—Amanda Palmer intro to "Ampersand," performed at the IPRC
When I'm working with people, I always ask for prompts or themes that will help guide what we put together. In this case, the theme was, "We Are the Media &."
This phrase exemplifies the spirit of the fans that raised over a million dollars for Amanda Palmer's crowdsourcing campaign to fund her post Dresden Dolls album, galvanizing people to donate a record $1.2 million, the most money raised for a music project on Kickstarter.
She has this idea that when you connect with people and ask for help, that people will want to give. Please see her performative and really lovely talk on this subject about both her ardent fan base and her description of the vulnerability and beauty of asking via her TED talk, "The Art of Asking." To read a critical opinion of Ms. Palmer's call for unpaid volunteers to perform as opening acts on her tour in the wake of her wildly successful kickstarter campaign, please see the New Yorker blog.
Inspired to think further about "We are the media &," I connected this idea to political protest and the powerful role that social media can play. So the menu for this event was inspired by countries where this has been important—for instance, Egypt—and also by places where social media is banned; this includes China, Myanmar and Ethiopia.
For people in the U.S., social media can exist as entertainment, simply a fun and easy way to connect. It's important for me to remember that in some countries, social media is a powerful community builder that is suppressed by government officials who fear protests and dissenting voices.
Food is a great medium to promote this conversation—it can be delicious, inviting and also provocative. In the tradition of Lawrence and Anna Halprin's RSVP Cycles, a menu is a score for an interactive experience, a dynamic exchange between the composer/author/artist and the audience/auditors/eaters. We are always thinking about how to invite conversation, and we are very fortunate to have such a muse for this occasion. Cheers to you, AFP!