Lingfield Living Local Conversation beginnings

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We popped into one of the opening events of Living Local and then a few weeks later joined the craft group, here’s what people in Lingfield had to say…

Who or what has most influenced you in your lifetime? Good question. My mum. She is a person who puts community and other people over personal gain. That influenced me a lot in the career/ ethics I have. Also I spent some time volunteering in Rwanda. That was probably the thing that has most influenced me in my life. My teacher: who told me about sheep and goats. He said that in life you can either follow the crowd (like sheep) or follow your own path ( like goats) and which you choose is up to you.

What is it to love? Big question. Putting someone else’s needs and happiness above your own. Allowing and supporting someone to follow their own path/dreams/desire.

Do you think before you speak? Sometimes I overthink things. Then the words burst out. Sort of one leads to the other. I think a lot then I don’t think at all.

How does it feel to be wrong? I’m never wrong.

Where do you belong? Now that is a deep question…you could take that many ways. The locl. The global. Therese may said that if you are a citizen of everywhere then you are a citizen of nowhere. I don’t like talking politics – but is that right? Does it have to be either or? Can I belong to a place I live in and also belong in other places? Surely we are both? I belong here in Leeds where I live, where I grew up and also in all these other places too.

I belong where there are people that accept me warmly.

Why are you here? I just explained that. How strange to get that question.

How does it feel to be vulnerable? It’s a bit scary and then its empowering. You are sort of like a caterpillar’s metamorphosis into a butterfly. It is a moment of transformation: it seems very scary but afterward you are somewhere new.

What are you afraid of? I’m scared of birds….well anything that flaps actually. Story of the mer cat…   Though that reminds me of what I am really terrified of …which is disappointing people,. Is that sad? I mean you cant control other people’s expectations of you. It’s impossible.

What is the difference between you and me? I think we are all more similar then we are different. I was talking with a Muslim woman and on the outside we look very different and you might, on first glance, think that we would have very little in common. Yet as we spoke, we discovered so many similarities…our circumstances, where we lived and what we did, the problems we were having with our children. Really we had so much in common.

Every person is like a flower, And it would be really boring if every flower looked the same. Same colours same bloom. What is exciting about the flowers is that they are all different. And people are like those flowers in the garden, a myriad of colours and expressions and shapes, and all those differences are complementary.

What’s stopping you? That made me think of today. What is stopping me from singing?

What is your favourite word? A man told me this word once – Discombobulated. I love it. Sounds very clever. What does it mean?

I don’t have a clever word but the Albanian word for hello ‘pershendetje’ which I learnt whilst living in Albania, I discovered later when learning Spanish that the same word in Spanish means ‘little shit’. My friend used to get to me to tell all her friends the Albanian word for hello and of course they would all laugh, because it was a swear word and I didn’t know.

My children sometimes make up words in English, which are translations form words in Spanish. They don’t mean anything in English but I know exactly what they mean by these made up words. I love that.

I like long words but I prefer reading stories in simple language

Do you think before you speak? Mixed thoughts on this: from ‘never – I tell it like it is’; to ‘only when responding to ‘volatile’ people; to ‘I try to’.

What makes you hopeful? Places like this community hub. Seeing acts of cooperation and tolerance within this community.

What inspires you? Jean. Jean inspires us because she is the kindest, nicest person…she’s a little sweetheart. This place. My daughter made the logo – she won the competition at school. Originally it was a crayon drawing. We have it framed at home.

How does it feel to be vulnerable? Not much. My early life was quite harsh and compared to that nothing makes me feel vulnerable.

My car skidded on ice and I swerved off the motorway and then the car wouldn’t start. I felt pretty vulnerable waiting for help.

When do you ask for help? At the last minute usually. Practical help is easier to ask for. There is something about ‘no’ – can someone hear it or say it, when asking for help. The worry being if the person asked says no, then will it hurt; or if I ask, will the person feel burdened by me. I don’t care what people think so I’m not afraid to ask for help.

Why are you here? To support Kate and my friends and community. I wouldn’t say I’m here to make a difference because people come if they want and if they are interested.

 Do you count? Everyone counts. Maybe more people feel like they count at the moment?

