Response Ability

Convener(s): Jen Toksvig

Participants: Andy Harmon, Suzy Almond, Jen Toksvig, Kerry Andrews, Adam Brace, Oliver Townsend 

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations: 

I called this discussion because Phelim suggested that if we feel a passion about something, we could take responsibility for that passion and open a space to discuss it. The word ‘responsible’ made me want to avoid doing that, as it always does, which is why I like to split it into two words: being responsible, for me, means opening out to other people so that I can have a look at the thing in their hands, and am therefore able to respond to it because I’m not in control of it.

I wanted to see how other people felt about the idea of responsibility. Here are some of the ideas we discussed.

Responsibility is about making something happen.


Being responsible is being at the base of the triangle, where anything is possible.

Being responsible can feel like huge pressure.

Ultimately, there must be a goal if it’s intended to be a finished work. (What is the goal?)

Being responsible is not necessarily about control. It’s a different thing.

We tend not to want to be changed, but in an open space, anything can happen, so you could be changed.

Taking responsibility is acknowledging and celebrating fear.

Breathing creates a space.

Being responsible is active.

Responsibility and fear are very closely related.

When you’re responsible, you are creating something.

The dark side of responsibility is trying to take responsibility for how other people will behave.

Groups need a point of authority.

Being responsible tends to move from facilitation to direction in order to produce a final goal. 

Being responsible means opening a space for something.

What to take responsibility for? The work? The group? Yourself? Your voice?

Paradox: taking responsibility by letting go. In fact, not a paradox, but balance.

There’s a risk that comes with being the one who is responsible. You open yourself up.

It means going in to the arena and maybe getting eaten alive.

Boredom / laziness are aspects of fear.

Fear drives you to be safe, but fear can also act as a pilot light.

All creativity is fear because it’s about transgression. (Fear and hunger)

Being responsible is having an awareness of opportunities.

The director is the audience’s advocate.

Maintaining – inspiring, to keep the flame alive.