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Campfire Conversation - Play and the City
Submitted by Lottie on Sat, 2010-09-11 14:20
Play and the city a campfire conversation at Spitalfields City Farm
Before everyone arrived I made a start with the campfire, I glanced up at the thick grey clouds, smelt the sweet rain drenched soil and then raked the ash and made some space in the spot where the fire is usually lit. I took the brown paper bag that the bread had come in and scrunched it up, placed it on the ash and began putting the kindling on top. Then a few pieces of wood I’d taken from two skips I’d passed on the way. The fire was set and I looked around for the lighter but couldn’t find it. So I just sat there feeling my body on the railway sleeper bench, smelling the air, feeling, sensing, breathing. I noticed a little smoke swirling up from the brown paper, even though it had been raining the ash must have still been warm from the previous fire. Over the next few minutes the smoke became thicker and thicker billowing and spiralling into the moist air. I watched it wafting over towards the currant and berry bushes and suddenly, looking back I saw flames had shot up and the smoke was gone. Bruce Springsteen was wrong, you can start a fire without a spark.
Lucy and Hannah from the Fun Federation arrived, We sat down by the fire and it began to rain heavily so we headed to the tree house. Shortly Nils Norman and then Charlie Wells arrived. We set up a few kids foam blocks to sit on and made a start on the bread and massive wedge of Montgomery cheddar.
Pat Khan arrived and said she thought it would be a good idea to get one’s MP to ask a question in the house – how to be joyful in the street, she said if a few people asked a few Mps then it would be recorded in hansard.
We were quite a few people by then
I made a brief introduction, described my research into joyful behaviour in the streets, personally I’m interested in behaviours that are not about producing or consuming primarily and asked people, with the thee of play and the city in mind, how do they see it and what is particularly inspiring them at the moment?
Pat: I like noticing things. I liked the performance/walk last week with Walk Walk Walk, and the idea that they left posters around with details about what had happened in that location. She said that had taken work for them to do but was not productive and was very playful. Pat said she likes to observe and discover signs, places, people.
I ask if poinntlessnes is important and Hannah says she doesn’t want to get into intellectualising the point of pointless. She begins to talk about the clowning training, the value of being lost and of unlearning our impulse for getting safe. She says her clowning teacher urges staying lost and staying unresolved.
Ian’s friend says he founded an organisation where people could come in for as long as they wanted, do what ever work they though they needed t o do and they all got paid the same, that set up lasted for a year. The organisation lasted for 12.
Rebecca says she likes walking and mucking about in the street at night in Dalston. she says that’s her play and there is risk involved which is part of the play. She says she is using a right that millions of women across he world don’t have – the right to walk alone at night in the streets. We talk about how powerful the forces that make that harder, and using a right is so important in maintaining it. We talk about freedom and risk being synonymous.
Hannah talks about an interaction at the bus stop and we talk about how much more free and relaxed strangers are when at festivals – ore able to trust and interact with eachother.
Rachel says she loves to walk in the streets of London – she says it’s a city that precipitates it unlike New York or Chicago, she likes the way one can get lost. She says bein a child is to not look forward or backwards but to be in the moment. Children’s play is where utopia is formed. It’s not accepting what is – it’s the aking of utopias.
Ian’s friend asks – do utopias survive beyond childhood?
Rachel says we always need utopias – we always need the state of possibility. She says utopian thinking was so prevalent fro the 1900 to the 1970’s
Then she talks about teenagers – that we can support children’s play and describe the benefits but for young people it’s harder, they don’t want to do activities that are adult endorsed and have little to do.
I mention capoeira and say there is so much play in the roda and the exploration of what one can do with one’s body and with physical interaction with another person.
Play –power and will are identified as related to eachother
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