frank's blog

Citizenpower – “Take Me To…” A Social Happening in Peterborough

Posted in architecture, ideas by aldorf on December 3, 2010

Take Me To…

December 2, 2010 by Jocelyn Cunningham
Filed under: ArtsCitizenshipCommunity

(via RSA.org)

So what is it that brings total strangers together, against all the odds, to meet and share very personal perspectives on their own lives and where they live?

Over the last week in Peterborough, residents have been braving the freezing weather to take part in ‘Take Me To’, the first commission of Arts and Social Change and delivered by the artist team from Encounters and Nicolas Henninger from EXYZT. It was astonishing to see how people were prepared to sit on a mini bus all day with strangers on such a cold weekend and go for extended walks in each others’ communities. This was a group that included young children in push chairs and elders with walking sticks – all of us out there, on the ice, listening to stories. On my bus there was Lionel and Helen, a retired couple who live in Yaxley, facing the fens, Hilary, who lives in the heart of the most ethnically diverse part of Peterborough and Mixey, the young rapper and Poet Laureate of the city in his childhood home of Werrington.

The stories were moving, thought provoking and enlightening for our own lives. We also had the privilege of being invited to the home of Jack, an elder on a travellers’ site and had fantastic soup made from the produce of the Green Backyard. But it was the opportunity to both share something very personal about one’s own place and hear about someone else’s, in particular, someone very different to yourself that clearly drew everyone in. Lionel said that never in a million years would he have visited Werrington without this and yet now, everything about the city has changed for him. We stood in Hilary’s front room listening to a recording of the Call to Prayer after listening to her stories of living within a Muslim community but not being religious at all and the impact of this on her own life.

Last night, everyone met again at Peterborough Cathedral, bringing their own food to share. Mr Bandali brought a feast of samosas with him. Both our lead artists Ruth Ben Tovim and Nicolas Henninger had talked about the notions of invitation and exchange as the two core ideas of the work and clearly these two dynamics were in action last night as people excitedly volunteered their contact details to each other, making promises to visit each other again.  This group of strangers had taken the idea on themselves – it was not only a view of what Big Society might mean but perhaps more importantly, a creative and caring society. We will post photos and more stories on www.citizenpower.co.uk

 

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