Communication, Community, connection, creative writing, creativity, Family, Joy, storytelling, Wonder More, workshops

Let’s Listen To Each Other

The recent passing of Thicht Naht Hanh has been felt across the world by so many, including those who knew him as ‘Teacher’.  Those who leave such a legacy also open a door to many with their passing.  I have to admit to only recently looking more into his teachings and this week at Story Stitchers we have begun that journey by listening. Listening to podcasts and audiobooks, reading and sharing. 

We believe that true, unconditional and active listening are in many ways as vital to our very survival and happiness as the air we breathe. 

When you make the effort to listen and hear the other side of the story, your understanding increases and your hurt diminishes. – Thicht Naht Hanh

First impressions 

As a child I was always taught the value of a smile, a firm handshake, looking people in the eye etc.

Recent years have challenged the importance, relevance and appropriateness of some of these ‘good first impression’ staples.  The pandemic has made the handshake an endangered species and masks have converted the smile into sparkly eyes and waves.

The biggest thing I have taken from these shifts is that while still valuable, maybe first impressions shouldn’t carry the weight they sometimes do. Someone might be late because they are the most generous person in the room, not because they are unreliable or don’t care. Someone might have scruffy shoes because they spend their time thinking how to be better at their job, or how to be a better person, rather than worrying about their shoes. Maybe eye contact is a battle that this person just can’t take on, but they are actually very comfortable in themselves and therefore a huge asset to any team or room. If we take time to listen to them and the information they give us, then we have already moved past so many obstacles.

Listening to your own curiosity

Sometimes the person we find the hardest to listen to is ourselves, for example:  the impact or effect of our presence, or when our presence isn’t there. The world can be a busy place where we may feel judged or under constant pressure to be useful. We need to be on time, we need to provide, we need to be organised, motivated and driven. We need to help out the team, be there for our partner and family, keep in touch with friends, do our bit for our community, country or planet. Then we hopefully reach somewhere near the end of our task list, we eat and stop, just in time to go to bed before it all carries on tomorrow. There are many who talk about the need to stop, switch off, take time and escape. With our work we find that we also need the space to listen and be listened to. This can be going along to a class or workshop and having some new people in your life asking you about you and then you listen to others and are genuinely curious to know more about them. Or maybe it’s at work with colleagues who are sharing an idea or information that takes you by surprise or reminds you there is plenty you don’t know about them. Listening is often talked about in situations of major conflict and violence or in politics. But there are so many of us who just don’t get to be around others in a space where everyone listens to each other. A chance to express ourselves, to share in similar or very different views. The chance to go back into the rest of our lives and take in more from it. To listen. To actively listen. It may begin with those closest to us and then we find we are curious about other fascinating and wonderful people that we come into contact with during our lives. As we learn more about them, we learn more about ourselves.

And the great thing about listening is that we can do it straight away, right now. It is also a tool that never runs out and has infinite uses and benefits.

Thank you for listening.

Tom

Story Stitchers

Communication, Community, connection, creative writing, creativity, Joy, storytelling

Let’s Tell Our Story Together

We’re playing Pooh sticks. We are on a bridge, each armed with a stick of one size or another. All waiting in anticipation to let go. All wishing that our sticks won’t get caught in the reeds on the river bank on the way through. All hoping that we have picked a good stick. All holding our breath to see who’s stick will appear first on the other side of the bridge. Its a quiet nervousness mixed with bubbles of excitement.

The bridge we are stood on remains a constant. A solid structure from one side to the next. It is our place to play. It is over a hundred years old, this stone bridge. So many feet have passed over it. Bricks laid by hands that history forgot. Time marching onwards and the river flows below. Endless water washing down the mountain streams to a rapid river, under our bridge and out to sea.

My story of playing Pooh sticks with my children is linked to playing Pooh sticks with my cousins in the stream near my Grandpa’s house under the watchful eye of our mother’s who played Pooh sticks with their own cousins.

My story of playing Pooh sticks on this bridge is linked to all the feet who came before me, all the water that has flowed under it, the two opposing banks and the division that was healed through the foundations of the bridge. My story can only happen because of all those other stories that have come before. My story can be told in many ways with many connections and conflicts and characters.

The most magical thing about my story is that it has no doubt triggered other stories in you. Your childhood games, bridges you have crossed, gone and much loved grandparents. Tales of meandering rivers, hiding amongst the bull rushes and splashing in streams in moonlit dips.

In telling one story, we trigger more. In triggering more stories, we create a space for other stories to exist. We let the words of others fill our heads with images. We sit inside each others lives and worlds and loves and hates. We build bridges were there were none and discover hidden paths to memories and places that maybe we have forgotten. In telling one story, we tell many. We listen to a story, we connect. We remind each other to look up, to play, to explore, to take risks. We see ourselves in each other and we marvel with joy in sharing. We tell our stories together.

Stories can build bridges 
Between people, places and ideas.
They are a circle.
They never really end,
But seed new beginnings and possibilities.
They help us make sense of chaos,
Overcome conflict,
Change the way we breath.
For who has not gasped
Or held their breath
Or sighed, or sobbed or giggled
At the wonder of it all.
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.

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Nook and Cranny’s Intergalactic Space Mission

Nook and Cranny are looking for brave space explorers to go on a mission to go across the Universe. They are looking for spectacular space stories that can take us out of this world.

Nook and Cranny’s Intergalactic Space Mission is designed as a fourteen day challenge to help you shape your stories. The activities could last as long as you like them to, but we think you can do them in 15 minutes. 

You can write, draw, move, make or tell to explore. You can look up what is actually out there in the stars or you can let your imagination roam through space capturing strange creatures, secret stars or unknown planets.

While these activities are designed for children, we think that they are a great intergenerational activity too.

You can download the full challenge below, including some extra resources to support this challenge.

Help Nook and Cranny complete their mission by sharing your creations:

Facebook: @storystitchers

Instagram: @story_stitchers

Twitter: @story_stitchers

creativity, Family

Patchwork Tales

Hey you!
Patchwork Tales is a project that brings people together to get creative and celebrate community.
While we may have to physically isolate due to the Corona Virus, we believe this does not mean we
have to self isolate.
We hope that you will creatively respond to the ideas below and share online.
We hope you will ring your Granny and ask her thoughts on the ideas below.
We hope you will sit with your family and share ideas.
We hope you write letters, draw pictures and tell tales together.
We are all individuals, bright, vivid, wonderful people.
Let’s all come together and create a vibrant community patchwork.
All our love and best wishes,
Tom and Flick, Stitch HQ

What Patchwork Tales mean to us?

P is for People, we carry their hearts gently in our hands.
A is for Appetite to always find out more.
T is for Tales tipping trippingly off the tongue. With twists and turns and taking the wrong path through the woods.
C is for Community, Creativity and Celebration from small village halls to nation after nation.
H is for Humour from little tickling giggles to big barrel belly laughs.
W is for Words, whittling and weaving, winding and wonder.
O is for Oracy -raising the voice of many by developing the voice of the individual.
R is for Reading, books, screens, a room or an audience.
K is for Kindness where we begin and we end.

You can download a pdf of the project here

We know that not everyone does not have access to social media, so we have made this project downloadable. Please feel free download and send to someone who you think would love to join in.

If you are on social media, please share your pieces with us on social media.