The Sisters in Conversation event took place in January 2012 at the Women’s Resource Centre, in the Barbican. It attracted 24 amazing African and Caribbean community leaders, activists and change agents, plus a hosting team of six women, drawn from all over London.
It was one of the activities delivered as part of Ubele project - a prototype for The Ubele Initiative.
One participant wrote on her Facebook page:
“It was a fabulous day and I even changed my plans to stay until the end! I met a potter, writer, singer, entrepreneurs, business advisor, film-maker, photographer, graphic recording artist, administrators, consultants, an academic and university graduate….. and we feasted on fruit, ‘Cummin Up’ lunch & ‘Black River’ chocolates!”
It is interesting what our community can actually make happen in less than a month (and with no obvious financial resources!).
This dialogue event was conceptualized, planned and organised as a result of an email that I sent out and the myriad of responses I received, following the fatal stabbing of 18 year old Seydou Diarrassouba on Oxford Street, during the Boxing Day sales,(for which a 20 year old man appeared in court).
Over 40 women expressed interest (but we had to limit numbers due to the available space). The women who attended were drawn from diverse sectors – public, voluntary, private and self employed – several were volunteering for the development of their community, in addition to their ‘day jobs’!
The programme provided a space for women to share their individual and collective ideas, insights, aspirations and collective wisdom emerged. Given the quality of engagement and wide ranging conversation, we did not complete the programme as designed (so it seems that we need to create more space for further conversation!)
In addition to stretching, intelligent and humorous conversations, a high level of emotion was expressed about the personal and professional toll that community activism can often bring – burn out and frustration at lack of progress was expressed on several occasions. Nonetheless women expressed determination to keep going with community development ideas and initiatives despite such experiences.
There is no doubt that the sisterhood created, in addition to the collective social capital gathered in such a small space, were one of my most enduring recollections of the day.