Tea and Tolerance – Harehills Festival



A glorious sunny day in early Autumn – the sky a rich and unexpected Summer blue. The grassy park beside St Aidan’s Church slowly filled with people as the HAREHILLS FESTIVAL began.

We almost couldn’t get in when we arrived as the gate to the park, which was falling off, had been taped shut with packing tape. Happily, a helpful usher sliced the tape through with a car key and opened up the park like a parcel – cheerful, well-packed and full of people, music, street food, games and conversation. We set up the tea trolley beside a path at the top of a grassy slope, a little way from a coconut shy. The sun was so hot that we had to keep swapping chairs to even out the sunburn.

Bhangra music and Happy Hardcore wafted down from the stage at the upper end of the park, the breeze bringing with it the scent of jerk chicken and Polish pancakes. The festival seemed to attract all sorts of people from the very young to the elderly – people who live locally, but also others from further afield – people who live out of town, but who work in the area.

Activities ranged from graffiti art to planting herbs and seeds – taking in a giant deck-chair and a mobile street cleaner that you could RIDE IN!!! The conversations we had were wide-ranging as well. Some of the questions were philosophical, others engaged with the cultural strategy for Leeds in the run-up to the bid to be the 2023 European Capital of Culture. Below are some of the questions we asked, along with some of the answers.

Who or what has influenced you the most?

Lots of different things, but I’m going to say my grandma because she was an orphan and she was left at a train station as a baby and she was just so strong and such a giver – even though times were hard.

Do you think before you speak?

No! And it sometimes gets me in trouble. I suppose I ought to think more!

What kind of world would you like to leave the next generation?

A better one! I’d change the level of poverty. There’s such poverty in the world and I think that would change terrorism – get rid of it.

What is normal?

I would say that normal is a state of mind. It’s an acceptance of what is present – because normal can change and getting used to a new normal can be difficult.

What floats your boat?


(Mum) She’s really good at football. She’s the captain.

Have we lost the art of conversation?

No. I talk to people on snapchat. I’d rather talk to people face to face. But it’s cooler on snapchat.

Can you love someone even though you don’t agree with them?

It depends what their beliefs are. Maybe if they like Bake-off and you don’t … but I think there are some things where you have to draw the line.

What’s good about living in Leeds – in terms of the things there are to do here?

Bars and restaurants. I love all the different places that there are to eat. I think it’s quite sophisticated. I went to university here and I graduated two years ago. I think you see a different side of the city when you’re not a student. I like the little festivals that pop up – the vegan food festival and there was a little gin festival in the Corn Exchange. I’m from Manchester and when I first came here, I thought it was really small but when you get to know it, there’s loads going on. You just have to find out where it is.

What sort of things do you like to do in Leeds?

I play volleyball for Leeds Panthers. I like that a lot – and I go to the Yoga Space on Meanwood Road.

We actually live in Harrogate but I do a lot of stuff with the cricket teams here, organising the local teams. We lived in Leeds near Gledhow Valley Woods and we fell in love with the woods. There’s a lot of work done there with Friends of Gledhow Valley. We went on this great mushroom-picking course and found these lovely mushrooms that you can eat. It’s great but they’re not that good at publicising themselves – you just find posters in the woods that tell you to turn up by a tree at 9 o’clock.

Can you think of anything that makes Leeds special?

It’s got a Harvey Nicholls that people go on and on about as if it means something.

I think that what makes Leeds really special is that you can walk down the street and hear ten different languages. I think that’s reflected in the independent shops – Harrogate is more big brands – and you don’t feel you have to dress a particular way when you go out. You can wear what you want here. It’s more open – more accepting.

What do you think of your neighbour? Excellent. I live round the corner near the fish shop. The family next door are Asian and they’re lovely but my friend lives on the other side and that’s great. I don’t mean this to sound racist but it’s nice to have someone next door you can talk to – to say “hello” to on a morning.

What do you think of Leeds?

Leeds is up and coming. It’s a lot more colourful now. There’s a lot more hats about – and belts! I think Leeds is doing alright. I’m from Halifax originally and I’ve only been here 22 years. I’d rather be in Leeds than Halifax. I used to come here for the nightlife. It’s Halifax town but Leeds city you know what I mean? All this building work that’s going on! The city centre’s getting developed. Not everyone likes it – like this new John Lewis – but I think it’s getting better.

