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15 May 2011 / paradeiser

easa PR

cross-posting from http://easa.antville.org
originally posted by monicator

Somone told me on friday: “ah, i know easa, but i will never ever EVER go there! it’s only people who want to get drunk all the time and meet other architects and f#ck them” .. i tried explaining how it’s quite a bit more than that, how most workshops are amazing and how the idea exchange that happens there can hardly take place in other environments, and what an amazing effort it has been to keep it running for 31 years now..

But none the less, dear EASA friends, let this be a constant reminder that EASA means more than that, and while we are not going to allow getting slut-shamed for participating, keep in mind that it’s at least us that should see more than that and not join easa solely for the hookups and the beer, and that we are indeed responsible for the image we give easa and the info we share with the world!

This is not an appeal to morality and decency, because we are free to do what we please, but i would like to remind the NCs at least, that the way we describe EASA has an impact on the people who join and on the future of the network itself. It should not be promoted as an insane debaucherous fuckfest for architects, but as what it really is – the platform that allowed so many of us to evolve beyond the indoctrination of our home universities and meet the people who will certainly be on future El Croquis ;)

Future participants should see that and not let the event degenerate into the dreaded big party, since it’s them that decide and shape EASA’s future.

I don’t want to be a party-pooper, because i have myself experienced the debauchery and i enjoyed it, dammit! But it hurt me to hear that someone had told this girl that EASA is nothing beyond orgies and alcohol, that that was the best thing about it, while the rest was irrelevant fluff.

We need some decent PR. And just another question, which platform are we using now? the easa.tk blog or easanetwork? they are both pretty silent..

Lots of love and hugs and nostalgia ..
xoxoxo
originally posted by monicator

9 Comments

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  1. Chris Maloney / May 17 2011

    I love the vivid language you use in this post, my favourite has to be “we are not going to allow getting slut-shamed for participating”.

    I agree that it’s a shame that people still insist on describing EASA like this, at the very least it is reductive. Sure EASA has it’s wild side, it’s part of what makes it what it is above all – youthful expression. At least that’s my view of EASA.

    I think your point about platforms for communication sums up what makes EASA so good, but also is a weakness in its appearance. In the 6 years I’ve been around EASA it has refused to be defined and has evolved quite a bit, and I think most of that is because there is nothing set in stone beyond the intent to bring Europe together for an alternative summer school each year.

    I’m glad we have a bunch of different ways of getting in contact, and that there is no formal idea or leadership of what is going on with that side of things, it keeps EASA fluid. Though personally I would like people to be more vocal between events – didn’t someone in CHP mention running an independent paper between EASAs? I’d also like people to be more positive, or at least balanced about what EASA is.

    I wonder if the apathy is because more people at EASA see it as the chance of a life time to get laid, rather than the chance of a life time creatively (not that creativity and getting laid are mutually exclusive) or if there is some other reason? Maybe Facebook is to blame, now we can just keep in touch with the people we like and not the people that cut in line at dinner or ask that one question that makes the room groan in an NC meeting.

    I mean it can’t be all bad, easa011 got 100+ workshop applications. Maybe there is nothing to talk about? Everything is fine in EASA land?

  2. Monica Ioansdóttir / May 19 2011

    thanks for replying! i was hoping it would reach more people, or that more people would have an opinion on this, like the one you posted. i guess a lot of us can just agree, and you take what you want from EASA anyway, so why would it touch me if someone is slutting it up and getting drunk. But again, the fragility of this EASA thing is something we should be aware of.

    And i have to approve again of keeping EASA alive and kicking while we aren’t flirting and smartassing over workshops and booze. I feel guilty myself for not participating more on the blogs and so on, but i guess we need a vague enough framework to make it happen. Some generic topics (just like the yearly themes etc.)

    Facebook is a blessing and a curse (ah, aren’t i a poet?) since every time i needed some input, i wrote a little message to a selected few and hoped for the best. Nothing beats discussing the future of our trade in real life, with possibly the prospect of getting laid by the end, if we are really really witty, but i think cyber-easa it would be worth another shot.

    I shall take it upon me to troll the EASA forums as long as i have my evenings and my internet connection, and see what comes out of it..

