15 things I love about the StreetSpace Community of Practice

1. They help me with my spelling
2. We have a laugh
3. They hold me to account, and most have no problem telling me whats what.
4. They are not too quick to label themselves a movement
5. We share, experience, stories, hopes, dreams and a generosity of spirit.
6. We gathered from Scotland to Southsea
7. The creativity is amazing,- practical and ideas wise
8. The gathering tried different ways to include those who couldn’t be there
9. We have a vicar who knows Wu Tang Clan, and another growing church in a coffee shop that used to be where Two Tone records were based
10. People have no problem with disruptive experiences.
11. We apprentice one another
12. When we gather, unless you know you cant tell who is paid and who is voluntary
13. People read stuff, write stuff and ground it.
14. They don’t take the easy road, and they make sacrifices for others and their communities.
15. If you asked me what does it look like to have a heart for young people on the edge I could say look at any one of our projects!

read up on Community of Practice HERE

Feedback On Change – Learning and Money

A process of change – Gradual Natural and chosen by young people, then Awareness of Problems, Seek Discernment about which battles to take on, Include YP with the process. Get on with it and Be the change you want to see – Internal and Outward change is vitally connected and we need both sometimes – Do we think ourselves into a new of acting or Act ourselves into a new way of thinking.

Do our methods of learning passively undermine our intention?
Balance and tension
How we live amongst people in a way that promotes learning and inclusion in what we are doing.
Authentic about the intention of learning with young people being open about this with the

Position being flexible about what we communicate with authenticity? Wording and
StreetSpace to do some research into value of city centre youth work, perhaps with the O2

Social media

Here we identified 4 questions or areas to discuss around Social Media
– Good Practice
– Can social media change the world
– How can encourage YP to use social media in a positive way
– Communication with young people via social media

The feedback was joined up so we will be writing up and revising our policy guidance around it. But if you want to see the pictures of the groups, they are uploaded on facebook.

Our final words of advice from the groups are:

– Should all conversations be recorded on the internet, and if so do we need to relook at all one-2-one work and safeguarding?

– Do viral clips (like KNOY 2012) work because of messages or the medium. To go viral and be engaging it either needs to be authentic or really high production quality – what’s in the middle space

– Power is being recaptured by the powerful in the online space.

Updated policies will be made available to the network soon.


First Theme being explored Mysticism – 4 Areas
Language – needs to develop out of the experience of the young person and find their own language. – Use symbolism to bridge the gap between language and experience
How we do we encourage our own spirituality to encourage others? – we need to develop our own awareness, practice disciplines etc
Find the Thin places in ourselves, and the environment
Bigger than ourselves and need to be open to the new and different
Gender and Spirituality – Value physical Spirituality, awareness of our own gender baggage, and this

StreetSpace Mysticism – Young people are god bearers and spiritual beings not a deficit model. Draw on shared experiences and could this help us develop some common language but allow us our diversity
Wu Tang Clan 43rd Chamber and taking detached work to level 5.

The Gathering Part one

This weekend I am at the StreetSpace Gathering. It is a coming together of about 35 people from across the network with 18 of the 36 projects represented. The whole event is developed using a participative processes. Last night we kicked off with a pictionary ice breaker (draw an activity you do the others dont know you do). The aim is to encourage an equality across the group and not go for the I am XX with this many young people in our contact etc.

We then used a random word generator to spark a creative thinking process as the begininng for the themes we will discuss as a group over the weekend. The Random words were:
– Turntable
– Leaflet
– Mystic
– Passive
Each table mind mapped the words and then people swapped tables to gather the wisdom from the other.
We ended up with three themes we will discuss as a whole group this morning:
– How do we develop mysticism and next level spirituality with young people?
– Social media – Practical advice, Benefits, and Communication
– Being Authentic Us and Others
We also developed a further 6 themes we will use in break out groups.
– Values
– Mentoring Peacemakers
– Change what does it mean?
– Learning Passive and Active – How do you build emotional intelligence in an active learning style/ with chaotic yp
– Money
– The Balance Mission/Personal/Professional

Benign Indifference and missional youth work

Mayo, Collins and Nash’s book the Faith of Generation Y is good stuff, but the concept of Benign Indifference never sat to well with my experience and I could never quite put my finger on why. In the light of the two recent posts about there not being an In and asking the wrong questions, I wanted to revisit it.
I rarely ask questions about faith, and once a conversation is sparked rarely experience the benign indifference. I wonder if this is because I am asking different questions, and that I ask within the context of a robust relationship that allows me to probe answers and not let young people off with easy outs. For example Flow came about by asking “What does it feel like when you skate?” and taking the risk to say “I think that maybe God”. This did not locate God or Spirituality with something outside of the young persons experience but within, and this opened a journey. I never presume to have the truth or tell young people what truth is, rather create an environment for dialogue and discussion. I think StreetSpaces resistance to an eccelesiocentric (church centred) approach to mission, helps us find the questions that are rooted in the lives of young people rather than an implicit or unconsciously church led questions or experiences. It has always been this way for me 20 years I used to ask young people in detached in the summer to be quiet for two minutes and then tell me what colour was their silence was. Recently I have used the word “church” to help locate some my questions within a christian tradition, eg whilst at the skate park asking could this be church?
Central to our approach is an embedded (non dualist) notion that G-d is as present on the streets as anywhere and that of going on a journey to discover with young people who G-d is, what is church, what is belief. What has been interesting is we have robust conversation, even young people taking steps of Faith to come on a journey although are without any notions of imaginary boundaries or lines to cross, and we have “fruit” in terms of a changed landscape, improved communities, turning away from crime, better relationships, but we rarely have benign indifference except perhaps when we ask the wrong questions.

