Over the past two years, the 'Discovered Stories, Shared Communities' project has been a fantastic adventure for all of us who took part. One of the primary aims of the project was to empower communities and individuals with the skills, ideas and practices required for them to flourish in a sustainable way. Some of this collaborative and co-created work has been turned into the outputs and resources linked at the bottom of this page.
DSSC brought together people from diverse communities to share, tap into collective wisdom, and see what ideas and stories emerge when we ask a simple question:
“What makes a welcoming community?”
The project has been an exploration of fresh perspectives on cultivating fair, welcoming and meaningful communities that bring people together to co-create the lives and relationships that will nourish us all.
What we have learnt is based around a simple, powerful idea:
we feel most welcome, happy, and best-able to cope with day-to-day life
when we know we are seen as humans.
We need to feel a true sense of belonging – this means understanding and being understood; being able to create authentically nourishing relationships; being able to express ourselves and have agency; being able to grow and flourish in ourselves and as part of a community.
These needs can be met in many ways – we have found that it is important to feel as if we have spaces where we can play, be curious, be creative and engage in conversations that bring meaning to our lives.
We did that by engaging with new models of leadership, learning how to host conversations that matter, inviting creativity and expression through workshops - visual arts, bits of drama, writing, and shared thinking and enquiries, supporting people to build stronger bonds with community through community projects.
We weren’t on this journey alone - along the way we met community organisations, groups and individuals who are doing an amazing job of welcoming new community members and helping them settle, make them feel at home, and grow together. Big thanks especially to Furness Multicultural Community Forum staff and members, AWAZ Cumbria, West Cumbria Refugee Support Network, West Cumbria Baha’i, Signal Film and Media and Groundwork Trust.
On 19th May we met for the last time as part of the Discovered Stories Shared Communities project. Our online gathering was a beautiful celebration of the people, ideas and learning of the past two years.
The day was all about sharing the tools, methods and approaches which we can use to enable new ways of being and working in our communities. We defined the nature of ‘welcoming communities’ and the mindsets required to create them; we celebrated the concept of abundance where everyone is enough and there is enough to go around; we investigated the types of leadership that allow for the emergence of our true potential; and we explored ways of engaging in conversations with deep listening, collective sense-making, creative expression, and appreciation of the gifts each of us brings.
We shared not only locally but also nationally and internationally, with friends old and new - our partners, DSSC project participants, community members, and representatives of the County Council as well as academics. Event participants came from all over the world. When checking in we heard the names of familiar places such as Kendal, Carlisle or Workington, but also Liverpool, London, Warsaw, Istanbul, Athens, Kuwait, Morocco and Romania, to mention just a few. This was a beautiful example of global interconnectedness and another way in which the global dimension of CDEC’s work manifests itself.
The Meaning of Welcome - Debbie Watson
Reconnecting with Abundance in Communities - Katie Carr
Voices of the Community - Erika Ghinelli
Sustainable Leadership - Katie Carr
At the end of the Celebration Event in May, we asked our participants "what three things are you taking away with you today?" and this is what they said:
We hope you have been inspired!
Please get in touch if you would like to know more.