Round Two: The Saturday Symposium, June 25, 2016


The Saturday Symposium


Woke up early in the delightful fog of SF's Richmond District. The last thing John and I had done the evening before was stop off at a copy shop. Must have been a sense of symmetry that brought us back there to begin Saturday.


Unloaded some white boards and various pieces of technology at the Red Victorian on Haight Street. Get there early enough and parking is surprisingly easy. Nostalgic memories of prepping for the first day of a training flooded in as we rearranged the furniture, made introductions, and set up. Was a breakfasting German family part of your pre-workshop checklist?


Had a chance to meet our host(s) face to face. Eric Rogers was my primary contact—and the master who was going to set up the Google Hangouts—so I was happy to see him on site.


While not extreme, don't think I have a reputation as the most focused New Games trainer. (My gosh, the most amazing pair of shoes just walked by.) Still, it took some concentration to get the room and the tech set up amidst all the “Hello-ing” from night-before folks—as well as the new Saturday attendees.


New New-Games folk who joined us on Saturday were Ray Murray (The 5:47 video at Ray's link is worth viewing to find out more about him.) and Lee Rush. (Find out a bit more about Lee's work with Restorative Justice.) Robby Herbst, who prompted the entire weekend by including New Games in his participatory art piece showed up. Missing from the evening before were Dinah, Tiger, Robert, Barbara, and Zooey. (Jamie earns a special award for showing up and hanging in there for the entire Symposium. Not sure I would have been able to resist a wander through the Haight, stroll into Golden Gate Park, and a peek at the various mounting techniques at the de Young.)


Handed some SD cards to Eric so he could record the day. John had also arranged for a friend to video the Symposium. I missed the opening games trying to coordinate the Google Hangouts between various FONGsters who had expressed interest and Eric, the tech guru who was initiating the link.


Introductions were made in a literal round-robin. Richard Moon (the videographer) had the circle of participants rotate so the introductee stood in a favorable spot for the camera. Once each person finished her/his introduction the circle rotated for the next. Rare, overlong introductions were met with a whirring of the circle to bring the ondeck person into focus.


Folks paired up and wrote questions they would like addressed that day on Post-It notes. The questions provided a loose framework for the discussions that followed.


The Symposium was a more-focused continuation of the evening before. At one point a couple of guys in their twenties took seats in an outer circle. I found out they came intentionally. One of them even stayed after the break.


With the talks underway I began wrestling—and losing to—technology. The video links to various FONGsters wasn't happening. At some point Eric and I finally managed to create a connection with Nancy. I apologize to the others who were not able to join. We tried. Thought about initiating the Hangout through my laptop, but it was not connected to the Red Vic's projector and sound system.


Several videos recorded the day so I won't go into detail about the discussions. With a bit of luck and some determination, the videos should eventually be available. However, read on for a further lesson in planning for the unforeseen.


Plans to end up with copies of the videos that same day also began to fail. After a while Richard handed me a full SD card to copy to a hard drive I had purchased specially for the occasion. About halfway through the transfer my laptop would encounter some error and eject the SD card. After multiple attempts—and trying different techniques—we admitted defeat. Fortunately, Richard kept filming. He took all of the cards and the hard drive with him. Word is he was able to transfer the files to the hard drive and is mailing it to me. Haven't received it yet, and I'll figure out a way to share it with everyone at some point.



Eric left early to attend a wedding. He wasn't there to fix the Hangouts connection when it broke, so Nancy was unceremoniously disconnected from the virtual link. Sorry, Nancy.

Late in the afternoon Revisionary John Law joined the group. While he wasn't that closely aligned with New Games at the time it was around, his perspective on how New Games was both influenced by and influenced the zeitgeist of San Francisco in the seventies was a welcome addition.


I was initially skeptical when Johnny O requested the room from 11am until 5pm, thinking there was no way we needed that much time. My faulty memory of concise discussions at New Games Trainings (Anybody else remember 20-minute discourses on Repertoire?) was gently corrected as the afternoon filled and we ran over.


Thanks to all of the folks who helped make this happen. Particular thanks to Eric Rogers at the Red Vic and videographer Richard Moon. I'd also like to thank Johnny both for the work he did setting things up and for leaving enough matters unfinished so I felt compelled to fill some gaps.




Humbly submitted by Todd Strong


Next installment: Round Three: A Reistafel by any other name


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