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A unique audio collage about the Moon Circle, a fictional 18-person cooking collective.
Several People Are Typing is an experimental magazine about the wild future of decentralized media & creative collaboration. It was co-created by Foster, Seed Club, and Metalabel, along with dozens of writers and dreamers. You can collect a free NFT version, or purchase the physical magazine, from Metalabel.
This piece was produced by Chris Harris in conversation with Sarah Friend, Phanuel Antwi, Anne-Loraine Selke, Cassie Thornton, Magdalena J. Härtelova, Katharine Tyndall, Rūta Žemčugovaitė, Max Haiven, and Wassim Z Alsindi.
To all brave listeners at kitchen arrival
Who care beyond our individual survival
Here we commit some gathered powers
To be distributed among all ours.
Records of the Moon Circle kitchen collective are experimental and incomplete. These artifacts were consensually exfiltrated from an ambitious mission of improvisational urban ethnography around Berlin during early April 2023.
A world of insights inside a frame of fiction, historians posit we intentionally destroyed much of our written artifacts after the great A.I. privacy turn of late 2023, instead favoring direct cultural transmission and esoteric participatory presence.
In resignation from leadership of this Moon Circle, the following exquisite collage presents insights and practices from this creative cooperation of experienced collaborators, for the benefit of our collective practice, using the kitchen as a metaphor for a studio of generous genius contributions.
[00:03:19] MH: When you make a game, you are providing a set of guidelines to allow other people to be creative or at least agent, within. You're creating a scaffolding or a structure which enables people to bring what they wanna bring to it, and you're creating a set of incentives, but I don't just mean incentives like the trophy at the end. I also mean ways that people can feel pleasure or a place that they can feel released or ways that they can feel communion.
[00:04:29] RZ: Everyone else here has been taught by someone else in a cooperative, so it's not like they come in with their own crazy grand ideas out of nowhere. So what we try to encourage is learning and developing and iterating and being curious about each other's work and talking about it. Like Donna Harway said, there is no autopoiesis, no one generates just by themselves alone.
[00:00:00] MJH: There is this thing we learn in schools, that if you start doing something, the first thing you're supposed to do is look up other artists who did a similar thing. But this is very rarely phrased as, ‘find your peers,’ like actually go have coffee with this person, because you know, you can energize each other. It is like you just look them up on the internet. So you know how to mention their name and when to say, “Well, I do this thing that the other artist does, but I do it differently.” As if we ever invent anything new. The most puzzling thing to me is like, who are you competing with?
[00:05:14] SF: One of the things I love about Moon Circle is that it really makes a place for so many different types of creativity around what a dinner can be.
[00:08:30] AL: Is competition a game we are playing because we're scared that if we don't win, we're excluded and die? Or are we playing out of a kind of ferocious celebration?
[00:09:55] CT: It's just like in any relationship basically. Like if you realize after a certain period of time of hanging out that they're not curious about you or that they don't see you, that's basically it. And I don't even need that much depth. Like I'm bored with depth … more [interested in] ping ponging together and playing together than just projecting on each other or being in isolation together. I either get really tired when I talk to people or I get a lot of energy, and if I get really tired, it's not gonna work.
[00:13:52] WA: I think we've all been in projects where we tried to do things in this maximum fair way and they did not get off the ground and it's difficult. The 'price of anarchy' gives us a conceptual framework to push back upon that, that in some cases, it's sometimes like a worthwhile sacrifice to make, to have like a pocket of decision-making authority or centralization with a plan to divest it or to move away from it. But then the problem with that is that can then be the cover for a centralized hierarchy that will never go away. If too much power gets concentrated in one place, then there is a systemic risk to the health of the collective.
[00:15:33] AL: And then there's like this very rapidly ascending crescendo of hunger and noise and the gaze is lifted and there's like a kind of like a, oh, hot damn, is this delicious? Have you tried this? Pointing each other at yet another little way of appreciating this.
There's this one place where you have this beautiful view of the forest. And at some point we had this idea to set up the washing station just right there. You watch the sunset over the forest while you do the dishes and it's made it really easy for people to just pick up the plates around them. Some people really like it, and they pick up a few more. Then there's this often really relaxed, uncomplicated chatter over the clinking of the dishes in the sunset.
we only speak on behalf of cultures we are a part of
we attract new contributors with good vibes
we value contributions of single small specialities
we welcome all creative details; if we're serving food, the lighting, the table arrangement, the playlists, are all important creative contributions, and space is made for them
we can come to be creative or we can come to just be given things to do, sometimes we might desire one or the other
we create good constraints
we could behave as if we are flour because it's cheap and you can make anything out of it
we under-cook our food so someone else can heat it up and enjoy it later
we make food to be eaten the next day by our friends too
we cook over different intervals
we dance around each other in a kitchen
we give direction and take direction
we move each other gently when needing space to pass by
we have a ceremony of leftovers
we have a boldness to call each other out if someone is not right, in a compassionate and curious way
we seek to align our actions and our words with honest realism and grounding with regards to our mission and communications
we pay attention to what each other are doing,
we continue working with collaborators we get energy from engaging with
we feel both excited and grounded
we feel it’s worth doing
we do well with some kind of explicit or implicit shared language
we make an effort to see each other and be curious and open with each other, if not, it's not going to be a collaboration that endures.
