Shortly after the referendum I wrote a blog post about the division that was appearing across the country and proposed a project to address this. The idea is Brexhut, a tour-able conversation space where people of different opinions can sit together and find out what they have in common.
I spoke to a few friends about this and the general reaction was asking whether they could carry a bat or some sort of weapon! The project immediately gained a deeper significance to me. If people I know and deeply care about – the very same people who work for charities across the world – are feeling this much aggression then this is clearly an issue to address. And quickly.
In my initial post I asked people who may want to help make a project in response to these experiences to get in touch. It turned out that there were many like me – people who were supportive but confused by their friends, family and social media’s response to the referendum. People who were fed up with hearing opinions on opinions.
The bringing together of these collaborators has provided a fantastic opportunity to experiment with a new way of working. We have invited each person who got in touch to take part in the development of the project (and the door is still open if others still want to get involved). Our aim has been to create a collaborative space in which to figure out how to bring this project to fruition, by imagining the conversations people will have, how we can open them up and the practicalities around this.
We’ve had two workshops so far and have found six people who each bring something different and unique to the table. I found it joyful to harness these differences in a creative way and open up the space for others to run sessions to advance the project. Ellen Carr of Witness Theatre delved into the concept of Deeper Democracy, while author Rachel Shorer was passionate about what the hut might look like.
Our second meeting was more practical. We looked at how Brexhut might work in a pilot phase, where we could take the hut and a timeline charting when and how it could all happen.
Each session has advanced what had happened in the last session, even though the same people were not involved.
This is a new way of working and an open process. If anyone wants to get involved, the sessions are open and you are welcome to join (we’re also making an effort to diversify the people who are coming to make sure we have a range of voices). You may come for only one session or a few, but each time the project will move on and develop from the session before.
Contact me if you’re interested in joining us.