Summer Tea chats in Leeds

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*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.


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!


*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.


Tea at Leeds Waterfront Festival


Hot day, sun shining by the canal, lots of people passing through….us in a pseudo uniform…moving the trolley in near slow motion along leeds Dock…stopping, talking, sitting, standing, laughing, listening, sharing, enjoying. Didn’t remember my sun cream and felt the heat tingle my skin.

How do you make the perfect cup of tea? Is this meant as a metaphor? Am I supposed to reveal some deeper meaning to life? is it about perfection? You can probably tell already i am not a tea drinking fan really….I put one bag of black tea in a mug. That’s my perfect cup of tea.

If you could change anything what would you change? No school. I’d make school such fun that each child couldn’t wait to go there each day. I’d make clown training and philosophy compulsory for a year when 18 or so.

If you had the power what would you do? I would make everybody have the power. Then we’d be equal, wouldn’t we? It can’t work if we don’t all get involved.

Where do you belong? Everywhere. Nowhere. Belonging in one place means I don’t belong somewhere else.

How does it feel to be right? Ah yes i am almost always right.

What is peace? My parents, my family, reading a good book….being on the top Ilkley Moor…just me on my own…oh when the kids have gone to bed. (sighs).

What is going to happen to our beautiful planet in your lifetime? Wow not a small question. Well, nothing good unless we all develop the same mindset…then we could make a huge difference. If every person was kind and compassionate to others all the time, imagine how different the world would be. It starts with each person taking responsibility and doing what they can do.

What’s your favourite word? Discombobulated, Onomatopoeia, chocolate, cheese

How does it feel to be vulnerable? Not great. I don’t like it. Its easier to be around confident people than fragile ones. i was a lot less vulnerable when i was younger. i travelled around a lot and talked to lots of people. I wasn’t afraid or lonely. Now I have a house and the walls, and fences seem to create more barriers and keep me isolated. I feel a lot more vulnerable now.

Who do you wish you had never met? Dark. I was thinking about this the other day….I think even the worst experiences I don’t regret because they make me who I am.

Do you think we have the right to end our own lives? Not sure. I guess yes if you were at that stage and able to make that decision. think you have to go to Switzerland to that don’t you? I know someone who diid that. Brave decision.

What is it to love? Acceptance. Joy. Belief. Seeing the amazingness of that person even when they don’t. Seeing beyond needs and expectations.  Being kind and compassionate. Its a verb ‘loving’ – most often people think of it as a think, a possession even, but love is a being and a doing, its an action.

What does it mean to be a human in the 21st century? Don’t live somebody elses life – only your own! Don’t judge, Observe. Thats our role on this planet to observe the world and everything in it, not judge it. I ask myself- what do I deserve? What can I accept? Who knows best? Should I do this or do that!

Do you need it?  Yes & No… We need more interaction, and less stuff. We are all different and yet we are all the same… The happiest people I have met have the least. Interesting that. Whilst we accept living under other peoples authority… we take less responsibility for ourselves. The manufacture of NEED through FEAR. We need to stop living in Fear – and START living in LOVE. As long as Profit is valued above everything else – then we are lost…

What do you do?  I’m a human being, not a human-doing…



A street called Briggate, Oakwood Clock and up on the roof at The Black Swan.

A much better day than the day before when Lucy and Jason got very cold talking with people at the opening of Oakwood Clock. Despite the rain, people were upbeat and willing to sit down ( in the rain) and talk tolerance with them. One rather interesting moment was when a young boy got the question ‘Who is the Enemy?” to which he gleefully replied “Meeeeee!!!!” To give this context, i think his thinking was along the lines of games and play and well isn’t it much more fun to be the baddie…isn’t it?!!


So back to the better weather day…quite warm, no rain…we were cautiously optimistic. The plan was to start the day talking to people on Briggate then head up to The Black swan in the Calls where there was a symposium as part of Live at Leeds. Being on Briggate was interesting. people were very suspicious and actively NOT wanting to engage with us. I’m not sure if they were more worried we were going to sell them a weird tea set or that we were going to enlist them in a religious cult.

