Since May, I've been helping The Goa Project shape something we're calling the TGP Sessions.
Background: The Goa Project is an annual unconference that happens in Goa. Unconference? The attendees pitch sessions and vote for who gets stage time. (I wrote a piece about it back in 2017, much before I first volunteered, if you want a then-outsider's point of view.)
The TGP Sessions is an idea we came up with as a way of keeping the community engaged in these lockdown times. (The community is people who have attended TGP editions in the past or contributed to them, or who participated in the first TGP Residency in 2018.) It's also a way to grow the community, since it's pretty clear that we won't be able to have a gathering in Goa any time in the near future.
We meet every alternate Sunday, between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m., IST, on Zoom. Attendance is free, but you need to register.
The Sessions go like this.
There are up to three segments, or sessions within a Sessions.
Up to two of these are 10-minute presentations of interesting ideas, things people are creating that are aimed at making for a better world, debates, and so on. These are each followed by 10 minutes of Q&A and discussion. Some Sessions we've had so far: an overview of the evolution of money, from gold to cryptocurrencies; valuing labour in a time of unprecedented economic shifts; building platforms for collaborations and communities; communities that have arisen as a response to the COVID-19 crisis and lockdown; arts and culture in times of pandemics; mental health in quarantine; a case for cutting up the Supreme Court; technology creative people are using; how live storytelling can transition to digital; alternative sexual lifestyles in India; how improv trains your mind; how to do good podcast and live online interviews.
And we conclude with what we call the creative showcase (again, not more than two of these on a given weekend), which is for artists and performers to show us things they're making: art, plays, music, poetry, anything that can be done through a Zoom window. We've had a duo that makes music that fuses Carnatic music with other forms, and a Odissi dancer making the case for dance for both physical and mental health. Coming up, photo essays, interactive theatre, poetry, more music.
Want to check out the sessions? You'll need to register on Zoom and you'll get the meeting ID and a unique password. Once you've got the feel of it, you may want to pitch a session. You can use this form to pitch a session and this one for the creative showcase. And we have a mailing list you could subscribe to, which notifies members of TGP events (currently one mail a week, usually on Friday, with the coming Sunday's line-up).
We encourage people to attend sessions before pitching. And to continue to attend once they've done a session. The idea is to build a community after all, one with no stars who only come in to present, where everyone contributes and collaborates. (Important note: none of this is paid for in cash. TGP is all volunteers who do stuff because they think it's worth doing. The result has been a rather interesting collection of people over the years, folks well worth your time to get to know, and the kind of collaborations and relationships that result when interesting minds bump into each other.)