Yesterday (25th April) marked two years since Anita, Amy, Sanderson and I met in a pub in Trafalgar Street to talk for the first time about setting up a Sunday Assembly in Brighton … and what an incredible two years it has been! Now, as a strong and supportive 9-person committee and with the ongoing invaluable help from a wonderful team of volunteers and enthusiastic congregants, the Sunday Assembly Brighton community continues to grow.
Perhaps rather poignantly, Sanderson and a team of organisers and volunteers from Sunday Assembly in Bristol and London joined us for today’s service, partly as a social visit, but mainly to undertake the new process of accreditation, so that we could be assessed for meeting a set of criteria to be able to continue to operate under the Sunday Assembly banner (contact us if you are interested to find out more about this process). After a long discussion including feedback on what we are doing well and where we could improve, we were declared to be highly successful and are now an accredited group within the Sunday Assembly movement.
The theme today was ‘play’, and our host Rob, playful as ever, got us off to a lively start and led us into singing Pinball Wizard.
Rosa presented her bespoke poem, my favourite line of which talked of following the lead of children in ‘lifting the modest skirts of adultness’.
Andy Cain, former therapist and comedy improviser gave our main talk, suggesting how we can regain the playfulness that we perhaps remember from our childhood, but which we have since lost due to our adult desire for control and certainty.
He suggested the ways to play are to:
- Be present
- Let yourself fail
- Listen – allow yourself to be changed
- Build on what you’re given
- Relax and have fun
He invited us to participate in an exercise of creating a story using words provided by our neighbour. When I woke up this morning, I couldn’t have imagined that I would be telling a new-found friend the story of an anaemic platypus who, having been given a blood transfusion by a passing mermaid, restored his energy and was once more able to play with his friends and share with them the ham and pickle sandwiches that his mum had made for his packed lunch! It was a fun and liberating exercise.
He also suggested some things you can do:
- Give play some importance
- Look into your play history
- Spend time with playful people
- Create opportunities
- Choose to bring a playful attitude
He pointed out that ‘you don’t connect with others because you have 15 facts in your back pocket for filling uncomfortable silences: you connect over a sharing of fun and joint discovery’.
The up-tempo ‘Happy’ kept up the energy levels, led enthusiastically by our lively choir and band.
Adam told us what he knew about play in the slot we call ‘This Much I Know’, and inspired us by explaining how we can ‘transfer the mundane into the magic’. He talked of making check-out conveyor city-scapes from your weekly groceries, or how following a dog can lead you to all sorts of new places. Or how you could follow the outline of an image drawn onto a map and be led to new parts of a town that you wouldn’t otherwise have gone. Or how you can have a spontaneous adventure by going on an ‘alphabet walk’, starting at a place beginning with ‘A’, then perhaps heading to a particular ‘B’uilding, turning a ‘C’orner and so on. It’s surely only a matter of time that we will bump into one another lurking around the ‘x’-ray department, or meet each other at the ‘Z’oo where all our walks are sure to terminate! You can download a free copy of Adam’s book, Playground Earth, here:
We had a moment of silence to reflect on the theme, followed by our notices.
As a brief summary:
- Next service: ‘Connection’ Fringe special, 3rd May 14.00-16.00 Spiegeltent, tickets here
- Second Sunday: Café Rouge, Haywards Heath 10th May 15.00-17.00. Details can be requested by emailing us at email@example.com FAO Izi
- Third Thursday: Earth and Stars 21st May from 19.30
- Next planning meeting (1st Thursday): Battle of Trafalgar, 4th June, from 19.00
- Next service at St Andrew’s: 28th June, 11.00 ‘Strength’
- Research project about the impact on participants of Sunday Assembly: details from Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org
- If you are interested in helping set up some events for children and family socials, get in touch by emailing email@example.com, FAO Jo and Lynne
- Plus there is always a general call for cake bakers, volunteers, singers, musicians, suggestions, and donations for the Hangleton food bank…
Our final song was Play That Funky Music, which our band duly did!
Hope to see you next Sunday afternoon at the Spiegeltent.