How we got here
The Space Project is a radical education project in Leeds presented by Really Open University. The group was formed around the end of 2009 in response not only to upcoming cuts to higher education but also to the idea that we should defend the university as is. We don’t want to keep the university as an institution that commodifies knowledge, creates norms and limits ideas, upholds social barriers and moulds students and staff into efficient workers. Instead we want to create a new kind of education in which academia and learning are open to all and we can teach and learn from each other collectively.
Over the past two years we’ve held numerous events around Leeds discussing and putting into practice our educational aims. These have included discussions around particular political themes and ideas that have come up in the group and questions on what a new university could look like. These culminated in a week long series of events held mainly on Leeds University campus called Reimagine The University.
In all this time though we have constantly come up against the problem of physical space. We’ve always been against the idea of situating ourselves too firmly on campus, although many of us study or work there. But if we’re against the university, where else can we take learning? Sometimes this has proved too difficult and we find ourselves sneaking into spare rooms, using booking rights to hold meetings on campus. Even when we manage to find space outside of the university it has been far from ideal. We’ve been in back rooms of pubs, church halls, community and social centres and each other’s houses. What we’ve really wanted though is a space we can come back to, somewhere that’s ours, where we can invite people to take on learning and sharing knowledge themselves and know that there are others around them doing the same. So now we’ve created the Space Project…
The Space Project – what we want
We want the Space to be a meeting space; meetings of thought, of practice, of people, of ideas. We see it as a place of critical engagement with ideas and practices of transforming the world and ourselves within it.
We are trying, awkwardly, imperfectly, to create a space where everything overlaps and influences each other. So instead of separate groups putting on events in isolation we want to encourage collaboration, cross-contamination.
This isn’t to grow a singular project but to hopefully move us all a little bit, in personal and political transformation.
We WANT to create a MONSTER!
How will this work in practice?
A practical example might be how the Leeds Turned Upside Down walk on Nov 5th is part of the Film Festival, but will cross-contaminate the local radical History series too, so this one event is a meeting of both programmes of events, and also therefore of ideas, of people, of thought, of practice.
We want people using the space to think about how their event, activity or group can work with each other things going on in the Space, so all projects become more than the sum total of themselves. We ask you to not just use the physical space to host your own but look at the other events, contact us and/or other event organisers to see what collaborative projects can be grown.
Someone asked “But what if I want to contaminate people with my ideas but don’t want to be contaminated with theirs?”
In this situation perhaps the Space isn’t for you…..
Management and Autonomy
Our role as the Really Open University is to assist in this matchmaking of projects we suspect might fancy each other, as well as the general facilitation of the public space: keyholding, rent paying, etc. We are experimenting with this imperfect form rather than having large open meetings on the details of everyday running in order to try different ways of organising.
We hope this will cut down on bureaucracy, but it is event organisers who keep control and autonomy of their own activities within the space and can make their own guidelines and ground rules for the running of their own events.
We do ask that groups also contribute to the overall running, by lending a hand when they can, by putting in cash for heating and electric, by helping other events run smoothly, by tidying up.
Last Updated (Thursday, 13 October 2011 07:18)