we pingpong off each other rather than project or be in isolation together
we do what we can to make people feel included
we find our own deep meanings to bring to the collective
we seek out collaborators and peers to uplift and energize each other, rather than to reference or beat each other, we look for them beyond their work
we accept we will never be the most original, the fastest, or the most famous ever, and aim not to be that within our generation either
we create outside of the dominant paradigm of competition in the art world
we cook with what we have
we grow mushrooms in the basement
we use raw milk even if it's illegal because it has thriving cultures
we re-school the adults
we kindly kick people out if they are making others uncomfortable or just fucking around, we take them outside to ask what they were doing then they can come back next time if they better their behaviour
we operate underground from the spectacle
we refurbish old cars to give people rides
we have informal positions, like the tarot reader, and the joker, they train others
we often work without money
we raise donations and sponsorship when we need to
we are a collective of reflection, criticality and spontaneity
we are not an institution whose people are replaceable with A.I.
we have flexibility in what roles we play within the group
we rotate leadership, we make our desires for leadership known
we make our level of commitment to the project known
we engage in research and gathering
we don't over-harvest any foraged species of food
we teach each other good foraging practices
we understand resources are owned by the collective
we do recipe research as a collaborative process that takes from our collective histories and history of the area
we are cooking magnolia snap cookies for dessert
we don't lead for attention or power
we rotate leadership
we encourage our aliveness, even in the face of self-doubt
we are all worthy
we support each-other to grow
we create a safe space and also a challenging space
we create well-constrained invitations to work with each other
we work on things we are an expert in and also we work on things we are interested in
we break the patterns of legacy schooling's pedagogy of grading each other
we work on what we think is truly worth trying for, eschewing dominant narratives of contemporary competition
we actively work to make people feel safe, safe in experimentation and expression
we act to create a shared belief of safety and companionship
we work on small things together to build good relationships and then work on bigger things once establishing trust, report, conviviality
we show up with our joys and our worries
we do the work, care for our culture and craft invitations for collectivity
we continually consider how to open our collaborations to other energy
we distribute agency
we undulate between teaching and learning
we clean and prepare workspaces for each other
we build relationships with different farmers and support them in regenerating the soil we work with the seasons.
we invite the farmers to our dinners
we work with ancient ways and innovative new ways
we aim towards zero food waste
we use as little water as necessary
we understand we have all been taught or inspired by someone else, and don't take ownership of grand ideas
we wash and peel vegetables together, we sing songs, we enter short trances together
we rotate roles
we brew together, forgetting which idea was who's
we work on developing and assuring our belonging to each other
we tease out the best in each other.
we compete with ourselves for ferocious lust of the world together, not for inclusion or survival
we kindly recognise our genius
we give active help to shape and passive help for space
we eat together
we let people rest
we visit food markets to gather ingredients and local stories
we honor the care and community that has gone into our ingredients
we bring farmers cookies from our dinners
we point each other at new ways of appreciating our food
we wash the dishes with a view out of the forest towards the sunset
we create good environments for us to enjoy our work
we listen to music to give space for collective digestion
we rely on our ability to improvise, especially when we have no budget for preparation
we can do an incredible amount with almost no resources due to the open-minded, adventurous, talented colleagues
we allow space for new ideas to emerge and then give each other the fuel for them
we work with limitations to build dexterity in our creative muscles
we admire the superpower of supportive administration
we work to keep our closet of unfinished project skeletons clear
we work situated in local place
we make an effort to navigate the human and organizational story of the collective’s history
we make decisions by a show of hands and by secret ballot
we hold council meetings to asses our process and accept proposals for change
we distribute power, influence, and decision making for more organizational flavor
we collaborate in our ideas and in our production
we know when to drive our ideas and when to let go
we create incentives for communion, release, pleasure
we build containers for other people to bring their creativity
we create spaces that are warm, welcoming, and collaborative, exciting, and creatively generative
we craft good invitations to let people know how to prepare and how they will be cared for
we know how long it takes to prepare for and recover from our events, to allow us to drop into focus and structure our time for them
we have processes to incorporate the new newcomers and also to surprise the oldcomers
we trust each other to take care of the things we said we would take care of.
we trust each other to ask for help
we've made an agreement that it needs to be fun
we are ambitious
we don't get our fundamental sense of value from our work
we operate outside of the dominant logic of competition
we face sacrificial elements of collaboration ritualistically and directly
we don't believe everything is within our control
we give people the help they need
we work with the stress of the environment and work with our emotions
we make sure there is a good DJ for collaborators cooking in the kitchen