The special project AALAWuN began asking a series of questions across the Bedford Square site at the beginning of the academic year 2016 – 2017. Now in the final term it's time to ask, how has AALAWuN satisfied its original description and how has it failed?
Josh Penk, Laurence Lumley, Pete(Jiadong Qiang),
Ollie Savorani, Rory Sherlock, Josh Harskamp.
Fandango poster Rory Sherlock
AALAWuN opened with a spectacle, The Fiefdom Fandango ( during the AA Open Week,
3rd November 2016) This was a whole day event staged in the lecture theatre that aimed to bring the school together across all units and years. Students and staff, past and present and invited guests where asked to consider the idea of experimentation in general and more specifically the AA's reputation for experimentation and if it was still relevant to the school in 2016. Fiefdom is a reference to an AALAWuN observation that any cohesion and common goal across the AA is compromised by a unit system which splits the school up into a collection of competing fiefdoms.
first AALAWuN meeting in Dip 18 studio
Devising and planning work for the Fiefdom Fandango began a month before with a dedicated group of mainly final year diploma students. By creating a slightly surreal and artificial platform, hovering somewhere between formal and informal, the group anticipated serious discussion in a less stuffy, more off the cuff fashion. The day was devised around the notion of an all day dinner table: 3 sessions, (3 servings) where literally served up; Boiled, Fried & Scrambled in reference to Cedric Price's, the city as an egg metaphor. AALAWuN added one final stage of its own to the Architectural Menu: Meringue – Air.
further meetings different locations (Dip 11 and Dip9)
The Boiled Session was coordinated with Ed Bottoms in Archive; a selection of archive
material chosen by invited students and tutors was discussed. Fried Session centred around Patrik Schumacher, Theo Spyropoulos, Mike Weinstock and John Frazer being asked, for you, what would be the next big experiment at the AA? And finally Scrambled, saw Liza Fior and diploma student Stefan Jovanovic , coordinate an exchange of skills while choreographing the participants across and around the length of the table.
More nomadic sessions: aboard Watchmaker, moored at St. Katharine Docks with John Fraser
- another speedy get out (Dip 10)
An excellent summary of what AALAWuN expected on the eve of the event is given below by Rory Sherlock (Dip 14) :
The evolution of this project has been to create the conditions within a room that start to stretch the boundaries or barriers between different Fiefs that exist in the AA and also between the AA and elsewhere. The way that we are electing to do that is to abolish the format of lecture or sit-down in conversation with, by having it round a dinner table that is not there just as a bloody novelty but is there as a crucial part of the day. So food will actually be served but the food (etc) on the table are all just mechanisms for creating/ facilitating the kind of discussion that does not exist at the moment in the current format.
The way that I see that going for the whole day is that there are points that are formalised, or rather there are moments that are formalised within that where there are people bringing something to the table. And so we have invited a set of people that are going to bring things to the table and then from that; generate discussion and potentially learning around the table between the people attending. It's not education, people are not being sat down and taught but they are sitting there picking up things and they are learning.
Fiefdom Fandango to do list
(notated) Throughway – Through the Day - Buster Rönngren
The enthusiasm and commitment from the core group was exceptional but as planning progressed a number had to perform a tricky balancing act between unit work and work for the Fandango. Some commented on feeling compromised; returning to their units and finding fellow students immersed in personal research when they had spent the morning discussing the best way to carry fried eggs on a silver tray or how ones movement can best join one space to another. All arguably credible architectural concerns but each student committing to Fandango work had to square such scenarios. The legacy of this particular quandary would influence AALAWuN thinking when considering post-Fandango ways to work.
The day long event did get groups of students and staff from all over the school, together, it even posed some important questions on architecture and learning. However, we could immediately see that any small shift the Fandango may have effected on the school community was overshadowed by the gargantuan effort put into staging it. Likewise in terms of making there was no contest between the sit, talk and leave activity of the all day session compared to the ever evolving debates, devising, ideas, making and designing experienced by the core group during planning.
