One of the most effective community philosophers and practitioners, whose work has been seminal to this Village- Connections project, was John Wardle.
John was a haemophiliac who had been treated with a blood-product infected with AIDS and was relatively house-bound, confined to a wheel chair. He died in 1997.
You know when you and I get on the phone we can talk for a long time, we develop ideas together – a lot of back and forth – and I find those chats incredibly important because everything comes out of it, and I spend a lot of time just dwelling on things, then chatting about them again. And then I’ll say something, a bit to you, a bit to John, to somebody, to Dave and they’ll feed back about their own stuff and things develop out of it… (pages 140-141)
John Wardle had many ideas which he was keen on promoting, but, like many, he was not comfortable talking to large groups. He said, “So I talk on a one-to-one basis and hope like hell somebody runs with it.”
Fortunately, John’s conversation partners did take up many of his excellent ideas and innovative community projects were spawned in this way
Raewyn Good and Steve Luke were also people who gave their support to Village-Connections. They also made time to talk. Raewyn would talk with those who made time to go outside with her (in all kinds of weathers) while she smoked a cigarette or two.
Steve Luke made time to talk regularly with a group of friends as well as spontaneously when he came across people he knew in cafes or in stairwells.
Both tragically died recently, unexpectedly, within a few weeks of each other.
One would be mistaken thinking making and taking time for such talk was an idle waste. John, Raewyn and Steve were, undoubtedly more productive, more effective, more networked and certainly more innovative and creative than most.
We tend to hear about the value of taking time for conversations around the water coolers and cafes in creative places such as Silicon Valley, but not so much in places like our villages, universities and policy institutions.
In a world which many would say is speeding up, do you think we need to try to slow time down and make more – not less – time for conversations?