    Though if calling 1000+ people sluts on one single instance didn’t help, i don’t know what will…

  3. paradeiser / May 20 2011

    i thank you so much for this discussion! i very much agree (on also like the wording) of your posts.
    i kinda got frustrated over this topic – especially about the communication-thing. maybe facebook is to blame, everyone has his personal bubble of friends which matter the most and no-one feels the need of speaking up to a bigger (more public) audience. i actually dont know what happened, the only thing i’m certain of is that a couple of years ago the blog with all it’s discussions, opinions, requests and fun-posts was way more vivid than anything i can see nowadays related to easa.
    sounds like a dino who’s moaning ‘when i was young everything was better’…

    thats actually why i brought up this new website-proposal – i understand the old blog is – yes… quite old. but as i saw the new flash-blogspot-thing i felt that would be a dead-end-road of the communication-leftovers. if you cant battle facebook (and why would we) you rather integrate it…

    i’m doing this for almost 10yrs now – and still cant just let it go. maybe i shouldt bother and everything is fine – and i’m just too old ;)

    just my 2¢

  4. Daniel Wahl / May 20 2011

    Hi all,

    I couldn’t agree more with the direction this discussion is pointing to. I myself have to take some shady credit for more than one numbed-out co-participant in EASA due to musical involvement. But I was trying to give this back in a serious/networking kind of level at all times.

    But why is EASA seen in this light? I think it boils down to two main issues:

    1. mediocre level of workshops
    2. lack of communication to outsiders

    To 1.: While there is a lot of ambition among workshop tutors (which are mostly alumni-easaians) only few of the workshops manage to surpass a certain level of playfulness and simplyness. This is of course due to some restrictions in resources but still tutors fear seriousness for some reason (.. not to spoil this “fun-summer-event”, maybe.). Workshops standards can mostly be regarded to be on an academic junior level. Almost none of the workshops is continued after the assembley.

    To 2.: Therefore the results are often nothing to talk about or even brag about by the participants, and only few will mention them in their portfolios. After coming back from the summer assembly there is still a humming noise in the FB or elsewhere amidst easaians but rarely to outsiders, publications or in the Universities everyone is returning to.
    Why do we have mediocre level of Workshops?: Because there is not enough competition among tutors, because there are not enough workshop applications. It is simply too easy to offer a workshop.
    In the many years that I have been to or followed EASA the Theme and the Tutorpack are mostly published on the EASA event site of the corresponding year, but seldom have I seen that outsiders where specifically invited to do tutoring.

    While it is of course very nice to have a lot of befriended EASA Dinos tutor the workshops, the communication carroussel and the competition among workshops would be spurred by input from other academic or commercial sources.

    And on another note: to be honest, it is not very alluring to offer a workshop in EASA. The conditions for tutors are just plain bad. If EASA wants to gain more workshop applications and thus gets to select the “better” and more qualified stuff it has to be more interesting to offer a workshop.
    And I’m not talking about a reduced fee for tutors. I’m talking about NO fee for tutors plus paying for expenditures such as flights/travel. Why is this possible for lecturers but not for tutors?
    Among the past EASAs we have seen organizing teams bragging high on their lecture schedule, but neglecting the workshop part, and in my humble opinion it should be the other way around.

    To wrap it up, I’m not condemning the party side of EASA but the serious part has do catch up with that. And as a free advice I’d like to shout out to future organizing teams:

    1. Make it more interesting for tutors to offer workshops in EASA and get outsiders interested to do so. Cover their expenditures and organize documentation and publishing of EASA workshop in renowned Architectural Magazines.

    2. Do not invite big name architects to do lectures. That is not the spirit of EASA and you can borrow books and magazines about their work in every library. Let starting local practices talk about how they solve their everyday lives problems and put the saved money into supporting the tutors for the Workshops.

    3. Cut the cost on unnecessary trips during EASA, they eat away your budget and the time for the workshops. Put all the saved Money into the workshops and materials.

    This rant could go on and on… but not to make it lengthy these are my 2dime.

    All the best, Daniel

  5. Monica Ioansdóttir / May 20 2011

    Daniel, thank you too! :) you definitely struck a chord here when saying there’s a lot of workshops that are simply nothing to write home about.

    I definitely had fun doing the workshops i have since greece, and i definitely learned a lot by doing at least two of them, but the most satisfaction i had so far was in manchester when i was actually happy with the results of pernille and aka’s workshop. AND it has been the first time i put actual effort into a workshop instead of just passing the time til it’s acceptable to have a drink again. (and i’m really not a slacky architecture student)

    BUT this isn’t a critique towards my other tutors (because the lack of materials made it hard for everyone and workshopping in easa isn’t easy, no matter what they say).