Artist Alaena Turner, preparing eggs on Portable Kitchen designed by Gary Woodley
Fiefdom Fandango -Fried session
What's more, the core and key group to the whole event, had pushed themselves so hard in negotiating a full diploma timetable while still finding the time to devise and present the Fandango. The outcome being understandable signs of exhaustion as they carried out the ambitious roles of waiters & agitators around the whole day dinner table.
That situation was heightened further through the dilemma of, who's spectating and who's participating? Student's with little or no input into the devising of the day struggled to find their role in events. This was seen clearly in the Boiled and Fried sessions, where everyone was invited to join the debate around elements of the archive with fellow students and staff. The result often found large groups of confused and awkward looking students bunching up and blocking the entrance of the lecture theatre. This silent mass of onlookers not only prevented the important flow of people around the table, regrettably, it also helped re-establish a more traditional form of lecture scenario; I speak you listen. Interestingly this awkwardness only gave way to informality during the Scrambled session when Stefan Jovanovic guided everyone through a choreographed, who am I, exercise.
Late night last minute preparations from core group
who's participating who's spectating? – Fiefdom Fandango
In retrospect the Fiefdom Fandango was a start; maybe an ambitious red herring but something that had to be done to show what AALAWuN wasn't and where it might go next. By the following day, any pause, the Fiefdom Fandango had hoped to bring about was quickly swept aside by the pressures of term time-tabling; a bit like, nothing had happened, nothing significant had been asked, no gesture or action worth mentioning had taken place.
Fiefdom Fandango Menu of the day – Laurence Lumley
As Fandango dust settled AALAWuN began to pull at some of the more significant threads that had survived the day; the creative energy and intense discussion that had been a characteristic of the group sessions while the event was being designed. Likewise the many questions and part propositions that had been aired then left hanging during the event:
along with experimentation, there were questions around degree awarding powers, constant assessment, the unit system (now over 50 years old) and also the lack of information sharing and the nature of architectural education which inevitably shapes what architecture is today.
As flexible as the Fandango format was it had its limitations in getting to fundamentals. If the first AALAWuN outing had done anything it had started up a conversation that needed to be expanded, to be unravelled. With limited resources and shrinking manpower, ( many of the diploma students were suddenly thrown back into catch up of unit work) a more simple platform was needed to tease the conversation out further. Rather than wasting energy on fabricating another platform we were looking for an already existing context.
we ask, can an exhibition be more temporary?
So in 840 hours from 13:00 hours 17/11/16 the walls of the bar become
the site of a shifting argument of images and ad hoc conversations.
Uncertainty is displayed as a power tool and is asking you to join in
a discussion about your work at the AA....
Taking advantage of a break in the exhibition schedule for the AA Bar, (the walls were free for just over a month), AALAWuN followed up the Fandango event with, 840 hours unannounced wall variations. Because the bar area is the central hub of AA life, AALAWuN quickly seized the opportunity to activate a work in progress situation, in a location with informal contact of the entire school.
Putting up -Josh Penk and Rory Sherlock
- late night installation of scans of Pete's (Jiadong Qiang) costumes for Fandango waiters
The compositional goal was to gradually build up an installation of archive material and other work presented in the Fandango over a 35 day period on the bar walls. A sort of sustained conversation around subjects already touched on in the first event. With the unceasing support of Manijeh Verghese, ( AA Public Programme) we continued our close collaboration with AA Archivist, Ed Bottoms. He was delighted that selected works would be discussed further and be out, in the public gaze longer.
