Mindful Market

Over the last months, Spitalfields has become a favourite starting point for Street Wisdom, particularly for our session introducing Street Wisdom to business people.

For hundreds of years it was a wholesale food market with traders shouting out their wares and engaging customers in the argy-bargy of sales banter. Today it’s a hive of hipster stores, pop-up restaurants and bars. But there’s some connection missing. There’s a crowd of people but they are not really interacting. At least that was a feeling that Millie (pictured) had.

So, on her Street Wisdom walk, she decided to set up her own stall – offering free conversations. And her first customers were three (“slightly scary-looking”) older men. Turns out they weren’t East End hoods. They all used to work in the market, were visiting their old workplace and wanted to talk about it.

It was something that all our business participants noticed in their different ways. How we can be in a crowd and yet feel very separate from those around us.  Shopping used to be an excuse to connect. And now it’s a substitute. Maybe we need more ‘marketing’ like Millie’s. Turn shopping back into conversations.

by David Pearl.

Photo by Ines Alonso.

Snow & Synchronicity in Stockholm

When we started working with our friends Ogilvy & Mather in Stockholm, we didn’t expect snow (in April) nor did we realise the location was so significant. Take a look at what we discovered and why we are proud to have played our small part in World Peace! And if you were taking part in the event, please leave your comments below. We’d be inspired to hear about your experiences.

Snap out of it – A call to slow down by David Pearl

The journalist and author Carl Honoré confesses he was a one-time speed freak.  Since then he’s become the guru of Slow.  He and I spent a deliciously laid back-day together before Easter and if you can find the time – you can, by the way – take a listen to our podcast.

Creative Hoxton

“I can’t remember the last time that I walked without having a destination in mind” says James Kirk one of the leaders of Creative Social, a collective of the world’s most pioneering, creatives/business owners.  He and CS co-founder Daniele Fiandaca had been wanting to organize an event with Street Wisdom for ages.   And last week the planets aligned.   Perfect timing – as it was also half term at the School for Communication Arts so SCA2 Dean Marc Lewis could join us in Hoxton Square – in the sputtering rain – to spark the whole experience off.

And quite an experience it was.

Street Wisdom is chance to slow down, recalibrate your creativity and realise that the answers to your problems are hiding in plain sight” says James.  “It opened my eyes to the magic that surrounds us everyday.”

Sally Henderson of Pello agreed:  Often the wisdom we search for is right in front of us, literally under our noses looking right back at us. But we are too busy and caught up in the noise of “life” to see it.

The simple yet very powerful techniques of Street Wisdom enabled me to slow down, tune in and get connected. With my environment, new people, new and old places but most importantly with myself. And I am richer for it. 

The Sharing, held in a “secret flat’ above a Hoxton pub [think Smiley’s People meet the Kray twins] was one of the most creative we’ve ever seen with books being created, careers refined, projects reframed…

One of the mantras of Creative Social is John Hegarty’s advice:  “Do interesting things and interesting things happen to you”.  Quite!   Let’s do it again soon and unleash the creativity on the world!

Fathers’ Day, NYC

“My father used to work in the city”. Long Island born musician, Ross was reflecting on what the city had meant to him and meant now, with so much of the city changing.   “It’s always felt to me like the real place.  Yet it’s always changing.  When people complain about the development I remind them it’s always been like this.   This courtyard, for instance (we were having iced tea in an ‘authentically French’ tea cafe). 50 years ago this would have been a forecourt covered in machine parts.”

It was Father’s day in New York.  So the paternal influence was always going to be felt.  But it was a day for mothers too.  Irish-born Lucy had been a natural flâneur when she first arrived in the City.  She’s had less time for creative wandering since Theo was born.  He is now 14 months old and showed up for his first Street Wisdom in a baby sling – with almond butter biscuits on tap.  Luxury.

