you think my idea can be made stronger?’ ‘Have you heard of any ideas that are similar to this one? If so, which?’ ‘Is this something that the Battersea/Clapham Junction community needs and why?’ ‘Do you know organisations or individuals that you think should know about this idea?’ ‘What do you think are the strengths of the idea?’ ‘Where do you think is a good place for the idea to take place?’.

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These questions were designed to solicit helpful responses from the community and allow them to participate in the development of the idea through feedback and dialogue with the Agents at this trial stage. There were also forms for the community members to fill in to allow them to give more detailed feedback for the Agents later reflection. This part of the process is truly invaluable and it was fantastic that so many people spent a good 5 minutes after each station giving their thoughts.

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In Christian’s station he was finding and recording Talent for Talentsea. He had the Mic and PA set up and people could go into the room and perform and get filmed and recorded then and there and here sync it up so they had a live performance to add to their showreel. It was really great. He then had images of his app around the room so people got an idea of what it would look like, how the interface might work and what the overarching aim was. In this way he trialled both the production side for artists and ‘talent’ working with producers and also was able to get feedback from potential consumers and users of the product who would be using the app the find local talent. Everyone wanted to pay him a visit! Tedford AKA Africa dropped in to drop a little bar, Rap Man Josh flew in from the kitchen and later we had to barricade the front doors as people from all around the country started rushing to Providence House when they realised Deanna Rodger, Isatu from Ebony Clique and Charlene were singing Toni Braxton’s Unbreak My Heart! That’s what happens when you use twitter people! It took a while for everyone to calm down again.

And when they did it was all pitch and hustle…and feedback.

The Events Team now called ‘The Big Debate…a little bit different’ were telling people in clusters, sometimes as many as 10-15, what their Idea was about. And letting everybody know that at 3.30 there was going to be a debate in the Main Hall that involved everyone….

In True Battersea Stories HQ Zack & Teddy were screening old pieces they had made. Zack had this incredible hip-hop based campaign video on social media and bullying which completely blew us away. It was really impressive. And Teddy had some hilarious videos of little comedic sketches made around Battersea about social awkwardness and other little interactions. They then explained to community members their ideas for making documentaries about the different lives of people in Battersea, how they intersect and also explained what technique they were going to use construct their documentaries.

Upstairs Mohammed & Arnold welcomed everyone into their space in their brilliant double-team manner (charming while teasing each other and helping each other out at the same time!). Their pitch, and vision of restoring closed playgrounds and creating a rota of different fitness activities for 7-17 year olds was followed by a carousel of activities that people participated in with surprising enthusiasm. When I was up there Liz from BAC was getting right involved doing press-ups, skipping, sit-ups, while Flora (who’s been helping out on the project as a research assistant) went straight in for the weights in an apparently reckless manner, as Mohammed quickly went up to her to show her the way to pick them up without risk of back injury. Once more it was really amazing to see all the Agents doing their thing, doing what they love, actually trialling their idea and rising to the challenge of presenting their ideas to members of the public and showing how they had thought about the territory and the different needs people had.

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At 3.30(ish) everyone formed a circle in the main space and The Big Debate team took over. There was a lot of excitement and nervousness in mine and Deanna’s part of the room as we kept wanting to step in at the beginning to get people quiet as it was about to start but we knew it wasn’t our time and it was a time for the girls to show what they could do. The result was inspiring. Before long everyone was tuned into Stevanie and Charlene explaining the premise of the debate before getting everyone to turn to their neighbour and come up with 3 words that defined or described community. As the pairs then shared their words with the group, and Kayon transcribed them, Stevanie picked up on differences and used these to ask new, and incredibly astute questions, that pushed the debate onwards. Her facilitation skills were on point, her questions arising from what people were saying and acknowledging the most important issues, allowing them to continue, even as she gently directed the discussion into new areas, going on to gang representation, fear of hoodies to media representations of youth, the media’s responsibility to the idea of community-produced media before rounding up with an incredible moving word on our personal responsibilities to make a difference. As the debate close everyone was applauding! It really was something to be proud of and Deanna and I were particularly impressed.

Everyone had clearly come on leaps and bounds from the week before and the opportunity to actually put some of their work into practise clearly paid an very important part in that development. Now the challenge of using all the feedback to prepare for the pitch on the 13th! So close!

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