Do I support Leeds or Halifax? I support my legs and my legs support me!

Do you go out a lot in Leeds?

I do go out but I tend to stick to local pubs – I used to go to town but it’s got bit aggressive now – you see a lot of fights. I don’t want to go out and get involved in a fight. There’s a lot of aggro.

What is happiness?

To me personally – feeling content with the world. Tea, sunshine. Sort of just being in the now really, not dwelling on anything. Just taking what is now – family and friends and people around you.

How do you feel about Leeds as a place to live?

I love Leeds. I’m not from Leeds originally but I stayed because I love it – the diversity, the people, the friendships. There’s lots going on. It’s just a really vibrant city. There’s all the lovely parks and you can get out into the Dales really easily. I think the council do a really brilliant job under really difficult circumstances. I mean, what’s going on with libraries at the moment. (Shakes head). They try their best but it’s not easy.

What makes you happy?

What makes me happy? Good luck with that! A good dosage of Rock and Roll. I do like dancing. I like watching Riverdance but that doesn’t make me happy. A good solid dose of rock and roll. I saw a Jimi Hendrix tribute band last week, Leon Hendrix was there. I got him to sign my guitar. That made me happy.

What could make Leeds better?

It’s hard to say because I’m not a Leeds person. I’ve been here for twenty-six years. But it’s a great city. They would have more books in the main library. Get the buses sorted – especially FIRST. They keep cancelling services. If you’ve got heavy shopping or you’re going to work, that’s no good. We’re not all Jeremy Clarksons who can drive around. And there should be more buses that take you between the different parts of the city – not just into the centre. The 91, the 86 and the no 9 – they don’t go into the centre. They’re really good services. The 62 was great and they cut it. I like Leeds a lot. I like the amount of dialect people use. That’s been watered down a lot though. The National Curriculum is killing it. We all speak the same now. We’re losing our Yorkshire identity.

What do you like about Leeds?

It’s accessible. You can get into Leeds from almost anywhere. You can’t just nip into London can you? I’m in Harrogate and now the 36 bus is running, I come into Leeds a lot more. What else? The Leeds Rhinos! I’m not a football fan and they’re terrible anyway.

Same question?

I like the nightlife in Leeds – there’s a lot of variety in bars and restaurants – me and my girlfriend go out a lot and one of the things I like is the variety of places you can go.

What could we do to make Leeds better?

There’s lots of parks around Leeds. I live near Roundhay but I think there should be more green spaces in the city centre. There’s a nice space up by Bond Street. Queen Square – that’s an amazing space.

When would you step in?

I feel like I already have stepped in. I opened SHINE, the big building over there. My husband and I had big corporate careers over in America and my son was born and I came home and saw what was going on in Leeds and we decided to stay and we took the building over from the council and raised the money to open it – four and a half million. But we run it on a business model. It’s corporate money and we let out the space – that’s what brings the money in. We employ ex-offenders. It’s a joy. Every day is a joy. Today we’re asking people if the cottage round the back of the building should be a cooking school for the community, because it could be something else – It could be flats.

I think it’s a really, really vibrant entrepreneurial place to be. I think it’s really, really rich in terms of what it has to offer – particularly in terms of food and cooking. I think it tends to focus on the shopping side of things and the city centre and I’m not interested in that – that consumer culture. I had twelve years if that in the States and I’m just not interested. I think they should be promoting other areas – the outskirts. They have a lot more to offer. They’re really rich.

I think there’s a great art and culture side of things as well, which I don’t do as much of as I should. Northern Ballet and West Yorkshire Playhouse and Phoenix Dance. I live in Harrogate and it’s a real bubble, so I’m glad that I get to work in Harehills and see what is going on.


Learning Hope



Beyond Capitalism and Neo-Liberalism

“Reaching and touching things inside people and imagining what we want the world to be – this is HOPE – addressing what is inside people. An interesting take on grotesque inequality, shaped by money and profit. What kind of world do we want to live in? ”

What is our capacity to change things?