We’d also invited Humans of Leeds ( who shall remain anonymous) to join us, which he did. A couple of people did talk to us as we started to head down the high street….one man in particular who talked about meeting the King of Greece. here is what he had to say ( as interpreted by Humans of Leeds)…

“My job is one of those where everyone asks, ‘How did you get a job like that?’ and I tell them, ‘Somebody had to do it, and I decided it was going to be me’. I lecture to passengers on cruise ships, telling them about the places they’re visiting and what they’re seeing as we approach into a port. As we tie-up, I point out all the different landmarks they can go visit” “So how did you get a job like that?” “Well, your parents always have friends and one of my father’s friends, Uncle John, owned three ships. Each winter he’d take one vessel off the line and take a cruise with some people he knew and some guests. I happened to be on one of these cruises and throughout our time he’d been introducing me to the guests and telling them I was going to be lecturing to them later. All the guests were very keen on the idea and I went along with it thinking it was a wind-up. Anyway, we were approaching Gibraltar and I was on the bridge with Uncle John. He picked up the ship microphone and announced that there was a special guest on board who was going to tell them all about Gibraltar. He forced the microphone into my hands and all eyes were on me. Except for one gent who got up and started walking off just as I was about to speak. Since I was doing this for them, I got a little annoyed, ‘Excuse me Sir!’ I shouted, ‘Please do me the courtesy of taking your seat and listening’. He sat down hastily and I spoke for 20 minutes or so and then we took a break for afternoon tea. During tea, the staff captain came up to me and said I was the talk of the ship. I couldn’t understand why and he explained, ‘That man you told to sit down earlier, he’s the King of Greece!’



Our final stop for the day was at The Black Swan – the Arts Symposium as part of Live at Leeds. The sun came out which was lovely. We relaxed surrounded by various live arts interventions. Questions which arose…

If you could change anything, what would you change? Make life expectancy 300 years plus so that people would have to live with the consequences of their own decisions. A world where we all start on a more equal footing…same level of privilege and wealth and love.

The question ‘What is your favourite word?’ came up, which led to us all answering the ten Proust questions…

What is your favorite word?
What is your least favorite word?
What turns you on?
What turns you off?
What sound or noise do you love?
What sound or noise do you hate?
What is your favorite curse word?
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
What profession would you not like to do?
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

Apparently, these questions reveal our inner personality (above is the edited version we answered). What insights these questions actually gave us into one another I’m not, but it was a definite leveller and fun! I’d recommend it for an interesting conversation starter most definitely.

Questions added by people at The Black Swan….

Do we truly have free will?

Do I really need this?

What’s going on?

What are you grateful for?

Who are you?

Who or what has most influenced you in your life?

And my personal favourite…

Is Love chemical? Is it? What do you think?




Tea and Tolerance – the past 9 months of contributions …

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Questions posed and answers given across 18 groups we have worked with since September 2014 (as remembered and interpreted by the Tea and tolerance team.)

What is the difference between you and me? We noticed that two of us were wearing stripey t-shirts and jeans with pony tails. We saw the similarities first. Do we generally look at the external things before internal ones? I guess if you think about needs we are a lot more similar than we are different. I heard that we are 60% the same as a banana! I think its one dna strand that differs humans form apes is it?

What’s your favourite word? Love. Peace. Hope. Chagrin. I like that word. Discombobulated….it means you know a bit out of sorts, not quite feeling balanced or with it. Oh I like that word….i’m going to use that.

Why are you here? That sounds quite esoteric. Like what is my purpose on this earth? Literally, the answer… I’m here so I can get out of the house, to meet people and do things.

What makes you feel good? Looking good on the outside always makes me feel a lot better. Tanning bed makes me feel brilliant! Travelling. I’d like to go to Egypt – I d like to live there- teach english or dance. I would love that.

When do you laugh at yourself? Yes – all the time. Got to laugh at your self. If you don’t laugh, then you might cry. I laugh when I look in the mirror.

How much are you worth? As a mother of a disabled boy I am priceless- as his carer i am indispensable. Makes me really emotional to realise that.

Nought – you come into the world with nought and you leave the same way. 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, to inject some humour.

Kindness or Intelligence? Both surely. Kindness surely is intelligence. Of course sometimes people choose intellect and logic over being kind, but one doesn’t have to exclude the other. Every action we take surely is best coming from a place of kindness and intelligence?

