Discover more from The Medley Mirror
What next for Medley?
update, April '23
I have a what next? to share. If you just want the deets, jump to the end section. If you want to know some whys and wherefores, forthwith:
My two co-founders, Chris and Ananta, recently decided to step back from Medley and to start a new chapter of their lives. (First stop Portugal! With our friends Sílvia and Michal at Pico Village ☀️). Chris and Ananta's financial contribution to Medley to date allowed us to focus purely on non-profit activities: establishing an unapologetically beautiful beacon for collective expression and offering it pro bono or at subsidised rates for local artists, community-builders and educators, and for a fully-funded 10-week residency for 14 people between Oct-Dec last year.
This generous contribution gave us space to pursue two vital components of social-fabric-building, in my view: gathering and place.
Gathering is the art and practice of combining people and setting. It doesn’t require particular properties of scale or time; it can be two people for an afternoon picnic, or a decades-long gathering of mothers in political protest, or an every-Sunday game of pick-up. The art comes in the constraints, rituals, curation of people, and setting-design.1 At Medley, our primary thesis and practice in gathering was our residency no.1. We invited high-agency people with an articulated project (serving something like their soul-work/life’s work), who wished to be in community, to share “de-atomized” space — in which work, play, and social bonding were co-mingled. We supposed that such an environment might support a “collective re-attunement” process2: some transformation in one’s relation to one’s self, work, sense of meaning, or way of being in community, that could prove valuable well beyond the particulars of the residency projects.
Then, Place. Place is created by “people like us doing things like this3”, in this setting, again and again. When a coherent-enough group ritualises a way of gathering in a particular setting, the setting itself is made sacred; it is imbued with the feel, the ritual, the intention and meaning, and thus becomes a relational component supporting the gathering. Place benefits from consistency, longevity, (semi-)permanence, repetition, lore. Place is an agent; the walls speak, the carpets host.4
At Medley, we started with a cathedral for conscious expression. This is doing a start-up on ultra-hard mode… Places, culture, community, and clout within non-profit circles are all slow-burn, multi-cycle phenomena. For Medley to consolidate and compound these phenomena to match the scale of this building within 18 months would be quite something. Today, at the 11-months mark, it’s not clear to me whether this place can be sustained.
But I maintain that starting with a cathedral mattered and matters. As a beacon of a possible future, in which community centers are the best show in town, in which we embrace beauty as foundational to collective meaning-making. In which we return the communal sacred. Those who've spent time at Medley and felt it know, in their bones, how physical space can open heart and imagination space.5
So, what next?
Next week, I will take on full ownership and direction of the non-profit entity, Medley Foundation gGmbH.
By the end of April, I’ll determine how best to preserve and serve the Foundation’s social mission, and will recalibrate our approach to gathering and place. This may include a decision to pack up or sublet our present location at the Pfefferberg as soon as the end of May. Yes, this would be sad. But running a beacon of a possible future and equally distributing it is expensive. Without significant non-profit income from donations and grants, we can't make the space accessible and blend use, which is where the magic lies.
But! There is April and May, regardless. This is how it will go.
Today, we open applications for the Medley Fellowship. Fellows will have priority, pro bono access to our space for April and May. In exchange, Fellows will be champions and custodians of the space. They will uphold our Principles of Gathering, care for the house and for one another, and host experiences supporting our social mission. We will accept Fellows on a rolling basis until at suitable capacity.
The capacity for Medley in April and May to host experiences here, open our doors, is tantamount to the capacity of the Fellows. Medley will have no staff. We will be in it together, as nascent collective. If we love this place — if we bring curiosity, a spirit of temenos, and a commitment to play, it’ll be just beautiful.
And then it’s an optimistic who knows? for the next, “What next?”.
Can I host my event at Medley?
For corporate and major event bookings, please fill in the form here.
For smaller community and non-profit/subsidized events, I ask your patience — once the Fellows are selected and established, we’ll together communicate our capacity. Requests can be sent to email@example.com.
Can I volunteer for Medley?
Thank you but no, not at this stage! Take a look at the Fellows program, and/or keep in touch in our Telegram channel. If a volunteers program becomes a suitable fit in future, we’ll announce it there.
I contacted you recently and am still waiting for a response…
I know! Apologies. Much to transition, here. I’ll get through the inboxes in the coming week or two.
Can I just give you money?
Yes, and as a registered non-profit we can supply receipts for tax deduction. Details here.
Seth Godin’s wonderful phrase for tribe/community.
Again, fascinating projects in Place abound. Drew, Priya, Daniel and others are experimenting with a residential Neighbourhood NYC project. SF Commons is a third space centered on curiosity, ideas-exchange, and a campus-like serendipity. The Berkeley Alembic is a center for consciousness, transformation, and bodymind study and exploration. AkiyaDAO plans to transform a building in rural Japan into an “omni-maker space”. The blossoming field of “New Work” is seeking the corporate adjacent.