My feelings about how we give feedback and advice

Copied from the tau chat,

I have noticed a common theme throughout tau and Frihamnstorget, and have talked about it with different people as something that’s taking away energy from projects. And it’s that whenever somebody presents an idea, or shows an idea or a creation, that it is given a lot of feedback or opinion, and often it is uninvited.
I would love us as a group, before we give feedback if it isn’t specifically asked for, to ask and make sure they are open to feedback. :orange_heart::heart:

@brooks maybe you have some words of wisdom about how to give feedback.

and… discuss :wink:


I am guilty of this many times. But a simple “Do you want feedback?” is always great to ask.

My dad often wants to me to see his art, he is a painter, and I have learnt that most of the time he just wants to present it - and that is feedback enough for him - to have someone just be in the room where he has been.

In this case, there is an invitation to observe and experience, but not to provide comments or feedback. It is one that I know, because of experience, not because it is obvious in his communication.

I would expect, from myself, to carry the same sensitivity I have with him - with others - and remind myself that this is indeed important - for myself as well.

I don’t loose any energy from having thoughts and opinions from others, not creative energy - but I do feel like “dude, shut the fuck up, i don’t care what you think, so do your fucking thing instead and leave me alone with my thing!” (sometimes) - it fules my dislike of other human beings (which does remove some of said energy, I’ll be honest, but I shake it off quickly).



Thank you for bringing this up @bobspeakman. I’m often guilty of this, and I need the reminder. <3

Spot on / Thanks Bob

I have two thoughts about this.

One is that I understand your perspective and agree. We have a tendency to be stuck in a logical thinking and enjoy to give feedback and sometimes it’s a way of conversation. In that way we should be more cautious.

Another is that if something concerns safety or the longevity of blivande or frihamnstorget we should, as members, be able to give this feedback.

For example, Toby, who knows a lot about steel (hope you’re okay with being an example) said that my steel structure wasn’t strong enough. I took his advise and bought reinforcements.

If I hadn’t listened to him it possibly could have hurt someone and if not it would have bent and looked ugly, something that is not good for our reputation…

We have a reputation to uphold, and it’s not only that we are creative, but also that we are smart, safe and good to collaborate with.

Now, Toby brought his up in a good way. He straight up said that he didn’t think it would hold. My friend Martin, who is a constructor (engineer) by trade had already said that and so I listened.

Mostly I think we should let go of our prestige.

I know I’m not a steel-construction worker, if a steel worker and a construction engineer says that my construction is too weak I listen and are grateful for the advice.


I said it in the chat but I’ll repeat here again - for the [forum] record! - that I really appreciate you not shying away from bringing up this topic @bobspeakman! You keep leading by example in this regard, really cool!

Personally I wouldn’t like to go as far as you’re suggesting (in my interpretation). That is having a culture where there is a spoken or unspoken rule that input and feedback is always preceded by a polite inquiry so as to not risk upsetting anyone or their mojo/ego/flow/pride/joy etc. Keyword being “always” here. Fingerspitzengefuhl is called for, as so often in life. There are risks also with such a polite approach in my view.

I believe it can eventually lead to a milder form of a “culture of silence” of sorts where one simply avoids certain topics or people (most often a combo of the two) simple because it isn’t “worth it” due to the emotional fallout. Ironically similar to what happens in the opposite environment with suffocating criticism (or indeed too much unwanted feedback) which also breeds silence and avoidance.

The responsibility for the emotional fallout mentioned above does not always land on the person asking or giving the feedback but can also equally be held by the receiver. Most often it is shared between the two to some degree or the other. But importantly we all are responsibility for our feelings and to what degree we allow them to steer our lives and actions. I also think it overall can be detrimental to a project’s creative output or “treshold of originality” (verkshöjd in Swedish) if the group members are “too polite” towards each other. I wouldn’t want Frihamnstorget to fall victim of the “skyddad verkstad”-phenomenon.

I would rather argue for moderation in everything, including moderation. There’s always a balance to strike in every situation.

In other words let’s not “go full Steve Jobs” and end up sacrificing each other and our relationships on the altar of imagined and very much subjective perfection, but -also- let’s avoid the opposite ditch where we treat each other like we weren’t fully capable adults (most of the time at least). That will be unbearable in the long run, at least for me.

In general I love constructive feedback, both giving and receiving it, and I think it’s a core aspect to what makes participatory culture so powerful when done right.