If you could change anything, what would you change? The government. No the PM. I’d bring in proportional representation. But who would you put in place of the current PM? I like that old guy with the beard…Corbyn. He seems honest and is for the people. But are the things he wants too good to be true? And can he balance the books? Though the conservatives havn’t done a great job with that have they.

Where do you draw the line? Racism. People think I will agree with them because of what I look like but if I witness racism, I will step in and stop it. They don’t expect that but I don’t care.

Comments:

 

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We need a larger sense of us. What is ‘us’?

Someone said it’s a good sign if you didn’t get around to taking photographs – means you were having a good time.

Feel like bonds were deepened and there was a commonality of thinking across the different people there.

Oh wow! Thats amazing! So glad you came and did that, we have a lot of conversations in the hub, we all talk an awful lot, so its nice to have those conversations directed and recorded. So, so important this work that you are doing, now more than ever.

Who are Tea and Tolerance? We explained about our roots in the York Mosque who invited the EDL in for tea and football. It struck a chord for some residents and they talked about how scary it was a few years ago when that had happened in this community. How police had told them to stay inside but they wanted to carry on as normal and didn’t want to hide.

So great to see everyone together: laughing and smiling. We have so much #moreincommon

Tea and Tolerance has received a Leeds Fund #GiveLoveLeeds Grant, thanks to support of the Fund’s Anchor Partner, John Lewis Leeds. Managed by Leeds Community Foundation, The Leeds Fund creates positive change in the communities of Leeds that need it most by distribributing financial grants and support to community projects across the city.

 

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Time to widen the conversation…?

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Discussion 1 – Handbook for being Human in the 21st Century with MB TB EH JH LM PM ZP & JW

Thanks to generous funding from Arts Council England, we begin researching conversation and being human.  Below are the reflections of 8 artists based in Leeds and Bradford on 27.1.17. We each started with the gathered blogs of the conversations of each event we have taken our project Tea and Tolerance to and 7 proposed chapter titles. The initial proposal being to write a Handbook for being Human in the 21st century.

Is it a book? A process?… an adventure?
Who have we worked with?
Where is it going? – to parliament? As a manifesto for humankind?

Cards FOR Humanity (rather than ‘against’)

MANIFESTO – or a journal / workbook / actions / tools: what am I gonna do? What next?

It’s all talk… Create a tool-kit to prompt conversation / a series of tasks and blank pages (Kindness Advent Calendar; Random Acts of Kindness..?)

A LAUNCHPAD to SOMEWHERE ELSE?

Where is the warmth..? The Story… The development of T&T… COntextUalisation.

WHO IS IT FOR? And WHAT IS IT FOR? Accessibility…

Is social change necessary? YOU might think so – but what if most people just want to ‘get along’, fall in love… ‘I’m not looking for a New England…’
Who should I be cross with, and what do people want? Will there be a WW3? Will we do it all over again?… But the reality is: people died, a lot of people…

Who is to blame, and how do we evolve? How do we all have conversations / empathy and compassion with and for  people who do not share your world view. What if I am ‘their ‘ HITLER?

Who’s in & Who’s out? How do you make room for everybody? Who explains POLITICS to you? What does it all mean?

In a no (WO)MANS land – from our exclusive little ‘bubbles’…. crafting cultural / social experiences…

POLITICS is a privilege – what about ‘just surviving’???

Are we just wanking off? Who is to blame for all the wanking?

If SHIFT is going to happen… what do we do? Who do we talk with? And how?
A need to recognize spheres of influence…? Meaning – for whom?

DON’T TELL ME HOW TO BE GOOD.

YOU CAN ONLY ASK GOOD QUESTIONS… Questions to bridge boundaries… Bridging gaps.

Making assumptions? Fulfilling expectations? What DOES it MEAN? (Define / determine – unravel terms together to develop a shared understanding…)

A need to strip language back, develop definitions, get out of our BOXES of assumptions – what does the word Fascist / Nazi mean. Define it. Together. There are massive gulfs between people – even in families…

HOW DO WE HAVE THE CONVERSATION?

QUESTION FROM BASIC PRINCIPLES: Use a battering ram or develop a curiosity tool…?

DIALOGUE. Where and how are we similar? Let’s not start by knowing that the other is definitely wrong. Stop filling in the gaps in conversation. Stop being so fucking clever.