How are our everyday activities shaped and how can we shape this in a a different way individually and collectively? It is the organisation of our doing…radical change – go to the root. The root is how the activity is organised.

All Aboard…Canal culture


Questions of Culture & More…

The Tea & Tolerance project took to the Leeds-Liverpool Canal – where we replaced the teapots with cups of tea, and the usual questions with conversation regarding the Cultural Strategy Consultation for Leeds City Council.


Art. Chips. Food.

Diversity. Colour. Dancing.

An Existential Crisis.


Heading off to Brid.

A couple of days off.

Going out for a meal or two…

One persons culture is another persons…


What does it all mean?

I mean: I like to see artists that I know

Not ones I don’t (& the opposite, of course)

For free, for you and for me…


West Indian Carnival: The oldest in Europe.

A SURPRISE, sometimes.


It was a beautiful day as we made our way along & back a stretch of the canal. We had a range of participants – some from the Men’s Room in LS14 and others who had got wind of the invite and wanted to join in. So there was a good mix of wo/men of different ages from around 30 to 75 years old. Seventeen of us in total, on 2 barges.


Transport. Free parking.

Renovate old buildings.

Events & concerts in the park.

Boat rides on the Lake.

Spend our cash in local areas

(In my day a trip to town was a luxury)


I don’t think they really do.

But they should:

“Cos I’m here!”


Because of the history of Leeds.

Learn from the History (&the onward trajectory)

Learn from our mistakes

Learn from the diversity of

Cultures & PEOPLE…


It was engineering once _ and wool _ and Corn (Exchange)

And CHALLENGER tanks too.


Canal systems & connections

(From East to West, we know best!)


And with every moment of monumental pride, does there not always come a fall? But the barge chugged on and a pair of jeans got caught around the propeller. And as the un-picking was done – Let’s clean up our waterways, we said – and I wondered about Shire Horses and slowing right down along the towpath… How about “Traditional” canal boat rides and drays pulling Tetley’s Beer round the streets. The Lord Mayor’s Parade?! A Citizens Celebration, maybe? How about vast City Parks full of trees and the Slowest Ride on Earth..? How about this and HOW ABOUT:



Show other countries how Leeds works…


Drawing the City

A skyline exchange

Picture your City…


The Tour de France

& Triathlons


Integrate the canal system with ‘City Living’

(the fast & the s l o w… )

Always the right time



Dedicated walking routes

Around Yorkshire

From the Leeds Hub…


The Trails of the Dales Centre

Located in LS. Gateway to Beauty




Little London Community Day 2016

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This was the 12th Little London Community Day and this year they teamed up with Little London Primary School Fair so that they could offer a bigger and better event There was a wonderful feeling here today as a diverse culture come together. Event that had dancing, music, food, families and stalls. We talked about Hilary Benn, 52 languages. We talked about when exactly to step in, what is wanted for young people in Little London, about structuralism/ post structuralism and its influence on what is normal, values of goodness over-riding religious tribes.The head teacher at Little London primary School told us that she is trying to create a culture of thinking and respect- for the children to become citizens of the world – lateral thinkers that thrive and embrace one another. Here are some of the answers people came up with that participated in conversations with us.

What is culture?

I’m not sure I understand the question. Depends on the context and defined parameters. Culture is a construct neither good nor bad

Culture as an identity arises from experience. What is our cultural experience and identity? What is the intention of culture? Is it to make profit, to create happy people, to create a beautiful environment?

Culture is made up of many cultures and sub cultures and can be places for marginalized groups to gather and know that they are not alone. Culture can never be de-politicised because in doing so it leaves the 1% free to do anything they want without us noticing.

Culture and what is considered acceptable and ‘moral’ is a myth created by the people who have the power. It is interesting that the rhetoric has moved to the left over gay marriage – Cameron is an advocate of Thatcher yet he supports gay marriage and that is far to the left of her views. This perhaps reflects the change in the ruling class. Shifts in other areas like ‘not white’ haven’t happened because the demographic of the ruling class hasn’t shifted in that way. If you are not white middle class or upper class, these conversations don’t include you.


