Tea and Living Local…


On Saturday 31st January Living Local hosted a community event at Allerton CE Primary School. The atmosphere was relaxed and welcoming. It was a positive way to start 2015 and to build links between people and groups.

Between 12-2pm around 70 people (aged from 3 weeks to 80 years old) enjoyed a range of food, activities, games and the chance to speak with one another. The food was supplied by the local chip shop, the Iqra group and a team of volunteer cake makers. Children and adults took part in a variety of games and enjoyed the indoor trampoline, face painting, football, a local knowledge quiz and a raffle.

A dialogue group called Tea & Tolerance provided a space for people to have deeper discussions on their neighbourhood. Short updates were provided by Living Local and the Iqra group and invitations were made to people to visit the new Iqra building and also to become involved in future Living Local community activities.

A range of future activities for 2015 have emerged out of this event. These include; a spring clean up, 6 weeks of sport for children, restoration of the community garden with the support of Business in the Community in May and a September bbq. The event was a collaborative effort and a mix of people all worked together to create it. This included local residents, members of the Iqra group, Allerton CE primary school, St John’s Church, Moortown Baptist Church and Living Local. A big thankyou to everyone involved and Living Local are looking forward to future events.


Tea at Magellan House – part 1.


Questions and thoughts that came up in our Tea Talks at Magellan House at the end of 2014.


Why don’t people communicate anymore? Is quality of conversation better in a room or on twitter? The one to one conversation possible on twitter can be intimate where you really get to know people you are conversing with. Yet it has an anonymity meaning anyone can say anything….

…like trolls, is it all a little unreal, de-humanising/ robotic even …follow me LIKE me..is this really a sign that we are #lonely, a desperate cry pleading #loveme ? Or a marketing game?

Has technology killed the art of conversation? If aliens looked down from above, what a strange sight they would see. Huge volumes of individuals locked into handheld devices. Is this a bad thing? What do we miss? Look up. Look Around. And what do we gain through technology? Knowledge. Wisdom. Connection. Or is it just Noise? Or is it the natural evolvement? Does it make people lonely or create global communities? Does it have to be one or the other?

What stops you in your tracks? Kindness. Laughter. Beauty. Cruelty. Unfairness. Seeing one person argue and shout on the street or at their kids in a supermarket…its one of those things you react to moment to moment. I try not to judge. I don’t have the full picture of the situation. So when do you intervene? I have asked before if  everything is ok when I have seen two people arguing in a way that it seems like one is at risk from the other.

If you had the power what would you do? Throw the Tories out. Thats my answer today. Put someone in government that cares about people who need help. If I had the power, I would get rid of greed. Take away that and it takes away a lot of the problems. Is greed the driver in motivating growth and change though? What would you replace that with? Love and self knowledge is a motivator too. Passion to become more oneself.

Should we be smarter about the way we work? Could we strive for balance that allows each person to flourish? We live in a world of extremes. There is an old japanese saying about dropping down dead from work. And people often do. Maybe we could re-define the standard of living. Consider – is this existence feeding my soul as a ‘being’ too? Could we value time over material? I would choose love over time and money. Love is everything…living, doing, breathing, experiencing. I never want to feel like I need to retire. I would rather earn nothing and find another way to live. Working can be just putting yourself into a form of slavery. Why would you do that if you had a choice?





A little thought….




The End of the World is Nigh (again)…

Ask & Answer questions, take part, make conversation – find your way: it is now. It is always now.

Infinite Revolutions The Eternal Return

How can we celebrate diversity & embrace unity? – all one & alone

King / Queen & Country” vs “The world is my country & to do good is my religion” :when we hand over our responsibility for self to others, we need to be very careful….mindful about who it is we hand it to…

What will ‘they’ do if removed from the powerful positions they currently inhabit?

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

~ Lao Tzu

What surprises you most about humanity?

Abuse. Transcendence. Human Greed. “Oh I’m so conflicted… am I to play with my new hoover or go out foraging for bonfire wood?”

A justification for joining in with the only worthwhile form of resistance on the planet..?

Stop it with statistics, bar charts, graphs, development & business plans.