    I just have this thesis that last year’s workshops were all very good imho (i mean, the final exhibition blew my mind on at least two occasions) because participants had nothing “better” to do during the days because of the.. you know… incident. The busses came and took us away at 9 and we left at 6 and there was little comfort in the mills, no bars no booze no chillout… I’m not saying we need stricter EASA’s.. i’m not implying anything. It’s just an observation i made.

    P. and Aka actually pushed the boat a little and insisted we get our stuff, insisted we had a good exhibition space, insisted we showed up (lovingly reminding us in the evenings ;) and if i remember correctly is was partly because they had to show something by the end of it to justify their expenses, so all those things concurred to make it a successful workshop. And i’m not just saying this because i’m very fond of them both.

    So to wrap it up – yes, the workshops need to be better, so participants will pay interest in them more.

    But the problem is that the ideas and concepts always sound super terrific, and in the end they turn out being too vague, or generic, too poorly organized, too poorly prepared. But i think we shouldn’t judge so harshly, because EASA also counts as a very experimental platform, and one of the definitions of “experiment” is that you don’t really know what’s going to come out of it until it’s done.

    I also often felt that the workshops were so dispersed that i had NO clue some of them were really happening until the end, just the vague ramblings in the evenings and the final presentation, and i think the processes are just as important – dunno, maybe we need better communication in that aspect as well? (yea umbrella describes workshops yadda yadda, we need a special topic on that one, seriously)

    So sure more needs to be invested in workshops, but i want to believe the organizers are aware of that. My main concern is that it’s the people who make EASA successful or not, and passionate tutors have their own (major) contribution.

  6. Monica Ioansdóttir / May 20 2011

    marko, can we edit the posts somewhere, of course i meant EASAs and not Easa’s and a few other typos.. ahem :P

  7. Elaine Bonavia / May 26 2011

    I do agree with a number of things that have been said here, I have only been to the Manchester EASA, which was a different EASA so I cannot comprehensively compare workshops over the years. However though, while I stand to agree with Monica that a number of the workshops in Manchester were brilliant, and of a standard good enough to be used in portfolios, I must fall back on what Daniel said and yes, I do believe that more effort should be directed at making it easier for people to tutor a workshop, making the conditions more attractive and being more careful in the crowd of choice… perhaps yes, making it more competitive.. having localised architects who are just starting out to tutor a workshop or two should also be given more importance because I believe it can raise standards. I’m not trying to say that forget EASA dinos and past EASA participants – definitely not, it is a good opportunity and brilliant to have them around and i’d like to do it myself one day, but to try and find a balance between the tutor crowd is essential. And also, to try and get as many different tutors from all the corners of europe because all in all it will make each workshop even more different, both in approach and obviously content.

    In any case though, the problem does not entirely fall on the tutors, but also on the participants. going back to the original appeal on this thread, i definitely see a point there – at first glance people DO look at EASA as two weeks of heavy partying, in my country at least they do. (note, maybe we could actually find out whether this is just in one- off countries or if its really everywhere..) What it takes though, is either those who have been there to try and convince them otherwise, or enough common sense to realise it oneself. In my case, when I went to Manchester all I knew was that it’s going to be two weeks of fun and that you get to do a little bit of architecture with different people… I was more interested in the doing architecture bit, of course I had just started architecture and I thought I could have fun anywhere else and get drunk and what not any other day. What i’m trying to say is that this will only change if the mindset of the participants is different. If people go there for the partying, then it WILL be one big party. If people go there for the partying plus more than that, then it will be something more.

    Which means that yes, it boils down to what has already been said before – better workshops, better communication, building up a better image…etc, which should be directed at new participants who will continue breathing life into EASA and spreading the word when the alumni are gone. I liked what chris said when he said “EASA it has refused to be defined and has evolved quite a bit, and I think most of that is because there is nothing set in stone” – yes, EASA is an evolving, indefinite, fluid thing… maybe for some years it can get out of hand and appear to be crazier than before… brilliant enough.. its all experimental..its all subject to change.. maybe in other years it needs to seem more serious for its own good.. It is up to us to decide when we need to tame it down and when we don’t…the case may be different for each country… whatever is done, whether something or nothing, it should be in spirit of strengthening the network and directing it away from anything that can lead to its detriment.

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