Uneven Cuts

Hope has sustained me, but as I look at the situation in our country and how uneven, unfair and unjust a situation we find ourselves in, my hope is waning. The reports coming out from organistions such as the highly respected Joseph Rowntree Trust, or the National Council for Voluntary Youth services show how the poorest and most marginalised are bearing the brunt of the cuts. The wholesale dismantling of the youth service at a time of highest youth unemployment is one of the stupidest and shortsighted practices of the last 100 years. Usually the optimist in me would see the idea of the Big Society as an opportunity but already I see that again that it will be the most marginalised that will be most affected. It is already becoming clear that the investment needed to resource work with hardest to reach young people will simply not manifest itself, either in terms of people, skills, or money, as the voices of a powerful few sweep up the crumbs of what money is left, or baton down the hatches and become even more insular, to weather out the storm, and unfortunately this is a pattern I see both in the church and the local authority.
Occupy offered me hope, and as the leader of StreetSpace which has to be one of the fastest growing youth work agenicies my hope is still an ember, but I have to remind myself and challenge to church to recognise the inequality of the cuts, the simple injustice, that the poorest communities and young people are not to blame to for the situation we find ourselves in… so here is my reminder……

church on the edge – community in practice

it was great to have people around last weekend, to see the young people who had come up through the project, linking with the professional people who help form the management committee, volunteers, their children and partners. building new forms of church isn’t rocket science, it is being real, open and relational.
People had space to be themselves, drawing away from the main group to chat, or smoke, or play. People had time to mingle over food and argue over which pudding was best, or education policy.
Here were a group of people journeying together from different startpoints towards christ. Helping to build kingdom (but not all understanding that sort of wording), and called together for a purpose. The practice of an open sobnoristic community meeting together around food, or if you want to get theological about it “a banqueting table”.

Open Sodal Sobornostic Communities

Excuse the jargon title, but following up my recent posts I wanted to explore some of the theory that is behind some of the practice and growth of streetspace as a community of practice and local work that I am involved in. Modal and Sodal are two ways of looking at / being church / approaching the mission of God. To borrow from Jonny “modal is the local gathered and sodal the spread out focused around a mission task” I have found this problematic for three reasons, firstly as the gathered needs to swept up in the missio dei as much as the sodal. Secondly as most writings around this suggests a kind of higher commitment to the sodal (there is good post here on what it looks like in a parish church setting). Lastly the concept is rooted in a more closed set and modernist paradigm and I think a weak ecclesiology.

However what is becoming increasingly clear from the take up on StreetSpace and from Beth Keiths recent twitter post “60% of pioneers found the parish church they were connected to the most obstructive part of their job” is that we need a new sort of sodal community. One that is more journey focused and open at the edges. This type of sodal community reflects the core of the missio-dei and as it journeys creates space for others to journey alongside, (who may or may not believe) but are heading with you towards Christ, and as such may have different interpretations of what is means to be committed/believe and in my experience are usually committed to the journey and you if not yet to Christ who is being revealed as we travel. This type of sodal community is continually pushing and finding new edges as together it forms, reforms and discards, as it genuinely values its co travellers, with an orthopraxis rather than orthodox approach.

This is why I think Sobornost is an important christian tradition, “Spiritual community of many jointly living people” or one that is rooted in practice, action, dialogue and community. Because this how you help move towards a new Habitus – (see previous post) but one that is not static or modal, but continually unfolding and in line with the character of God, revealed in Jesus and the Mission dei. The most exciting part of this is that even our local gathered community is sodal in this way but looks nothing like a new monastic community!

It is not easy and during the BBQ we will be having on sunday, or the Gathering (StreetSpace annual get together) there will be practical examples of the type of tensions that will exist, but something new is always unfolding, and something fresh being experienced as we journey together.

Mayor to BBQ

StreetSpace Chard, in conjunction with Chard Town Council, is hosting an event at the local Skate Park in Chard. Following on from the successful Fun Day last July, this year sees competitions for bikers and skates of different ages and abilities as well as games on the MUGA and a BBQ provided by our very own Town Mayor, Cllr Cath Morrison.
The event will take place at the Skate Park in Henson Park, Chard on Saturday 2nd July from 11am to 3pm. This is a free event, open to all young people in the community, with prizes for the competitions being provided by NVMBR and Wheels in Motion. For more information visit Chard Skatepark Comp and BBQ on Facebook Events page. We hope that many will attend the event, the skate park having become a popular destination for skaters and bikers around the region since the completion of the redevelopment of the skate park last summer. If any other businesses would like to support the event please contact Richard Passmore on 07830197160