The CONVERGE team is together once again except this time we are on the shore of Lake Apavatn Iceland. Thick slabs of ice rack up on the beach welcoming the recent arrival of a pair of white swans. No swanky hotels for us, we decided as a team to keep our ecological footprint low where we can. We will be staying in a wooden cottage, kindly loaned to us by Vala’s family where we will hold our meetings for the 3 days and share meals predominantly from locally sourced foods.
As is often the case in EU funded collaborations, we are a distributed team – our members come from Sweden, Iceland, Hungary, India and the UK. We cannot all be together as in a normal office. Our project meetings are the few occasions that we have to all be in the same room, working face to face. We’ve come to the unspoken decision to cover things in this meeting that we cannot cover when we aren’t together like this. We spend time looking over our progress to date, and on some team news. We hold a world café to help us develop a shared vision of a “converged world” and the principles it is founded on, as a guide to support us as we continue our research.
The atmosphere is positive. The results from WP2 are coming with them a flow of new questions. Is there such a thing as bad convergence? Is convergence egalitarian? Does the application of convergence require totalitarianism? Is convergence homogenising?
The enormity of the concept of convergence is troubling. We realise that we need to focus our research, to ‘scope down’, and will continue needing to do so as our ideas on convergence evolve. The danger at this point is that we might limit our research in some way, or corrode our ability to progress at a later stage. We decide if anything to scope outwards, to keep our research at this phase focused on developing the concept of convergence and it’s application that we can use to move forwards as we take our view a little deeper over the next few years. With an eye to how all this affects the European union at a policy level, and on how it could be enacted at a grass roots level, through our discussions we can see the boundaries; the constraints of our scope are emerging of their own accord.
Every evening our conversations run over into our dinners of local lamb, Icelandic cod, local cheeses, and other delights. As our time together comes to a close it is with great sadness that we wave off the team members. We won’t see each other again until September where this time we will be in the UK in the Bristol area. In the meanwhile, lots of exciting work is coming up. The gathering of case studies and examples from the field will begin this summer, and we are preparing a variety of presentation materials. After our time in Iceland we are ready to launch this project to the world.
Our special thanks go to Vala and her family for their superb hospitality.
images from Alice-Marie Archer