More archive put ups - Carlos Peters and Joyce Chen
– details on the LAWuNBAR wall
The ready-made context of the AA bar provided a platform without the time and resource sapping work the Fandango needed. This also freed up a number of the diploma students to initiate open source conversations as part of 840 hours unannounced wall variations. Open Source Conversations, invited two students from different units to pin up and present work in progress, in the bar over a lunch time session. Each new session of presented work would replace the previous one on the bar walls. Here's part of Buster Rönngren's introduction to Open Source Conversations :
Welcome all to this first instalment of open source conversations, which is meant to be a round table discussion about some ongoing and in progress student projects in this school. All questions asked about these proposals are not so much about what is for the eye alone. I thought that it would be appropriate to introduce these two students and their respective briefs by starting with projecting out of an approximate wall, namely my own unit. If you attended the diploma one presentation at the start of this year you will no doubt remember the iconic introduction to the film Manhattan by Woody Allen. Whereby the protagonist is deciding over numerous ways to start a project. Well the same Woody Allen is known to have said the following; eighty percent of life is just showing up. With that in mind, Joshua Harskamp who is attending Diploma Unit Four.....(and) Hunter Doyle of Inter Three.....are here today to see if there is a common ground to be found in the notion of just showing up.
Open source Conversations- Buster Rönngren & Josh Harskamp
Valentin Bontjes van Beek with Hunter Doyle and lunchtime gathering
Over the following weeks, informal lunchtime presentations where held on Mondays and Thursdays. The student conversations where attended by at least one lecturer, of a different unit from the students presenting. A simple requirements of open source conversations was to facilitate an encounter of students from different years and units. The broad sweep of attitude, opinion, incite and approach that resulted also met a main tenet of the AALAWuN remit, to get students and staff from across the whole school together and talking.
A student variation with Sofia Pia Belenky, Jane Wong and John Palmesino
The archive sessions; Archive Variations, allowed for a further probing of the experimentation question initiated by Fiefdom Fandango. Whenever possible, both the author and selector of the work would attend sessions; architect and writer Paul Shepheard came in to discuss, the aircraft drawings, (recently donated to the AA archive) with Mark Campbell and a gathering of students and staff. Another archive session featured Natasha Sandmeier (Unit Master, Dip9) being reunited with former student, Antoine Vaxelaire in a high spirited discussion around his woven graduation work now part of the AA archive: it makes no sense, you have two weeks to present your final project and you are knitting a carpet!
Archive Sessions:Chris Pierce, Carlos Villanueva Brandt, Natasha Sandmeier, Antoine Vaxelaire,
Manijeh Varhese, Ed Bottoms, David Greene
The 840 hours unannounced wall variations concluded at the Christmas break 2016. The 35 day residency in the AA Bar really helped AALAWuN establish a more fitting way of operating; although hardly unseen, working within the existing environs of the bar was a far more subtle way to work than staging spectaculars. At the same time, however slight, there is an important disruptive element to the bar work that we continue to nurture. Each AALAWuN event becomes an opportunity to tweak things, just fractionally skewing the situation, for lunchtime bar traffic to continue as normal while giving punters the choice to hang around and engage or walk on by.
The testing tap on a microphone, the silencing of day time radio from speaker behind the bar and then an amplified, welcome to another AALAWuN lunchtime conversation, is enough to make a start. The microphones are essential to compete with the constant hissing and banging of the coffee machine and the general buzz of lunchtime conversation. At times presenters have stop mid thought, mid sentence, only to pick up their thread at the end of noisy jet of steam. Paul Shepheard found a novel way of dealing with the same interruption by joining in on the microphone; ssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhiiiiiiiiiiiiiiishhh.
Perhaps he realised the sound effect was a fitting accompaniment when discussing jet engines? So mics pass from presenter to tutor to punter to guest in the general milieu, while a gradual fixing of archive work to the bar walls is off-set by work in progress being put up then quickly taken down. Regular visitors hear amplified snippets of conversation and catch glimpses of movement across frequently updated walls. Engaging with the proceedings, as and when they see fit.
