‘Sisters in Conversation’ – so what happened?

After three weeks of frantic activity, the Sisters in Conversation event took place yesterday 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 of our women, drawn from all over London.

As one participant wrote on her Facebook page this morning:

“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 was charged in court last week).

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 sector, voluntary sector, private sector 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, will be one of my most enduring recollections of the day.

The event will now be followed by ongoing connections between the women (hopefully leading to further action), a similar parallel conversation between the brothers and then a whole community (possibly 24 hour?) conversation later this year.

A fuller article about ‘The Sisters in Conversation’ event with photos, film footage and other comments will be posted here shortly, so spread the word and watch this space!

Roy Edgeworth