“Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans” – apparently. So it’s best not to hang around too long making them.
Seize the dime and all that.
Like Emeka Egbuono. Here he is getting east London inner city youth together with police officers in a role reversal exercise – to build mutual understanding and trust. He started as a participant and now he helps run them – as described in this excerpt from Emeka’s blog.
I remember being part of the pilot session… I was 15 at the time and to be honest all we wanted to do was to have our weekly table tennis competition.
The police turned up in two vans. There were at least 9 of them for that first session.Everyone seemed uneasy with their presence, looked more like a raid to be honest. They came with their plain clothes. The session was not how I imagined, Janette project manger for The crib had to stimulate the discussion because she could sense that none of us wanted to talk to the police. Eventually after a few games that broke the ice, we started discussing issues that affect us, this was our chance to get our voice heard and if anything would happen after this was yet to be seen. We spoke about police tactics, stop and search, profiling, stereotypes, legal rights, and the justice system. It was very interesting talking about all these things and seeing thing from a different perspective. It was all done in a respectful manner as everyone had equal say.
This was then followed by role reversal role playing between us and the police. An example of a scenario we had to do was that a group of young people were hanging around on the stairwell in block on the estate, a concerned resident calls the police to come and move them along because of the noise and what looks like fighting. So now we have the scenario, we now had to act as the police who turned up to deal with the situation, and the police were acting as the young people who were only play fighting with each other and having a laugh.
A Trading Places session – youth and police – pic from Emeka Egbuonu.
As the police officers we started off with the nice approach, but the police officers acting as young people did not go easy on us, they made it extremely difficult to resolve the situation. I think they have vast experience dealing with scurrilous youth because they were doing a good job. Eventually we had to use force and make them move along.
The second day was really interesting because the police now had to come in with their full uniform and the dynamics of the session changed. There was a sense of animosity between us and the police, even though it was with the same officers from the day before Continue reading
Time to get serious. And uplifting.
Japan - by Steve McCurry
The wonderful and striking photographs are by Steve McCurry, from his recent Finding The Sublime post. You should definitely click over there to see them all. Steve has popped up here before with his work in Afghanistan.
For an insight into London (or any?) gang culture, read gang intervention worker Emeka Egbuonu’s post – Are you willing to KILL? When asked that question by Emeka, the smallest member of the group answered:
We are in too deep. I have enemies who probably will not hesitate to kill me if they saw me slipping (caught off guard). That is why I am always prepared for whatever the occasion and if that means dropping a body in the process then so be it.
The good news is Continue reading
These two faces of London are both trying their best to make the city and the people therein more grounded, more aware and more connected with each other – for which I salute both Christopher West and Emeka Egbuonu.
1. Christopher West brings London’ s history back to life in the persona of Charles Dickens – or perhaps it’s the great man’s ghost. I’ve seen this ghost in action and he’s a lively recreation. And topical given that it would have been Charles Dickens’s 200th birthday today (7th February). The Charles Dickens London blog is here. You can invite him to give a talk – in character and Dickensian outfit – at your gathering. For a sample – check out his appearance in this Voice of America news report by correspondent Dominic Laurie.
My favourite Dickens character? The villain Pecksniff from Martin Chuzzlewit. From Pecksniff we derive Pecksniffian – sanctimonious, hypocritical. (Do you have a favourite – good-hearted or malign?)
And what’s your Dickensian name? To find out take a first name from a great grandparent and add on the name or street name of your primary school (but leave out the “Saint” part to allow variety). Which makes me something along the lines of Charlie Derryvolgie – which has a good ring to it, I think.
2. Emeka Egbuonu arrived in east London from Nigeria aged seven, and survived the blows and temptations of teenage violence, to become an anti-gang intervention worker. He runs a scheme called Consequences – Breaking the Negative Cycle which aims to awaken young people to the alternative possibilities their lives can offer once they take responsibility for their actions. Continue reading