On Newsnight @johnprescott has just said ‘stop complaining and start campaigning’. Having just spent an extraordinary weekend at #Interrogate2011 I find myself agreeing with the first part…but not so sure about the second. Instead I find a tune racing through my head ‘ don’t worry – be happy’ it goes.
#Interrogate2011 (a festival of arts and social justice at @dartingtonhall programmed by the hub) has been a real eye opener. Facts and statements are whizzing round my head still – more than 24 hours after the event closed. The basic premise (said Richard Wilkinson co author of The Spirit Level) – the greater a countries income inequality –the greater the social problems.
But what was really inspiring for me was the message of positive action. Athena at Speakers Corner passionately urged people that action on income inequality starts at home. Rob Hopkins (@robintransition) (Transition Town) asked us to plug leaking communities by keeping things local whilst Mark Williamson (more of him later @actionhappiness) urged us to address inequality through individual and community action.
‘We could make a happier future…it starts quite simply – do you know your neighbours or the guy you talk to in the shop? Do you just put your money down and walk of or do you actually get to know them as a human being – these are the kind of bottom up things which really matter’.
I’m reminded of that question of do you know your neighbour as I watch the technical rehearsal of @easternangles latest show – Crossedkeys by Greg Lyons (which opens tonight at the Brewery Tap). Part of the inspiration behind Greg’s play ( a beautiful and moving love story – at 30 minutes a perfect mini drama) was the way we mis judge people often simply on appearances. Greg talked to me of how as an Irish man arriving in the UK during the IRA bombings in London he was treated with mistrust and disdain. Kate Pickett argued during #Interrogate2011 that trust between strangers is higher in more equal societies – and in a quiet, unassuming way Crossed Keys demonstrates what ever our cultural background, traditions and beliefs we have huge amounts in common.
(Crossed Keys in rehearsal)
In many ways such simple (but at the same time) profound (and scientifically proven) messages are at the heart of Action for Happiness. The Great Dream – ten keys to happier living are simple – almost easy things – to implement at a personal level . You can download the details from here www.actionforhappiness.org
So last word to Mark Williamson ‘I think the inspiring thing about this combination of both political and personal action [at #interrogate2011] is that there is something both aspirational and hopeful about it – a vision of a happier and better future – one where we can each play a role’.
Interrogate was programmed by the hub and produced by Dartington at DartingtonHall. Crossed Keys by Greg Lyons is produced by @easternangles and premieres at The Brewery Tap on 28th September and plays various venues throughout Peterborough until 22nd Oct.