A rhythm and a rhyme in time flowing like a river as still as a mountain.
What is choice? What is it to choose? When is enough, enough?

Is it all violence – this clash of constant energy that surrounds us? It is us. We are part of it. It is not a dualism, it is a precarious balance of multiple forces. It operates simultaneously in many directions and dimensions.

How can we create frameworks that cause us to reach out to each other, rather than shut down?

What is it to you, to love someone?

“What is love?”
“The total absence of fear,” said the Master.
“What is it we fear?”
“Love,” said the Master.

– Anthony de Mello


Written by Jason Hird of  The Institute for Crazy Dancing.

How do we forgive?


You can’t forgive without loving. And I don’t mean sentimentality. I don’t mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, ‘I forgive. I’m finished with it.’
Maya Angelou

One of the thorniest and most difficult things we humans are ever called upon to do is to respond to evil with kindness, and to forgive the unforgivable. It is easy for one’s default to be anger, fear, depression or self-righteousness, Yet study after study shows that one of the keys to longevity and good health is to develop a habit of gratitude and let go of past hurts.

Forgiving really is the kindest thing you can do for yourself. Your enemy may not deserve to be forgiven for all the pain and sadness and suffering purposefully inflicted on your life, but you deserve to be free of this evil.

As Ann Landers often said, “hate is like an acid. It damages the vessel in which it is stored, and destroys the vessel on which it is poured.”

Tea at Trinity Church….


Sometimes somebody asks you the exact question you need to hear in the exact moment you need to hear it. When this happens it seems incredible….serendipitous even. Tea and Tolerance’s visit to Trinity Church as part of Compass Live Festival was witness to a number of these experiences. I wonder – does the perfect question find us, or do we hear what we need to hear in the questions we find? It’s an interesting thought.

So another evening of the roaming tea trolley. Outside it’s dark and the rain is lashing down. The battery on the car goes ‘kaput’ at the entrance of the church. Kind man walks through the rain to get his van to help us. A jump start for later. It’s tricky and inconvenient. Life, yes. And even so, this is our time for talking, listening, sharing…so we do. How much do we humans wish to be listened to?

The location – a confessional place. A place to say things that are not shared with everyone, or perhaps even with anyone. Intimate and lovely conversations. Here’s some of the questions and thoughts that came up….

When do we ask for help? If we rarely ask, why is that? Sometime I don’t ask because I am not willing to hear ‘no!’ Is it somehow worse to ask and have that request turned down? How does that feel? If we know people who do not ask for help even though we may see or feel there is a need for help….how do we support them? I think there is something in how requests are met that is important. Requests met with anger, with guilt, with sympathy can perhaps be requests we wish had never shared. And what if we are met with empathy? Does the yes/no matter if the person gets where we are coming from? Maybe not.

What matters to you most? Does the answer have to be ‘others’? Is it selfish if that person that matters most is you? We wondered..can we really be there for the people we love, if ourself isn’t the person who matters? After all, you are the only person you cannot live without ( well aren’t you?) Though others are perhaps the reason to live.

In whose interest? What do we mean? Is it our own interest we wondered, because how can it be anybody else’s? Is there even such a thing as an action that is entirely ‘altruistic’ with no personal gain? Ah, now that question makes so much sense.

What makes you angry? Things happening that I feel are unfair. Things that I have no power to change but I am unable to accept. Is this perhaps the state of intolerance making me feel angry?

Can you love someone even though you do not agree with their beliefs? Yes -simply put, of course I can. Whether I always do, that is less easy. Is spirituality a dirty word? Interesting question whilst sitting ‘in the house of god’.

What does it mean to be completely listened to? As we pondered this question, the background noise was loud. We leaned in to hear a little better. Is listening completely a particular choice or intention? It perhaps takes a certain level of openness and concentration and an absence of ‘I’ or Ego’ or self concern. There is an absence of opinion. You could say in listening completely, it is the person who is speaking that matters most. I think listening completely is a lot like empathy…here’s a definition I found on a comment about a RSA talk on the power of Empathy that I think fits well with what we were discussing.