With all this said (and I can of course ultimately only speak for myself) I’d be happy to individually adjust my general level (or method of delivery) of feedback to anyone that so wishes. Please don’t hesitate to ask me so in private if this happens to be the case. I won’t apply a one size fits all solution though, as I think that will throw some babies out with the bathwater…


Thnx Bob for bringing this up.
This is a important topic for both me and Frida that has ended in a result we’re not really speaking about our ideas until we started working on them… I know it’s all meant with good intentions but we all has to remind ourself to more often just simple say:
-Great ideas! I’m looking forward to se the result and just tell me if you need any help!?
(Of course safety issues is something else. Then we are friendly obligated to talk if we se something!)

Let me be the first to “göra om, göra rätt”
Hampus! Last Friday, when we spoke about the dome. I should had met you with a better pepp attitude, I’m sorry for that.
I love your idea of lifting the dome in chains! I’m really looking forward to se the result and just tell me if you need any help! :slight_smile:


Not sure whether I need to clarify this or not, but just to be safe I’ll add to my above post that I’m naturally talking about projects that are not strictly personal artworks. I.e. stuff that impacts the project and the square in this case as a whole, as opposed to something that is within someone’s personal domain only. That’s a fundamental difference to me.

In other words there’s a big difference between the placement of the dome or how a big and prominent container wall is painted and whatever someone decides to do inside their own container. One is a “commons” and the other is private. And then there are of course “grey zones” in between the two opposites. It’s not a binary black or white distinction.

The fact that Frihamnstorget is a permanent and public project interfacing with the general public, Stockholms Hamnar, authorities etc. makes it fundamentally different from Borderland or Urban burn. Here lies a very important distinction that I think it’s important that we keep in mind as thing evolves! It’s easy to apply methods and culture from one familiar context to another that is seemingly very similar, but that can also lead one astray and into unexpected conflicts.

At Borderland for example everything is temporary and there’s plenty of space for everyone to express themselves freely. If a particular camp, installation, show, DJ or anything else isn’t your cup of tea you can simply lift your hat and move on to the next. With the limited space and more restrictive parameters at Frihamnstorget we can’t afford the same luxury in the long-run. Something that comes with both pros and cons.

Personally I find it really exciting and new to be exploring this more unfamiliar territory together with you all!

It’s very interesting that you bring this up as an example @Simon because
I personally don’t think you have anything at all to apologize for!
Would never have thought of this as an example of what we’re talking about if you hadn’t brought it up now.

It was clear to me that you liked the idea (not that you had to by any means!) and I don’t expect other people to always be brimming with energy. Especially not after having worked hard a full day…

That’s exactly my point. I did like your idea and I told you that Hampus. But.
I DID do something I think we all can think of a bit. Instead of really listening to your idea, your vision both me and Joannis started to AD our ideas to your idea… We directly came up with ideas of improvements and ditt and datt…
Of course your ideas gave both me and Joannis a lot of ideas to, but I need to be better not just shouting them out the same second they appear in my mind.:
Because I know, when that happens to me, my inspiration dives like a rock…

And THATs my point and reason to apologise to you Hampus. I should have listened and acted more welcoming to you and your creativity. I could have asked you if you wanted feedback but most important; I should have encouraged you in your idea without any “but”…

Making art is a way of showing our love.
That why this is so important.


This is the thing, we’re all different, which is a great thing and a strength!
Communication, honesty, trust and openness are the keys here the way I see it. This underlines how one rule won’t work well for everyone since we work and react in so different ways. In this case you @Simon feel that you want to alter your behavior towards me from a place of empathy based on how you would react yourself. But for my sake I welcome your feedback! So please don’t stop on my behalf. My inspiration doesn’t dive like a rock for that reason, but there are of course others! Different allergies calls for different medications…

I will however take what you describe about yourself to heart and try to remember biting my tongue in order to avoid sharing ideas and thoughts that comes to mind when you talk about a project or an idea. Asking first if it becomes too hard to contain! Please remind me when I forget. :slight_smile:

I’m wired in a way that makes me share a lot of quick feedback and associations that different people, ideas and situations evoke in me, and being a strong generalist I have opinions about basically anything and everything… I honestly think it’s one of my biggest strengths [in our overspecialized society], and Linnéa tends to remind me that I should perhaps be less generous in that regard in order not to “undervalue myself in that process”, giving it all for free as I tend to do. At least if I ever want to start getting paid. But that’s a different story.

I think there is also another thing when it comes to Frihamnstorget and that is long term visions vs doing. I know that Frihamnstorget has the potential to become something larger and more beautiful that most places existing today. The potential for cocreation, community and art are just breathtaking when you really think about it. And for that to come close to its full potential there needs to be long term visions and plans.

It is also a reality that we’re only a bit more than a handful of people that are regularly active at Frihamnstorget at the moment. We are doers, we love to do.

