To Welcome / by Kiersten Nash

Adapting the Barefoot College approach to sustainability° as a pedagogy that fosters individual accountability and collective agency, I presented four non-negotiable values to participants in order to frame our 3-day adventure: All ideas are welcome. Give and receive respect. Defer judgement. Q&A: Equal Opportunity Lenders. While I assumed the authority to impose these four values, I also reserved the right for individuals to reject them. However, if they were to do so, they would no longer be welcome as participants in the workshop. Additional offerings included:

A simple good morning. I arrived early to set of the studio for the days activities—move furnishings, install slide show, meet with photographer, set out name tags etc. This afforded me the opportunity to actually greet individuals when they arrived. Eye contact and a simple "good morning" really seems to satisfy people who are obligated to give up a portion of their Saturday for a workshop.

I also took my shoes off. I'm uncertain what precipitated this move, perhaps just an informality to project a sense of comfort and ease. Whatever the rationale, I have to say, I think this minor gesture affectively invited individuals to relax. Later while reviewing some of the photos, I noticed several individuals also had their shoes off for the majority of the morning.

   Physical Training Workshop: Warm Up . Parsons The New School for Design. New York, NY, 2012. Photos courtesy of Jason Rupert.

Physical Training Workshop: Warm Up. Parsons The New School for Design. New York, NY, 2012. Photos courtesy of Jason Rupert.

Name tags. It's a pitiful reality—10 weeks into the semester, we still did not know one another's names. So, I crafted name tags with a sharpie, some cardboard, and pins. The tags served a dual function: they were informative but they also, unexpectedly, helped establish a collective identity.

Speak softy…carry big stick? TBT: I slept for only a few hours the night before the workshop. It's hardly news that sleep deprivation wreaks physiological havoc on almost all of us. More surprising is the fact that my voice and cadence tend to lower after a less-than-full night of sleep–which seems to resonate with people). Now, if only I could modulate my tone and tempo in a similar fashion after a full night's rest. Tbc...