By Heather Thomas
Let’s start with what culture is not. Culture is not a thing that you go to a museum and observe expertly hung on a wall. Culture is what you live and breathe and feel and think – every single day. Books, music, paintings, politics, television – they are all reflections and expansions of us. We are culture. That means each and every one of us has tremendous power to influence our culture. Culture shapes you as much as you shape it.
How each of us understands the world and ourselves within it changes throughout time. What is true for ‘me’ is also true for ‘we’. Culture is an expression of what we value and how we reinforce those values in everything we do. Culture makes a space, a place because it infuses it with meaning. And when we gel with that meaning, we feel like we belong.
When too many of us are trying too hard to fit into a community where we don’t feel we belong, well, it’s time for a plot twist. The meaning our culture is making is no longer fit for purpose. Re-imagining is a catch word these days. All it really means is that it’s time for a ‘you didn’t see it coming who dunnit it’ in your favourite mystery novel to be written. The cool thing is, you get to write it. And before you say, I can’t! Don’t worry, you’re not alone. We have to do this together. (Also, if you have ever had a daydream, you’ve got a zillion plot twist ideas whirling about within you. Trust me. Better yet, trust yourself.)
The other thing that culture is not is one size fits all. Agricultural monocultures are problematic because without diversity, ecosystems become ill, whither and die. Same too with people. There is very much that unites us all. We all want to feel love, feel tranquil in our home and on our streets, have opportunities to learn and grow, have agency within our own lives. But, how each and every one of us expresses that is going to be different. We have to balance our geographic community with the communities in which we find friends, people with shared identities, experiences, passions, and the rest of the natural world that keeps us all thriving. Finding a way for us to create that balance requires us all to manifest and deliver dazzling new ideas. And THAT is what Together Culture aims to help us do.
The folks behind Together Culture are creatives who like to gather at The Free Press Pub. We don’t propose to have the solutions, but we do propose to have some pretty good ideas about how we can work together to come up with some new ways of being together and try them out.
Here’s our proposal. We think Cambridge needs to value the creativity of the town as much as the gown. We want to gather our artists and creatives together and give them pride of studio place in the city centre. Because that demonstrates what we value as a community. We all have a lot to learn from artists – these are the folks amongst us wired to think beyond the status quo. So, if you’re an artist, please get in touch and let us know if you are interested in studio space.
How we use our space helps to build a place. And that’s where EVERYONE comes in. Together Culture aims to use our space to gather people with intent, to define the type of community we want to create, to brainstorm ideas for how to make that vision reality, and to fund the prototypes of programmes to test and learn and help our culture evolve.
Over the next four weeks, we’re going to be sharing our ideas and asking you to share yours. That will help to inform a series of three events we’re calling Dinners of Ideas that Together Culture will hold at Cambridge Junction. And all of that will help design our first community scale re-imagining around the part of town where the creatives who are nurturing Together Culture live, The Kite. We’re hoping that our home will be the old Debenham’s at The Grafton Centre. We’ll see what the future holds!
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
We hope you’ll join us at the Junction for a taste of Together Culture.