In the past months we have wanted to:

  • paint over the skulls
  • throw away a dying pine tree
  • build table and chairs

None of these things has happened because people on the forum have long terms visions of doing things in a certain way and there are not yet people to realise these larger visions.

Can we just let the doers at Frihamnstorget do, knowing that there are larger visions as well and that they will manifest step by step? (After all the people who are active in Frihamnstorget has already been interviewed and granted a space in the square).


Looks like a case of misunderstanding or insufficient communication here given your examples listed @NinaLindberg

Painting over the skulls has been something that @Vinnss has been very keen on doing and she has presented a plan here on the forum that we’ve all expressed great support for. She has then offered to come in and do that on a weekend as long as someone else buys the paint and equipment needed (she cannot take the risk of exposing herself to the risk of Covid19 due to her 3 kids relying on her). The last part hasn’t happened yet and if we collectively want to push the project forward it’s just a matter of doing the shopping as a favor to her. Maybe someone has plans to go to Bauhaus or the like anyway? I’ve mentioned this before, at least in the chat when the topic has been brought up before.

The little pine tree, yes… It’s not part of any larger, long-term visions as far as I know.
What happened was that I expressed some doubts to it being completely beyond rescue a few months back. It turned out it was indeed doomed (it was green then and is now brown) and the only reason it’s still around is that it has been forgotten the last couple of times someone has gone to the recycling station. Feel free to burn it or do whatever you want with it!

Regarding tables and chairs I’m not sure what the issue is? We started building some already on the first WIP-day. Has anyone stopped anyone from building tables and chairs? @Simon and @Frida_Simon recently announced they were going to build a table and asked for others to complement it with a bench. There are no blockages whatsoever to make this happen!


I think the important thing is also that we need to create and atmosphere where the opinion of Hampus or me on such a matter does not block a decision. Since some decisions are actually dependent on us (contracts, things that affect the harbor relations, etc) we need to be more clear in our communication about what is advice and what is a decision. In my mind, the pine tree and it’s continued existence is not something that Hampus or I should have any final say in.

In fact, that also goes for the painting of the containers and building of tables and chairs.

We need to:

  1. Keep working on our version of an advice process culture.

  2. Start mapping out responsibilities more clearly so people know who to ask for advice.

  3. Work on how we communicate so advice doesn’t come across as a decision.

For parts 1 and 2, one thing we will do soon is to have a Realities platform for Frihamnstorget.


( flyttar den hit )
En reflektion:
En anledning till att inte forumet används för minde eller större genomförandeförslag är att (som tidigare påpekat av Bob) de flesta förslag blir sönderhackade ( det kan röra koncept, design, funtion) av andra kompletterande idéer som inte hade något alls med lusten, glädjen och genomförandekraften med första ursprungsidén/förlaget att göra. Det handler ofta om att få något gjort där och då inom en rimlig framtid för att det finns ett behov och feedinformationen brukar oftast fördröjda, och göra idén mindre genomförbar i stunden och förslaget dör istället ut än att bli genomförd. Forumet har en tendens att ”kväva” skaparkraft. Det måste vi råda bot på för jag tror att det är en av anledningarna till många saker, idéer, gemensamma behov, förlag och samarbetslänkar INTE tas upp i forumet. Otroligt känslig fråga och åsikt men den är väl värd att tänka över lite för att förbättra det väldigt otransparanta informationsutbytet.

Jag kan, som jag skrev ovan, hålla med Nina.
Men tänk på ditt ordval här @Frida_Simon

Genom att använda ett ord som “sönderhackade” och säga att det gäller de flesta förslag kan kännas orättvist och triggande. Det är inte heller ett bra sätt för att få till dialog. Men med det sagt …

Att forumet upplevs på det sättet behöver vi såklart råda bot på, så låt oss försöka förstå var skon klämmer. Jag känner igen känslan från andra sammanhang att presentera en idé och genast tappa motivationen, så låt oss absolut försöka undvika det! Det är inte minst superviktigt för processen i Plato (ping @jakobskote, som projektleder Plato tillsammans med mig). Det är en del av vår research i det projektet att försöka få till en metod för hur man gör det vi gör på ett bra och skalbart sätt. Kanske är en del av det att skapa lite “tumregler” för vad man ska tänka på när man ger feedback?

(Also relevant data for @MariaEuler!)


I don’t recognise any of this - perhaps I’ve had my head in the sand. Just raising the hand that perhaps these are isolated issues pertaining to specific projects/parties and not a general culture which it may come across as (still validates it a topic to be raised off course).

Unsure, but just putting it out there since it can very well be perceived as a global truth, rather than local instances.


