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Weaving New Stories

Co Author:
Shauna Sweeney

We are developing new stories from hundreds of voices and conversations across Dublin to knit together new projects. Our community engagement activities include Tea & Chats, where we visit and listen to citizen groups within their community; Culture Club, which sees us meeting groups at cultural places and talking about cultural impact; and through artist-led engagement in our numerous Engage the City projects. Our Engagement team gives us an insight into what they’ve been working on and the stories that have stayed with them.

Hannah Pinckheard
I take my tea strong with a drop of milk and I have had a lot of tea since joining Dublin’s Culture Connects Outreach and Engagement team in April. As a facilitator of Tea & Chats I get to explore Dublin City with the best guides there are – Dubliners. I hear what makes this city great as I sit on a cushioned armchair or classroom stool or wooden bench inside community centres, library meeting rooms, and sports halls. One question ignites a conversation between my generous hosts. Some agree with one another and others contradict each other. I have played scrabble with women who were keyboard warriors before the internet. Their battle fields were the offices of commanders during World War II. I sat in the small kitchen of an old Parish Hall as a man of 60 years spoke of his first dance with his wife in this space 40 years previous. I have heard a lot of memories and I cannot wait to see what more this city has to share.

Niki Collier 2554
Louise Osborne at Flower Making Workshop with Niki Collier. Image by Ivaylo Petrov

Louise Osborne
I have been working with Dublin’s Culture Connects since 2016 on creative and innovative projects that are relevant and responsive to the people of Dublin. Recently, I have been lucky enough to work as part of the Engagement Team on projects that ensure that the participant’s voice is the creative vein of everything we do. As well as meeting with amazing groups for Tea & Chats to talk about the things that really matter to the people of Dublin, I also work with a team of brilliant artists on Engage the City as we capture the voices of Dubliners through storytelling, drama, weaving, printing and song.
In a recent workshop about weaving stories into tapestries a woman told me that “There’s a lot of history in these pieces of fabric” as she brought together old cushion covers from her home, scraps from costumes she had made over the years and even strands from her wedding veil! I feel very privileged that people share the stories from their lives with me.

Aalia Kamal
I am a policy and social research specialist with a background in central government and arts organisations. I just recently joined the Dublin’s Culture Connects team to help manage the development of the qualitative elements of the Cultural Map – a project to visualise and communicate Dublin’s cultural assets to Dubliners, visitors and policy-makers alike. The map seeks to capture and reflect the full breadth of creativity and energy that Dublin’s Culture Connects has generated since its inception. I’m really excited by the challenge and opportunity this project represents and hope to bring the benefits of this work to the widest possible audience.

Sandra Rodriguez with Paulina and Julia Kepinska, Mother & Toddler, Central Library, Tea & Chats. Image: Hannah Pinckheard
Sandra Rodriguez with Paulina and Julia (child) Kepinska and Marta Raggoo, Mother and Toddler, Central Library, Tea and Chats. Image: Hannah Pinckheard

Sandra Rodriguez
As a member of the Engagement Team, I have been listening to people’s voices and stories through the Tea & Chats sessions since 2016. For me, the key element of Tea & Chats is its informal nature that makes possible honest conversations, where people feel comfortable to share their ideas, reflections, concerns and desires for their local area and city. Some of the people that I met through Tea & Chats have experienced other consultations before, but for the majority it is the first time they were invited to make a change in the life of their local area. I am privileged to be part of this process and contribute to the fact that people feel included and active participants in their city.

Kate Aston
This is the second year that I have had the privilege of travelling all over Dublin to meet with community groups for Tea & Chats sessions. I find it moving to have people open up to me as I ask them about their experience of living in Dublin. I have heard such a diverse range of subjects discussed from the power of neighbours to get each other through in times of tragedy to men feeling that they can’t speak to a child without being viewed suspiciously. I also am lucky enough to project manage Culture Club which means four times a month I get the pleasure of meeting new people from all over Dublin and re-connecting with people who worked with us during The National Neighbourhood Project 2016, while being treated to interesting tours by knowledgeable guides who bring the exhibitions to life.

The Engagement team connects with lots of people each week. The ideas discussed at these sessions are the starting point for all of Dublin’s Culture Connects work. If you would like to get involved with our Engagement programme drop us a line at join-in@dublinscultureconnects.ie

Culture Club, Nan Goldin’s 'Weekend Plans' IMMA. Photo by Laura Larkin
Culture Club, Nan Goldin’s ‘Weekend Plans’ IMMA. Photo by Laura Larkin
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