Making Change in How We Live, Where We Live, in Light of Climate Change (FOR TWELVE YEARS!)

Sunday, 20 December 2020

'Distant socializing, not social distancing': our experience of 4 diverse online workshops celebrating connection, creativity & cooking

In the 6 weeks following Hallowe'en we've facilitated 4 Zoom participative workshops. We've been cooking-along, creating and crafting, writing and sharing poems, all in real time. We've been building skills, discussing and responding between friends, strangers and generations.

'Distant Socializing, not Social Distancing'
we've been thinking about how this phrase sums up the experience of these online workshops during this winter of the pandemic. 
Physical distancing is necessary of course. 'Distant socializing' feels proactive & positive, but 'social distancing' - what's that? Your next thought may be 'is that what we want?'. 

The workshops were remarkable experiences all round because of what was produced (poems, dishes and meals, decorations, presents) and because of how the interaction worked (goodwill, laughter, invitations, sharing, working alongside rather than telling what to do).

As a legacy of the fourth event we've created The ReSparkle! Booklet - all invited to see what we did and how you can make lovely things at home this week. Download it here.

Each of these events was 2 hours long - that sounds like a lot of screen time but the activities and groups were diverse and time flew by. They were not always predictable and linear - there was some uncertainty and some gentle chaos. 

It helped to be tolerant and simply enjoy - like a relaxed performance in theatre. You could be active or do simply person said 'I wouldn't have joined a live event doing this', so an online workshop may allow for individual preferences in a different way than face-to-face.

We felt participants were taking the opportunity to reach out (maybe taking a small risk) rather than being constrained by limitations in the pandemic: creating something new that's unique, fun and energising. 

We felt both welcomed and connected to strangers and friends across all ages. It's a suprisingly intimate and personal experience - you are invited into others' homes; people may drift in and out; questions and comments fly back and forth; participants proudly show what they have created. 

We had up to 15 screens active in each of these 4 events - some peope solo, sometimes several from one family, sometimes people joining from beyond London and from outside the UK.

What did we do?