How Street Wisdom helped my lockdown dilema by Rachel Sharpe RSA Fellowship Councillor

The pressures of social isolation and fear of infection has quickly become the topic of most Zoom, telephone and (if you’re lucky) face to face conversations.  Unprecedented questions of how society will function, education will work and fear of uncertainty regarding social care settings.  Up until four months ago I thought I had a good system for dealing with big questions, like most people I’ve created my own eco-system of family, friends, colleagues, work, and distractions to help navigate challenges, of which I’ve had my fair share. 


I’m very fortunate to be a mum to two great children, one of them happens to be profoundly autistic (he’s also many other things including, fun, caring, extremely energetic and beautiful), but Stanley’s autism is the challenge we must think about first, to ensure he is safe, happy and settled. As a family we’re not new to big decisions, on a few terrifying occasions we’ve stood by Stanley’s hospital bedside and battled with doctors to make the right decisions to save his life, and on many others we’ve had to battle against decision makers to ensure Stanley is in the right setting, with the right care and people; a situation so many carers battle daily. Stanley lives at his school setting Monday to Friday; the fight to find and secure the right setting was unspeakably hard, but, the moment we had to get used to not seeing him during the week took two years to come to terms with (Stanley on the other hand settled in immediately). 

On what felt like my lowest day during the Covid-19 crisis, questions about Stanley’s care were coming from all angles (and many more generated in my head) I don’t mind admitting I felt broken, had no clarity and couldn’t do what I’ve promised to do for Stanley, always think with my head.  So I decided to put my question to the street, ‘where is the safest place for Stanley to shield’?   Tuning up allowed me to block out all the what ifs, (and there were many), helping focus on the question. The nature of a quest on the move gave me purpose.  It might sound strange, but my answer came from a sign hanging on the fence of a garage at the bottom of my village, it said ‘Safety First’, obvious isn’t it!  I stood Infront of the sign and laughed for a long time, because I already knew this, but I needed a reminder, and a framework to gain perspective. 

The past 70 days have been really tough, Stanley had an 11th birthday, learnt to use a fork and he’s grown nearly 2 inches, but most importantly he’s been in the safest place, continued his therapies and been genuinely happy, something I fear he wouldn’t have achieved if we had made the wrong decision and bought him home full time. So thanks Street Wisdom, thanks for being there when no one else could be, and I didn’t know which way to turn.  It still makes me smile that the answer which kept me awake for nights, was at the bottom of my road, just goes  to show the answers really are all around you.

Rachel Sharpe, FRSA, Fellowship Councillor Central Region


CreateROSS in Ross on Wye

by Caroline Utting

A group of people arranged to meet at Ross Market Place 10am on a chilly Saturday in March. Only one of them really understood what they would be doing. The others had come with an open mind and a willingness to participate. They had been persuaded that it was worth dedicating a few hours of their time to.

Mark, the Street Wisdom leader, briefed them that the whole session would last about 3 hours but clock watching is not what it was about. Each person would work on their own to find an answer(s) to a question they had posed to themself.

The first part of the process was to split into pairs and spend a couple of minutes telling one another personal experiences of memorable streets. After a hesitant start this unlocked a number of memories and began the process. Next everyone was asked to spend 10 minutes or so on each of 4 exercises. After each 10 minutes the participants returned to Mark to give a little feedback on the experience and be given the next objective. These were to wander the streets:

being drawn to whatever caught your attention, allowing yourself to notice things and take a closer look

slowing right down to give yourself time to notice

following the story, allowing your interest to take you where it would and let a narrative develop

seeing the beauty in everything around you

The cumulative effect of the time spent doing this was that I found myself relaxing and becoming ever more aware of the buildings, people and streetscape; seeing things through fresh eyes and taking the time to enquire of others about the things that drew my interest; watching others going about their business and becoming observer as well as participant.

I was immediately so absorbed by what was going on around me I wondered off for half an hour for the first task. Because everything about this experience was fluid this didn’t matter one bit and Mark observed I had already moved onto the second stage of “slowing down” without being directed to. I was interested to hear from the others how they had “followed the story,” as they had interpreted it quite differently to me. I read a sign outside a charity shop asking for help locating a lockable filing cabinet, so I went in, found the manager and suggested a place where she might find one. Others found a story in numbers or colours on the street.

When it came to “seeing the beauty in everything around me,” I stopped wandering and just looked about. I saw families with parents caring for their children, cars slowing down to let pedestrians cross the road, a dog patiently waiting for someone to come out of a coffee shop.

