Monday, June 23, 2008

Response to Withdrawal of Proposal

"Thanks, ---.

We're just so swamped and it's a very unique proposal that requires more attention than we had been able to give it. It's a bit precedent-setting and could be perceived as political, and approving those sorts of things takes a lot of time. I'm sorry you don't have more time to schedule this, but I understand.

Thank you for being so patient.

Best in your future endeavors,


This was the response that I received to the withdrawal of the proposal for the Can Project.  "precedent-setting" - that has a nice ring to it.
It reminds me of  a project I facilitated several years ago. I worked with realtors and graffiti artists to create peace-themed murals on a boarded up building in the local downtown area. When I originally went to pitch the idea to the realtors I remember that I made a point of bringing a recent article from the NY Times about how graffiti was respected as an art form and how people traveled from all over the world to  view, and contribute to, murals on a particular set of buildings in Brooklyn. I brought the article with me to the meeting in an effort to lend credibility to the project I was proposing; to show that my project wasn't that far outside the box, that in fact it was quite a popular concept. -- I neglected to make a similar effort when I approached the local market. As I reflect on the approach that I took, I realize that I made a big assumption. I thought that the market would be in favor of subversion, of stretching boundaries, of making  a splash, of taking chances. I made this assumption because the market, which is a co-op, seems to do so in many ways already. This however, was a silly move. It is wonderful to hope for unquestioning support, understanding, and camaraderie... but it is best to be prepared for resistance. Conservatism lurks in even the most unlikely of hosts. -- Another way to look at it is that it's important to remember that stretching boundaries brings up a lot of anxieties for people and can make them feel vulnerable and wary. Therefore, part of the process of engaging in this kind of project cooperatively with another entity is to support them through their uncertainties.

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