On Thursday 14 May artists, producers and makers who work in and with communities came together over Jitsi (an open-source video call platform) for another of our fortnightly Project Nights to discuss ‘Self care and community wellbeing.’
After the last Project Night discussion, ‘Being creative with digital tools’, there seemed a need to pause, consider the impact that increased use of digital tools can have on our bodies and minds and turn our attention once more to care; both of ourselves, others close to us and our wider communities.
I personally had been noticing how easy it is at the moment to feel disconnected from my body and also how strange it can feel to be distanced from the physicality of the people and communities we are used to working with and seeing on a regular basis.
With these thoughts in mind we invited the brilliant Bristol based dance maker Laila Diallo to join us, open a space for us to connect with our bodies, engage in some quiet reflection and spark a discussion around self-care and community wellbeing.
Laila shared a piece of writing about what she has been noticing lately and led us through a gentle series of movements – we closed our eyes, turned off our screens and gently felt the weight of one hand in the other.
Listen here for Laila’s writing and guided movement activity.
After this stillness and having moved our spine a little Laila invited us to write, spontaneously, for the duration of a song in response to these questions:
‘I wonder what you all have been noticing in these very particular times?’
‘how you have been connecting with those outside of your home?’
‘How it has all felt…?’
Taking care of ourselves
After this reflection, to the tune of Elvis Presley, we shared a few things that people had been noticing:
– the time going by so quickly despite us somehow standing still
– hearing the neighbours more and learning things about them
– seeing new parts of your home as you stare in strange angles during exercise
– the joy of Mr Motivator
– watching spring arrive and learning about nature
– making sound recordings and discovering new wildness in the centre of cities
– doing lots of baking and acknowledging some positive things about working from home – less back pain from lugging props around and more chances to problem solve in new ways
– a tension between more space for noticing and listening and the ongoing pressures of productivity.
– feeling tired, disappointed with technology and frustrated that the promise of more space and quiet isn’t always easy or possible to find.
We acknowledged that the experience of this moment is so personal and different for everyone.
Taking care of others
We moved on to a discussion about how we are taking care of others and our communities. Taking a moment to think about this we chose one thing to share – either something we’d been doing or had found inspiring. We experimented with jamboard to create a web of care: writing our thoughts onto a digital post-it and drawing lines between ideas to highlight connections.
Overall people seemed inspired by some of the new webs of care that are emerging – across fences, in streets or between previously distanced communities – and of course acknowledged those that existed already and have become even more important.
We wondered, how we might find ways to carry on weaving new webs beyond this moment? Are there any practices of care we could try and hold on to?
– Arts Professional has a new microsite for Covid-19 updates around how to: ‘Stay well, supported and creative’.
– Arts Council England share evidence on how ‘arts and culture is good for us’ and some example projects that are ‘making us feel better’.
– Arts and Health South West have curated a long list of resources.
Write-up by Martha King, Arts Producer