The second part of the process involved going back to the question originally posed and, with it sitting at the back of the mind, spending 45 minutes or so walking the streets. The expectation was the brain had relaxed and was open to letting thoughts move through it freely and ideas develop. This was certainly my experience. Creating the necessary time and space to give consideration to a weighty matter is not always possible in our hectic lives.

For the 3rd and final part of the session everyone reassembled in a warm and comfortable setting where refreshments could be obtained and a discussion held. A cosy pub is ideal if the group isn’t too large. The morning’s experiences were gone over, the participants discussed their responses to the exercises and the thoughts that had come to them. The common experience had lowered barriers to sharing.

In this instance members of the createROSS committee formed most of the group and they each posed themselves a question around how to create a successful public festival in Ross. One wanted to know how best to engage new audiences in the arts, one what type of festival would be most suitable and I wanted to know how the members of the committee could all be persuaded to commit to organising a successful new event. The discussion was very productive with insight and clarity gained from the Street Wisdom process. Some common themes quickly developed and there was plenty of material that could be worked on at future meetings.

Thank you Mark for giving your time and experience. It was a really worthwhile activity.


After a successful run in London this summer, our partners in mindfulness are hosting their first ever show in Manchester on February 2nd and 3rd, 2018. And they’d love YOU to join them!

Learn more about the benefits and practice of mindfulness and meditation with a range of inspiring expert speakers, interactive panels and tips from some of the best teachers in mindfulness today. Find out more about The Mindful Living Show Manchester line up here. 

Street Wisdom will be joining in too! Announcement coming soon.

Send us your details using the form below. We have 2 x pairs to give away – one to each of two lucky winners!

Each winner will receive a pair of tickets to the Mindful Living Show in Manchester on a day of their choosing – either February 2nd or 3rd, 2018.
Competition Terms & Conditions

*This offer is now closed. The winners will be notified by the 7th December 2018*

Good luck!

A Joy To Be Involved. A Joy To Help Out.

There is something very special about taking part in a Street Wisdom and it is even more pleasurable to have the privilege to lead an event. It never fails to have an impact in some way on everyone involved and sometimes that impact can be profound. It is incredibly rewarding to have the opportunity to make a difference for a complete stranger. Strangers they may start but by the end of an event, the shared experience feels like it’s been had with great friends.

We love our RSA events as they attract large numbers of diverse people. Last week found almost 60 wanderers came along and we had a valiant team of 8 street leaders drawn from the ranks of our lovely Street Wizards both RSA fellows and non-follows.

When it came to 5pm people just didn’t want to stop sharing their experience. This was the case for participants and facilitators alike. So big thanks to Ines Alonso, Sarah Storm, Michelle Preston, Justine Clement, Caroline Bond, Rachel Crowther, Kev Wyke, Tony Woods and to Mark Hall and the team at the RSA.

We would love to hear more from those who took part so please add comments below.

I think Tony summed up the general feeling very well:

What a magnificent & fulfilling experience! Reflecting after facilitating my first ever Street Wisdom group of 6 wonderful people, I can’t help regretting that I didn’t do it sooner. It’s such a powerful process – the insights and answers that my group gathered from their wanderings around Covent Garden and the Strand was quite moving – and the process is just so simple to use. Thanks for the opportunity Street Wisdom guys. Can’t wait to do it again soon. TW

If you’d like to lead your own Street Wisdom event download our toolkit. We support you every step of the way, from setting up to running your event.

Street Leaders

More street leaders

Outdoors and upwards with the RSA

It was the perfect day for the September 21st event facilitated by our three volunteers Millie Baker, Justine Clements and Susannah Tresilian. Our thanks to them for giving their time and to the RSA for once again organising a successful and enjoyable event.

30 wanderers set out and there were many stories of breakthroughs, synchronicity and fun times.

We discovered medieval streets unnoticed in years of walking past; a chalk drawing reading ‘Be happy spending time doing the things you like’; one wanderer bumped into an old friend and chatted for hours; as we were wandering, Susannah received an email from the RSA titles ‘Do you talk to strangers?’

One of the highlights for me was to meet with Cath Prisk again who helps run an organisation called Outdoor People. After a Street Wisdom event last year she made a big decision to open an outdoor shop in Hackney to support their mission to provide city dwelling young people with opportunities to experience life in the country. Check out the shop here.

Thanks to everyone for taking part and please add any more comments or feedback here. Just two of the responses we have so far;

‘I can honestly say the Street Wisdom technology is one of the most effective I have experienced.  It provided me with a completely new lens on everything!’

‘I had no idea what to expect in Street Wisdom aside from a recommendation from a friend and I can honestly say that it changed my life, I left a different person. Walking the mental streets of London offered me a state of calm that I’ve never experienced and I was able to think clearer and more productively than ever before. The technology you use is simple but so incredibly powerful and it’s changed my outlook to pretty much everything.

