Posted by: stelladuffy | September 14, 2015

Fun Palaces – because politics isn’t only in Westminster

Right then. I have reached peak yay/boo Corbyn. I’m tired of the raging and the praising on facebook and twitter (and as guilty of it as anyone else).

There are other matters of importance. Vital importance.

Like 120 ‪#‎FunPalaces‬.

(edited to add – 138 Fun Palaces at 30.9.2015 – which is weird, because we had 138 last year too, and it’s such a random number … or is it? It’s the kind of thing Radio 4’s More or Less does brilliantly. How random is 138?)

120 communities engaging in and of themselves in culture not FOR all, but WITH and BY all. Fun Palaces in all four of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Fun Palaces in regenerating Christchurch (NZ). Fun Palaces in Australia, Canada, America. Fun Palaces in ex-churches and current markets. Fun Palace walks. Fun Palaces in ALL Lambeth libraries. Fun Palaces in schools. Fun Palaces in forests. Fun Palaces (mostly) for kids and Fun Palaces (mostly) for grownups. Fun Palaces where ‘all’ that is happening is a gathering, talking, sharing food & drink with local neighbours and local strangers to talk about what they’d like to do in next year’s Fun Palaces, talking about what they might become, as a community, together. And then getting on with it. Fun Palaces made by people who have never before engaged in arts. Fun Palaces engaging sciences with real communities, not the already-engaged. Fun Palaces because small-p politics is JUST as important (and prob way more important to most people) as Politics. Fun Palaces because policies and plotting and planning in Westminster mean nothing unless they are also TRULY linked to actual lives, lived in community.

Fun Palaces because we can fix all of it* by giving people freedom and capability to express themselves together, where they live. Fun Palaces because artists and scientists give loads, but not so often in our very own neighbourhoods. Fun Palaces because we say yes, you can do this, you don’t need anyone’s permission – you don’t even need a building. Fun Palaces because of the genius in EVERYONE.

from Emily Medley's Fun Palaces illustration

from Emily Medley’s Fun Palaces illustration

*Yes, we can, we can fix all of it. Because people who are empowered and enabled can take care of themselves AND of each other. People who are empowered and enabled can take care of their own society and care for others’. People who are empowered and enabled can create any amount of value and share it with all. People who are empowered and enabled can run brilliant stuff, from the grassroots up, and the local out.

Posted by: stelladuffy | September 9, 2015

Putting my feet where my (Fun Palaces) heart is

Last night, after another eleven-hour* day in the Fun Palaces office, I came home and did this. Set up my own Fun Palace page.

Ever since we realised that all 11 of the Lambeth Libraries really were going to make Fun Palaces – and as I’m both a Lambeth resident and a writer in this borough – it made sense for me to do something with the fact that I live here. To do something with the fact that I love libraries, that Woolwich Library and Tokoroa Library are where I (a kid from a house of readers who couldn’t afford many books) found comfort and adventure. To do something with my belief that libraries, like gyms, pools, theatres, galleries, arts centres, opera halls, parks, town halls, universities and schools (and any other institution you care to name) could all be Fun Palaces – free, local, innovative, transformative, engaging. Joan Littlewood was born in Lambeth too, so it also makes sense to go via her birthplace (the place, rather than the house, as I’m not sure it’s still there.) It makes sense to put my belief, my certainty, in the value of making locally, in and with community, to the test. To put my feet where my mouth and my heart are.

So – do you want to come with me? My guess is we start at Streatham (or Waterloo) and end at Waterloo (or Streatham). I haven’t worked out the route yet, I’m a slow walker, arthritis in one knee and hip a bit dodgy since chemo years ago, but I’m also hugely excited about this. About a walk that is a sharing. A walk that is a talk that is a gathering. Because I am, at base, in my core, a writer, it also makes sense to make a story as we go.

I have no idea how we’ll do this – bring paper? notebooks? Whatever we do, I want to try to record it, so we can put it online – perhaps on this page – asap after the walk.

If I’m walking alone, that’s fine. If I’m walking with one other person, that’s fine. If I’m walking with two dozen, that’s fine – though we might need to be in little groups so we’re not too greedy with the pavement!

Come with me if you have a Lambeth story to share. Come with me if you have a library story to share. Come for a hop between the Minet and the Carnegie, or come for the lot. Come with me via social media if you’re nowhere near. Come with me from other Fun Palaces by getting in touch during the day, adding your own walk, telling us what you’re doing as we walk our community.

I’ve never done anything like this before. You’re welcome to make it up with me.

*last year we were 9 part-time, this year we are 4, still part-time, and just as much work to do! lucky we get on really well and trust and value each others’ contribution to the whole.

Posted by: stelladuffy | June 27, 2015

Pride – All of the Sun and All of the Rain

I want more than a parade.
I want every person who isn’t out all 364 other days to be out – and happily, easily so.
I want to remember the hugely brave pioneers who made it possible for us to be out at all.
I want it to be better and easier and happier for everyone to be out.
I want every straight mate who had a gay fling to come out about it.
I want not to need to be out at all. Ever. In the same way straight people never need to come out.
I want people to assume my friend is my wife and not need to say it every bloody time.
I want all my friends with children to be able dream that their kids might be any sexuality or none.
I want it to be about history and hope as well as partying and playing.
I want it to be much much more than a rainbow flag.
I want it to have been ok for me, at 15/20/25 to think I might be gay and a mother, I might be gay and be with the love of my life for all of my life, that I might have a happy fulfilled life, I want not to have been as scared as I was, I want not to have built slightly different dreams, due to that fear.
And much as I am a glass half-full person (my friends know this about me!) I also really mind that I did not (always) have that hope back then. That so much of my youth – so much of so many of our youths – was hurt by fear and ignorance.
I don’t just want a rainbow, I want the whole damn sun and all of the rain.
And, onwards …

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