“It’s not so much about sympathizing with people and making them feel better with things or with stories … it’s about connecting with people, relating…”

And more questions…..

If you could change anything, what would you change? What makes you hopeful? What are your strengths? What would you answer? How much is too much? ( This was a question added by a participant at our tea trolley at Summat New!.)

Questions added and comments shared…

What is your favourite thing about everyone in this circle? How can you be an LGBTQ rights activist? Nature or nurture? Who do you wish you had never met? I thought this might be patronising, but it wasn’t. It was actually the highlight of my evening. It’s like free therapy. It surprised me what I talked about…stuff I don’t usually share with anyone.

When you are angry, how do you express it?

( This final question…the ‘asker’ would be very interested in future responses to this question.) If you have a question do post it in replies/comments or send to us on Facebook

Thank you for reading. Peace and Love



What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried To Kill Your Wife? …is the title of the book I am currently reading. Written by David Harris-Gershon. I was attracted to it because of the title and its example of this complex question.

How do we forgive?Many life situations can be levelled to good/ bad  or right/wrong. This is just two opinions  but what often occurs in this difference is righteousness, hate and anger. Ego. On some level, this dehumanises and damages both parties, and destroys any possibility of peace. I thought this was interesting and moving because damage to a loved one isn’t an easy thing to get over. Also, it seems significant because the final lines, when I read them, make me weep and gave me hope. If he can forgive, then there is hope for the rest of us?

(Just to give you a little background.This is the bit where the main character David has finally met the children and family of a Hamas bomber who attempted to kill his wife many years ago. His wife was left with third degree burns over more than 30% of her body. The bomb smashed her ear drum and destroyed much of her intestines. She and he went through agonising pain in her recovery.)

“I would learn that Mohammed was born in 1973 a year before me…. (that) he returned home after successfully bombing Hebrew University on July 31st to his family and ate dinner. That he was captured at his home three weeks later, dragged away by police in front of his wife and son…I would learn that Mohammed was a dedicated killer and that he was rewarded for his dedication with 9 counts of murder, 84 counts of attempted murder, 5 counts of aiding the enemy during war…. And I would learn other things. I would learn that Mariam ( his daughter) was organising peace initiatives amongst her East Jerusalem students’ basketball games between Israeli and Palestinian children. I would learn that his family had asked after me and my family, had extended an invitation to visit anytime. I would learn that those people were now my friends.  That I would expand the definition of friend to include them. And in including them, I would feel finished. Feel it was done. And though it was a door I couldn’t lock – never learning first hand if Mohammed’s words of remorse were true – just closing the door was enough.

Reconciliation – it had happened to some degree. And in happening had impressed upon me the force of restorative dialogue. In the capacity for release, for unclogging the synaptic pores and letting loose all the filth which was contained within. I had not picked up a gun. I had not involuntarily sought revenge, nor had I succumbed to any form of demonic violence as a way to exact justice. I just got on a plane, sat on a coach, and provided an opportunity for my subconscious voice to say as Mariam translated streams of arabic, My God, they are not monsters. They are not monsters. And in understanding this – they are not monsters – I understand that maybe, maybe there is hope for this world. For this land. For my people.”

The Merry Band of Gentle Tea Drinkers…


This is a new participatory art project that aims to bring people together through art and conversation.

Inspired by the York Mosque that invited the EDL to drink tea and play football in 2013.

Our ambition goes way beyond getting people to tolerate each other (though that is a very good place to start the journey).A tea trolley, two performers (also the facilitators) inviting people to sit down and consider ….me, you, us, them, what matters, what doesn’t matter and everything in between. There is art and play to offer a light subterfuge to the proceedings.

A mobile roaming musical place for questions and conversation, for sharing… for taking care, and listening very carefully… bringing people together for tea, in solidarity (solid-ar-i-tea) with each other in the common cause and developing calls for peace…

spaces for listening

for slowness

for thought

for fun as well…

to engage, to play, to be in a ritual

to observe the ritual

to help carry out the ritual

and the merry band of gentle tea drinkers made their way to the houses of government and said:

love &



( Mostly these are the words of Jason Hird, edited by Zoe Parker)