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Do what you love. Share what you do.

Firekeeper Open House

From our longtime friend Careen Stoll

hello people!  My Annual Open Studio is this weekend, if you’d like to join us.  Pickle tasting, new pots, 5$/lb. seconds, throwing demo, evening party maybe bonfire?… Great place for kids. Nearby parks and waterfalls. Bring something for the grill.   10-10 Sat, 10-5 Sun.

 

directions: from western portland, take I-5 north to exit 13 to Battle Ground. follow 502 east about 6 miles, hang a left at 503 (not the first light from that direction, but the first major intersection). go north about 6 miles and look for a brown sign to moulton falls/ lucia falls. go right there (rock creek rd), and quite soon, left on Beebe road, which is a dead end.  follow Beebe all the way up hill, then look left at the top for the cute red barn.  that’s my place!

from eastern portland, take 205 to the padden parkway (also marked battle ground), and follow it past one light and going left at the next light which is 503.  take 503 north through battle ground, and then look for the brown sign as per above.

points north: exit 13 to battle ground.

by hang-glider: I think the goat field is too short for a safe landing, but try the neighbor’s drivewayCathouse Clay studio

Get your Junk Fixed

Repair PDX embodies Portland’s spirit of community and supports it’s thriving DIY culture. We invited them to a brunch after meeting Lauren Gross, R-PDX’s main mover and shaker, at Bike Farm where they hold events on occasion. She loves hearing about cool projects and found herself in good company on a Sunday back in October with, in her words, “people doing cool shit and sharing ideas”. And we are that! And so is she.

Terms like up cycling, waste reduction/elimination and building community would fit neatly in the values of Repair PDX, as it does with many locals. People attend Repair Cafes – the name of the fix it events – because they may find a way to get the “stuff they love fixed” and connect. They come with random small appliances, bikes, socks with holes, bits of this and that that go with other bits of this and that. It’s a good model and one alternative to our disposable culture. These events and the people that come, leave Lauren “feeling inspired when there is so much to be depressed about”. The sentiment is surely reciprocated by attendees.

Catching up with her now finds her similarly seeking out projects and venues, people and ideas that fit and “spread repair culture”. She is especially enthusiastic about the Portland airport carpet removal: 14 acres of teal, blue, red and lavender that will soon be replaced by an updated version. That’s a lot of carpet – a rough estimate of 135 tons of material. Recycling may not be a viable option due to the adhesive used but up cycling is a conversation she would like to take part in or facilitate. And she is backed up by a pool of 70 volunteers.

These skill sharing events are fueled by volunteers who bring their various skills and knowledge with them. Lauren has a goal of reaching 1000 volunteers to add more to these events and create a base of people that are accessible for other community happenings. Repair PDX will hold it’s next cafe on May 1st at the Historic Kenton Firehouse from 6-9 pm. Are you in?

A Space to Forge

IMG_8301IMG_8307 IMG_8304In the fall of last year Rob Bart was invited to RC brunch to practice pitch his idea for Forge – a business based on collaboration and bringing more resources to “help new and existing organizations overcome the hurdles that every new endeavor faces when they launch or try to scale up.” His pitch was being prepared for a venture capitol competition through Lewis and Clark College.

The practice session propelled him to revise his approach which he presented the following weekend to the panel responsible for unlocking the necessary cash to get his idea off the ground. Although he did not win the competition, his presentation did secure him an investor. Fast forward to last week:  Rob is set to graduate from law school with doors to Forge opening in April 2014.

We visited him on the eighth floor of the Tiffany Center, the culmination of this undertaking. Despite a sling supporting a shoulder operation he was thoroughly excited about the plans for the wide open and light filled space. Desk design options were displayed for an informal vote and Rob engaged people milling about at the reception to share his vision.

This endeavor will bring his interest in law and collaboration together to shake up business as usual. This desire had it’s beginnings in his position as a teacher running an alternative high school in Hood River. Rob reflects, “it has helped me think about the best ways to develop my services and really focus on making sure the space has the right collaborative feel to it.” Whatever the motivation, Rob is driven by the power of people working and supporting one another in an environment where mutual success is central.

Membership with Forge gets you a desk in a collaborative workspace (or a private desk or office) and a load of free services from professionals who’ll help with the details. Members will have free access to basic accounting, legal referral, business development, mentoring and internship placement services. Rob’s background in business law positions him well to guide his members through the nooks and crannies of things to consider and what you could see if you knew where to look. He is partnering with other professionals to create an fluid environment to bolster the needs of the community of the professionals he serves. http://forgeportland.org/

BTW Pink Doesn’t Exist

Community Profiles: Robby Kraft

MeAndDome

Robby has been a part of the Research Club community in Portland since our early days at the Tribute Gallery, making domes, origami, and other amazing objects at the intersection of math and art.  During Glitch Studies, part of Research Club’s Body of Knowledge exhibition series at Gallery Homeland in 2011 in which he collaborated with Stephanie Simek, he uttered the line “I will be performing the digits of pi in binary while my robot plays it in tertiary,” right before doing just that — like a boss. He’s advised on and contributed to many projects with many other members of the Research Club community. Recently, he helped me build a 1v dome for a show I was part of at Place Gallery. That was when I learned that he had just completed work on a dome-building app, so it seemed like a great time for a profile.