Jag håller med. Det är en överdrift att säga att de flesta förslag blir sönderhackade men jag måste ta Fridas parti och säga att det finns klara sönderhack tendenser i ett tillvägagångssätt där vem som helst, när som helst kan gå in och kommentera och ha åsikter mitt i en kreativ process.
Jag kan helt ärligt inte tänka mig någon annan stans där konstnärer mitt under ett skapande skulle gå med på detta.
Detta händer ju inte hela tiden men forumet skapar en kultur där ingen säger: gud va bra! Kör! Utan aningen har man åsikter om förbättring/förändring eller så säger man ingenting. Detta leder till att vi som deltagare inte berättar om idéer vi har varmt om hjärtat.
Vi delar med oss av mer praktiska delar men inte om konsten.
När då tex Frida (som är utbildad möbeldesigner) vill bygga ett bord till oss så glömde hon bort att hon inte skulle lägga ut det i forumet. För henne var bordet en konstnärlig gåva till oss… Vi borde ha sagt: Tack gärna!

Så jo…
forumet har tyvärr en tendens att hacka sönder konstnärliga idéer för att främja praktiska.
Jag dömmer ingen och påstår inte att jag är varken viktigare eller bättre än någon annan. Ta till er denna insikten/åsikten från mig om ni vill. Om ni lyckas med att väva in denna fråga i forumets uppbyggnad så tror jag att det kommer ut något helt unikt på andra sidan.
/ Simon

I’m triggered :slight_smile:

But let’s chat about this when we see each other.

Det här är en väldigt intressant betraktelse för jag tror att den sätter fingret på en slags kulturkrock eller åtminstone friktion mellan olika typer av organisationsformer- och kulturer. För mig som hållit på med Borderland och andra participatoriska events och communities i 10 år (och därmed är helt marinerad och till viss del hemmablind i det) så faller det mig naturligt att utgångspunkten är att kreativa processer generellt sett är öppna för input och feedback. Eftersom det (i min erfarenhet och tolkning) finns en sån tydlig uppsida i att välkomna den kollektiva intelligensen och kreativiteten. Givetvis förutsätter detta ett visst minimum av den tidigare nämnda fingertoppskänslan.

Sedan är det här alltid kontextuellt och individuellt beroende på situation. Men jag tror att våra “base lines”/nollpunkter är ganska olika här. Och jag gissar att Hugi, Linnéa och andra här med liknande bakgrund fungerar delvis lika. Min teori är också att det är något som ofta gradvis “växer på en” med tiden och att man lär sig hantera nackdelarna bättre allteftersom. Our mileage may and will vary though!

Sedan ska det också sägas att det finns ingenting som säger att man behöver acceptera eller “rätta sig” efter den här kulturen för att agera som konstnär inom participatoriska sammanhang. Det finns gott om tongivande och mkt uppskattade konstnärer som arbetar utifrån ett mer klassiskt individualistiskt arbetssätt även på BL, Burning Man och inom lajvscenen etc.

På ett personligt plan vill jag också poängtera att jag själv nu känner ett sug efter att inte längre “go full participatory” efter att ha jobbat så mycket för det kollektiva och med möjliggörande under så många år (Secret Island Nation, Borderland, Afterglow, Urban Burn, Ascension, Noden och nu Blivande). Jag känner ett behov av att uttrycka mig mer direkt och personligt, utan att ta hänsyn till andra människor lika mycket. För någon som kommer från motsatt riktning kan jag dock generellt sett varmt rekommendera det!

Det här köper jag (förstås!) att det är din upplevelse men jag är inte så säker på att den är allmänt representativ (vilket också @jonasjohansson 's svar är ett exempel på). För att ta reda på hur det ligger till skulle vi behöva mer objektiv statistik än dina och mina subjektiva tolkningar och minnen. Just därför är det grymt att @MariaEuler just fått jobbet att sociologiskt analysera och tagga vårt forum retroaktivt från dess bildande! Det kanske åtminstone till del kan synliggöra en sånt här. Vore fantastiskt i så fall!

Min gissning är i alla fall att det nog finns en hel del exempel härifrån där idéer bara möts av uppskattande hejarop eller andra former av uppmuntring. Och att mycket kokar ner till hur man tar till sig text samt hur väl man känner människan som står bakom den. I det finns det också riskabla antaganden att göra. Det är nog, åtminstone för någon som mig, lätt hänt att överskatta hur mycket av det som jag tycker sägs mellan raderna verkligen, eller bara uttryckts i förbifarten, verkligen når fram i alla lägen. Och då uppstår självklart fel i kommunikationen när önskat budskap, ton etc. inte når ända fram.