FALL 2019 DECELERATOR PROGRAM
The Strange’s “Decelerator” is a retreat/residency hybrid for those seeking a chance to slow down and focus on an ambitious creative undertaking from a beautiful location in the mountains. This fall's program will specifically be made available to practitioners whose work extends beyond themselves by generating critical opportunities and support for others.
This October and November, one- to two-week residencies will be offered to a select group of radical organizers, educators, curators, editors, entrepreneurs, and other types of facilitators whose vital, inventive, and regenerative work contributes to a stronger foundation for culture and society. Through their work—such as engineering a cooperative space, developing a social practice, or launching a platform to amplify others' voices and ideas—these practitioners selflessly give life to a more textured world. This fall, The Strange will support them by offering time, space, and encouragement to refocus on and sustain their important work.
What the Decelerator program is
• A free-of-cost, short-term residency/retreat hybrid in NY's Catskill Mountains for individuals or collaborative groups of up to 3 people. All residents will be provided with a comfortable space to live and work in. Residency dates and durations are flexible, but will generally last between one and two weeks, and will take place in October and November of 2019.
• A chance to devote a nice chunk of focused time to reflecting on, reimagining, or perhaps even detoxing from a long-term creative undertaking. This opportunity is best suited for those in the midst of an ambitious project, who could use the time and space to reconsider its value and potential, and develop its future from a more holistic perspective.
• A reprieve and an oasis of positive energy. Strange HQ is a peaceful, natural, and tranquil space where respect and inclusivity are of paramount importance. All residents should expect to contribute to the shared Strange HQ experience by being open, generous, respectful, and caring—of the space, of each other, and of themselves.
What the Decelerator program isn't
• An established or incorporated program. Fall 2019 is just our second season offering the residency. We are looking to host self-sufficient, responsible residents who will contribute to the space's development, and who like the idea of being a part of something dynamic that's also its own evolving creative undertaking.
• A staffed space. The Strange is an unprofitable [sic] space run by two people with other full-time jobs and responsibilities. As such, each resident will be asked to clean their own accommodation prior to departure, and give back by making an "offering" of some type (this could be a donated artwork, a few hours spent weeding, cooking a group meal, or any other contribution you'd like to make—you will propose an offering idea in your application).
• A social experience. Decelerator residencies will overlap in many cases, and there will often be 3+ residents at Strange HQ at a time. When this is the case, at least one shared dinner will be planned, and some excursions may be offered. However, residents should plan to structure their days on their own, and to enjoy a large amount of solitude while here.
• Free lodging in one of our inspiring, fully-equipped, and wifi-enriched spaces: either the Studio House, Lily of the Valley cabin, or the Barn Loft (see the section below for accommodation info). All accommodations come with comfortable necessities like linens, towels, shampoo, tea, etc. Computer monitors, projectors, and some other technical equipment can be loaned out as requested.
• On-site creative encouragement. The Decelerator program offers a loose framework through which participants can structure their time here. Additionally, on-site 1:1 mentorship sessions will be scheduled with Willa, the program's director, who is an experienced creative strategist, mentor, editor, problem solver, and superconnector. Daniel, The Strange's co-founder, will also be available for technical consultations on topics ranging from web technologies and personal computing to blockchains.
• Access to abundant nature. The Strange HQ property features a spring-fed pond, large lawn, sprawling gardens, and plenty of fish, salamanders, snakes, birds, butterflies, and the occasional bear. Strange HQ also abuts the forever-wild Catskill State Park Forest, so taking a scenic walk, run, or hike is as easy as stepping out your door and into the forest.
What's not included
• Transportation. Strange HQ is a 2.5-hour drive north of NYC, and is best accessed by car. If you do not have access to a car, we are happy to help you with alternative travel arrangements, and pending our schedules, can pick you up from the nearby Phoenicia Trailways bus stop.
• Meals/groceries. Each Strange HQ accommodation has its own kitchen, and you should plan to bring and prepare your own food while here (past residents have found this to be a meaningful part of the experience). There is a grocery store a 10-minute drive away, as well as plenty of great restaurants in the area. Residents are also welcome to plan group meals together.
• Dedicated studio space. We aim to specifically support creative practitioners with computer-centric practices, and while there is plenty of table, desk, and couch space, private art studios are not offered. Residents should also plan to bring all of the supplies and equipment they'd like to use while here.
BARN WORKSPACE + LOFT
BARN WORKSPACE + LOFT
The Strange Barn has a large working/living/dining space with a three-story facade of antique windows. It also has its own kitchen and a bathroom on the first floor. Upstairs, there is a sleeping loft with three comfortable beds in semi-private spaces, and a library. This space will be prioritized for use by collaborative groups.
The Strange Barn has a large communal working/living space, a kitchen, and a bathroom on the first floor, which all residents will have access to. Upstairs, there is an open sleeping loft that accommodates up to three residents, which will be prioritized for collaborative groups, or for those who don't mind sharing a space.
The Studio House is a quiet, bright, and private space for one resident to live and work in. It has a living and dining area, kitchen, desk space, wood stove, and bathroom on the first floor, and a lofted bedroom upstairs, which is accessed by a spiral staircase. There is a stream that trickles by outside. This space also houses our internet-reading library.