What do you relish about Leeds/what does leeds do well?

Its near the city centre.

Diversity is an asset.

I like the colourfulness of the architecture.

The 52 languages and multiple cultures that live here, the fact that such a diverse group come together to have so much fun today ( true unity).

I came to Leeds to work from Jamaica and it is my home, so yes I am proud of this city. I am proud of who I am. My culture. The work I do. The people I help.

There’s been a change for the better in terms of crime rates.

What could Leeds do better?

We are losing cohesion as the cuts continue and continue. It feels like we are heading back to the 70’s. So the real question is: “How does Leeds maintain social cohesion with less resources?”

We need to open the community building back up to the community. We need more activities and more classes, and more bringing of the diverse cultures together.

We need less isolation for older people.

More needs to be done to bring people together.

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What would put Leeds on the global map?

Lower our region’s carbon footprint.

Late Night Buses – that’s how a city becomes great for visitors – especially with the cultural offer in our city centre. More buses to all the suburbs in Leeds – the lack of evening services cuts people off in these areas, reducesd the free movement of people around leeds and also it increases traffic/ necessity to use cars.

Cheap or 50p buses – or buses that are paid for so that people can just ride them for free ( this would help massively with the carbon footprint).

Region wide sign up to city led anti racism and xenophobic strategy that is widely known about and promoted – to say people coming to Leeds will know we are inclusive and fair – badges for businesses maybe like the child friendly Leeds badges…could there be an ‘open and inclusive to all people’ badges?

To become known as a caring and inclusive city that fights all of the -isms.

Get rid of the box ticking /data systems and talk with people face to face.
Car free city centre.

City centre green space open air with an outdoor pool and water feature that could be covered by a dome in winter.

Less commercialism in the city, less shops,
more community cohesion.

What is the difference between you and me?

The differences between us are so interesting and bring richness to our lives. Little London is so diverse.


What do you think of your neighbour?

Now that is a right question. So this is quite a story. I am Jamaican and my neighbor is Trindadian ( Asian Trinidadian) and over the years I have taken in her kids when she has been working shifts and helped her out. However, her prejudice against people she sees as African has become apparent over the years, referring to my child as little African and such. One day she crossed the line by her racist reference to my grandson and at that point I drew a line and told her that from that day we were no longer friends/ that I didn’t know her. Sometimes her grandson will be disrespectful ( throwing rubbish over the fence) as he is getting to that age where he learns from those around him how to treat people. This is how racism is learnt. Since then the council have put a 6 ft fence between our gardens. I get on with all my other neighbours though.

When do you step in?

All the time. I work with children in a care home as a support worker and they argue frequently. I usually try not to step in when the altication is verbal, I am just mindful, but at the point it is about to become physical, I step in. I am very good at this. The key is to pre-empt what is going to happen and diffuse/divert it in amore positive direction.

What is your favourite thing?

A photo I have of a dear friend who is now deceased. It’s a moment from our college days ( over fifty years ago) and it is capturing him as he comes through the door. And then it was such a different and more expensive thing taking a photo ( analogue) – one chance to get it. The look on his face – mouth slightly open and looking slightly confused but amused. I saw a picture at his funeral that his daughter put up with that same look and I had never met her but I said to her – we share this, knowing him and that expression. So that is my favourite thing that that expression, that moment in time, and the ‘knowing’ of that person.

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Can you love or respect someone that you disagree with?
I spoke with Hilary Benn. He is a nice man. We had an interesting conversation. I strongly disagree with his views on arms and on Corbyn but I respect his right to his opinion. He said many people had not respected his opinion which ahd made him sad.

I wonder about the difference between disrespecting someone’s right to an opinion that I think is morally reprehensible and disrespecting them as a person. And if I respect or am respectful to that opinion – am I diluting my resolve against what is abhorrent? Should the intolerable be tolerated? 291 billion pounds to kill innocent people in order to potentially save other innocent lives? This is our flawed defence system. Why is one life more important than another? When is enough enough? Where do we draw the line?

When do you laugh at yourself?
When I catch myself thinking I exist. The last time I laughed at myself was this am when my bag toppled me backward as I was climbing a fence and I just hung their upside down- a little ridiculous.