What makes you happy? Family makes me happy. Sometimes. When we are not arguing. I love my family. Good food makes me happy. These guys….that come here make me happy. Dancing. Drawing. My friends. Being with the people I love.

What makes you feel good? Talking with friends, meeting new people, getting out of the house,having a laugh, going on trips when I can. Blue skies. Making things. Good friends. Having time to do the things I want to do.

What inspires you? People doing amazing things like raising lots of money for charity by trekking in the Himalayas or running a marathon or something. I couldn’t do that. Amazing cities. Being in my camper van. A beautiful view. A lovely day. Love. Beauty. Lots of things.

What is Love? I’ve been married for 57 years. Love is caring for another person – putting their needs ahead of your own. Or is that devotion maybe. Love is putting up with each other and sticking together. Love is arguing things out – a marriage without arguments means someone is under the thumb. That’s no good. Love gosh…I had a perfect wife…I lived a wild life and she put up with it. I had freedom and fun. I did everything. Love hurts. It scares me to love someone. I feel trapped by it. I’m afraid for when they will leave. Love is seeing the magic in another person. It can get mixed up with need, possession, desire….but the love isn’t those things. Best way to love someone is a way that allows them to be totally themselves.

Can you love someone even though you do not agree with their beliefs? Yes. Plenty of people I love that I don’t agree with on every belief. Does it make a difference what the difference of belief is? Do we love different people in different ways? Is love two-fold? Or multi-faceted? Yes – simply put, of course I can. Whether I always do, that is less easy. Isn’t that the point of this? Of making things better? To genuinely listen with compassion to someone who you disagree with? Love the person – question the belief. I love family unconditionally, other people I choose to love, and then there is love of other human beings, places and things that I encounter in life? With unconditional love of family and so on, I disregard the beliefs I don’t agree with. Though  are their limits to this – like very extreme views that would threaten this love? What if they actively participated in things I disagreed with? Zenophobe? Homophobe? Racist? Paedophile? Would that be tolerable for me? Do we then need to make it clear that we disagree with that particular belief? And how does that affect the relationship and love we share with that person? We agreed with people who are less close to us, we can have an array of beliefs we don’t agree on. Though do we agree to disagree or just never speak about those differences? With romantic love, I expect or need those major beliefs and values to match I think.  Would I choose not to love someone or get to a point of loving someone who had beliefs I did’t agree with? if so, what happens if I already love someone and discover a major belief mismatch? Though it might be that i can still love them…but perhaps not be with them in a partnership.

What are you afraid of? Spiders. I hate them. The dentist. Losing my kids. Yeah. The social taking my kids off me. The unknown. Loneliness. Illness. Death. Change. Everything. Nothing. I try not to be afraid of anything.

Where do you belong? Everywhere. Or nowhere – because if I belong in one place then that means I don’t belong somewhere else. Everyone always thinks they are not in the circle or ‘in group’ but I wonder who is in that circle? Perhaps its just that we perceive our selves in a place of not belonging. we should accept and include everyone. Pull down all the borders.

What do you think of your neighbour? Oh don’t ask. that is THE question at the moment. She is just so tricky. Oh I don’t want to talk about it. Interesting question. Do you mean in my house, or in neighbouring countries. I like my next door neighbours. I make appoint of checking in on them. I have never met my neighbours. I am only aware of them because of their noise – the music is loud and they argue.

What are you ready for? Something new. Something else. Anything. I’m ready for anything…thats what I always say and I mean it. 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.

What is freedom? Being able to do what you want. I do what i want mostly. Freedom for me is a day of fun and not having to work. I feel pretty lucky because I am very free. Not everyone is though. Some people are afraid to say or do what they want because they might have a partner who won’t like it or maybe will hurt them if they do. Having a passport…gaining legal residency in uk….that means my husband and I are free to travel again. People think its incredibly easy to get into this country- it’s really not. Even with being married its difficult and time consuming. Its taken over five years. It’s an interesting one. I recognise that I live a fairly free life. I have the freedom to speak my mind, walk the streets, particularly compared to some countries but I don’t feel free. I feel trapped and burdened by responsibilities. Maybe the freedom comes when you are older…your kids are grown, you have more time, and less ties and more choice to do what you want.

