Breath In Poetry Breath In Poetry

Town Hall Meeting Notes

BIP Town Hall Notes
November 22 2016

Introductions of facilitators, the purpose of tonight’s meeting.
Creation of group norms:
-let someone say their piece, no talking over one another
-pass around an object (straw): only talk when you are holding it.
-take phone calls outside. No cellphones in general
-no taping others without consent
-be mindful of time and space you are taking up when talking.
-voices that tend to be lost socially are the ones that take priority tonight. Working toward social equity
-begin in place of sharing ideas, looking to understand one another—fellowship.

-please project so everyone can hear
-break halfway through to accommodate those who are not comfortable expressing themselves

Expression of concern that we have become over competitive—desire to offer a system that is more about the art itself than competition

[Pause to expand circle to accommodate latecomers]

Discussion topic: certain issues taking precedent over others—Kevan expresses concern and nostalgia. Feels we are losing amateurs, poets who used to attend. Lost contact with people. How do we bring them back?
-membership drive?

Following group norms, will open floor for space of venting. Then break, then move forward with solutions. [snaps]
Note: Ahmed and Charlotte taking notes so BIP can know where to move forward. Video only filming facilitators and will not be made public.

Questions and concerns:
-straw not being used, so keep on hand unless needed? Put to a vote? Decision: put into practice by passing around the circle and see if it is needed.

Venting section
-Liam: group must identify needs of patrons and artists. How do emerging poets move forward to another level? Are there resources that BIP can offer? High turnover rate. How do we keep people around?
-Kaz: high turnover is not cool. Current system is not working. Think outside the box, think constructively as people who are defending words. We are fighting for our right to speak. [explanation of CFSW and CIPS for those who are not familiar]
-Marina: can do a better job of communication about organizational details such as schedule, rules, logistics. Removes a barrier. Some harmful words have been spoken on our stage—how to minimize violent or hateful speech, how we can better support people when this occurs. Need to provide resources for guest hosts/contingency plans: resource guides, active listeners. Also preventative.
-George: host gets to read more poems than open mic people. Squeeze more people in who don’t get a chance to read. Esp. for new people. More equitable distribution of mic time.
-Ira: When people sign up, please stop and think about what they are sharing and why. Is my voice taking up space that could go to someone else? Not enough room in our attention span for everyone. Maybe if you could take a listening week if you read last week.
-new poet didn’t catch name: not sure what is going on. Reakash explains. Welcome!
-Althea: love BIP. Not here enough to know all the issues. Always feel safe, comfortable. Keep lines of communication open, figure out how to deal with issues.
-Steve: curious about incorporation. What do we want our structure to be? Circle of anarchists? Committee? Legally incorporated? Non-profit? What is the primary focus?
-Jessie: seems like a beautiful community. Welcome!
-Megan: excited this conversation is happening. Agrees with Steve.
-Ben: re: keeping people—folks are still around even if they aren’t coming regularly. Agree with Megan and Steve. Need more clarity in terms of what it is we do. More structure can be a good thing. Active listening=good. Lacking chance to discuss poems, talk to poets. Bit of Q and A time. May also mitigate some of the safety stuff: it doesn’t just get left to marinate.
-Corine: expression of gratitude. If we are going to have features and charge money, we need to accommodate those who can’t afford it. Perhaps to switch to by donation.
-Shima: Cultural structure crucial. How to nurture ties that bind while being welcoming. Questions of governance, need more focus on transparency. Centre marginalized voices—getting better but not enough. Must be vigilant about embedded structures that will mitigate these occurrences.

[reiteration of group norms, expansion of circle; expansion on concept of social equity]
Recognition that we are on Treaty 6 territory and in a space that has been built on the oppression of certain groups of people.
Judd shows up and adds to Kaz’s point.