Lucy is a singer and writer.  So let’s hear about her experience – in her own words:

David was a very open, jovial and engaging midwife of our encounter with the New York city street one Sunday afternoon in SoHo. New York streets are incredibly information-rich places, bursting with mitochondria and effluence. After several years of living here, I still find it deeply fascinating. So it’s an ideal place for a happening like Street Wisdom, though inevitably because there is so much abundance of stimuli and people busy fighting their way through the infinity of it all to get to where they HAVE TO BE, a lot of it goes unnoticed. But it’s there. 

David described the Street Wisdom encounter as being a dance with the street and it was delicious – as a parent of a 14 month old baby – to have a scheduled opportunity to dance with the whispers and shouts and belches of downtown Manhattan on a hot afternoon with little zephyrs blowing gusts of precious air on the avenues if we got lucky. His questions sent us looking for old things in new ways, I found. Probably the most profound moment in the whole experience for me happened within my very first meander, when I happened upon an empty scene beside a playground that I found very compelling, in an open way. I kept returning to it, and I want to go back to that spot and gaze some more, and throw some more questions into the empty swimming pool I found there.


Wanderful Copenhagen

“It’s not rain – it’s nature reminding us we’re alive!”.  That was my own personal breakthrough moment leading a Street Wisdom in wonderful, wanderful Copenhagen.  Our 12 adventurers had started their Tune Up in bright sunshine. An hour later, just as we started the Quest, the skies opened.  It turned out to be perfect weather for an elemental journey. And it was also really fitting, given this Street Wisdom event was hosted by our new friends Being Human – an organisation that’s best known for taking groups into the wilderness and connecting deeply to Nature for inspiration.

Why did they want to run a Street Wisdom? Founder, Sille Lundquist put it this way – ‘Wisdom is everywhere, if we pay attention to it – this is a belief that Being Human shares with Street Wisdom. Even though we mostly use nature – both the great wild nature, and the small pockets of nature in every city around the world – for nourishment and inspiration, the collaboration was right from the second we met. I got curious and was guided by a playfulness, generosity, depth and eagerness to explore that not only made my day but answered my question – and inspired the people that came along as well! What a wonderful day – being alive in the rain!’

The questions people asked were, as ever, varied.  ‘Should I build the houseboat?‘ was one that stuck in my mind.  Another was ‘My head says yes to the dramatic new job but my body isn’t sure…which of them is right?’  The final sharing, in the warmth of the Atlasbar was just fascinating.  I had to tear myself away so I would get to the airport on time.  But I sense the conversations – and the real adventures – are just beginning.

David Pearl

Inventor of Street Wisdom

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Walk on Water

  The RSA is on a mission.  A big one.  21st Century Enlightenment.   So we’re delighted and honoured that they are partnering with Street Wisdom.  On Dec 3, while David Attenborough was giving his vision for tackling climate change upstairs, we were out in the streets, seeing how we could bring the local environment alive and harvest insights from the urban landscape.

For over two centuries, the RSA has been a home for innovation.  So it was appropriate that this Street Wisdom ended in a way we have never tried before.   On the water.

Not in the water, you’ll be relieved to know, but on a former Thames passenger steamer transformed into a floating bar.

45 participants showed up.  46 if you include this member of the public parking their car that got involved in Vali’s group:



If you attended the event and want to share anything you learned/enjoyed/decided, then please leave a comment below.

Street Hug for Mark and Kenny for being top RSA wizards.  And special thanks to Vali and Adam, by the way for being such great Street Leaders.  Neither of them has led a group before.  They just loved their Street Wisdom experience and wanted to pass it on.   If you’d like to do the same, just let us know and we’ll make sure you have all you need.

Have a wander-ful weekend!


David Pearl


Peace Wisdom


Every day we hear disturbing news from conflict regions.  But what can we do about it? That’s a question often asked by the 15 entrepreneurial young peacemakers from places such as Israel, Palestine and Pakistan who were chosen to be the first ever GATHER Fellows.

