At the Transition Town Hubs gathering in Santorso, Italy we were given a task to do on our own: How can we recharge together? I lay down in the green grass in the park, put my tape recorder on and did an imagestream.
|The idea of imagestreaming is you give yourself an assignment to visit a place that has already solved the problem. You just describe and dictate what you see. The first thing you do is frame the assignment. I normally start the tape recorder to do that so I capture everthing. Here is the tapescript. Edited for clarity.
The assignment is to take me to a place which has a culture of personal recharging and a culture of recharging together. The place I want to visit is an industrial capitalist and consumer society – which means that people can earn a living from doing recharge.
The first thing I see is a lift in front of me with RECHARGÉ written on it.
I get into the lift, notice it is covered with kids’ pictures. I press the button, I ascend and the doors open onto a bridge over to an old town, like a French town. The sun is shining, a market is going on selling all kinds of stuff.
I ask around about how people recharge. It has to do with the market. Rechargé is a planned event that takes place on market days. Beyond the market it looks like a fete or party is going on. I see a sign “RECHARGÉ ” and times for various activities.
People are sitting in a circle on the grass in the park- I sit next to them. Inside the circle people are moving together, unscripted, like some kind of movement choir, like a game. Anyone can join at any point – anyone can give up at any point.
I watch the choir move. It’s very funny. You have to forget yourself to get into it. It requires people stepping aside, falling over, doing silly stuff. Like an amoeba, people stick out here and there. People seem to know the rules.
I go and “borrow the eyes” of one of the participants’ so I can, in my imagestream, see what they are seeing and feel what they are feeling.They move fast; you have to concentrate and be really aware… you cannot think, you need to be right there. All in a fun spirit. All in silence. People are sitting watching. You need to be in the front row if you want to join in, I realise. So it seems there there are quite strict rules.
On market day, there are “new games” offered throughout the day, including this movement choir. These are subsidized by local businesses. It is good for business. These new games are non-competitive and run by paid facilitators belonging to the RECHARGÉ commons. (More on that later)
This one, the movement choir, is for adults, kids can watch but there is other stuff for kids.
The day is a designated PLAY DAY that means the kids lead the play, telling their parents what should happen. It seems to be a great way to hang out with your kids, being in the play space with them and other adults, parents, with all kinds of activities going on.
I sense there is a facilitator here,
“Explain it to me,”I ask him.
“You recharge by taking yourself out of a situation and put yourself where you have to relax and get out of your head. Doing games that you have to relax to do. With the kids outside in the fresh air, lots to do, lots of other kids and the pressure is off you can relax in a safe space with the children knowing they are happy and you are together with them.”
Then there is the healing garden. That is another kind of space available during Rechargé and even at other times.
I get it. There is a part of the town given over to Rechargé on market days although some things are permanent. It’s a place you know you can always go to. The healing garden offers smoothies, made from what is grown there, you can shoot yourself full of vitamins: I take one, sipping at it as I go looking around more.
This part of the town has created a name for itself as the the Rechargé quarter. With the green and the garden it offers space, a culture of revitalization, new games without stress – a place to be with your children and friends. And always a place you can go back to for more.
It is highly lucrative too… they have built up their reputation and attract many people at the same time so it can be done effectively. All the facilitators, massage therapists, personal trainers etc earn good money.
From a business perspective, Rechargé is treated as a commons. All the local actors own the concept. Like a brand. Combinations are important; the more diverse the things that they offer the stickier the place is that keeps people coming back. That the place is easy to get to is important. It is like a day trip place for outings, especially weekends. It serves the county. And the more people who come, the more people come back. The place has a brand which for each commons member means it is much more effective to share resources like marketing, PR, offices, etc.
A cooperative owns the brand and works with marketing, you as a Rechargé supplier buy their services.
The facilitator team are good at what they do and they, like all who supply Rechargé, have practices in the town. The Rechargé day is marketing for their services at other times.
There are special theme days as well, a bit like a fairground!
In the winter they have less. Maybe they will develop it, like with winter break services. There are plenty of long walking footpath routes already so rechargé even acts as a starting point and can sell bed and breakfast nights on the top of it.
I am surprised in a good way about the business model. Often, play and games are not good jobs. Combine it with market day and you get a win-win. Parents can shop and kids can play and facilitators can earn.
The shared brand is kind of new to me but I am sure it could work.
FIND OUT MORE
About how to learn imagestreaming
You might like the idea of a Center of Wellbeing…. from an earlier imagestream.