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.

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

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!

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


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


A Street Wyesdom adventure at the Hay Festival

So this was the plan, right? I agreed with Street Wiz Mark , that we would attempt the, not insignificant, challenge of running a Street Wisdom Adventure during the Hay Festival…

 You are probably already on board with the difficulties that might have arisen. First and foremost (not withstanding the powerful allure of a SW stroll) there is a LOT going on in Hay during the Festival. People overfill their diaries with the sumptuous cultural cornucopia on offer. They dash madly from a lecture on late Byzantine art to an interactive exercise in philosophy combined with t’ai chi (or something similar)
It can be hard to stand out in this kind of context…and so it proved. This Street Wisdom Adventure didn’t quite take off in the traditional way and although we did not manage to prise any people away from their Festival fayre; Street Wisdom delivered in exactly the way that is normally does – unexpectedly. And this is how –
  • Rachel ( Mark’s wife) ran into a very old  friend, Penny, that she had not seen for over 10 years. Someone indeed, with whom she had crossed America, in her youth. Needless to say,  If we hadn’t set off on our Adventure, then they would not have met.
  • As we walked the beautiful streets of Hay, handing out leaflets (I had never been before) we met and talked to a large number of  people. It seems everyone is friendly in Hay!
  • At the Festival itself, we listened to a wide range of wonderful talks – from Eddie Butler (Rugby author and commentator), Victoria Hislop and from a Curator of the British Museum talking about their new exhibition : ‘Defining Beauty – the body in Ancient Greek Art’
  • Finally, we were blown away by the amazing The Unthanks in the evening concert. The trumpet solo on Mount The Air was sensational.
Thanks to Mark, his lovely wife Rachel and their two daughters, for kindly putting me up in their beautiful and peaceful home.
The big (and rather marvellous) learning from my Grand Street Adventure to Hay, is that Street Wisdom doesn’t always deliver in the way you expect; but it never disappoints.
Here’s to the next Adventure!!
Nick Hammond