Monday, 29 January 2018

From Anger to Action, Gecko Theatre opening the door for social change

Earlier in the month, We posted Are you disillusioned by Brexit or being "Wedded" to the state? which was to introduce the performance by the Gecko Theatre company and their new play "The Wedding".

The performances took place last week at Watford Palace Theatre on Tuesday and Wednesday with the finale on Thursday. The show will be touring the UK before embarking on a world wide tour with the first stops being South Korea and Australia.

The production brings into question whether our own contract with the state that we are born into works for us or not... and encourages us each to consider what part we play; either going along with what is (continuing with the wedding contract) or... Taking Action and following our passion.

Amit Lahav the creative director of "The Wedding" channelled his anger at 'the state of the state', into his area of expertise and passion (theatre) to produce an emotional rollercoaster of an experience that, for many, could be the catalyst for "Taking Action" and innovating new ideas and hope in our communities.

On Saturday Amit hosted a workshop back at the Theatre for those that felt compelled to take this further. The purpose of the workshop? ... to bring those passionate about 'Taking Action' to come together in an atmosphere of 'being free from the pressure to meet any needs or expectations of others' to share, innovate, co-create and collaborate ideas for social change locally around Watford.

It was a privilege to be amongst 30+ people, from a diverse range of backgrounds, ages and experience (like community) and just feel the energy, and desire, to do something. The collective enthusiasm and excitement was amazing. I think Amit has struck a chord here with many, and through his unique production provided an insight into the very real appetite for change that exists out there in our communities.

The real challenge is growing that momentum into a tidal wave of unstoppable action and growing the beliefs that

  1. We are not alone in our dissatisfaction of where we are, there are thousands, if not millions of us
  2. That we can take action, we don't need permission, no one is stopping us
  3. We are the cavalry, no one else is going to do this. Only we 'collectively' have enough resources to bring about the changes we each would like to see
  4. That by joining up the dots we can support, help and learn from each other
  5. We do not have to inherit our future, we can create it, by doing what works for us

... and the most exciting thing is... we can start right now!

I share Amit's passion for continued development and growth of grass roots change. We have the potential to create a very different future and it would be amazing if looking back 'The Wedding' was instrumental in inspiring people to 'get up and take action'. What a legacy that would be Amit?

The workshop on Saturday provided an opportunity for local people wanting to 'do something' to meet each other. That community of change makers is so vital. Many great ideas die and wither on the vine simply because it is so tough to be the 1st to do something differently. It's enough to challenge ourselves to go in a different direction, but when everyone around you is judging and trying to pull you back, the odds soon stack up against us. That's why we need to work together and co-create... we're never alone... we just need a great support network.

In Watford (South West Herts) we have been working at building this support network and infrastructure for 6 years now, based on the ideas of Link4Growth. It has been evolving over that time and still continues to do so.  What it seeks to provide is :-
  • A voice for all local groups and people doing great work in the community
  • Free to use noticeboard for all those that wish to add their own updates / stories
  • Local calendars of community activity, to raise awareness of what's happening (shared access, updated by those wishing to do so)
  • Local events to get support / help : Community Coffees (free to attend, no agenda)
  • Regular "Learning Sessions" so we can all pick up new skills and improve ourselves and our effectiveness in what we are seeking to achieve
  • A set of tools that accelerates the process from an idea to action (nationally)
  • Self funding. Owned by the Members of the Association (totally inclusive). Not linked to Government, not political, no profit motive (not owned by a business), not attached to any religious groups.
  • Links and connections to local 'community centric' businesses 

As Amit and the Gecko Theatre company tour the UK, they will undoubtedly uncover a real appetite for change right across the country. Each area will have their own set of challenges whether they be economic, geographical or human, but by connecting, collaborating, and sharing our talents, experience and energy we have a real opportunity here... let's Do It shall we?

If you would like to get in touch about any of the above details below

Monday, 22 January 2018

We welcome new local Blog onto our SWHerts Bloggers site

It was great to meet Caroline Bloomer yesterday at our Once a month - Link4Breakfast community gathering at the Junction Cafe on St. Albans Road. [community events links here]

Caroline who is based in Abbots Langley is a supporter of community and hosts a number of local groups including Watford's Maths-Jam and another for sceptics and humanists.

It is not the first time we have met as Caroline frequents Yellow Comedy events locally and has also taken advantage of "Learning Sessions" we host at +The Kitchen Croxley. Caroline shared with us that she also writes a blog, Curious & Philosophical (philosophy, science atheism for time poor people)... and has been aligned to PR companies and involved in editing in the past too...

We have now added Caroline's Blog to the SWHerts Bloggers web site. It is located in two place... 2nd in the A-Z of blogs and also under the Local Comment category.

Are you a writer?

You may not even consider yourself a "writer", but if you have a story to tell or something that you and others find interesting and would like to share... why not get in touch?

if you...

