Bringing wisdom to the streets of Phnom Penh

By Sara Perry

I’m a huge fan of Street Wisdom and experienced my first walkshop in Manchester many years ago.

Attending a virtual event back in December, I gained insight from my beautiful surroundings in rural Kampot that led me to know that now was the time for me to put on my big girl pants and become a Wizard to share the wonderful tool with the great community here in Cambodia.

Anyone who has travelled to, or lives in, South East Asia will know that the streets have a rather chaotic quality to them, not at all conducive to safe wandering and so my first challenge was to find a venue.

Luckily, an amazing arts/co-working/sport/retail/everything else space has been created on the site of an old factory in the south of the city and I realised that this might be a great place to foster inspiration and answers and so Street Wisdom Phnom Penh became a thing.

On Saturday, 10 curious people turned up to our designated meeting spot, most without a clue of what was in store but all with a sense of excitement at what lay ahead.

Having chatted streets for a short while, I sent the crew off on their first Tune-Up wander and we were soon attracting attention from other visitors to the site, curious to know why these people were paying such close attention to the rubbish bin, rust and other oddities.  A brief explanation led to a collection of contact details and a promise from me to notify them when I run the next event.

The guide to running a Street Wisdom event mentions that post tune up you’ll notice everyone returning with big grins – challenging in the masked times we currently live in, but I can confirm that there were plenty of smiling eyes among the returning wanderers.

With questions in mind the group headed off for their main wander and I was left to ponder my own question for a while using the meet up space for inspiration.

Lively discussions ensued when all the participants had returned.  It was great to hear that people had not only found answers to their questions but had made new discoveries on site and developed a new appreciation of a place that many of them regularly visit as part of their work lives.  It was also fun to discover one group sitting in what is arguably one of the most instagrammable (yes I know that’s not a real word!) spots on the site and to act as photographer as they struck various poses.

Within the space of three short hours questions had been answered, friendships formed, coffee drunk and Snickers bars eaten, masks had been worn and photographs taken.

And as for my questions.  Here they are:

  1. Should I run more Street Wisdom sessions?
  2. Where in Phnom Penh should I run them?

And the answers:

  1. A big fat YES
  2. Watch this space

by Sara Perry.