Going to the Finnish town of Salo in the first 2 weeks of May 2018 concluded 4 experiments with the goal of developing new curriculum on highschool level that would form at local connection and knowledge that can feed a mutual learning process with the University students and researchers: An educational link between a more engaged university and urban communities.
The first experiment tested a process that went from “what is there” over “what could be there” in order to take action and realise the dreams of the students. See Salo Stories — an atmospheric odyssey here The second experiment dived into the use of smartphones as a tool for telling stories — short movies — looking at what separates and connects people. The third experiments was done this spring looking into how to work on exploring the city of Salo using a game format. Here the result was two formats that could be combined: the first was a challenge to the participants to push the participant to experience a place in a more intense way. The second element was a time machine that would pick special places in order first to go back in time to see how it looked earlier and then go forward in time. First to see how the place of today was “produced” and second to see how it could change into the future.
This 4th experiment looked at a new approach to “situated storytelling” both using a higher degree of context sensitivity — explorations — and working on how to express how places feel in words and images. Here the aim was also to test if the highschool students could be seen as “community researchers” as it is known in anthropology: Where non academics also do interviews.
The first part was to give a more clear idea of why space or places are important. We did this in a simple but — it seemed — quite efficient way by first do a sensory exercise with one minute silence sitting in the usual way (rows) and discussing how that felt — EG noticing “new” sounds like the air conditioning as a starting point for discussing more broadly how we filter our sensory input in everyday live to keep things simple but also how an enhanced sensitivity and openness can be achieved. After sitting in rows the students were asked to rearrange the chairs and tables to form a large circle. Then this was the subject of the discussion — how did that feel? Mostly students feel more exposed and vulnerable sitting like this, but one group actually thought that it felt better to be able to see each other and not least being more present because they couldn’t sit and look at their smartphones. Finally we rearranged one more time to form smaller groups that would be asked to discuss how that change felt. Clearly students feel more comfortable in the small groups and in that sense they also came to the overall conclusion that the way space is organised influences how we feel, work — and live our lives ultimately.