More archive discussion including John Andrews, Salem Halulu, Laurence Lumley,
Paul Shepheard, Fred Scott and Mark Campbell
By the end of December 2016, AALAWuN activities in the bar had helped realise a student organised presentation platform, complimented with archival resource and experience. The location of our temporary office, (either of the two brown sofas in the bar) gave AALAWuN a regular and approachable presence in the school; perfectly situated for student's and staff to ask questions, make arrangements, introduce themselves, criticise us or discuss and propose possible future activities. The momentum of this period was also reflected in the students who were now regularly associated with AALAWuN. Our presence in the bar opened up new possibilities for broader cross-unit collaborations with Sofia Pia Belenky & Tobias Hentzer Dausgaard of DUE publication and Sean Gwee, Joy Lai and Amy Glover of Tabe Tabe Pots, Clay Collective. Even though, Joshua Penk, Carlos Peters, Oliver Savorani and others from the Fiefdom Fandango core group were now fully focused on demands of unit work, the simple presentation structures that AALAWuN now had in place meant they could freely drop in and out whenever possible.
a regular and approachable presence
Q. So there will be an exhibition in the bar next term?
Q. So AALAWuN will be homeless?
A. Sorry yes.......but there is another space available in the school
from early February, not as busy but quite spacious.
Q. Where's that?
A. The Graduate Gallery
Q. Where's that?
A. You know the corridor space at the far end of the lecture theatre
Q. What, the place where no one goes?
The place where no one goes
AALAWuN spent January 2017 dealing with the disappointment of losing the bar as a test site and trying to put together a week long programme of varied activities for February Open Week. The challenge of trying to entice students into an out of the way corner of the school to engage or ignore in a series of none spectacular happenings, felt a bit 2 steps forwards 3 steps back. The bar had always been just that; a bar where things happen. We were adamant not to return to fabricating elaborate structures for AALAWuN activities but didn't want to lose the momentum of the previous six weeks. The Graduate Gallery was really a corridor and that was how we would see it; a corridor where things happen. We did however rename it, The Place Where No One Goes (TPWNOG).
Preparation for TPWNOG, corridor presentation test with Sean Gwee, Joy Lai, Robert Busher, Will Faussett. -
Bsix students; Juan Andion, Gabriel Mofus, Sara Mohammed, Aneta Pruszynska, Fabio Sousa, Lolita Stegmar explore AA archive with Ed Bottoms , Sarah McLinn and Bryan Parsons.
Although the title (TPWNOG) began as a bit of a joke the work of AALAWuN up until this point had made us increasingly aware of the serious subtext. So In the first instance there was an invitation for students to take part in some informal research activities beyond the confines of unit appraisal. TPWNOG, promised an assessment free zone and what better timing, than the week when all formal tuition in AA units stops?
Secondly, it seemed important to tap into the fallout generated by the resignation announcement of the head of school; uncertainty about the future, disappointment and the atmosphere of change it had left looming over the school. AALAWuN felt duty bound to encourage serious, open discussion, to field challenging questions and share alternatives propositions with the school community and invited guest.
Finally, back to experimentation again, this time in the form of a competition:
The reputation of the AA is grounded on experimentation, innovation and creativity. These values are hard-wired into the fabric of the school.
As part of AALAWuN The Place Where No One Goes, week long project (6th–10thFeb 2017)
We will be staging a competition which deals directly with the crowning act of study at the AA - the Graduation Ceremony.
Graduation Ceremony, a Competition for Ideas, not a final project:
The competition asks the question, what could a graduation ceremony be if AA core values become an expression of design in the form of an AA Graduation Ceremony?
All students and staff are invited and encouraged to participate in the competition taking place on the 9th February 2017
8AM Slade Breakfast Meeting with Gary Woodley and MA painting students
Luke Needham (BSix) presenting his archive research
The graduation ceremony competition was scheduled for Thursday in a busy programme that kicked off the week with a Slade School of Art, Breakfast meeting at 8am on Monday.
Drawing Machine: Quentin Martin,Tamara Rasoul, James Lysacht, Caspar Schols.