LISTEN
Establish lexicon (words we understand) with each other.
CURIOUSNESS
Stop pitting people against each other & blaming….
LISTEN
Stop being binary. Evolve your multiplicity.
Create ‘Safe’ space to be FIERCE
RADICAL HONESTY – build toward a place where this can take place…

WHAT are the LAYERS, and HOW do they FUNCTION in the development of creating that ‘Safe Place’?

LAYERS of CHOICES
BE CURIOUS – who knows everything?
LISTEN very very CAREFULLY…
FIND yourself in a group of people who are able to hold their tongues…
SPEAK… maybe.
BREATHE
This is an enquiry – we will work it out together…
WITH OUR PASSION…

HOW DO WE ASK & WHAT ARE THE RIGHT QUESTIONS?

Book? App? Social media? Multi-platform? Multiple access routes in…

[When do I feel alone? What do I go to? Someone’s thought. But how do I go on? Blank pages. Need a space to feed back into…]

Activities to create position of an imagined and distant point of view… One person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter.

How do we avoid dominant voices? REFLECT / BREATHE

PRIVILEGE. CIS / TRANS / HOW DO WE INCLUDE PEOPLE IF THEY ARE NOT VOCAL?

CHECK IN – with each other along the way.
WHAT IS YOUR LANGUAGE (plain speaking).
REFLECT UPON HOW YOU ARE DOING
MOMENTS of COMPULSORY NOTHING.
RULES & REGS.

SPACE – and How does a conversation work?
Clumsily – that’s life! Justification of positions / or Evolution of ideas or concepts….

CURIOSITY BINGO!

WHAT DO YOU MEAN? (When, if ever, do we land on the same page?)
(Where is the route map that takes me from here to There…?)

What are the core questions – and how do we speak: converse, converge & transform…

TIME PLACE PROCESS
CARTOGRAPHY

At the crossroads where all the ghosts, futures and present converge… Where the decision has to be made as regards the next step… In the moment?

A tool-kit for guided conversations.
{note from Lucy to remember the Naughty Virgin Mary?}???
WHAT IS LISTENING? Re-creation of the T&T model / way of evolving and developing conversation…

A TOOL-KIT to build with…
(What is the game and how does it work?)
Game of Equality… or Equity…
What are the rules?
How do we do tolerance?

Where are you stuck in your life? Need spaces to speak on particular issues…

EVERYBODY IS AMAZING AREN’T THEY?
(Termites and shouters)
What will make it all better?

TIME LIMITS: game mechanisms; open spaces; creating frameworks…

[Social Engineering] / T&T FIGHT CLUB…

Who are you? Will you share it with me?

FURTHER / ONWARD THINKING:

Part 1: Tea & Tolerance: Re-establishing the Art of Conversation.

I think this is what i/we came to as a conclusion… to create something that is the right balance… of instructions, rules, options and strategies (maybe even a few statements & suggestions, games and aides) that helps people to really enjoy each others company whilst evolving meaningful dialogue with each other.

To be calm becomes a kind revolutionary act…

Ten Principles of Wealth and Power

 

Levels of Inequality is unprecedented in these times. INEQUALITY exists because a small amount of people the 0.01% have EXTREME WEALTH. Five years ago about 300 owned more than 50% of the wealth of the rest of the humans on the planet. This is now down to 62  people in the world, who have individual net worth’s between 3bn and 75bn ( perhaps more) They own multiple properties, corporations, even  islands…this SUPER-WEALTH is HIGHLY NEGATIVE on SOCIETY asa  whole because it has a corrosive effect on DEMOCRACY.

Below are my notes on and thoughts that occurred in response to watching Requiem of the American Dream by Noam Chomsky. REQUIEM is a potent reminder that power ultimately rests in the hands of the governed – and is required viewing for all who maintain hope in a shared stake in the future.

TEN  PRINCIPLES OF CONCENTRATION OF WEALTH AND POWER: THE VICIOUS CYCLE

1.REDUCE DEMOCRACY
2.SHAPE IDEOLOGY
3.RE-DESIGN THE ECONOMY
4.SHIFT THE BURDEN TO THE MASSES
5.ATTACK SOLIDARITY
6.RUN THE REGULATORS
7.ENGINEER ELECTIONS
8.KEEP THE RABBLE IN LINE
9.MANUFACTURE CONSENT
10.MARGINALIZE THE POPULATION

Who owns the Society? CLASS – who gives the orders? Who follows them

1.REDUCE DEMOCRACY

“Protect the minority of the opulent and the wealthy”
The system is set up to prevent democracy in any meaningful way as the major sectors of society THE MEDIA COMMERCE and PRODUCTION are all controlled / ruled by the richest people and to ensure their continued wealth.their aim is to reduce democracy or to reduce inequality so that business doesn’t lose control of society.

