The extendable fire ladder was dreamed up there in the 18th century. And the life boat. They were the first to champion education for girls in Britain and (as early as 1770) the control of air pollution. The RSA – or to give it its full and wonderfully wordy name, The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, is a highly influential organisation with an extraordinary history of innovation.
Today, 260 years after the institution was founded by free-thinkers amid the coffee houses of the Strand, the RSA is giving itself a huge new mission; to enrich society through ideas and action and so spark a new wave of 21st Century Enlightenment.
So it was exciting – as well as something of an honour – when they reached out to Street Wisdom and asked us to partner with them. The RSA’s Mark Hall, who’d attended our Street Wisdom ‘train and try’ event in May explains why –
For me the RSA is about putting people at the heart of problem solving. This runs right throughout our history from launching RSA Premiums (open prize challenges to tackle social & economic problems) in the 18th Century to our current world view – The Power to Create. We believe there is so much untapped creative potential out there and we want to help unlock it. Street Wisdom embodies this – it’s open to everyone, gets you out of your normal mind-set, and gives you the space to answer your own questions and solve your own problems.
Mark and Kenny McCarthy, who leads a Mindfulness Group for staff at the RSA, hosted the event on a postcard perfect, early Autumn London afternoon. Mark has been keen to run an event outside and this event with Street Wisdom provide a perfect opportunity. More than 50 people turned up to wander the streets and they left us with some inspiring reflections on their experiences.
It was like being on holiday in my own city
An adventure within was my discovery, an inner searching, surrounded by the bustle and peace of the street
I’ll take this wonderful new tool, repeat the experience and see where it takes me!
The 4 exercises we carried out were like a lens through which to visit my dilemma from different perspectives and I’ve ended the day with a positive way forward. Fantastic!
I went to a street stuffed with connections in my past, and it gave me a list of answers about my future.
The final session, above the brilliantly named ‘Theodore Bullfrog’ pub was a boisterous affair as tables crowded with street seekers shared breakthroughs and innovations they had discovered on their quests.
Close your eyes and you could have been back in the 18th century…