Critical Thought: Kevin Rhowbottom and Clive Menzies
Other visitors included BSix college; a group of six form students presented their findings from a short collaboration with AA Archive. Several short presentations included an introduction to the work of Critical Thinking, And Kevin Rhowbottom's love song to architecture via Michelangelo Antonioni and Gil Scott Heron.Theo Spyropoulos's DRL students chaired the heated discussion; Vision is a dirty word, which they kicked off by screening a film they had made specially for the debate. Student Forum continued their dissection of the Bretexit issue and there was also a chance to get to know the AA's new head of Teaching and Learning: Meet Mark Morris.
Vision is (not) a dirty Word with DRL students
- Sean Gwee at the wheel with Carlos Villanueva Brandt during Meet Mark Morris
The extensive programme for TPWNOG stretched AALAWuN's limited design resource already receiving generous support from Manijeh Verghese. The help we received from Boris Meister and Jan Blessing in AA Graphics not only helped make visual sense of the growing list of activities to feature on TPWNOG poster but was another fruitful expansion of the AALAWuN working dialogue within the school.
We were learning that much of our proprietary work for AALAWuN activities was acting in this way. The AA plant round up for the drawing session planned for the Wednesday afternoon with Anderson Inge did exactly this. Anderson had discussed a drawing session in TPWNOG which would begin with participants bringing a plant in to draw from another location. These, office, library, reception etc, locations were logged and photographed in advance to serve as a practical guide for locating the plants. It was interesting how the social nature of this preparation work of searching and plotting became an extended aspect of the drawing class to come.
Plant plotting in Sabrina Blakstad's office –
students and staff during drawing session in TPWNOG with Anderson Inge
While the events and activities scheduled for TPWNOG fluctuated greatly in pace, a number of student driven projects planned to last the whole week offered an underlining continuity. Jack Hardy would work in and around the corridor preparing the inflatable for his Old Kent Toad Parade, Sofia Pia Belenky and Georgia Hablutzel would document the week by collecting material and compiling a fanzine, Zerox Reader. Finally, Sean Gwee would install his potter's wheel for the entire week in the corridor, he was on the look out for first time pot throwers and put the invitation out across the school.
Xerox Readers: Georgia Hablutzel & Sofia Pia Belenky.
First time pot throwers with Sean Gwee - Jeffrey Amankwah and Bsix students
The week fluctuated between being awkward,Joyous, edgy and informative. Completing the week was a rewarding slog. Student participation, was equally mixed ranging from standing room only at times for the Vision is a dirty word discussion to apparently only two students wanting to meet the new head of Teaching and Learning.
We were also treated to an unscheduled steady stream students passing through TPWNOG all week. Each one exclaiming a desire to; throw a pot, draw a plant, break their routine, talk some more and design their dream graduation ceremony. But each time each one would declare they were too busy with a tutorial, unit work, extra work, or catching up on work. Put simply, they had too much work to do!
Pausing to note, then getting back to work with a concern for students feeling so stressed and busy in Open Week, AALAWuN, reasoned that we could only encourage and help in providing the framework for situations like TPWNOG to materialise, the rest was up to the students:
I admire and am very grateful for the honest and challenging discourse that is taking place
as a result of AALAWuN. In particular, the events that took place in The Place Where No one Goes during open week offered an openness and spontaneity that is not often found at the AA. Events such as these encourage an otherwise slightly self-aware and contrived atmosphere to become something more fluid and welcoming and inquisitive..Amy Glover
Dor Schindler, Hunter Doyle measuring up 6.7 metre long TPWNOG table, constructed with Janos Bergob, Shou Jian Eng & Nicholas Lin.
- Plants on table during drawing class with Anderson Inge
While attempting to keep things fluid and welcoming, AALAWuN are always open to experimentation. In The Graduation Competition we employed a simple shift in the day's presentation that involved live-streaming the competition Jury from our purpose built table into
the lecture theatre. The technical flip was made possible by Joel Newman and Sepher (Sep) Malek of the Audio Visual department who we've enjoyed a supportive dialogue with all year.
Sep commented on the merit of this specific exercise as we cleared away; enthusiastically pondering, future applications of such a novel set-up for wider school scenarios,Tables, Crits and Juries.