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? (Smiles.) Feels great. He’s the quiz master, so he’s always right. Brilliant. Love being right. Im always right. Love it when I google something like whose the first actor to play Bond…it was Sean Connery! Yep I was right.

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.

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.My interest. Can it be for other though? The greater good.?The common good? But what and who is that?

How does it feel to be vulnerable? First we talked about what ‘vulnerable’ means as it has different meanings in different contexts. Vulnerable to harsh weather, or one’s home is vulnerable, or i feel vulnerable alone on that dark street, or children are vulnerable to all sorts of things, as opposed to choosing to be ‘open’ and so in that openness being ‘vulnerable’. We thought about how it can be good to be open or porous to what is around us ( hence vulnerable) but only if we have the resilience and resources to cope with those vulnerabilities. Being vulnerable can break us down but that isn’t always a bad thing. It can lead to better and more honest lives that bring us more happiness or other rewards. It can move us forward or somewhere unexpected – again sometimes this is a great thing. Is vulnerability the only state to be in? Are we not all ‘vulnerable’ humans on some level? Is it about choice? If you choose to be vulnerable then that can be a great thing so long as you have the resources around you to deal with whatever happens, but if the state is thrust upon you it is less easy. You can still choose how you react though – and whether you go into a fearful or resourceful place in that situation.

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. 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? If their were no limits, what would you do? There’s a question what wouldn’t I do? (Many smiles in response to this question.) Me- I’d get rid of all the bad people who put me down and make me feel bad. I would have all the luxuries I could want. I would have only nice people around me.

Common good or individual satisfaction? So me or other people? Both. Can it be both? Is it selfish to think of myself? Surely we have to please ourselves in order to please other people. I’m a giver me, thats my problem- too trusting. I do things a lot for others. I’d like to get to a point where i do things for me.

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 me in my tracks. Great questions. Great kindnesses, beauty or wonder stops me in my tracks. Children asking you for love. It’s easy to ignore a small human when we are busy but when your daughter you for a hug in the supermarket thats ‘fair play’ –  I just get down on your knees and hug. Intense pleasure, pain, danger, anger, beauty and love. My mother dying. The recent election result!!! Extreme actions, wrong doings and emotions…a really beautiful view, a poignant moment, a child smiling, children in general…these things make me stop…and be hopeful…and smile. Babies. They are so innocent – full of hope. Nothing to do but stop and fall into their eyes.

Do you really listen? Yes. I can’t hear that well, so that’s an issue with listening, but still I’m a pretty good listener. I don’t always choose o listen…if it’s a talk and I’m not interested in it. Sometimes I listen. Not always. Sometimes I just lose it – someone says something I don’t agree with or that makes me feel angry or hurt… its hard for me to listen then. When people are telling me what to do in my own home or telling me how to raise our kids.

Have we lost the art of conversation? Maybe. I hate Face Book – it’s a lot of rubbish. Why do I want to know about what someone had for dinner? People spend a lot of time on computers, tablets, phones. Is it good? It probably means people talk less. Then again it’s a way to keep in contact with people on the other side of the world and actually I know someone who used skype as part of their funeral so that the daughter of the man who had died could be there. It was weird with this woman walking around pointing her computer at everyone but you know it’s a good if it brings people together.

Are you entitled? No. I’d say no. It’s a bit like the question about freedom. I know I am free and I know I am entitled to lots of things but I don’t feel like I am entitled to much of anything. Funny question. Great question actually. What are we each entitled to? What is entitlement anyway? Are we entitled to love? 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? Love. Freedom. Kindness. Water and Food. Shelter- somewhere to live. Shouldn’t  all humans be entitled to those things?

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. I would make cheese healthy. It is, isn’t it?!! Now thats not a small question is it. I would change it so that humans average life expectancy was 300 years or more…so that they live long enough to have to deal with the consequences of their choices. l would be ‘good vibes’ electricity – enough to power the whole world and this fuel I create would have a zero carbon footprint. What if that was possible? I would make everyone start on an equal footing.