2. SHAPE IDEOLOGY

There has been a business offensive since the 1970’s as previously passive and obedient citizens were organising and taking an interest in politics ( ACTIVISM) – This is a CONTROL of resources even if that means manipulating people. The general population must be subdued and  the young indoctrinated. Our thoughts are literally shaped by business and governments.

3.RE-DESIGN THE ECONOMY

Increased role of the financial institutions. By 2007 it made 40% of corporate profits. Banks make half their profits by moving money around with trickery. There is no evidence that they are doing anything of value to the economy. That is FINANCIALISATION ( the process by which financial organisations increase in influence and size) and OFF SHORING of trades ( moving trading overseas).
Policy is designed to increase insecurity.

The aim is to create GREATER WORKER INSECURITY becaause Insecure people are easy to CONTROL

4. SHIFT THE BURDEN

Shift the burden of paying for society to masses and away from the 0.01%
Democracy is mainly a myth in our societies. This is more of a PLUTOCRACY ( a few RULE the many ) than a DEMOCRACY ( the many people rule the many).
Anti-British anti-American, identifying and targeting anyone negatively because of their race, beliefs, religion, these are TOTALITARIAN IDEAS ( think tyrant ruler and subservient people) expressions are NOT democratic. Reagan and Thatcher vilified unions with these terms. We see a similar thing today with CORBYN and the media representation.

5.ATTACK SOLIDARITY

SOLIDARITY is dangerous. Solidarity is the principle of public services – Education, Housing, NHS, Social Security.
They are fundamentally about sympathy and caring for other people.
The rule says CARE only for YOURSELF and NOT other people.
There has to be a concerted effort to DESTROY solidarity. If you want to destroy something first thing you do is DE-FUND it. That’s a standard technique for privatising something.
So to attack solidarity you must severely attack public services.

6.RUN THE REGULATORS

This is called ‘regulatory capture’. The businesses being regulated is in fact running the regulators. Bank lobbyists are writing the laws of financial regulation. They are TOO BIG TO FAIL – they have the time and money to campaign for what matters to them. Do you? We bailed out the banks – with few repercussions. Many of the richest people and companies increased their wealth in this time, while most otehr people lost over 44% of their wealth. Yet no help for poor people when they need bailing out – they are demonised This is NEO-LIBERALISM. By the way there is the opposite rule for the poor. Deregulation is closely linked to financial crashes.

7.ENGINEER ELECTIONS

Is it all rigged?
Concentration of wealth yields concentration of political power. Money is a form of free speech ( since 1970’s). Business, commerce, media have a MASSIVE amount of POWER and control over policies and therefore politicians – this influence is a massive attack on democracy. Phrases such as “The people have spoken..” probably engineered by very well paid experts and are, by their very design, undemocratic. Who actually spoke and for whom?

8.KEEP THE RABBLE IN LINE

Unions provide a barrier to corporate dominance. Unions are a democratising force and so to keep people in line you must ATTACK the unions. When a population is strong enough the politicians listen. In a plutocracy you must OPPRESS the rising masses. A very small percentage of people are currently in a union. Is that an accident or engineered? Elites in US hate unions so strongly that the fundamental core of labour rights ( the right to form unions) has never been ratified.How do unions fair in the UK? Thatcher damaged them greatly. Zero hours contracts.

9.MANUFACTURE CONSENT

A CIRCUS. A DISTRACTION.– trapping people in consumption and in the belief that they need the next gadget, fashion item or diet pill to be happy. This is no accident but deliberate. The general population are DISTRACTED with superfluous things. Think of the endless advertising campaigns for christmas, valentines, easter…all a promise to our aspirations to be happy, healthy and loved. Can we only get these things with their products? Do we even want these things? Landfill. More profit for corporations and suffocating “consumption  clogging up our systems.