Graduation Competition – presenters include Manja Van de Worp, Manijeh Varghese, Sofia Pia Belenky,
Jury – Lucy Moroney, David Greene, Lara Lesmes and Clive Menzies . Jack Hardy's big Bethnal Green Toad was road/toad tested
One other overarching aspect of the Graduation Competition was seeing how an event that involved the participation of students and staff from across the school, encouraged a roving documentation. The AALAWuN edited account of the competition day followed a natural flow around the building, linking entrance and exit points of TPWNOG corridor. The time loop opened up during the event gave intriguing glimpses of collaborative broadcasting within architecture; a fractured whole held together by human interaction rather than a building and its inhabitants being passively clocked on CCTV.
A continuity and linking work became another coherent characteristic of TPWNOG. Between the start and finish of our time in the corridor space we were really pleased to be able to develop an already constructive dialogue with Theo Spyropolos and the students of DRL. A group of ten or more DRL students had produced a film/manifesto for the, discussion, Vision is a dirty word. Following the event, Ziqian Dloptimber and Senior Fei, the two students involved in the core production of the film, decided to develop the themes of the film back into a large banner. Along with research work in the AA library, the extended tableau became a backdrop for a further discussion on Manifestos with texts including, Krier,Woods,Tatlin, Koolhaus, Hadid and Van Doesburg.
Manifesto or not – with Ziqian Dloptimber, Neill Lin joined by Senior Fei , Anri Gyuloyan, Emre Erdogan, Lena Puchkova, Heidi Ham, Ruilin Yang Weiham Chang Knot Saenawee of the DRL among other interested parties.
By mid March the bar exhibition was down and the walls were for AALAWuN use again. One other TPWNOG collaboration, this time with Sean Gwee, evolved into a bridge back to the bar:
as apart of the (TPWNOG) programs, I installed myself as furniture in the graduate gallery, my pottery wheel and I were witness to almost all the conversations over the course of the week. From the crazed and frankly warranted ravings of an ever-angry Kevin Rhowbottom to the calm and benevolent presence of Anderson's plant drawing class, the conversations and dialogues had that week were both essential and enriching.
TPWNOG did not stop there with the pots made during the week at my wheel displayed in a session called "LET'S TALK ABOUT POTS/EDUCATION/PAINTINGS" where the pots were displayed as a dialogical tool in the bar, with their sinuous and intuitive forms forming the seed of many conversations regarding what it means to make and what value implies.
Time is a created thing. To say I don't have time, is like saying, I don't want to.
- Lao Tzu ancient Chinese philosopher and writer
That's the update, our work in progress. Instead of trying to clumsily round off, much better to share examples of a couple of responses we received when we asked for student feedback on the work of LAWuN this year. The first from Georgia Hablutzel, the second from final year student Laurence Lumley :
On the 17th of March Tabe Tabe collective put up 42 temporary small shelves on the bar walls to house the now fired, first time pots made during TPWNOG week. By the 23rd of March The pots had been removed, a discussion on Learning had been presented and recorded and a group of Slade PHD student's had installed a series of painterly objects on the 42 vacated shelves. AALAWuN were back in the bar, The LAWuNBAR. It was time to make a pause for Easter.
42 Shelves: Let's talk-Sean Gwee, Joy Lai & Amy Glover of Tabe Tabe Pots. Learning- Mark Morris with Steve Lancashire on Illich and presentations from Sofia Pia Belenky and Josh Harskamp on Itinerant learning. Painting as Object – Slade PHD students, staff and associates , including, Alaena Turner, Estelle Thompson, Onya McCausland and Gary Woodley – propose,position and ponder around the 42 Shelves.
As we began compiling this report in early May 2017, we were just squeezing in a final set of Unassessed Lunchtime Conversations before the school locked down into Final Tables mode. As the year has progressed critiquing the endless assessment treadmill, within education has grown in importance to AALAWuN. And encouraging students to open up their projects as work in progress is very much a part of this critique. The pop-up platform context, AALAWuNBAR, extended an invitation to prod, cajole and learn to all those who want to join in.
