Sarah Sansom (London)

Sarah-Headshot-Colour-SmallMarch 2014. It’s a sunny Sunday morning in Holborn, London. Swarms of curious people have turned up with coffees in hand, excited to experience Street Wisdom for the first time.
There is a real buzz in the air as strangers meet and begin to exchange ideas about which streets in the world they remember, are inspired by and why.

We are invited to take to the streets with a few key questions in mind and as I start to slow down I wonder what’s been preoccupying me lately, what I haven’t given enough time to, what could do with some thought, some care and some attention.

I was due to move house soon, back to a flat I used to live in years ago.
I was feeling a little apprehensive about the move, so needed to consider how to make it something I could look forward to instead. So I asked the street – How can you inspire me with design ideas for my home, so it feels exciting and new again?

photoAs I slowed down, the sounds of the traffic disappeared and the colours and pictures of the street opened up before me. I began to notice the layers of the streets within streets, reflections in windows and the sun peering cheekily around corners. There were lighting designs under my feet as a passed over shops, trees standing tall amongst buildings and neon slogans with commands telling me ‘This Way’ jumped out of walkways. It was as if a guide was walking me through the city, egging me on, to turn right or left onto the next inspiration. All kinds of different perspectives on the structure, form and composition of London’s cityscape came alive for me that day. I took photographs of patterns, textures, colours and ideas, a canvas of yellows and greens, concrete and metal.

It’s a month since that Street Wisdom now and I am packing boxes ready to move. I have been throwing things away and spending time looking through design catalogues planning ahead what I want to buy. I find I am still drawn to these same colours, textures and lighting ideas.
My home will have yellows and greys, with plants instead of trees. I am designing my home with my experience of Street Wisdom still in mind. From the street, into the home, that day will continue to shine light on the inside and that leaves me with a smile!

The street is somewhere that offers us ideas, answers and suggestions. We just need to hang around long enough to take care.

Sarah Sansom, Time Won’t Wait

Nick Buckley (London)

I heard about Street Wisdom quite a long time ago, and I understood the idea, but I didn’t get the opportunity to try it until March this year [2014] when I joined a Sunday morning session put on in Holborn for the Sunday Assembly.Street Wisdom meets Sunday Assembly

This was a shortened version, ‘one time around’, where we issued onto the streets to carry out our missions as individuals and then met up back at the pub to share and decode our experiences.

The exercise splits into two parts – the first is about doing things to heighten your awareness and open you up to new experiences. The second invites you, once in that zone, to tackle a question you brought with you.

For the first stage I focussed on the instruction to “slow right down”. This resonated quite a lot with the Mindfulness techniques I’ve been teaching people, but the extra dimension is in interacting with your live surroundings. Holborn on a Sunday morning is a quiet place and I imagine that the experience would have been different again on a bustling weekday. Down Chancery Lane I did start to slow physically and to take more in, reading the notices which give clues to the business going on behind each door. But I also became aware of the age of the buildings and imagined them visibly changing in a world where we come and go as blurs. Even mature street trees became upstarts as I saw myself as a transitory phenomenon in the life of the city.

Thus armed, I moved on to my own question. It was about the order in which I was going to tackle making improvements to my health and making changes to my work. I couldn’t do both at the same time. So which first?

BastionLooking around I had a sense that I would supply the narrative, but that I would be influenced by what was in this place around me. I know that we make the world, through the way that we select what to see, and what significance to give it. I was ready for a dialogue with these gardens and walls, offices and alleys. But what I didn’t expect was a barrage of cues and clues in such a short space of time and small circle of distance. I have my answer, by a short head, and even the process of decoding the more ambiguous clues gave me insights into how I had framed my question in the first place.

I don’t view this in a mysterious way – some external power sending me messages – even though so many of the things I noticed were words… street signs, company notices and placards. But I am happily mystified by how much this process was an experience rather than a process of analysis or deduction. The set-up and brief are crucial.

So, yes, the Streets are full of Wisdom even if some of it is our own, rediscovered and reflected back to us. Get down there and see for yourself.

Nick Buckley, SoShall Consulting

Sunday Assembly meets Street Wisdom

Street Wisdom meets Sunday Assembly

Most people think of the street as just a way of getting from A to B. We hurry along, avoiding contact, screening out the city with our iPhones, blanking strangers, heads down and thoughts turned inward. Street Wisdom sees it differently. We think the street is an amazing place if you are curious and willing to break the rules of ordinary life.

So it was a thrill for us to discover Sunday Assembly – a whole tribe of people who basically think the same way as us. And even more of a thrill to be invited by the Sunday Assembly team to hold a Street Wisdom event in London last weekend when their normal venue wasn’t available so the street was, by happy coincidence, the venue anyway.

We’ve been experimenting with Street Wisdom for years, refining the experience to the point where we can now give it away as shareware to anyone who’s interested. It’s free, it’s simple and it’s surprisingly transformational.

The Sunday Assembly event forced us to simplify the experience even more as we had more people attending and less time than usual. We gathered at 11am for a bit of a briefing and a mingle. There was no real ‘ice’ to break as Sunday Assemblers seem to arrive pre-warmed up. (“You’re one of us” said a smiling lady on the street as I arrived for the set-up. “I can tell by your smile”. Sweet.) Then 200 people spilled into London’s streets to first “tune” their senses and then “ask the street a question”.

After an hour everyone was invited back to share their tales what they learned.

“Bizarrely amazing!…The thinkiest I’ve ever been…It was AMAZING…a very tangible hour of meaningfulness… I started off with quite low expectations of what I would get from this hour, but I can now say it was a revelation!”

Tweets went out:

V positive experience on my 1st @Street_Wisdom walk: seeing London afresh & thinking differently

Particularly wanderful @SundayAssembly today! Recommend everyone tries @Street_Wisdom.

One person told us “I didn’t arrive at a definite answer, but that’s ok. Doors have been opened, more wanders will be had.”

And that’s the point. There are many streets out there. And many Sundays. And now more people able to gain some Street Wisdom. Altogether it’s a wander-ful life!