“The public must be put in their place”

Turn the person into the perfect system of consumption. The point is to create UNINFORMED CONSUMERS who make IRRATIONAL CHOICES. Spectators not participants and so those people are no trouble and easy to control.
This happens in elections and referendums. An uninformed electorate – who make irrational choices – often against their own interests.
A DEMOCRATIC system would encourage INFORMED CONSUMERS to make RATIONAL CHOICES.

10.MARGINALISE THE POPULATION

Make people HATE and FEAR each other and only look out for them selves – No constructive action. recognised in unfocused anger and an attack on the vulnerable.
POLICY will be the shadow cast by business over society.
“ALL FOR MYSELF NOTHING FOR ANYONE ELSE”
This leads to UGLY greed. A GLOBAL SOCIETY going unchecked based on these principles will lead to the MASS DESTRUCTION of human beings.

If we want democracy we need a participatory and democratising CONTROL of MEDIA COMMERCE and PRODUCTION

So what are the OPPOSITE PRINCIPLES?? My thinking so far…

1.STRENGTHEN and protect DEMOCRACY 

2.ALLOW OWN IDEOLOGY – BE INFORMED and QUESTION EVERYTHING so what we think is our own critical thoughts not what someone else has told us.

3.THE ECONOMY – decrease the power of financial institutions over governments and communities. 

4.SHIFT THE BURDEN To those who have the capacity, wealth and power ( if people have the capacity to do more then let them embrace supporting society in that way – how can that option feel pleasurable, exciting, inviting?).

5.PROTECT and INCREASE SOLIDARITY – Stand up for others. Stand with not against. Support Each other. Empathy. 

6.REGULATIONS – regulate with a range of people who have a stake – i.e. communities, people from all social positions, cultures, genders etc who all have a stake to hold in the regulating. Listen and be sensible and individual. Be fair to what benefits the whole and harms the fewest, not what make the most money/ profit. Remember the other economic costs and values – time, social, environmental

7.LIMIT FINANCE ALLOWED IN ELECTIONS – create mechanisms that give each person more of a fair chance to have their voice count. Care about each person’s voice. Learn to listen and seek out the voiceless.

8.FREE THE RABBLE
9.ALLOW INFORMED RATIONAL CHOICE/REDUCE CONSUMERISM – don’t ‘put’ anyone anywhere – allow them to choose. Allow views especially those you don’t agree with to exist.

10.COLLECTIVISM – EMPOWER THE MANY – responsibility and contribution of every human within local and global communities. LOVE and be BRAVE

Links – http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/forandagainstchomsky

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_positions_of_Noam_Chomskyhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_positions_of_Noam_Chomsky

And of course, the above is just my interpretation and understanding of the film / principles within  – written by Zoe Parker

https://www.currentaffairs.org/2016/12/thousand-ways-to-misrepresent-noam-chomsky

Live Art Bistro: Compass Cafe Takeover

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Tea & Tolerance

Explore a Handbook for Being Human in the 21st Century

LIVE ART BISTRO : COMPASS CAFÉ TAKEOVER

A set of precarious & dynamic multiplicities to be explored through conversation and creativity;
Seeking ways and means to affect some sort of transformation in the world;
Fabricating contexts for people of all persuasions to collaborate:
Engaging
Playing
Eating
Dancing
Talking
… with an occasional nap, and a lot of LOVE

Conversations between Death (+…Hope)

Life After death? Does this affect the way you live each day? Is suicide the Hope in Death?

Hope – everyone needs hope. Is it the pathway to purpose or fulfilment? We all want to be fulfilled. Doing good for others? Is there fulfilment in this? Or does altruism without personal gain exist?

“Maybe there is no hope because we will all die” (Emily Dickinson). BUT that isn’t what most people behave. They behave as though they will live forever. They all seem to have hope that it will be better – this is just wishful or hopeful thinking.

We all feel invincible and perhaps this is a blissful failing…
BUT it can be optimistic that we are a part of the development of the human race. Perhaps humans ought always to challenge beliefs and help society change so we can progress (BUT what is HELPING society? – there seem to me many different opinions on this subject).

Perfect when you are content with the outcome – Inspired by the idea that we can actually make a difference for a better future.
The only promise in LIFE is DEATH. Yin and Yang (Hope and Death) You need the balance. Death encourages Hope.