On Domes

v2dome

Robby says:

Domes are traditionally generated from one of the 3 platonic solids made from triangles. within each face, you add more points and lines in the same way the serpinksi triangle fractal adds more points and lines.

 

dome crease patterns 1v2v

Then it’s given a final rounding that sets every point at exactly the same distance from the center of the platonic solid. finally, you can slice it at any meridian, bubbly like Epcot center, or thin like a yamaka.
dome-crease-pattern-4v
 

Enter Domekit

Domekit is all you need to generate the plans to build your own customized dome. It runs on iPhones and iPads, and has been used in classrooms to make toothpick and marshmallow domes as well as 20ft wide habitats. It’s a recent addition to the Domekit project which began in 2011 with a successful kickstarter campaign started by Michael Felix to make domes accessible to everyone.

 

photo (2)

photo (1)

 

 

Space Oddity, One More Time

Mathew Lippincott, Toilets, Research Club, and TEDx — a love affair

At our last brunch in April, Mat Lippincott gave a talk about TED based on a talk he gave at TEDx based on a talk he gave at Research Club. You all got that, right?

Original talk

TEDx Talk

Talk About the Talks

Mat Lippincott – What It’s Like to Speak at TED
Research Club alumni Mathew shares his thoughts and blunt observations about the cultural phenomena that is TED.

Hotel Will Trade a Room for Art

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/calling-all-budget-travelers-clarion-hotel-stockholm-will-trade-a-room-for-art-174230

Nashville’s FIRST RSRCH CLB!

Last Sunday, the official second branch of Research Club had our first session, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Inspired by Research Club during his time living in Portland, Bobby Allyn brought the idea to Nashville, where people drive cars and are terribly family oriented, spending weekends at brunch or at home. But Nashville has lots of cool stuff going on- with a handful of universities in town, a powerful medical center at Vanderbilt University, and lots of working artists, Nashville has a lot of thoughtful people making great work.

While brainstorming one day with friend Perrin Ireland on how to coalesce more bright Nashvillian bulbs more often, the pair decided to try to set up Nashville's own Research Club to bring people together around thought-provoking ideas and projects in Nashville.

After months of planning and consulting with Nim Wunnan, last Sunday, May 27th, we held our first Nashville RSRCH CLB meeting at the Brick Factory in Cummins Station. Our speakers included Diana Sullivan, a former realtor who is coordinating Tennessee's first cohousing project, who shared about the group strategizing that's gone into the development of a plot of land in Germantown for cohousing. We heard from Michael Bess, a Vanderbilt University historian who's focused on our genetically modified technological cultural future, Kevin Seale and Molly Thoreson, who spoke about the science of birthing and their personal quest for information and alternative practices for bringing their children into the world; and lastly, Lucas Hofmeister, a graduate student at Vanderbilt University, who shared about his research in biomaterials to cure heart disease.

It was an intimate gathering and a committed discussion ensued over biscuits and hard-boiled eggs. We felt very lucky to have such distinguished speakers join us for a round-table discussion about the issues they are passionate about. We hope RSRCH CLB will foster the growth of an ideas forum in Nashville, where people can gather and be exposed to thinkers they might otherwise not encounter, and expand our collective thinking as a city.

Thank you to our speakers for joining us- see you next month, June 24th!

The Past and Future of Research Club

In the last year and a half, Research Club moved away from planting its own original projects towards a role of tilling the soil for the ambient projects in the surrounding community. Our own project became the study and development of a certain variety of community dynamics. What little conscious theory that I applied during this period of time was developed out of our Heavy Meta tour, especially the conversations I had with directors at the School of Life in London and Per Schumann of Entwurf Direkt. In proper meta-fashion, this theory was directly addressed and extended by the material taught by one of the ambient projects  that we helped activate, What Philosophy Can Do for Art II. Direct experimentation and collaboration with like-minded organizations and projects comprised the rest of this study.

The theory goes something like this — New organizational structures and patterns are developing in the gaps between the areas controlled by existing institutions and conventions or in place of failing ones. The patterns at work here are social manifestations of patterns that have established vocabularies at various locations of cultural production — especially the arts, education, and internet culture, but also in mathematics and the natural sciences. The social manifestation can be see in local, artisan economies, alternative or cooperative education, open data, and community organizations.