What is normal?

Normal is inequity and inequality between people on a daily basis – which is a travesty! That THAT is normal?

Normal is a successful myth designed to divide and rule communities across the planet agreed by elite, so they can profit. The ruling class control the main lines of communication and capital. The defined constructs of ‘normal’ are a myth.


DrawingACollaboration@Seacroft Gala


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DrawingACollaboration is a pilot project carried out in Seacroft in association with LS14 Trust and Space2 Leeds. Funded by Victoria Gate fund and Leeds Cash Fund, we delivered four workshops where people talked, listened and drew. This took place at LS14 trust digital Lounge, Henry Barran Family Learning Centre with Space2 Fresh Women’s group Space 2’s The Men;s Room at Denis Healey Centre, a canal barge trip with a mix of people form east and west leeds and then a finale event at Seacroft Gala 2016.

The project was an opportunity to express feeling about what kind of world we want to live in and what is meaningful for each of us. It was also an opportunity to learn more about drawing, to socialise, talk, listen and think with others, to see the world around us and to see what we think encapsulated in pictures. We loved all the places and people we met and here is a some of the things we talked about in words and pictures.

What does culture mean to you?

Culture is art, drawing, a little bit music, dancing, it is friendly and nice communities, it is big green spaces to play in. Knitting and crochet – need to make a group and work on projects together doing arts and crafts.

For me its meditation – I go my own way now rather than Christianity. I think all the time.

Culture is face painting, synchronised swimming, swimming, sports, karate, kick boxing, animals, gymnastics, freedom for groups to meet and share common interests, cycling, playgroups, fashion, we should all dance everyday, and smile everyday, and eat together, abstract art, disco dancing, dog walking, the living museum where people from the community can dress up and bring in photos of their ancestors, community run garden.

Culture is resilience and it is people.

How could Leeds do better?

Allotment open days, safe road crossings everywhere, more community policeman, cctv that works so that our stuff doesn’t get nicked, more places for children to play out ( that isn’t burnt /broken by older youths), safety, return of party in the park and opera in the park events – ie. community events accessible to everyone not just affluent, more information about what is going on in our area, less cars, more trees outside primary schools, a treasure tree, longer time to cross roads with traffic lights ( phew!) more rainbows and glitter.

Develop the parks more in Seacroft and have more activities within, better entry points for wheelchairs that are accessible to even the wider wheelchairs- remove horse gates, I love this place. More things for young people to do, better transport and cheap so that old people can get out and about. More activities and events happening locally. The image of seacroft as a place where ‘here be dragons’ was mentioned –suggesting a want for the area to be held in higher esteem by residents and people outside the area.

‘If in doubt, build a goal post’ was also suggested as a potential solution that would work to create something to do for young people that can not be broken /burnt/ destroyed. One particular older lady talked a lot about heritage, community gardens and crafts and suggested ways these could bring people together.

What kind of world would you like to live in?

An ideal world has no fighting, sees people smiling.

The World according to me…everyone should be treated the same. This world is our only chance – be happy!

I want to live in a peaceful place. Lots of community events gathering people together. I want to see happy smiling faces and friendliness.

Carry on Loving. Peace (drawn as a tree with many people in a circle around it). I want to live in a World where we are protected from harm, where I have a chance and earn enough money not to remain in the poverty trap.

What do you love about your area?

The haunted house, butterflies and flowers near my house, my family and friends – family matters, the green spaces, resilience and perseverance in local people, everything – it couldn’t be better, the people.


Kirkstall Arts Trail


Kirkstall Art Trail is a celebration of art in the local community, featuring local artists and creative organisations that ran on 15th&16th July 2016.  

The sun was bright and the background of Kirkstall Abbey breath-taking…

Here is what artists Rachel Fullegar, Ellie Harrison and everyone who engaged with the Tea Trolley had to say in the sunshine over this weekend. As well asking the tea and tolerance questions, they were also asking people about Leeds and ‘Culture’ – finding out what we love about where we live and what makes our lives meaningful in terms of what we experience and identify with.

What makes you proud about Leeds?

