Riddle’s Close

I am the place within nobody’s aim, except today when they wander in, all different yet somehow the same.

A quiet space at the end of a dark gloomy lane, a gate half closed, neither inviting nor advertising, nor calling your name.

Hidden in time waiting for your world weary frame, for the unveiling, the descaling, the stepping back to the plain.

And as the bells chime and the hands time exclaim, they proceed, beauty held in their gaze, those five with no name.

Patience was nourished with strawberries sweet, a place to pause, to take stock and to rest more than weary feet

Kindness mapped the route from a stark wooden seat, a look back, to look forward and listen to her own steady heartbeat

Goodness admired a magnificent feat, a kaleidoscope of growth, flourishing longevity, and wondered about becoming replete

Gentleness discovered an obvious treat, lighten up, with child’s eyes, bias, judgement and personal history uncomplete.

Joy was the first who dared push at the gate, and let castle, clouds, rooftops release adulthood weight

Looked at the birds over grey grubby slate, ones that rise in fresh air, practised flight gifting such a free state

She’s closing the Riddle in a carved ancient gate, not the wizard of West Bow, but Richard Geddes left my bait

For those who visited in autumn, last Wednesday, late, “By leaves we live” he said and left a trail they chose as their fate.

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.’

Through the Looking Glass

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHYPERREALITY n. an inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from a simulation of reality.

Balancing on a curbside between the concrete and the imaginary is not where I expected to find myself on a Friday afternoon in a talk at the RSA recently. As the four corners of normality disintegrate before me I’m swallowed into the hidden realms of a ‘standard’ London street. This is all thanks to Street Wisdom: an invisible university, whose only entry requirements ask that you can follow your curiosity.

“The street is interested in you,” advises David Pearl (who first conceived the idea some years back) explaining, “and there’s wisdom for as far as you can see.” But instead of taking my normal seat in The Great Room of the RSA, I’m invited to take a step outside of the ordinary and follow a trail around the rabbit holes of my own reality. I’m all ears as I roam the streets ‘listening out’ carefully to clues in what surrounds me. And before I know it I’m sliding underground, traipsing through Terra incognita in a dimly lit tunnel, sinking in and out of the magnetic parts of my periphery.

I’m told to take my time and ask questions. And as I peer closer in, tuning in my senses and altering my aperture – something quite peculiar comes over me. Things start to warp, to morph, to transfigure: a puddle full of clouds becomes a window, a reflection on a letterbox: an important message, a huddling pigeon: the protagonist of an unfolding plot, a discrete doorway: an exit to the astral plane. Now a puddle and a pigeon are things that initially appear quite ordinary, but I find myself challenging that idea as part of the activity.

Back on ground level, we’re invited to reflect on our discoveries and we’re all feeling a bit subdued, recounting contrasting curvatures in what appears to be the same old John Adam Street. It’s not long before I’m drawn to my own reflection in a car window, staring straight back at me. This would normally be the cue to fix my hair or readjust my glasses before rushing on – only this time I’ve been instructed to go slo-mo for forty five minutes and inspect things a little more attentively. And as I watch closely – buildings begin to bend, surfaces ripple, I’m guzzled up by a sea of wiggly shapes and squiggly lines, of tantalizing tessellations and hexagonal hallucinations. The answers to the questions I pose, begin to pull themselves closer and closer to me.

Anyone who saw me might have thought I was mad, motionless in the middle of a autumnal afternoon, poking mirrors and gazing at concrete slabs. I wandered past a patch of flowers and hoped that if I listened out for long enough, they might just start talking back at me. Alas, it was a stranger instead who began a conversation. “Arty” she said, as she passed by while I was pondering life on the other side of a motorcycle mirror. I spoke to her for a good ten minutes thinking she was part of the venture, but it turns out she wasn’t.

‘It’s funny what comes your way when you’re open to it,’ says David. And by the end of my first adventure in the Underlands of The Strand, I’m impressed with the themes that have come back to me. From the banal to the bedazzling, to the beautiful and back again, it’s only when you ask the streets questions that the answers are set free for you to see.

What can you learn from the street you live in? Ask yourself a simple question tomorrow and listen out carefully as you walk slowly down the street…

Maxine Clay   ahandfulofcreativity.com


Maxine Clay a handful of creativity

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