  1. Currently write a blog? 
  2. Would like to blog but not sure how to start? ... or... 
  3. are involved in a project and would like us to share something you have written about what you are doing?

We'd love to here from you... drop us a note or... visit the ContactUs page and complete some details there.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Walking the walk...Alex's Night-time Adventures!

Alex Murray recently completed the ultimate challenge – he slept rough to raise awareness of homelessness for the New Hope Trust! 

I caught up with him recently to find out about it…

So Alex, what was it like?!
Alex: Cold lol!
Of course, so what made you want to do it?
Alex: I wanted to support people, but also saw it as an opportunity to raise money.
What time did you get there?
Alex: We got there at about 9pm, watched a film, chatted…not much sleep! I think I slept for about two hours on and off.
Was it the cold or was there something else that made it hard to sleep?
Alex: Being uncomfortable. Uncomfy, plus being cold equals a nightmare! I basically made myself into a cardboard sausage roll to cope. Luckily it wasn’t too noisy, but I did have to count sheep to get myself to drift off.
I can only imagine! What must it be like for Watford’s rough sleepers, who do this every day?
Alex: Exactly…not easy. It takes some resilience; real survival.

Tell me about the after effects…
Alex: I felt dreadful. It was like having a hangover but no booze! I needed a duvet day to recovery, food…kip…etc.
If you were to do it again…what would you do differently.
Alex: Well, definitely bring some alcohol…something to sip to keep you warm on the inside. Another pillow and more layers…I thought I’d prepared for this but no, I needed more layers.
That’s interesting…so the alcohol thing…some people complain about giving to rough sleepers ‘they’ll only spend it on drink’.
Alex: It gives you a real insight into alcohol abuse – you need something to help you get to sleep but also to take your mind off it. The NHS spends a lot of money on alcohol abuse treatment.

I think I would want to drink, it sounds like a nightmare.

Alex: It was hard. I would do it again though as it is for a really good cause.

Alex - respect to you! It's easy to say the right things, but to take that step to make a difference takes courage. 

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Random cafe going from Strength to Strength...

It seems only 5 minutes ago that I caught up with Jane Johnson the 'huge energy' behind the Random Cafe initiative that is making a real difference in the Watford area.

The Random Cafe launched only back in September 16th but progress has been nothing short of amazing.

Over 1 ton of food has already been saved from the bins and reintroduced back into the community. Jane is quick to add that this has been a team effort and she is immensely grateful to a rock solid core team that has formed around the project that has enabled the remarkable success so far.

The events for 2018 have already been published as you can see to the right... 4 venues now up and running each month in different parts of Watford enabling a wider range of people to join in and be part of the project.

Jane cited 3 main reasons why she believes the Random Cafe project is working so well...

  1. Built on a really supportive network of people created through the Reason coffee and book shop, and the legacy from the fabulous work and ideas of Neal Emery. These people form a real core of supporters who attend, participate and promote the Random Cafe... plus provide regular, valuable financial contributions each week. On average 35+ people visit the cafe each week it runs.
  2. The desire to create a community space that brings together different community groups and provide a real contribution to community life. This is already happening with groups wanting to assemble on days the Random Cafe is open... but the potential when a permanent full time venue becomes available is immense.
  3. The ability to provide for those that are in real need in these difficult times we live in. Food banks, homelessness and people in dire financial straights has unfortunately become common place and initiatives like the Random Cafe are making a real difference to people's lives.

Below we caught up with Jane, who was pleased to share what has happened since the inception of the Random Cafe back in September 2017...

Please follow the Random Cafe on Twitter 
Like the Facebook page 

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Are you disillusioned by Brexit or being "Wedded" to the state?

Are you a tad more than a little bit mesmerised by events over the past few years?

Do you feel that your relationship with the 'State' no longer serves you?

It might surprise you to learn that you aren't alone. Amit Lahav started off by being quite angry about current events but then decided to channel that anger into a creative and positive idea for facilitating change.

Amit Lahav is the owner of Gecko Theatre productions. He is also the creator of 'The Wedding' which is the result of his inspiration. "The Wedding" is played out from the perspective that we are all "wedded" to the state in some shape or form. It also helps us to consider whether that marriage is working for us, and challenges us to ponder whether a divorce might be a more satisfactory course of action!

Lyn Gardner ( @ LynGardner) wrote for the Guardian back in April 2017 - Gecko - The theatre company divorcing post-brexit britain it is a great read if you would like to learn more about what to expect from the show.

We are absolutely delighted to have the show coming to the Watford Palace Theatre on the 23rd through 25th January 2018... additional to the performance for those that are interested in "Taking Action" locally there is a Workshop on Saturday 27th Jan from 1-4pm (venue to be confirmed) where the intention is to bring "change makers" together, and take the energy forward into real local projects to effect change.

Take a look at the Gecko Theatre website here... take a look at the Trailer, and book your tickets!

Below a video interview with Amit Lahav talking to Chris Ogle about "the wedding" and the inspiration behind it...