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Seven Cities in Seven Days!

Funny experience touring like this: I have about 24 hours in each city, and depending on whom I land with, there’s a tour, intense conversation, food and drink, a public Talk, more food and drink, a walk or ride in the morning, more intense talking, furthering new friendships and shared sensibilities… and then I’m gone! On to the next stop. So I left the historic city of Bradford after just such a fulfilling and exciting and deeply gratifying visit. Adriana’s old friend from high school in Uruguay, Cat Browson, and her husband Chris, and their charming daughters, Clara and Angela (about 4 and almost 2), were my hosts. Most unexpectedly to me, these guys are stalwarts of the local scene, but not in ways that I usually intersect with.

Angela, Cat, Chris, and Clara Howson, my amazing Bradford hosts!

Angela, Cat, Chris, and Clara Howson, my amazing Bradford hosts!

Chris is an Anglican priest, but a long-haired, bearded anarcho-commie radical too! They live in Desmond Tutu House, the local home to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, anti-war organizing, immigrant rights support work, and more activities than I could keep track of. Chris’s phone was ringing off the hook the whole time, and dozens of lovely people came and went. Cat helped promote my visit at the local social center, 1 in 12 Club, and a lot of her friends and contacts showed up, including Sara, Lorna, and Liliana from a beautiful cooperative household abutting a big public park off their backyard, and a community garden (allotment) across the road in front that one of their housemates, Jonathan, is the driving force for.

1-in-12-sign_8664

A rare bit of ambiguously interesting graffiti on the side of the 1 in 12 in Bradford.

A rare bit of ambiguously interesting graffiti on the side of the 1 in 12 in Bradford.

The Talk in Bradford was typical for me in some respects, but exciting in the way it devolved after a couple of hours into a convivial hang-out, people bringing beers up from the bar on the floor below, buckets of chips appearing, and much discussion about the big empty hole in the center of the city as a suitable place for a guerrilla gardening effort. I’ve been mentioning Slow Food at my Talks and realized that that particular movement hasn’t made much of an appearance here yet. Always an interesting example for its ability to bring two contradictory impulses together (preserving agricultural and social biodiversity and artisanal practices that have been wrecked by market-driven agribusiness, by promoting the sale of these rare, small batch products that sustain the farmers who are keeping it all alive), highlighting our need to be able to hold ideas and behaviors that aren’t necessarily perfectly consistent but embody an historic moment of compromise and aspiration at the same time.

The old path that once connected villages, now a forgotten back way inside Bradford.

The old path that once connected villages, now a forgotten back way inside Bradford.

We had walk this morning over to see Sara and Lorna’s place, through a an old stone-walled path that once was the thoroughfare between agricultural villages that have long been swallowed by Greater Bradford. Sara saved me with a pot of proper espresso, and later they gave us a scrumptious lunch of rich veggie soup flavored in a spicy mix of East Asia meets West Africa… their neighbors are mostly Muslim South Asians, and as we walked over we passed an impressive huge mosque under construction, plunked down amidst centuries old stone houses.

Gleaming new mosque going up behind centuries-old stone houses.

Gleaming new mosque going up behind centuries-old stone houses.

Jonathan in the allotment (community garden) in Bradford.

Jonathan in the allotment (community garden) in Bradford.

Future Food Forest in development: A pear tree takes root.

Future Food Forest in development: A pear tree takes root.

Sara graciously gave me a lift back to my bags and to the train station, and said to me what I’d been privately thinking the past few days. I’ve got an awfully sweet thing going here, being able to show up in a place, meet great people who are interested in what I am bringing, and then give my presentation which in turn inspires various people to feel quite excited about their own agency, their ability to make a difference through their own actions (and reinforcing that they usually are already doing so!)… which then loops back to me as a burst of warmth and great energy that gives me nourishment to keep doing it the next time, day after day, and not getting so tired that I drop. It is physically exhausting to move so much, to never have a stable home base for more than an evening, and to have to schlep my luggage all the time, but hey, it’s sooooo worth it!

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One Response to “Seven Cities in Seven Days!”

  1. 1
    Cecille Oppenheimer:

    Urban Art for sale? View this fascinating video clip from Style Wars, when graffiti artists were first accepted into the “art world” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNI2y-8gjR8 Can Urban Art be for sale? Can Urban art live in the gallery?

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