-Dr. Kim: every time satisfies me. Happy to help make changes that other people want to see happen, offering resources and technical skills. No complaints personally.
-Nasra: would like to create a space that offers different things for different reasons: ex career poets vs those happy to come and chill. More supportive for its artists who want to take this seriously. Mentorship, structure.
-Lady: happy here. More workshops. Must care for one another, provide an avenue for dealing with trauma that will not trigger others. Have different nights/spaces for certain purposes. Want to see more people of colour represented on stage.
-Rowan: opportunity to talk back, comment on what we heard, get general sense of what the room felt about things said. Can BIP make space for these conversations? Online forums, window of time, Facebook page, ten minutes at end of night. Open mics don’t provide enough feedback—need to do self-improvement by self. Potential to encourage diversity in voices.
-Alan: welcome!
-Quincy: happy here. Place to come, open up, be immersed in everyone else’s art. Feels safe.
-Brandon: had a career before arriving here. Needs to be a different balance between openness and stewardship. Open door policy but also opportunities for leadership, more involvement. Focus on impact. People can take on different roles—use them.
-Joy: felt supported, encouraged. Want to see events outside of this. Fundraisers, money to pay artists, hold our own events. Rougefest! Expand our own programming independently. Have more opportunities to socialize outside of BIP
-Judd: learning from being here. Feels welcome. Planning to bring friends. Promotes this group. This is a very welcoming and loving group.

Open Discussion:

-George: Trigger warnings—don’t just end it there. If there’s an issue, it’s best to talk it out. Need opportunities for feedback, ways to better self.
-Marina: Grow, mentor, give workshops. Host CFSW in next few years. What do we need to get there?
-Ben: do a lot more on social media, digital media. Q&A can be done online. Accessible way of communicating.
-Liam: need to identify our purpose within Edmonton community. Establish values, hopes, and goals.
-Kaz: structure is cool but we have to be careful. A lot of people aren’t here for structure. Need to know reasons why we are applying structure.
-Shima: tailor structure to wellbeing of the people involved. Use structure but sparingly.
-Kevan: we can visit hospitals, classrooms. Not about the glory. There is glory in doing good.


Brainstorming and Moving Forward

[reiteration of group norms]

-George: point about taking photos and videos without consent—say onstage every time
[move to popcorn style—Ahmed and Charlotte still taking notes]
-Mat: have another poetry night during the week—talk about the poetry, hold workshops…
-Steve: who is BIP? What constitutes membership? Who gets to speak for the collective?
-Ahmed: reminder that Titilope Sonuga founded the group; currently Ahmed spearheads the group. Now we are working toward becoming a non-profit. Anyone who gets on our stage is part of the collective. Leadership has fallen to Ahmed.
-Steve: Collective is only as strong as the individual that comprise it.
-Ben: How decentralized are we going to be? Who has the authority to go do a thing under BIP’s name? “Wacky Betty’s House of Slam” made us chuckle.
-George: we all represent ourselves and BIP. Be mindful about how you represent this group.
-Kaz: when you have something under an umbrella, that spreads to the entire collective. Really think about how to facilitate a similar space with accountability. Very loaded question.
-Brandon: question of collective ethics. Is everyone on stage inherently a member? No choice to opt out. Who are we accountable to? Establish relationship between stage and community. Room on Tuesdays to do everything we want to do. Accept more diversity in BIP experience. Not all Tuesdays need to be open mics.
-Lady Vanessa: what’s missing and what’s needed? Who has performance backgrounds? Writing? Media? Utilize their skills to fill in spaces. It’s too much to put on one individual. If this is a collective, then individuals need to be able to serve their community.
-Clear and simple mechanism for divvying up responsibilities. Delegate: figure out what’s needed, the scope, how to go about doing it. Clarify the process. More diverse experience every Tuesday. Maybe wait a few weeks to stew in our juices instead of getting on stage all the time without preparing.
-Ben: Want to start a private Facebook group to continue this conversation?
-Shima: we have both an ongoing online discussion as well as a regular Town Hall.
-Joy: physical in person—spreads by word of mouth. People don’t participate much online. Not as effective as group meetings like this. Not everyone checks groups. Offer to help with planning and financials.
-Jessie: VanSlam has YouTube channel: let’s do that also. Offer to take videos.
-Judd: would have preferred an email notification vs solely on Facebook. Way to hold meetings without losing poetry time?
-Kaz: use both online and in person together. Real life is tops.

[Kim announces two Leonard Cohen events Dec 4]

To Sum Up:

List goes around where members can write name, contact info, and skills they can offer BIP.
Thank you for coming out!!!!!


-connect more with Hip Hop in the Park
-poetry in the round (like Urban Legends)

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