I’ve not stopped telling people about Street Wisdom ever since, I am really keen to get involved and facilitate in the future and will be sending everyone I can along to the next event.

Thank you for creating and sharing such a wonderful thing.’

Street Enlightenment with the RSA

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…

RSA Street Wisdom Sept 2015 2


Riccardo’s story Carnaby Street July 6 2015

My experience with Street Wisdom was enchanting.

As a student just entering second year, full of unresolved commitments and ambitions, my venture down Carnaby Street taught me the importance of clarifying the next action to every project.

Beyond this, Street Wisdom offered me an entirely refreshing perspective of my surroundings, causing me to be more observant of hidden details and calmer amongst the rush of the crowd.

I highly recommend David Pearl’s Street Wisdom to anyone looking to become unstuck in their professional or personal lives; a sense of alleviation is guaranteed.

Special commendation to the brilliant Scott Morrison, who facilitated my event.

Riccardo Boscherini


Victoria Fenton – Street Wizard, Covent Garden, 6th May

My journey with Street Wisdom began with a childish giggle when I arrived in Covent Garden on Wednesday 6 May to be greeted by a giant, luminous pink Shaun the Sheep statue, covered in painted confectionery.

Though my day ended with me shivering, damp and buffeted by the Great British weather, the time between these two moments was full of insight, inspiration and reflection.

During my time that morning I listened, watched and responded, tuning into the thrum of Covent Garden and allowing the sights, sounds, smells and symbols to talk to me and help me find answers to my questions.

The first hour – tuning in, slowing down and recognising the magic – tumbled into the second. My slightly esoteric nest of questions were unwound via another Shaun the Sheep statue (this time painted as a bright red London bus) a serenading opera singer, an ancient London restaurant and the menu of a ice cream parlour.

Far more than answering my specific questions (which it did), my morning with Street Wisdom showed me myself, my approach to the built environment and surroundings, and my receptivity to the energy within.

During our final hour together, sharing stories, coffee and smiles with my fellow explorers, I was aware of an overwhelming sense of the peace within us all. Everyone seemed to come away calmer, more in touch with their sensory connection to the environment and more at ease with their questions and with themselves.

As I left the piazza in the drizzle and damp, Shaun the Sheep grinned back at me as I snapped his picture and saved him to my iPhone wallpaper. A constant reminder that the world is full of magic, and there really is Wisdom on every street.

Victoria Fenton

Ian Cooper – Soho Square 26th March 2015

I’d have to put myself forward as one of those people who is somewhat sceptical about some (most) of those ‘out there’ concepts and techniques. My wife’s best friend had been a Bowen Therapist for quite some years before I would let her near me despite a catalogue of niggles, aches and pains. I eventually relented under protest and in severe pain from a back injury which was rendering me immobile and in agony. A poke here and a poke there (well, a few more than that) and I hobbled away full of doubt. A couple of days later, whilst not exactly leaping about the place, I was able to do up my own shoelaces without fainting with the pain… so, maybe, there was more to this mumbo jumbo than met my doubting eye.

Since then I’ve tried to be more open minded about such things, so a damp grey Thursday morning saw me joining 4 other explorers and our guide Nick in Soho Square to see what this was all about.

We started with a brief explanation of Street Wisdom and then went into a few tuning exercises each of about 5 minutes in order to prepare for our longer walk and exploration of our question.

I was surprised at how easily we all (yup, including me) seemed to drop into the technique and really gain unexpected insights and observations.

The BIG question session was, effectively, an extension of each of the shorter ones allowing us time to follow thoughts and patterns. I’ve been pondering accepting a voluntary trusteeship in a charity but to do so would mean taking up time that I could be doing other more fun or profitable things.

I noticed 2 buildings in the square… upon one were painted the words ‘House of Charity’ the other was a former Hospital for Women, supported by voluntary contributions. Further down the street was a sign for free wifi then, later, another for free hair consultations at a salon… suggesting it was OK not to charge for things? The sign for the restaurant L’Escargot with its picture of snails led me to question whether I had to rush into a decision or, possibly, that I was behaving like a snail… so get on with it.

Ian CooperLater in the cafe, talking about our walks, it came to me that an analogy I used to use in business could be applied to our learning. It’s like when you do a jigsaw puzzle. You start with all the edges to create a framework into which you drop the remaining pieces.

What I’d experienced in Street Wisdom was the tuning of my mind and a framework to recognise clues and to collect my observations. Whether I put them together in the right order or I discard some pieces is up to me but, maybe, the street does have the answers or, at least a route to them.

Not bad for an old sceptic, eh?

Ian Cooper