‘The mix of green space, industrial space and suburbs.’ Everytime anyone comes to Leeds I take them to Roundhay Park. It’s on my doorstep. I feel a sense of ownership. Come and see this, look, it’s right on my doorstep!’

‘I feel at home here. It’s so multi-cultured and that in part down to the university students.’

‘Leeds is so DIY. They don’t wait for funding, they just do it!’

‘People come together and make things happen. They create spaces for each other and do things. LS14 for example and also my friend Sarah Statham. also the green spaces are great!’

What would you change about Leeds?

‘Less traffic and better parking!’

‘Wild swimming in the canal.’

‘We need to make more of a fuss about our architecture. It’s so varied!’

‘I’m worried about losing the market. Are we pricing people out of that area? Out of the city centre? That whole are is neglected but it is affordable.’

What would you do to make Leeds better?

‘Make it more accessible for disabled people.’

What makes you feel good?

‘Being creative. Using my hands seeing what I’ve made.’

‘This view.’

How would you describe Leeds to someone else?

‘Lots of art in the city, lots of culture. It’s very diverse due to the university and who studies here.’

‘You can be out in the dales so easily. And to London on a great trainline.’

‘I feel safe on the streets here.’

 What does culture mean to you?

‘It can be a hard question to ask. It’s quite a middle class question. Is there a barrier to answering it? For some people it would be hard to answer.’

‘Culture is about expressing yourself, finding ways to express the world as you see it. And of course, it means: entertainment.’

‘It’s your way of looking at the world and what you think of it.’

‘I think it takes time to settle into a place and find things out. Then you can feel at home.’

What do you deserve?

‘I think it’s about whether you are liberal or conservative. One view is that that the rich deserve what they have because thy have worked hard for it. The opposing view is that the poor should be helped more by the rich, because really, being rich or poor is a game of luck.’

‘Sometimes it is hard to feel like you can say something about an issue because you aren’t from there, especially when you have a different opinion to your loved ones.’

Can you love someone even if they have different beliefs to you?

A little girl and her dad picked this one. I said, ‘Who do you love? Do you love your daddy?’ and she smiled. I said, ‘Do you disagree with daddy sometimes?’ Here dad laughed and said, ‘No sweets for breakfast!’ So I said, ‘But you still love your daddy?’ and she nodded and smiled.

What does the class system mean to you?

‘You can’t talk about class without the paitriachy. Marxism doesn’t always acknowledge these things.’

‘I must admit, I do like structure and order. It’s a sad day when you are looking at the leader of the opposition as someone who knows what they are doing!’

When would you step in?

‘Probably before I am supposed to!’

Is it fair? ‘No it isn’t. Life is never fair.’

What are you grateful for?

‘For this art trail, allowing me to come to Leeds. I’m really thinking of moving here. it’s helped me to meet some lovely people. There’s no pretentiousness here.’ ( This person got in touch after to say this helped her to make a decision to move to Leeds.)

What is it to love?

‘To love is to lose yourself in happiness.’

Who has influenced you the most?

My mum; she was a character! She was strong because she had to be. 8 kids. She had very strong opinions. By the time she brought me up, she knew ‘the line.’ There was no moving from it. She did a stellar job.’

What is normal?

‘Not me! I think it’s something over there that I don’t want to be. Normal implies safe and boring. We want to have differences, that makes things interesting.’

What do you think about your neighbour?

‘She’s a wonderful, lovely woman. Always friendly.’

What are you afraid of?

‘Oh. That’s answered a question for me actually. What am I afraid of? It’s a sign!’

When is enough, enough?

‘I think it depends on the others around you. How they feel and caring for them.


Love Arts Leeds Launch at the Light

IMG_0930Tea trolley at Love Arts Leeds Launch 2015…

Love Arts Leeds conference in 2014 at leeds Museum and Northern Ballet was one of our first gigs. So it seemed only fitting to return this year.

Amidst many art works, mini and rather delicious cakes and elderberry drinks, we talked with many people. And a couple of artists were on hand to document the conversations too.

First question…

Do we have the power to end our own lives? A light beginning…

Do we have the right to prolong a life too? At what point is it more easy than living? Abortion – whose life is it? I didn’t want to have chemotherapy. I decided that I was going to take control of my life – Taking control is what it’s about.

