‘I’m interested in the relationship between the I and the we’
I knew, before we met, from our exchanges on Twitter and also from the fact that Caroline Hick (one of my Re:view artists) recommended that we talk, that Lisa Cumming and I would find much in common. Lisa was every bit as warm and interesting in real life as I had found her in our online interactions , but it was in this simple sentence that I knew I had really found a kindred spirit.
Lisa is a Community Associate, part of the Programme for a Peaceful City, Department of Peace Studies, School of Social and International Studies at the University of Bradford http://www.brad.ac.uk/ssis/ppc/
I heard about her at the beginning of the year from mutual friends and fellow Wur bloggers Georgia and Ivan Mack. Following her on Twitter I was very interested in her tweets on listening conversations, conflict & nonviolent change. (https://twitter.com/LisaDialogue)
Back in March she tweeted that she had gone to a talk given by Cory Doctorow on digital freedom and copyleft at the 1 in 12 Club in March, an event I had wanted to go to but couldn’t. I (slightly cheekily) DMd her to ask if she would be interested in writing a guest post for Wurblog, which she kindly did http://wurblog.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/cory-doctorow-can-technology-save-the-city-guest-post-by-lisa-cummings/ and which I turned into a free zine which was distributed at Bradford Baked Zines popup shop in May (http://bradfordbakedzines.wordpress.com/)
Following another Twitter exchange about DIY culture and social change last month, (part of a larger conversation Storyfied here http://storify.com/JeanMcEwan/underground-culture-… ) we arranged to meet for coffee, which we did this week at the National Media Museum.
What a great blether we had, as my Nana would say. In two and a half hours we talked about many things – our shared Scottish roots (Lisa’s family are from near Glasgow) my family photography project, Lisa’s work at Peace Studies including an upcoming course CommUNIty for people interested in social change in Bradford, collaboration, co-production of knowledge, power and access, and also asking ourselves the big questions:
What is my role in society?
How can I make change?
How do I/we deal with conflict, personal and social?
It was good to find out that Lisa was still searching for the answers to these questions too!
Lisa talked about her own interest, and that of her colleagues in Peace Studies, in working with creative approaches to these questions. Lisa’s keys interests are in listening dialogue and in conflict transformation. She talked about how powerful she had found the Change Spaces collaboration at the University, facilitated by Caroline Hick http://www.brad.ac.uk/gallery/whats-on/spring-summ… (which I blogged about here this week) which involved making rope as a means of addressing the questions above.
We talked about the possibilities of creative collaborations with Peace Studies, and Lisa is going to look into possible funding from Connected Communities – a possible funding source Caroline had suggested I investigate.
We also talked about of gift circles. I described how Ivan and Georgia Mack and I had done it for the first time at the DIY conference in May at the 1 in 12 Club http://www.brad.ac.uk/music/whats-on-workshops/ and Lisa is very interested in us doing it at the commUNIty course in the coming months. Lisa is also very interested in using zines within the commUNIty course as a means for participants to communicate about their own activism work and projects in Bradford- and it excites me to thinking of making zines with a different kind of group- outwith the DIY community- people who might see, or use them in a different way.
Chatting further about Wur blog, Lisa said she would be interested in writing another post (hurrah!) – this time about her experience of the Change Spaces collaboration. I’d be really interested in reading her thoughts. She also thought some of her colleagues in Peace Studies may be interested in writing for the blog. This would be amazing- to gain and expand on other perspectives and experiences on gift and generosity.
We agreed, having so much common ground, and so many potential projects we could work on together, that we would have to meet again. I’m already looking forward to it.