So, Meeting Point finally launched today. Having been at the idea stage for a couple of years now, it was great to finally plan, and start to deliver the programme. Meeting Point aims to bring people together, promote dialogue, and explore community in a diverse and ever-changing world. It is a circle of chairs in a public place, with an invitation to “sit and be part of the group”, in whichever way someone may choose. Two sessions ran today, both in West London, home territory for go-dialogue. It was a chance to ease into the programme whilst being in familiar territory. I ran both sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, each lasting for 80-90 minutes. The first session was in Chiswick, and I was grateful for a friend’s presence and support. For a while we were joined by two women (and a cockapoo!) who embraced the opportunity to sit and chat. We engaged in conversation about the need for places of connection, and the benefits of moments of meeting, be it a smile on a train, or a passing “hello”. We also talked about barriers that get in the way of making authentic connection. From a place of relative rest, I noticed myself become energised and animated as some of our common values came out, and we chewed this all over. After packing up and heading a couple of miles down the road to Hammersmith, the session ran in the main square there, accompanied throughout by a trio on djembe drums nearby! It was food market day, and lunchtime, and the session was busy. The first people to sit and chat were an Iranian family in London on holiday. Then various others stopped by, some looking for a place to sit, talk with a friend, and eat lunch. Another, Raymond, an older gentleman, stayed and talked with me for a while, showing various photos of him with family and friends. A lady sat quietly and read a magazine for half an hour; a young guy pitched his business and told me how go-dialogue’s mediation work could benefit from it. A man, perhaps in his late twenties or early thirties, describing himself as Roma and recently arrived in the UK from Moldova, sat and we compared our respective language abilities. He can speak seven. Me? Less than seven. It was sunny, and I felt the potential in sitting with these people. I experienced a kind of hope. We sat of different culture, age, gender, profession, history, and values. But we got by, and more than that. It was an energising and positive start to Meeting Point. In the morning session, we talked about the challenge of relationship, and I expect at some stage, probably sooner rather than later, this will arise. This is part of the experiment. How do we negotiate the challenges in relationship, the issues that lead to conflict, and mediation? How do we build resilience, from the differences between us? Watch this space. I can’t say we’ll have the answers but we can report back on the experiment. Half way through the afternoon session, Raymond spontaneously gave a dramatic performance of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’, from memory. Wonderful! Later, with Raymond’s parting words of “I think you’re despicable… but I like you” ringing in my ears, we closed the session and I headed off to prepare for tomorrow.
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