I have always been a fighter and a struggler – even though my life always gets worse. I think that it can’t get any worse – but it always does. Yet I truly believe in life. So I fight for life. I think why should we destroy ourselves? Life is precious. We each have the right to live.

How much are you worth?

I am priceless. Though it’s not about money – we are each irreplaceable. Sometimes its about how much am I worth to others…kids, partners, friends. Do I judge my worth by how much they value me? Respect me? Love and support from people around me makes me feel worthy. Worthiness can be easily under-estimated. We need to be valued, value ourselves more. We are each a genius – if we could only remember. Or perhaps we should have worthy workshops. Praise each other. Pat ourselves on the back. Be kind and not harsh. It feels great when someone tells you the specifics of what they notice and like about you.
Simple things can be so beautiful. Being able to pick blackberries the other day made me feel so worthy. It gave me hope.

What stops you?

Fear of not succeeding. Faith. Time/no time. Other people/s expectations.
Something very beautiful or funny or sad stops me in my tracks. Nature.
A kite soaring ove a building being chased by a tiny bird. So funny! What does it think it is doing? A cat confronting a dog that responds by cowering for protection behind a tree, squirrels in the park….its like a show and it is all around us, if we can stop and notice. I love my planet – relish it.

Whoever you are remember you are beautiful. The grass is always greener on the other side…but don’t forget how beautiful you are!

What if there were no limits? What would you do?

No aging, no work, no rules, no judgement so I can really let go. I would fly. What wouldn’t I do if I had no limits? But what of others? Children would have so many imaginative answers for this question, whereas adults just want to sleep or work less!

What makes you happy?

Animals. Animals have beautiful souls.

Under the OWLS


Under the Owls is a Leeds teen festival of music and live art in Millennium Square. Entry was Free with a Breeze Card and £3 without. The event is brought to you as part of Breeze Arts Festival by Leeds City Council, East Street Arts and Leeds Beckett University, supported by Leeds Community Foundation, Ann Maguire Fund & PRS for Music Foundation. We were there with Live Arts Bistro and East Street Arts, The Real Junk Food Project and others.

tumblr_nrw4hiqEpG1sojiz4o1_500There was a steady stream of teenagers, families and younger kids giving this day in Millenium Square a friendly atmosphere. Bouts of pouring rain. We covered the teapots but forgot about the spouts…so some slightly damp questions inside some of the teapots as the day went on. No matter. We had some greta conversations. here’s a little of what I remembered discussing…

When do you laugh at yourself? All the time. Thats a recipe for happiness i think, to laugh at yourself.

Is it fair? I think its tight when people take the mick out of you for being somewhere or because of what you are wearing or who you are. yeah i don’t think thats fair at all.

Do you count? Sometimes I think I do, sometimes not.

What makes you hopeful? people. Young people especially. Events like this where i see people making difference in their own way.

What stops you in your tracks? Kids. A beautiful view. Extremes…I guess literally obstacles do.

Where do you draw the line? Everybody draws lines differently. I think I would draw the line at harming another person….biggotry, xenophobia…Sometimes you don’t know until you’ve crossed someone’s lines that you have gone too far.

When is enough enough? Its always enough. What we each have in this moment is enough – we have everything we need. eastern philosophies say life is not about the destination but more about the journey. Life is more like a piece of music or a dance, so its always enough. it’s always now. Its the ups and down and every moment that’s important.

What’s your favourite word? Serendipidous…thats a good word. I like so many words, my favourite word today has to be mapping as thats what I’m doing…mapping the connections at East Street Arts.

Do you think before you speak? Always. I’m trying to find ways to think less.

What’s your favourite thing? Definitely picnics. I like picnics a lot. Any kind really. I thinks hugs might be on my list of favourite things. Oh yes i would definitely have hugs at my picnics. Sounds like my kind of picnic.

What is love? I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I think sometimes i mistake friendship for romantic love…or at least people i maybe should have kept only as friends i mistake for lovers. I pick the wrong people generally. Not suitable for lovers. I think its quite easy to love people…perhaps easier than most people think. I used to think of it as this very precious thing that I could only express in a very exclusive and unique moment….that if it was everyday it wasn’t valuable. know I tell as many people as i can as often as I can how much i love them. Why not?

