Summer Tea chats in Leeds

TAT 290717 8 (1)

*Photo taken by Jon Dorsett at John Lewis Store, Leeds ( part of the summer activities programme.)

This weekend Tea and Tolerance visited the John Lewis Store in Leeds and then popped in at the Lingfield Community Hub Retro Fair. It was an amazing weekend. 

Amongst many topics, we talked about the kind of world we would like to live in, and the most important qualities we can have as human beings. Kindness and patience came up as forgotten but very key qualities. Speaking nicely, and being kind were talked about. Could we be kinder and more patient with each other we wondered? Will we? Will you? You decide. We spoke to lots of people of all ages and these are some of their responses to questions they answered…

Do you think before you speak? No. Not as much as I should.

In who’s interest? Sometimes it’s easier not to think about it…sometimes it can be too much and you want to just close the door and shut it out. Once you open your eyes to whats happening in the world you can’t shut them again.

The lack of resources for communities, I mean can you believe that police stations are only open certain days!! What’s that about? That’s not in anyone’s interest.

When people don’t look out for each other.

How does it feel to be wrong? Not being right can be good as it’s how you learn to do something better.

I don’t like it when I get told off – is that getting it wrong?

Where do you belong? I belong with my family. In the pub – having a drink and a nice time with friends. Wherever I feel comfortable and welcome. Wherever I lay my hat…(who sung that song?)

If you had a superpower, what superpower would you have? Patience. All the Super powers in the world!!

If you could change anything, what would you change? Everything. It all needs changing. Where do you start? I would change the school system….as people learn in different ways and that needs to be accounted for or you can cause damage to young people.

* Photographed and drawn by Jon Dorsett for John Lewis Store Leeds as part of the community activities taking place there every weekend this summer.

When do you ask for help? When I need to go to Hospital? Didn’t you just ask me for help to read this question? Oh my god. I did, didn’t I! You’ve really hit on something there with me. That’s deep. This is brilliant!

Not often enough as I don’t like to bother people…(do you mind when people ask you for help?) No not at all it’s a privilege…that’s a good point.

What do you think will happen to our beautiful planet in our lifetime? Well there’s pollution – that’s already happening…and then there’s certain leaders, they are going to change this planet beyond recognition. It’s going to get worse before it gets better!

What is the difference between you and me? We have different skin but we are the same on the inside. Everyone is different and unique but then we are all the same as well. Our finger prints are all different

What inspires you? Everything inspires me: Nature, science, beautiful buildings, nice people, art, talking about exciting ideas.

What floats your boat? Adventure. Gymnastics. Dancing.

What are you grateful for? Friends. My health. Being alive. Sunshine. My kids everyday.

*Photos at Lingfield Living Local and John Lewis Store,Leeds.

What makes you happy? Ice cream in the park on a sunny day. Being with my family.

What stops you in your tracks? Rats. I don’t like them. One came right up to my foot. It was huge.  I was terrified.

What makes you hopeful? Events like these that bring people together and inspire people.

What are you afraid of? Nothing….Spiders!

What makes your blood boil? When someone sets the way things will run and then nobody else sticks to the plan…that does my head in.

Trump!! The state of the world.

People dropping litter – things like that where people don’t show respect.

Why are you here? Like what is my purpose? I try to connect the older ones with the younger ones and vice versa. They don’t always understand each other’s ways of living in the world…I try to help with that.

Do you believe in ghosts? Yes. Some people say when people die they appear like a light in the room. Is that a ghost or just energy? I believe in energy.

No.

Do you believe in Unicorns? Yes! (Performs a little unicorn movement.)

What’s your favourite word? Mermaid. Explore. Ice cream!

How much are you worth? Those two are priceless to me- they mean absolutely everything. ( About his kids) Am I priceless to them too? I guess so.

How does it feel to be vulnerable? In a way, not nice. But it can be really helpful and it happens to everyone at some point. I guess it depends how you handle it.

Can you laugh at yourself? Yes – all the time. I even laugh at my own jokes. You have to laugh don’t you!

20170730_151427

*Photo at Lingfield Living Local ‘Retro” Fair, July 2017.

Article written by Zoe Parker and Lucy Meredith of Tea and Tolerance. Tea and Tolerance is a live art ‘installation’ – a roaming tea trolley brewing up refreshing conversations which go beneath the surface. We support better cohesion, understanding and tolerance within our communities. This weekend was possible thanks to generous funding from John Lewis and Leeds Community Foundation #GiveLoveLeeds fund.

Tea and Tolerance 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.

Joint-LCF-Leeds-Fund-Logo-.jpgJohn-Lewis.jpg

Leeds Big Lunch ( & #BIGconversations)

Who was it that said an image is worth a thousand words?

Well I would have to agree in this case. Tea and Tolerance with Eden Communities and The Real Junk Food Project ( and their Fuel for Schools project) outside Leeds Art Gallery ( Victoria Gardens). Lovely conversations and people, and a beautiful scorcher of a day! We were able to test out our new ‘Conversation Picnic” which includes a pack of cards containing questions, instructions and quotations, jam jars and chatterboxes. This all happened on May 26th 12-2pm 2017 – thanks to everyone who came down. Wonderful photographs by Angels of Youth. Feel free to  share your experiences about the day below….

