Two Up: Round 2 by Katie Milton.
I have a friend that reads plot summaries online so she can join in discussions about films she’s never seen. Another trawls Wikipedia pages whenever he’s bored to increase his stockpile of obscure facts; he knows an abnormal amount about bees.
Fortunately, for those who don’t have the time or the incentive to homeschool themselves on infinite conversation starters there’s Two Up, a talk series that takes away the computer and plates up specially selected facts, along with refreshments and snacks.
Two Up is a unique concept wommaned by 22-year-old Nerida Ross that aims to inspire thought in the younger generation and bring the fun back into learning. The talk series runs monthly; with each round featuring two experts who speak for fifteen minutes on completely unrelated topics. The floor is then opened up for question time.
The late Sunday crowd was noticeably diminished from Two Ups first installment in September. This could be put down to the aforementioned weather, or too many of the good times at Astral People’s dance event OutsideIn the previous day.
That’s the type of crowd Two Up draws, a bunch of scene kids in their early twenties looking for something new to do.
Missing was Ross’s adorable grandmother settled in a chair munching on cheese and crackers, but there was cheese. Fancy brie and biscuits and unlimited Cake Wines. The pre talk mingling was set to a playlist of Caribou and Hiatus Kaiyote. Much attributed to Ross and her crowd, the Two Up series has the chilled vibe of an afternoon Sunday session.
The speakers for this round were phD candidate Zevic Mishor and spoken word poet Miles Merrill; both highly qualified and both dressed in plaid.
First up was Mishor. In a quirky green and purple check he won the group’s attention as soon as the word psychedelics left his lips.
In a refreshingly uncensored talk Mishor spoke of the existence of organizations such as Kosmicare. Volunteer run initiatives that endeavor to provide a safe haven for those under the influence of psychedelics and other illicit drugs in festival environments.
I watched an older women shift awkwardly in her seat at this point, unsure how to react. The lady beside her began nodding enthusiastically; finally someone was addressing the charade.
With the United Nations 2014 Drug Report naming Australia as the highest proportionate of recreational drug users in the world, Mishor’s points were progressive and on point.
He spoke of the movement from prohibition to harm reduction. Testing facilities for drugs at festivals so patrons can be aware of what they are taking before they do so. Signs carrying warnings like “may cause serious burn to your throat, dilute with lemon juice or coca cola.”
Grassroots organizations like Kosmicare are offering an alternate to the medical tent for individuals undergoing challenging trips. However as Mishor noted, to allow these groups into festivals is the acknowledgment of drugs within them, and that is where the issues arise.
At this point Ross called fifteen minutes and Merrill, donning a more conventional shade of blue and white plaid, opened with a sound poetry performance that comprised a string of strange noises.
Like he said, “Some sounds can’t be written down’.
Underpinning Merrill’s talk was the use of artistic expression to aid in community development. He spoke of his work with Aboriginal teens and his efforts to help them find value in their personal experiences and explore them through poetry and other forms of artistic expression.
Merrill captured the audience with witty anecdotes of his life as a poet. He got the crowd to purr along with him as he performed poetry about rats with wings rising from the sewers, and as everyone relaxed into his act he shared some tips for budding spoken word poets: good writing and theatrics.
In Workshop, Ross has found the perfect venue. The white brick walls and graffiti murals lend an air of cool-ness to the space. It is an opposition to the bare insides of a lecture theatre or seminar classroom. Combine this with her endearing thousand mile-a-minute introductions and the obscure expertise of the speakers and you have an engaging and offbeat talk series.
Two Up: provides all the knowledge you need to combat those uncomfortable lulls in conversation.