Questions and comments added…. How can people accept differences in other people more? When do you tell someone you love them? Tell someone you love them. 11059790_10152838561396685_4136271291090400595_n   11737827_10155826910920007_5105757076347230929_n

Tea and Tolerance at Leeds Citizens First Gathering…


Leeds Citizens is a newly formed alliance of civil society organisations working together for the common good of Leeds. We have raised over £65,000 of local funding from membership dues and Founding Partner contributions and employ a professional Community Organiser to support our work. Following a six-month Listening Campaign, our members have built community relationships and recently voted to begin campaigns on Poverty, Health and Social Care and Transport.

The event came at the end of our 6-month Listening Campaign – a focused effort to build relationships and identify the major issues affecting our communities. Through one-to-one conversations, group meetings and community events, trained teams of leaders highlighted a number of common concerns across communities:, including Poverty, Transport, Community Facilities, Health & Social Care, Litter and Dog Fouling. Following testimonies on each issue, the newly announced members of Leeds Citizens voted to prioritise 3 of these for public action ( transport, living wage and mental health).

We were invited by Sue Howie to bring Tea and Tolerance to the first gathering of Leeds Citizens. So we gathered along with about 750 other people at the Centenary Pavillion at Elland Road – on the anniversary of 7/7 bombing to talk, share and listen. The people reflected a multiplicity of diversity across the city. The aim to bring the communities of Leeds together to talk about and create actions for the common good of the city and the people of the city. We then were all invited to join the muslim community for the breaking of their fast for Ramadan. Tea and tolerance spoke with people before the gathering started and then again afterwards….

How do you make the perfect cup of tea? Easy. You put the bag in first, then the water, then the milk. Some people put the milk in first then the bag and hot water, but i don’t understand that. Makes no sense.

Have you found your voice? Yes. I think so. Maybe. Yeah he’s found his voice.

When do you cross the line? All the time. I like crossing the line. I usually have to learn by my own mistakes. More fun that way. Of course you do have to deal with the consequences of line crossing but it’s the best way to learn I think.

How does it feel to be wrong? Not good.

Do you count? Yes. Yes I count. Unless you are meaning counting like numbers. I was thinking more like I matter. I do. We all do.

When do you laugh at yourself? All the time. The other day I tripped and i could feel myself going and i thought that i was going to smack my head on the floor. At the last moment i caught my balance and I just laughed out loud at that ridiculous near miss.

What is freedom? Freedom is choice. Feeling you have a choice and can make a difference. Or is that power? How do power and freedom relate to one another?

What makes you happy? Here this event – all these people that have come together to make a difference and improve our city for the common good. That makes me so happy!

If you could change anything, what would you change?Tricky. How do you know you are changing things for the better?

What’s stopping you? Nothing. Nothing is stopping me. I am on fire. And nothing will stop me doing this. i am so inspired by the people around me and all that hey are achieving. it is all so amazing. i don’t have a venue at present for my pop up cafe but it doesn’t matter. I’m not worried. It won’t stop me.

What do you think of your neighbour? I like my neighbours. we get on well. I expect it can be challenging depending where you live. Flats for instance can be a bit noisy. I used to have a neighbour who was either arguing or making up from arguing with her boyfriend. Both of these were noisy. I think its easier if you know and get on with your neighbours – things they do don’t seem to matter as much then.

How does it feel to be vulnerable? Not good. I would imagine that feels lonely and scary and a bit sad.

Comments added to our Handbook for being a Human in the 21st century/Questions added… Always be ready for surprises. Question everything, We need to bring people of all different communities together to talk to each other. (M Khialiq) What’s ‘your’ meaning of life? How do I become a more compassionate person? What is the difference between freedom and power?

Comments:Brilliant! Really enjoyed this. What a good idea! We need more things like this. We need to build relationships and talk to people- move out of our comfort zones and build more understanding and compassion for people who are different from us. We need to understand and have compassion. Listening is the first step. Many thanks for all  contributions.

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