How do we genuinely make things better for everybody? I could write a PHD on that. Depends what you mean by ‘everybody’ and ‘genuine’. Many times when this word is used by politicians I have found it to be disingenuous – to get our votes – they ‘genuinely’ promise but they don’t deliver. The other week I met a girl who was pushing her bike because the brakes weren’t working. I had a look at it and fiddled with something…it was only a two minute job. The brakes were just disconnected. I didn’t expect anything back from her. People are always suspicious now of people offering help. But that’s genuinely making things better – we help each other, we do a good deed each day. We smile and offer kindness to the people around us. If every person in the world does that, then it changes the world for the better doesn’t it? We take responsibility and stop blaming other people – its ridiculous you cant clear your own path from snow, councils won’t sharpen your shears, people living in fear of being sued….we need to be doing things that make sense and compassionate. How does it help if I fall over on the ice because nobody could clear the path or for fear of falling I stay in my home for days. Impossible. You can’t make things better for anyone. Can you? I hate this government – all governments. They don’t listen. They do one thing then they do something else completely different. I don’t bother with any of that. It’s all about the people who have money. They don’t care about the people who don’t have anything. They don’t care about me. The NHS will be broke in 30 years – its shocking, a disgrace.

How can we forgive? It’s very difficult. I never forgive. Three strikes and you are out. Can we forgive? And even if I can, should I? How do I do that anyway? Does letting go, moving on, finding ‘grace’ help? What about putting myself in the other person’s ‘shoes’? I don’t agree with that forgive but don;t forget. How can you really forgive someone if you haven’t forgotten? Think the kindness and reason to forgive sis for ourselves. If I hold on to the anger or hate for their wrong doing, it’s me it hurts because it steals my happiness an peace of mind, doesn’t it?

What needs to happen so we can have peace in this world? Like what would you do if you were in charge…like the government?We need to get rid of all the foreigners claiming fraudulent benefits and taking our jobs. People who come to this country shouldn’t get any benefits or free health care. Its wrong. One guy lives in europe somewhere and just comes over to register each of his kids so that he can claim benefits. He doesn’t even live here! We just have the gates wide open. Free stuff – thats why everyone wants to come here. We need to keep the country for us and shut our borders. Whats the difference if a person is from another country or this one – people from this country cheat the system as well and all that stuff. Everyone should get help. What if it was your sister that was from Africa and they came here and couldn’t get help? How would that feel? Would you want people you love to be thrown out? What if you went to another country and you needed help – were ill and in need of care? Isn’t it the same thing? We are all the same. I don’t vote. I never vote. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer. That’s it – what’s the point in voting. They don’t care and my vote won’t change anything. But if you don’t vote then how can you change anything? Do you even have the right to say anything about the system if you don’t vote. Yes she has the right to have an opinion. Of course she does. Anyway I don’t know why I’m getting at you, I haven’t even registered to vote myself!

How does it feel to be wrong? Oooh, it sucks. I hate being wrong – it can make me fall apart. It’s hard in moments to forgive myself my mistake – then I make myself wrong for it- which is heart breaking. Then I remember or try to remind myself that learning to walk ( like all learning) is a series of failed attempts.

Who is the Enemy? I am. I am my own worst enemy. There have been situations where I have blamed others for situations but when I really think about it, it was me – my choices. Its good to realise this I think. Gives me the choice to do something different next time. If I remember. Everyone you don’t like. Is that true? David Cameron is my enemy. All the political parties because they all do wrong by people who don’t have much. They make promises and don’t keep them. It’s disgusting. So what do we do about that? I am! I’m the ‘baddie’ – pow pow!!

Who matters to you most? Me. Is that allowed? Can I matter most? Not one person…all my family and close friends matter. Can depend on the situation…if my car has broken down, maybe a mechanic or someone else who can help matters most…or even that depends. Everybody matters, don’t they? Think of the bees….we are all significant and vital to each others survival. Does the answer have to be ‘others’? Is it selfish if that person that matters most is me? Can I really be there for the people I love, if I am not the person who matters most to me? Isn’t that my responsibility? To make myself happy…to show up for me? I am the only person I cannot live without. Though others are perhaps the reason to live.

Where do you draw the line? Right here. That’s the end.

All Welcome – at Love Arts Leeds

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Love Arts Leeds – 2 days – 3 hours

One trolley, four chairs, many teapots, many people, many questions.

Quiet, flowing conversations…

Of listening…

And appreciating.

Of questions

Leading to more questions…..