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An alternative to Maslow’s Theory of ( Human) Needs.
(not in a particular order/ lateral layout/ each point equal)
Safe space to make mistakes
Nourishment – practical, physical, emotional, spiritual
Delight and Joy
Space
Celebration and happiness
Purpose and growth
Thriving
Encouragement
Other people
Time to ourselves, and with others and to do the things we want to do.

PERFECTION-ism Discuss   

Perfectionism can be an impediment. Perfect for humanity is being kind, compassionate, sharing and tolerant. Is it your best? It is a construct of society. Does it allow us to be ourselves? Is it impossible to attain?

Perfection is in the simple things. Nobody has a perfect existence, rich or poor. YET do we think everyone else has a perfect life (or more perfect than ours…). Perfect is connected to what others think of us. It makes me think about embracing my flaws because perfection is in-authentic and nothing is perfect.

When you are perfect…is it all over? “Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you’ ll land in the stars”. Always strive for more and make sure it’s for the greater good.

RACE

We are one. Are we one? Human Race or Human Kind?
Where will my future be as a black person in this world?
…and as a woman?

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Could more unite us than divide us? We are entitled to pay for the transgressions of previous generations. This is our legacy and this is our future and we will change the world!

SEX and GENDER

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(What’s it like to be you?)
Practicality of clothing that is gender specific. I say be less practical,
In whose shoes?

What are the most important qualities in being human? Humour, kindness, compassion, reason.

Can we bring up our children without gender?
Where do I find happiness? Food, training with my friend, friends, dancing, nature, animals…

WHAT KIND OF WORLD WOULD YOU LIKE TO LIVE IN?

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Strive for equality – in the REAL sense of the word. A world that is a home for everyone, A world where education is available to everyone. A race for humanity. All nations. All colours. All Religions (or no religions) All countries. Living in peace, all loving each other and all learning to fly.

A world where assessments take the form of conversation – much more fulfilling.
Tolerant. Understanding and full of compassion
Where EVERYONE’s contribution is recognised.
Listen with interest, not just waiting to reply, understand why people believe what they believe and educate not humiliate.
Philosophers or Politicians?
Where people are informed. Is everyone biased? Can anyone be truly objective?
Educate children in politics ( and philosophy)
Need to engage 16-18 year olds and educate them so they are ready to change the world. Don’t let anyone fall through the gaps.
It is important to know people are human. We need to show our vulnerabilities without fear that someone will use that against us. Abusing people’s vulnerabilities is modern life and modern politics.
LESS SOCIAL MEDIA Social media is harmful and damaging to the brain, the algorithms create bubbles / echo chambers and it has been proven to make people feel more lonely and isolated. It is a fake world where we all aspire to an unachievable life.

IS IT NOW? + HOW?

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How do we move on?

Laurie Anderson said:

1. Have no fear.
2. Get a good bullshit detector.
3. Be tender.

Find the source of the fear. What is the source of the fear?
Caring for myself is not an indulgence, it is self preservation and THAT IS a radical act of political warfare.
Radical Softness
What stops you in your tracks?
Leonard Cohen’s voice.
Acts of kindness.
Be serious but don’t take yourself too seriously

WHAT NEEDS TO CHANGE?
We need to inspire tpeople.
Get out of our comfort zones. The best way to be authentic is reveal your own flaws – be vulnerable.
Listen – seek to understand.
We need to be a generation who looks at the bigger picture. Stay HOPE-full not Hopeless. Sticks to our beliefs and plans and be receptive to change.
Be able to adapt
We have a responsibility to the human race
Social media and how we use it is a responsibility – are we part of the money making machine of large corporations (advertising) on social media. Are we being seduced by algorithmic echo chambers?
Fake news arms facebook the corporation to manipulate the truth. ‘Drip feeding’ us – Is the system rigged?
We need a more diverse way of interconnecting – different groups, different ages, we can all learn and thrive with each other.
Be wary of the misinformation from the media. There is media bias – what we read on facebook in our ‘feed’ and in papers, hear on tv or radio has bias.
http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/cover_story/2016/01/how_facebook_s_news_feed_algorithm_works.html
Be informed.
Saturated by consumerism – is it good for our mental health? Could we consume less on the planet?
Ideas for future:
Chalk questions on the streets – like BRIGGATE, Leeds.
Reduce our TIME on facebook/social media and critically QUESTION everything we are told.
Are we changing the ’norm’ or is the ‘norm’ changing us?
Values and privilege – learn from others. We have a lot to learn from someone else’s opinion and perspective.
We can use the power of two feet – a great story about a university that didn’t ban Katy Hopkins but instead students bought up all the tickets and then when Katy walked in, they walked out. What else can we do that protests in this way?

