Created by Zoe Parker, Lucy Meredith and Jason Hird, Tea & Tolerance is a roaming tea caddy, travelling festivals and events in search of what makes a 21st Century Human. They added questions about culture in Leeds to their teapots at this year’s Seacroft Gala, The Men’s Room and LS14 Trust and shared the results here.
During these conversations we spoke to about 120 people (60 children/ 60 adults) and a mixed of questions to the different groups. We worked with artist Tom Bailey from Arts and Minds to create drawings illustrating the main points from the conversations.
What does culture mean to you?
Culture is art, drawing, a little bit music, dancing, it is friendly and nice communities, it is big green spaces to play in.
Knitting and crochet – we need to make a group and work on projects together doing arts and crafts.
For me its meditation – I go my own way now rather than Christianity.
I think all the time, culture is face painting, synchronised swimming, swimming, sports, karate, kick boxing, animals, gymnastics, freedom for groups to meet and share common interests, cycling, playgroups, fashion, we should all dance everyday, and smile everyday, and eat together, abstract art, disco dancing, dog walking, the living museum where people from the community can dress up and bring in photos of their ancestors, community run garden, culture is resilience and it is people.
Tea & Tolerance note – We found that people are sometimes confused about what the word ‘culture’ means – is it who you are, what you do or something else?….some talked about activities such as art, dance, music , others it was eating together, family seemed important to most people, activities for the children and safety is important to parents especially those with young children, nature, crafts, dog walking, kick boxing also came up, reading for one or two. For some culture was viewed more as ‘where you are from and how that forms your culture i.e., heritage (like I’m part Irish, I’m Romany background and that has influenced who I am), people as the heart of what culture is also came up quite a lot.
What could Leeds do better?
Allotment open days, safe road crossings everywhere, more community policeman, CCTV that works so that our stuff doesn’t get nicked, more places for children to play out (that aren’t burnt or broken by older youths), safety, return of party in the park and opera in the park events – ie. community events accessible to everyone not just affluent, more information about what is going on in our area, less cars, more trees outside primary schools, a treasure tree, longer time to cross roads with traffic lights ( phew!) more rainbows and glitter.
Develop the parks more in Seacroft and have more activities within them, better entry points for wheelchairs that are accessible to even the wider wheelchairs- remove horse gates, I love this place.
More things for young people to do, better transport and cheaper so that old people can get out and about. More activities and events happening locally.
The image of Seacroft as a place where ‘here be dragons’ was mentioned –suggesting a want for the area to be held in higher esteem by residents and people outside the area.
‘If in doubt, build a goal post’ was also suggested as a potential solution that would work to create something to do for young people that can not be broken /burnt/ destroyed.
One particular older lady talked a lot about heritage, community gardens and crafts and suggested ways these could bring people together.
One lady suggested a midsummer’s dance on the green.
What kind of world would you like to live in?
An ideal world has no fighting, sees people smiling.
The World according to me…everyone should be treated the same. This world is our only chance – be happy!
I want to live in a peaceful place. Lots of community events gathering people together. I want to see happy smiling faces and friendliness.
Carry on Loving. Peace (drawn as a tree with many people in a circle around it). I want to live in a World where we are protected from harm, where I have a chance and earn enough money not to remain in the poverty trap.
What do you love about your area?
The haunted house, butterflies and flowers near my house, my family and friends – family matters, the green spaces, resilience and perseverance in local people, everything – it couldn’t be better, the people.
Tea & Tolerance note – Many things came up though two people were adamant that there was nothing good about Seacroft and only became passionate when talking about what could be better. One lady thought that Tesco was ‘the Mothership of Seacroft’ and said “Sometimes, when I go to Tesco, I pretend I am a Roman housewife gathering food for her family or a hunter gather – makes life more interesting.” There was quite a bit of mentioning of poverty and the imbalances/inequities in the political system and one man said how it will never be fair or change because politicians will always serve the businesses and making money over looking out for the people’s interests.
Two mothers talked in detail about the lack of play areas and why that was the case (which was because young people burn it down or ruin them when they are built). They thought this was unfair because it means they can’t have things for the children to play with even in their own gardens – one of them talked about her son being knocked down by a boy on a motorbike on the path and how he broke ‘every bone in his body’ and he survived but the boy only got community service and used to laugh at her to ‘goad her’ they both said there is a low police presence in Seacroft and that the CCTV never seems to be on so nothing is ever done about the crime.
Tea & Tolerance note – People value being listened to- having their views heard and respected. There was also a lot of value in the visual representation of what people said. Some people got great joy out of seeing their words and views turned into pictures by Tom and actually brought other friends/family over to the tent to see what had been drawn/ took pictures of the pictures. Others got great joy of expressing their ideas especially through pictures/drawings.
This is what one resident James wrote to share with you…
“Hardened or thick-skinned doesn’t do justice to the people living through economic poverty; unlike third-world poverty this is down to benefit traps and lack of a true, living wage. I’ve grown up with inter-generational poverty; knowing that no matter how much you save, how much you strive, it’s never enough, and something is always round to corner to destroy your small progress. I’m known as an eccentric person, someone who’s always larking about, but in actuality I’m a perpetual pessimist in disguise.
For whatever reason an adverse situation seems like a family member to me, we see each other often, they constantly teach me new things and ways of coping with stuff. This gets to a point where it affects my newly diagnosed Aspergers; a slurred voice appears and my motor neuron skills fail me, even to the point where typing and holding a pen is a struggle.
I’ve done almost a decade’s worth of volunteering, learnt so many different skills but for whatever reason these get overlooked due to my lack of GCSE’s or certificates. (*why are paper skills so important anyway?)
I’d like to see employers choose people based on their aspirations and willingness to do work, not on previous employment or qualifications – like we always say, I want one chance.” – James Lewis Moran
You can read the full write up on the Tea and Tolerance blog.
Seacroft Gala is an annual community event bringing together the community of Seacroft, the arts and cultural groups, food stalls and charities to celebrate local life.
LS14 Trust is a community managed organisation working to create happier communities in Seacroft, Swarcliffe and Whinmoor.