Do we need to know each others’ names to talk about things that matter? Put another way can we trust people we do not know? Though I remember being taught as a child, never to talk to strangers, as an adult, it may be one of my favourite pastimes.

We talked about big subjects.


Can we forgive, we wondered? And even if we can, should we? Does an ‘eye for an eye’ leave everyone blind?  How do we forgive  anyway? Does letting go, moving on, finding ‘grace’ help? What about putting yourself in the other person’s ‘shoes’?

What do we actually want? How does ‘want’ differ from need?

Can you ever get bored of kindness, love and joy? We concluded not. Do we secretly crave misery, hate and selfishness? I hope not.

And more questions…..

Does the truth unfold you, or do you unfold the truth? What is peace? How do we achieve it? Can one person’s inner peace spread to bring peace to others? What is going to happen to our beautiful planet in your lifetime? What indeed.

Is it all about the individual?

Could we all just do something regardless of whether it feels like it has any impact?

Is spirituality a ‘dirty’ word? We wondered this as we (almost) whispered the words…
Good vibes and energy, spirit…. Such words can sound ‘off putting’ we thought. So do we censor the words because it might be seen as something for hippies and tree huggers? Should we all just start hugging the magnificent trees? I have hugged a few tree in my life – does that make my words less credible?

Should we sugar coat our message so that it is sweet for the receiver? Or should we just be honest? There are a lot of ‘should’s. Could we just stop ‘shoud-ing’?

If you had the power, what would you do? I loved the literal response that if one person had the power, she would be the ‘good vibes’ and actual electricity  for the whole world and this fuel would have a zero carbon footprint. What if that was possible?

Insights. Conversations. We thank all contributions offered.We look forward to meeting you at a future hostings.

And wonder, what do you think could be a satisfying conclusion?  How do more people share and contribute to this experience?

Could you pick one question and talk about it ? Could you leave us a question here? Which question appeals?

Here’s a few thoughts our guests left behind…

“How do we know what’s right?”

“Big up to raising vibrations of individuals and the planet! Beautiful idea, good to have avow-wow, we all need to connect….

“If you could invent magic drink what would it be? How can we increase our powers of observation? How can we appreciate more? Where can i get one of those magic teapots? Should there be real tea?”



Harehills Festival

sm Tea & Tolerance_Harehills Sept 14_Maria Spadafora (37) Tea and Tolerance is a very new Arts project. Through a merry band of gentle tea drinking and conversation, we want to find out what matters most to people. So we have had a few discussions working on our ideas and potential ways we might do this. Last sunday we decided to take the plunge and do a ‘road test’ at the Harehills Festival. We got a few funny looks manoeuvring a tea trolley loaded with an assortment of teapots from around the world. We moved very slowly round the park next to St Aidan’s Church on Roundhay Road. We managed not to break anything ( which on a hill was a mild challenge) and actually got a few offers from people wanting to buy our teapots. After a while and much clanking of pots, people did start to come up to us and ask us what we were doing…..Good question! We met many people: some were  initially intrigued with our trolley and its cumbersome and precarious journey around the paths of the park. Perhaps a metaphor for life? o we have to rush around mindlessly. Can we slow down and notice? I think we came across a little bit odd ( we are..well arn’t all humans?) but still people were happy to sit down and talk with us. Conversations were very moving. Especially, we noticed in one instance when the question ‘How much are you worth?’ was discussed. It was noted that one view is that we are all priceless. A mother who sat with us, came to a realisation that she wa in fact priceless as a mother and carer…because it made her indispensable. It felt lovely to share that moment – a person ‘getting’ their own worth. Do we often miss it?  Do we value ourselves, or others, as less than..or more than?  It was much appreciated that people that sat with us felt comfortable enough to share their thoughts with us.Thank you. Now we have broken the ice, we are looking forward to going back to Harehills and working with other groups suggested by a lovely lady we met there. If you know of groups that might benefit or want to be part of the Tea and Tolerance experience, then do get in touch. Until then here are some questions to think about…. What makes you twinkle? What makes you hopeful? Where is peace? What is going happen to our beautiful planet in your lifetime? Feel free to send us your answers or questions or …other contribution. sm Tea & Tolerance_Harehills Sept 14_Maria Spadafora (16)sm Tea & Tolerance_Harehills Sept 14_Maria Spadafora (9)