Four sessions of Unassessed Lunchtime Conversations in and around the LAWuNBAR Wall. Visitor, student and staff contributions include: Saskia Lewis, Ema Hana Kacar, Elliot Rogosin, Nabila Mahdi, Quentin Martin, Theo Spyropolos, Ryan Dillon, Shin Egashira, Ed Bottoms, Mark Morris, Jo Hagen, Rory Sherlock, Mark Cousins, Sam Hardingham, Frank Quek, Matt Hepburn, Laurence Lumley, Dominic Cullinan, Amy Glover, Josh Harskamp, Mike Davis, Agelica Rimoldi, Oliver Hall, Jon Goodbun, Georgia Hablutzel, Tobias Dausgaard.
A generosity of time and attention from guests, students and staff and a seriousness from an intriguing mix of AA, Oxford Brookes and RCA students of all years, completed four engaging sessions; praise for refreshing new approaches to age old problems, disappointment at the work in progress looking too finished. One guest who hadn't been in a school of architecture for 17 years found the work now looked much the same as then. Another student gives a glowing reply to the question, what gets you up in the morning? Maybe it was down to the LAWuNBAR context but a common observation was how much those presenting should look to learn from each other while the work was up side by side. And perhaps the most gratifying LAWuNBAR moment happened when Oliver Hall (DS7 Oxford Brookes) and Agelica Rimoldi (AA inter 12) more or less ran their entire session; cross-referencing each others work and passing any interesting questions to the one with the more appropriate project work.
The AALAWuN special project, enjoys a unique position of being both inside and outside the AA school; in one way an itinerant body but equally a part of the everyday fabric. AALAWuN has been given a privileged perch, often like the calm point at the eye of the storm. So applying a variety of low key propositions allows us the occasional glimpse of a strata of school life that others seem too busy to stop and notice, let alone consider. The ever unwinding edits and slices of what is and isn't taking place, complementary,critical and neutral, contribute a particular insight into the AA and to the broader context of learning today. In this respect, AALAWuN is very much in the AA tradition of experimentation, innovation and creativity (both seen and unseen).
That's the update, our work in progress. Instead of trying to clumsily round off, much better to share examples of a couple of responses we received when we asked for student feedback on the work of LAWuN this year. The first from Georgia Hablutzel, the second from final year student Laurence Lumley :
I just wanted to show my support for everything and anything AALAWuN. As a student I have seen the level of conversation around all things AA and beyond grow among colleagues and with myself. the exposure you have brought has started a general openness between students and a much needed pressure to begin to agree, disagree and discuss... I have been exposed to the wide range of opinions, debates, and general mind-opening over the last few months with AALAWuN. At times subtle, profoundly shocking, however always reviewed (...with self //with others). AALAWuN has created opinions and a true feeling of new found optimism towards the place... I cannot thank you both enough for everything that AALAWuN has made and what you have enabled in all.
There has been a lot of talk recently of the 'school community'. I am not sure I know what this means. As a student entering the fourth year of the school, it is very hard to really find a place. Those who have been here since first year or foundation seem to feel the school is a kind of family - not so for us. We start our first day in a locked room, off a corridor of 15 or so locked rooms, with 11 other inmates, and that is that. For me the AA is no community at all. I know I am not the only one of my cohort that feels this way - many of us have had the same experience. AALAWuN has been an incredibly effective force in opening up the school. Literally unlocking doors (holding meetings in a different unit space each time), and providing a clearing for people from across the school to meet, get to know one another, and discuss ideas. Quite honestly I have not found any other space in the school that really does this (perhaps a bit in the 'soft room' last year, and now that is gone). AALAWuN serves an important and irreplaceable role in this respect.
…...Once I have finally served out my time in the AA (not too long to go now), it will probably be my involvement with AALAWuN that will remain the best and most encouraging experience I take away.
No answers, but a lot to think on; no bad thing.