The broadest differences we see in these patterns are: 

These patterns have a built-in self-referentiality, because they apply to distribution as much as they do to engagement. Part of the pattern is to say “If we support this way of doing X, we will also distribute the means and idea of doing X according to similar principles.” That’s the systemic integrity piece. If that seems to abstract, this is what I mean:

Take the example of tool libraries. The DIY culture they serve is organized around the idea that the people or communities that use goods should be able to fix or build them themselves when possible and prudent, rather than stepping outside of the cycle of use and maintenance by buying new things and throwing out old things. But some of those goods are tools, so if everyone goes out and buys their own tools from outside their community, that just relocates the displacement of resources from the inefficient purchasing of end consumer products to the inefficient purchasing of tools. The DIY repair culture isn’t just about fixing and repairing — it’s about self-sufficiency. So places like tool libraries extend the idea of meeting one’s needs where they are located rather than appealing to outside support. They unite this idea from the actual fixing and making of goods to the distribution of the means to do so. That is what I mean by systemic integrity.*

The general rule is that if the net effect is the empowerment of all the parties involved, than the system has integrity. (What about Home Depot? Won’t it sell fewer table saws now? We can talk about the integrity of the system again when there are so many tool libraries that Home Depot feels anything on its bottom line.)

Since coming back from Heavy Meta, we’ve been trying to operate according to these patterns and principles as strictly as possible. That means:

  • little to no outside funding
  • no conventional advertising
  • cheap-or-free admissions
  • stone-soup style programming.

The system is not so well-oiled that participants always spontaneously organize around ideas and needs, but as chief stone-provider and gap-filler, I can guarantee you that most of the support I have provided — financial, edible, conceptual, or participatory —  has been purposely inadequate, so all of our successes are authentically participatory and because of the many, many people who have chosen to contribute for their own reasons. (As are our failures.)

The point of this is that we are trying to devise a way or ways to scale up the self supporting growth manifested by communities organized around these patterns to a degree that has not been done before. There is a magic to the way that communities can innovate, grow, and support themselves from within that is more efficient and more empowered than conventional means, and since coming back from Heavy Meta, fostering and studying that magic has been my only real reason for putting so much time and effort into Research Club. The Portland Passport project is an attempt to build a new way to spread that magic more than it spreads already.

The plan was to build cross-community momentum with a series of events at the same time as building the infrastructure of the network — a website and a set of printed passports. The conventional way of doing this would be to develop the website and promote it and the events like crazy, probably while raising money to do so. The integrated way is to share the idea and open up some venues and let the people who get excited by it turn it into something bigger.

So, that said, it’s not working right now. Many organizers and individuals have thrown in with the stone soup, and it’s a bigger and heartier soup than we’ve ever had before. However, we were trying to build a feast, and that’s not happening.

I’m just being frank — this isn’t a call for help or an admonition. I don’t even think it means that it can’t be done, but it is a very difficult thing that we are trying to do. Please see the passport project for more.

 

So what does this all mean for the future of Research Club?

Most of our events in the last year have been events that are meant to be nodes in a network rather than terminal destinations. They have done very well as events, but I think they have reached their usefulness as network-builders. We’ve learned from the Passport Project that we need more support than we currently have if we want to increase the scale of the network.

Brunch — brunch is very easy to do, and I encourage anyone who is interested in keeping it going to give it a shot. You can feed about 40 people for about $20 with our recipe, and we can put you in touch with a few venues that would be interested in hosting it. Email info@research-club.org with any questions you’ve got.

Future Events — There will be more events in the future, but they will be on themes that are personally interesting to me or other active members of the Research Club community. Any network-building or collaboration that comes out of them will be purely accidental. They will probably not be free, but they won’t be expensive. They may be through other organizations.

In the meantime, we still have a reservation for the Norse Hall on July 21, and New Ranch at Silver Falls State Park for Labor Day weekend. If you want to make something of these venues, email info@research-club.org

Publishing — We’ve been too busy facilitating other projects to properly disseminate the many wonders in our archive. Look for many updates to the website, the long-promised Heavy Meta documentary, and possibly a quarterly in the next year.

 

Thanks everyone for your participation and interest over the last few years. Think of this as a cocoon stage for Research Club, but a cocoon where a badger enters and a three-subject notebook and a cup of tea emerges. There, that should explain everything.

XOXOXOX

Ním

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* This is where people will start calling you a socialist, because one of the reliable means of of making money is to buy something that people want so you control their access to it, and then profit from that control. Arguments that involve those sorts of accusations are boring and usually pointless, because what both sides are arguing over is the restriction of freedom. “Socialism” is a bad word when it looks like a tool to take away freedom, just as is “capitalism.” I have yet to see a community organization like a Tool Library spring up because of a deep, local and agreed-upon need to restrict a party’s freedoms, so forget the name-calling and look at the effects of these patterns (Conversely, you can often find outside influence in local organizations that do work to restrict freedoms)