POTENTIAL QUESTIONS TO ADD TO THE TEA TROLLEY AFTER TODAY?
Is consumerism good for your mental health?
Are you changing the norm or is the norm changing you?
What’s it like to be you?
Are you seduced by algorithmic echo chambers?
What are your responsibilities to humankind?
Where will the future be for black people in this world?
Is the system rigged? What would you change?
How do we move on?

 

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Intergenerational engagement…

Always trying to understand the others point of view… with LOVE, we HOPE…

WHY ARE YOU HERE?

This event took place on 13th November 2016 at Live Art Bistro as part of Compass Festival‘s Live Art Cafe Takeover. Much appreciation to Tess Hornsby-Smith and Leeds University Students ( OUT THERE CHALLENGE), Institute for Crazy Dancing ( and their hope and death installation) all the dedicated artists who helped run the cafe at LAB and all the people who participated.

Love Arts Conversations – Tea Trolleys and Mental Health.

ae589a003c96730024f6869e994f8375imagesTea and Tolerance has hosted the tea trolley at Love Arts Festival for the past three years. It is an amazing thing to be part of – celebrating people and raising awareness about creativity and mental health.  And as we were unraveling, arranging and preparing pots and questions in readiness for conversations at Leeds City Museums, a short clip of wonder woman and her familiar theme tune blasted out…

Now this was part of the final  rehearsals for a play and I wondered about wonder woman and mental health. And I thought about my memories of that character and all her fascinating contradictions. Was she a Feminist inspiration or failure? With whips to bind men in chains – was she a sexual fetishist or empowering protector? And perhaps,  like her character, like our language, like our culture, it’s a fitting image for Love Arts conversations, offering a potential of creative contradictory and yet still powerful individuals.

How do we use language?

As a weapon, to ‘other’ and categorise people… a lot of words are outdated and we say those words sometimes with very little awareness of what we are saying.

It can be adversarial.

Language can be used to shock as well and get people to listen. A TED talk used it to wake the audience up to actually listen…I think someone like Antony Robbins did that?

I use swearing in my performance poetry. They don’t expect an older woman that looks like me to say the things I do and talk about gender the way I do.

In our family we had to develop our own language. If you hear voices and have to deal with that within a family then you need ways to talk about it. Traditional language doesn’t necessarily offer that.

What is going on?

Well I’m here interviewing people about mental health for a journalist assignment. This is just the start of the research actually. What is going on! – that’s the question I ask myself when I hear the latest news.

Do you have the right to end your own life?

Of course. How do we know if someone wants to end their life if they are no longer capable of choosing. People deserve quality of life and the right to decide when there is no quality for them to end it.

What does Culture mean to you?

Culture is a big subject. Might be easier to answer what isn’t Culture? Almost everything is culture. Culture is people.

Nature perhaps is the only thing that isn’t culture.

Though culture is affected by nature and nature by culture – species become extinct, geographies erode with the ‘help’ of cultures. Like a hurricane will have a big affect on the cultures it hits.

 Love Arts Conversation is a festival-flavoured conference. The idea behind the Love Arts Conversation is to get people talking about the arts, creativity and mental health and took place this year on October 19th at Leeds City Museum.

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Tea and Tolerance – Harehills Festival

 

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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?

Football!

(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.

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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

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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.

WHAT DOES CULTURE MEAN TO YOU?

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.

COUNTERPOINT, please!

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.

WHAT COULD LEEDS DO BETTER?

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)

WHY SHOULD EUROPE CARE ABOUT LEEDS?

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:

 

WHAT IDEAS DO YOU HAVE TO PUT LEEDS ON THE WORLD MAP?

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

@the_right_pace.com

 

Dedicated walking routes

Around Yorkshire

From the Leeds Hub…

 

The Trails of the Dales Centre

Located in LS. Gateway to Beauty

 

BON VOYAGE!

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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.

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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.

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