“I Am Alfred” An Exercise in Mapping, and Designing Suitable Scenarios

Pieces to play with


There are six roles to play with in mapping, each in three binary sets. As we are focusing on controversies within a challenge, each binary set in itself invites to think in terms of ways to dive into these controversies.

Us and them

In the case of Alfred there is the community on the one hand, and Alfred and other homeless people on the other hand. And vice-versa. But “He is one of us” is also possible, as is ‘I am one of them’.
The question is whether someone is talking from an ‘us’ perspective, and who then is ‘them’.

Storyteller and listener

There are those who tell stories about the goings on. If there is a storyteller, and there are quite a few in the clips, what do they see as their audience? Is there that audience?
Is the audience of the kind the storyteller wants? And is there is an audience, is there the appropriate storyteller? And what happens if there isn’t?

Participant and opponent

Participation in the engaging in a challenge triggers opposition. And opposition triggers participation. Given the challenge it is helpful to discern the participant from the opponent, if only to determine the essentials in the controversies between the two roles played in relation to the challenge.

Stages to play on

Alfred is doing chores to fulfill his personal needs. In doing so he meets others involved in the same. There is a group. There is also a neighbourhood community, as well as pri-vate persons who opt for focusing on their private lives rather than being involves in communal mat- ters. There is also the that which exceeds the personal and communal interests. In Alfred’s case it is not just how he is judged by the community or private citizens, there is also the law as an interesting source of abstraction of citizens’ stance towards Alfred.
In this case we add a fourth stage on which the performance in engaging in a challenge takes place. It is about us all –us and them added up—within the space we call Earth.

Personal space

Everyone needs space to do what is necessary to fulfill personal interests. Be it shelter and food, or seeing to it that children are safe it all needs attention with the personal space. Because of the urgency of matters, humans have developed elaborate means to be busy with ‘mine’. In Alfred’s case the personal space he takes collides with what others consider their space.

Social sphere

There is no way one can tend to personal interests without being dependent upon others. This constitutes a social sphere in which we tend to find others with which we can easily communicate.
Again, this stage and the performance on it relates well with the talents we have.

Public domain

Because we are so well equipped to aim at realizing personal and social interests a stage was added to the festival. In the public domain the issue of extending the personal and social spheres to accommodate the strange, the stranger, the one not being part of our circle stands central. As are the issues that come with the fact that our living and working arrange- ments have become complex. The notion of a constitutional democracy finds its roots in these issues. Challenges in this domain tend to be abstracts of real life issues, receiving a managed and problem oriented approach.

Earth matters
While much is going on within the three stages mentioned, increasingly there is a fourth. It simply exists, but it is not much played on. It is where we are all in awe of the simple fact that Earth as a stage is happily filled with so much that the presence of human is not essential. Making proper use of the space on offer require all the above to come together. It is where the wisdom that comes with having learned to walk on the beach or using that bark of a tree to make a canoe shows its value. It requires to be in the same boat together, without a preordained hierarchy other than that which comes with our shared relationship with Earth.


The actors in the story are connected in different ways. Again a limited array of possible links between them. Consider them as passages within the map that is drawn. It is all about travelling from the personal to the social, from the social to the public, and from the public into a new domain.
Our title quoting a 73 year old man: “I learned to walk on the beach.” It is his answer to the question put to him by an academically trained civil engineer: “What is the source of your knowledge?” It is all about whether it is wise to build on sand near to the sea.

In search of collaborators

If the personal domain is the start of a scenario. A crucial step in it is searching for collaborators in realizing what initially are personal interests. We cannot do it alone, even when what we want to achieve serves us personally. Any personal interest is the incentive to be social. Take safety and security for instance. We cannot achieve a safe and secure living arrangement without considering what others might contribute, positively or negatively.

Making things public

The are many possible motives to go further than the personal and social domain. Organizing safety and security in a social sphere comes with moment in which it becomes clear that the community lacks the resources to cover all possible risks. Members of the community might be asked to take up tasks in a full time and paid arrangement. Currently interests such as good education, healthcare, transport are delegated to public institutions. We have ‘government’ to set priorities and standards and distribute the means available accordingly. All in the interest of us all. It requires making things public as a deliberate activity.

”I learned to walk on the beach”

Trying to accommodate all challenges in the personal, social or public domain in neither necessary nor wise. Doing so requires a hierarchy that cannot be sustained. It puts facts before concerns, academic knowledge before wisdom. While all that may be justified, especially in the public sphere, increasingly there are challenges that require both facts and concerns to come into play, and do so in equal measures. That leads to controversies that – when engaged ingenerate insight in how to operate when it is about matters that concern us all set within the context of what is beyond the space provided to us to build our world. Let’s call it Earth, and establish that our relationship with her is determined by the fact that we cannot do without her, and that she very well can do without us.