adult workshops, Communication, Community, connection, creative writing, creativity, Family, storytelling, workshops

Let’s Raise Each Other Up

Your voice reminds me
That I do not know all things.
Thank you for that gift.

The biggest gift we can give someone is recognition. We can thank them for their hard work, commend them for their talents, celebrate their victories. We can tell them that we can see their suffering, their challenges and their obstacles. Recognition can be eye contact, a hand on the arm, a laugh. It can be a pay rise, a gold medal or a qualification.

When I think of the stories I have heard or the books I have read, the tales that have truly resonated with me are the ones where I see something of myself. Mostly this recognition is there through a shared inner conflict but sometimes it is about circumstances. Some stories get under my skin and I carry them endlessly for days, weeks, months or even years. Other stories pass though my ears to my voice and I move onwards leaving that story behind.

When it comes to the books, I want to read a similar type. They tell tales of some far off, often imagined land or time, where characters contend with something other worldly. Everything about these books have been considered, scrutinised, maximised to telling the best story. These stories are everywhere, packaged for all ages and stages.

When I think of the stories that stay with me, they often came at a moment that I had no idea I was going to hear them. These stories are not ones I would pick up off a book shelf or are stories where I recognise myself. They are often tales of injustice. They catch at my heart, holding it still and squeezing it tight at the unfairness of a situation. These stories are told in ways that are unedited. The way they are told is not considered in the same way that the books above have been. They are told, because the person telling them wants recognition. Even though, I do not see myself in these stories, I see the person talking.

In the whispered worries of participants in community settings, underneath the ‘what if I am not good enough’, there is a thought that has come loose. Its untethered to what has gone before. Its raw an it speaks amongst the scrunched up paper in the bin. It says ‘No one wants to hear my story.’

I love books and could spend hour after hour reading. However I often wonder are we representing everyone or are we only representing some? If you feel like you don’t belong in a book, you probably think you don’t belong in a story. If you feel like you don’t have the circumstances to write a book, you probably feel like you don’t have anything interesting to say.

‘I have a notebook stuffed with things I want to write and one day I might’

Not only does the story disappear from you lips but it disappears from the ears of the listener. Its gone to some far off corner of lost property and we all loose an opportunity to share an experience or a connection. Reflecting on the last few years, we have lost so much. So many chance encounters and moments shared with others. So many voices that have been behind closed doors.

So let’s open more doors. Let’s gather together. Let’s share our stories. Let’s Listen to each other and in doing so let’s raise each other higher.

Communication, Community, connection, creativity, Joy, Kindness is Radical, storytelling, workshops

Let’s Gather Together

Let's Gather Together 
In any way we can. 
Whether we are collectors or a collective
We could be powerful.

Let's Gather Together
And discover the joy
That fills each of us.
We could be curious 

Let's gather together 
And listen with open ears.
For such an act of kindness
Is the grassroots of change and growth.

We are gathering in the soft glow if our screens, our virtual circle looks like a series of square windows. Perfectly aligned. We can see each others homes. Our plants, our pets, our pictures. Sometimes a child drifts in to say good night. We are a jumble sale of people. The colours of each small window vary. We are not all the same. We have different tastes, different drive, different experiences, but we all here to listen. To lean in and be taken by poem, prose or song to a world away from our perfectly aligned windows or the hum of our computers working, or our plants, our pets and our pictures. Our minds are filled with images of family roof tops dinners in India or a photography studio in Conwy or a a vibrant wedding party outside a registry office.

Flash forward to another gathering. We are in the room with parents and toddlers. There has been hushed moment with a book, a lively togetherness in song and now there is the gentle hub bub of noise as parents swap tales of the weekly challenges and children scrawl pens across pages mark making and mapping their wonder at how it works.

Flash forward to a group of teenage girls, stretching out on a quiet gallery floor. They are drafting poems about changing the world. They whisper ideas to each other. Every now and then their eyes light up at a great idea and an a smile unfilds hidden under their face masks.

Flash forward to the entrance to a community hall, 3 generations of a family arrive at the same time. The youngest aged 3 and 7 and filling a postcard with drawings and words and commitments of kind acts tomorrow. Granny is writing a message of thanks to the NHS and the parents are sharing what they love about where they live. They all hang their creating in a christmas tree amongst twinkling yellow lights. The children walk away with a chocolate coin and a sparkling wish bag that has come all the way from the North Pole. A thank you gift from Father Christmas for spreading Christmas cheer.

No one in any of these experiences was undeserving of the opportunity to express themselves. All were welcome to share something of themselves and a connection tonothers. All left, feeling a little brighter and a little comforted.

In a world if division , don’t minimise connection.
In a world of suffering, stop minimise joy.
In a world that can be cruel, stop minimise kindness.

Moments of connection, joy and kindness may be fleeting, but they should be celebrated. They are the ground work of curiousity, strength and resilience. That is our work as community artists, to generate a space to gather together.