Thursday, 9 March 2017

Tottington Library: Things to Do

As part of the project 'Things to Do' yesterday Jeni McConnell and I were at Tottington Library, Bury.

Things to do is a pioneering pilot project, a collaboration with people living with dementia, their carers, arthur+martha, Bury Council and others, redefining relationships with art, carers and the self. It is resulting in workshops and test-driving of draft pages of a creative activity book.

A tricky thing for both Jeni and I was to sit back and simply observe the session- our natural instincts are to 'be on the job', to constantly engage with people, checking group dynamics, pacing the session, trying to find ways for everyone to have opportunities to be involved with the activity. Yesterday that role was challenged, our task was to allow failure or silence to happen.

It was an important lesson on letting go. Things didn't fall apart, the group (in the main) looked after its-self. The instructions for the activities were followed, and in the discussion towards the end of the day, we were told the mock-up pages were clear and informative. Jeni and I still leant a hand, encouragement and advice where needed, but held back much more than normal. There weren't silences, it didn't all fall apart, there was a lot of laughter, and quite a lot of art making.

The game of fruit boules was interesting to watch as participants began to roll their decorated oranges along the floor – no messing about with moving tables – most just got on with it from their chair and dodged the table legs. I loved watching this - there was some serious concentration on faces, judging which direction was needed and how fast to roll – I am convinced some folks have been pretty good bowlers in their time! Smiles and laughter filled the room – the library visitors must have wondered what we were all up to!   Jeni

Thanks to Making Space and all the group for making us all so welcoming and helping us with our project. On a very sad note, the wonderful, important resource Tottington Library,  Bury is closing Saturday 4th March 2017. The closures are part of a saving drive by Bury Council. There is an online petition on-line here. Prestwich Library, Bury has already closed, also Unsworth, Radcliffe Library is due to close in August. 

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