Lily of the Valley is a 100-year-old chestnut hunting lodge. Downstairs it has a cozy living and dining room, a kitchen, an airy bathroom with clawfoot tub, and french doors out to a wrap-around porch that overlooks the pond and mountains. Upstairs is an open and light-filled bedroom, library, and desk space. Outside there is a stone fire pit and meditation garden.
August 1: Applications due
End of August: Selected applicants notified; all residencies individually scheduled
October and November, 2019: Flexible one- or two-week residencies take place
Participants from the Spring 2019 Decelerator program share thoughts on their experience:
My time at the Decelerator consisted of a lot of reflection and nurturing parts of myself that are often neglected. I spent most days quietly tuning into nature, and found myself in a really calm mindset where I could focus on what my brain and body were telling me. If I wasn't reading, writing, or meditating, I found myself walking and observing the beauty around me, which was abundant. Upon leaving, I realized I could manifest this clear headspace if I truly found it to be important, which I do, and now it is a priority to maintain.
— Yumna Al-Arashi
To me, the Decelerator was a way to reflect on my own habits, processes, and ways of thinking. I quickly started work on some projects and ideas, and the sense of calm, quiet, and solitude was really helpful in letting me think about those things long-term. It was a bit like setting a cup of murky water on a table, watching it settle, and noticing clear water slowly emerge at the top. The hardest part was creating balance between my desires to "use" the residency productively vs. settling down and noticing what ideas and projects emerged out of slow thinking.
— Dan Taeyoung
The Decelerator program is pure magic. Truly—it was everything I didn't know that I needed. The environment is filled with light and beautiful spaces, which made it easy to relax and revel in solitude. By extracting myself from my busy everyday life and endless to-do lists, I was able to read, research, and have deep conversations with my collaborator, which resulted in some really exciting new ideas for our practice. This residency also made me realize how slowing down is deeply important to my overall wellbeing as a person.
— Carlie Febo
Imagine a space where you have license to do the exact thing that places like New York City do not allow for: to slow down, disconnect, and listen to yourself. Life in a city can at times leave one feeling distanced from their work's greater purpose. After a week decelerating, I feel far more empowered, motivated, and clear about the direction of my creative projects... which is far more than I could’ve asked for stepping into the program. We need more spaces like this, as for me, this experience was priceless.
— Malik Abdul-Rahmaan
How do I know if I'm a good fit for the Fall 2019 Decelerator?
Unlike our Spring 2019 program, the Fall 2019 Decelerator has a theme: we're looking to host those whose selfless creative work uplifts others in radical ways. As an entity, The Strange supports forward-looking practitioners whose work is multifaceted, technically imaginative, regenerative, computer-and-internet-centric, perhaps speculative, and highly inventive. To get a sense of the types of practitioners we support, you can see who was selected to take part in our Fall 2019 Decelerator here.
What are the qualifications for being accepted to the Decelerator?
While there are no formal "qualifications," applicants should be at a stage where their creative approaches and overall vision are clearly articulated through a sustained body of work, experiences, and accomplishments.
Is there an expectation around what I will work on or accomplish during the residency?
No. While here, we expect Decelerator residents to spend time on strategic planning, research, and other work that will help you make holistic progress towards your creative vision. However, this experience is also about slowing down and doing less—participants are encouraged to step away from their work in favor of spending time outdoors, reading for pleasure, or otherwise refueling. At the culmination of your residency, you will not be expected to present a completed project or have anything in particular to show for your time here. The only thing we ask for is that you make some kind of "offering" to the space.
Wait, what kind of "offering" are you talking about?
The Strange is a community-driven project, and as a way to nurture its evolution, we're asking Decelerator participants to contribute some kind of work or gesture that they define to be useful in service of the space's development. This could mean helping out with some yard work, donating an artwork, writing a poem, conducting research related to local wildlife—really anything that feels both helpful to the space, and exciting for you to make as an offering. It's a way to reciprocate the care we put into hosting you, and can be as poetic or practical as you'd like.
Will I get my own private space at the residency?
A large part of the Decelerator experience revolves around solitude. Because of this, we try to accommodate every participant with a private living and working space. Collaborative groups will share the barn loft, however, which has an open-floor-plan sleeping arrangement.
How will applications be reviewed?
All applications will be considered by the program's director in terms of how the applicant's work and vision relate to the Fall 2019 Decelerator theme, and The Strange's overall mission. We will prioritize diversity and inclusiveness when reviewing applications.
Does this residency cost money to participate in?
No, it is a free residency—meaning accommodations and participation in the program are fully covered. Residents will need to cover the costs of their own food, travel, and supplies while here.
Do I need a car to participate in the Decelerator?
While having a car is helpful, it is not necessary to participate in the Decelerator. Those without cars will need to take the bus to the Trailways Bus Stop in Phoenicia, NY, and must coordinate their arrival and departure dates with the program director.
If my application is accepted, how will the dates for my residency be determined?
If you are offered a residency, we will work with you to individually coordinate the timing of your stay. Most residencies will last between one and two weeks, and will take place in October and November of 2019.
When will I know if I've been accepted?
We plan to notify selected applicants by email at the end of August.
For any questions not addressed above, you may reach out to [email protected]
Past Decelerator resident Melanie Hoff created this timelapse while working in the barn as fog, rain, bouts of sunshine, and eventual darkness appeared outside the windows.