18768401_771459076347411_6683448293252964591_o.jpgBigLunchCrowd.jpg

BigLunchCrowd1

BigLunchMick

BigLunchFeedback4

Kirkstall Arts Trail

13726680_10157128327570007_5193139075843480329_n.jpg

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.

13700203_10157128327585007_9100150021231262563_n.jpgDSC_1337.jpg

Men talking…

 

10988274_1542955515992374_5424222538835258437_o

Tea and Tolerance were guests at the Men’s Room. The Men’s Room group –  run by Space2, meets every Tuesday from 10.30am – 12.30pm at Denis Healey Centre in Seacroft. It’s a regular, welcoming safe space for local men to come together and chat, drink tea and take part in all sorts of activities from playing pool to painting and woodwork.

Every week they share a meal and those who wish can join in the cooking. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people, share stories and experiences, gain skills and build confidence.

It was great to be their guests on tuesday…wonderful people who spoke honestly with humour and heart.

We talked with many of the men about all sorts of things….. boats, sofa surfing, mobile phones, the right to disagree…. did we put the world to rights? Maybe not entirely…but perhaps we made a start? Here’s some of what we chatted about…from my recollection of what was said….I remember some things..I will for sure have forgotten other things….feel free to add your perspective if you were there…or even if you weren’t.

What makes you angry? Many things. Far too many to remember. Sometimes the more I think about this question, the more things I get angry about. When I see young children with their parents and their parents are on mobile phones, not playing with them at all. Those kids are little for such a short time, and they are just missing the whole thing. It’s a loss.

People coming in here and telling me they are going to vote UKIP….like thats going to make anything better! It just makes me so angry….I want to explain to them how they aren’t going to be better off the way they believe they will, ….that there aren’t people from other countries coming in and stealing ‘their’ jobs. I mean, how can you have your jobs stolen when you aren’t even applying for jobs….but you can’t change people’s minds…their views are set.They’ll just look at you like you’re mad and think what they think.

People being harsh and angry with others….I saw a woman in a supermarket and she was chatting to the woman at the till and taking her time and the person behind her just ‘lost it’. of course THERE are two sides to every story….it was supposed to be a fast till, but still. there is just no need to shout at people. It’s abusive. Perhaps the check out assistant could have managed it better…but for some people, coming in and talking to someone at the check out maybe the only conversation they have all day. You think about that and maybe being slowed down a little bit, losing a few minutes, doesn’t seem so important.

What makes you happy? Family makes me happy. Sometimes. When we are not arguing. I love my family. Good food. These guys….that come here make me happy.

How does it feel to be right? People can have their views even if you don’t agree…everyone has the right to have their own views. I have the right to have a different view. Is that respect?

What would you step into?  I am ready to have somewhere to live. Homelessness isn’t nice. I’ve done a lot of sofa surfing and I’m ready to have my own place..not living in someone else’s home. I am ready for more income. I am ready for better health.

Are you entitled? Funny question. We decided in the end a great question. What are we each entitled to? What is entitlement anyway? Are we entitled to love?..to safety? …a home?…to a kindness and support when we are vulnerable…being looked after and cared about irrespective of what we earn or have? Are we entitled to respect and compassion?

What makes you stand up? I usually stand up for people. I hope I would anyway. Sometimes you have to weigh up if you are strong enough and able to make a difference if you stand up. I have been in a position where I didn’t feel I could and that didn’t feel nice at all. I felt weak. When I was younger it was easier, i would think more now before getting involved. Once I heard this teacher shouting at these kids and i just had to say something. it’s not right speaking to people like that. He apologised to me after.

If you could change anything what would you change? Like what do I want most…..? I want a job. I would be healthy and fit….able to work….pain free. You can’t do anything without health. Money doesn’t buy health either. Well, I guess it can help…. can’t it…it’s not the money itself but what it gives you access to. Sometimes I just sit in my house and I feel sad, you know. I give a lot when I am out with people and I get home and I’m exhausted.

How much are you worth? Is what we are worth based on how much we earn? Could it be another way? Where what we are worth isn’t connected to our income. How else do we contribute to be valuable? I want to contribute. I want to be able to contribute. I do my best to be there for people, to listen to them, inject some humour.

What stops you in your tracks? Nothing. Nothing stops me. If there is a wall in my way I’ll just find a way to go through it or over it, but i always keep going….keep moving forward. What else can you do? ……Death….maybe that stops me….when someone you love dies that’s hard. I guess extremes whether good or bad stop us…..a beautiful moment..a sad moment….something that arrests the senses….yes its the extremes that stop you.

Conclusions. It was lovely to be the guests of The Men’s Room on Tuesday …wonderful people who spoke openly with humour and heart. It was great to be around the hustle and bustle of setting up for the meal as well….large tables, chairs, bowls, cutlery for twenty plus people ( almost exclusively men). Then we all proceeded to eat delicious ‘orange’ soup together. Like being part of a huge family except there really was plenty of food to go round. We think this is a wonderful project and hope to visit again!

We leave you with a question and comment from the group…. (feel free to comment on the question, add your own questions ,or offer an alternate contribution in the comments box below.) You can also follow us on Facebook.

“Do you think we have the right to end our own lives?”

“I really enjoyed myself…. just to have a discussion about things was great. I really do believe the more we talk the better understanding of one another we get!” D.G.