GATHER, which focuses on supporting those taking practical action, is the brainchild of Seeds of Peace – a transformational initiative set up 25 years ago to develop the leadership potential of young Israelis and Arabs. GATHER chose London as the venue for its inaugural fellowship program. And asked Street Wisdom to kick it off!

Mohamed Rahmy, Director of Graduate Programs, explains what he had in mind: “GATHER Fellows come from completely different backgrounds; they speak different languages, and are working across different sectors on a variety of social change issues. I couldn’t have imagined a better exercise that would meet such a diverse group’s needs than Street Wisdom. Everyone of us, no matter what we do for a living, no matter how caught up we are in what our lives throw our way, deserve the mental space that Street Wisdom offers. It allows us to pause and reflect on the questions – big and small, practical and existential – that somehow get lost in the craziness of our day-to-day routine. Street Wisdom’s methodology is simple, accessible and easily applicable – practically anywhere around the world.”

IMG_9264We were honoured to be involved.  And excited!   It was inspiring to watch GATHER fellows heading out into the Autumn sunshine of Trafalgar Square in search of fresh answers to some world-sized questions. Some came back with fresh thinking about their projects. Others with insight into how they can sustain themselves as they seek to support others. One participant was stopped on her quest by someone trying to sell her a London bus tour.  “I’ll talk to you,” she said, “provided at the end I can ask you a question”.  “A question about me?”, asked the bus guy, taken off guard by the role reversal.  “No, about me and my work in Ramallah” she replied.  She didn’t buy the tour ticket but the conversation yielded fascinating insights from this wise stranger (”Stop talking about Israel, start talking about Palestinians!”).

Mohammed Rahmy reflects on the lasting effects of Street Wisdom on the participants: “It opened a new world of opportunities for self and professional betterment and revealed new places to seek advice, reassurance or even straight-on answers to some of life’s questions – a world of possibilities for our Fellows to ponder on over the coming weeks. I’m so happy we opened our GATHER Fellowship’s leadership accelerator with Street Wisdom and I am keen to always have it as a key ingredient in future programs. The impact of Street Wisdom is truly limitless.’’

IMG_9283The GATHER fellows are dispersing back to their regions.  But they are taking Street Wisdom with them and several are planning to run their own with their teams and communities.  It would be wonderful if they do.  It would bring us a step closer to our goal of bringing inspiration to every street in the world.  Now there’s a seed to plant!

David Pearl

With thanks to Street Wizards David Micklem and Scott Morrison for facilitating.     



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Sunny Wanderings, Wisdom and Wizards in the beating heart of London

Blessed by gorgeous weather, 30 seekers of wisdom met on a luminous Sunday afternoon just around the corner from one of London’s most famous byways: Carnaby Street.

Street Wisdom co-founder David Pearl and Street Wizard alumni Scott Morrison gathered us all together on the ancient cobblestones and gave us a taste of the experience that would unfold over the next three hours. Expect the unexpected, look for teachers as well as answers, use the streets as an invisible university.

Perhaps we picked up on the neighbourhood’s reputation for new ideas, open-minded entrepreneurs and leaping into the unknown (in bell-bottomed trousers) but as the group of soon-to-be Street Wizards set off on their wanderings, the air was full of expectation. And a couple of hours later, we were not disappointed – new light had been shed on all sorts of difficult questions, inspiration had been sought and found, and the world was viewed in a new and stimulating way. If you were there, thank you for coming, and please leave your own stories of adventure in the comments below. We’d love to hear them.

Massive thanks also to our other volunteer facilitators: Mark Brown, David Micklem, Ines Alonso and Jo Pearl. And to Stephen Cotterell for the photos.

See you next time….

Street Wisdom London July 2015 © stephen cotterell photography 13118  Street Wisdom London July 2015 © stephen cotterell photography 13115  Street Wisdom London July 2015 © stephen cotterell photography 13117