Core Group Residential #2

Fergus McNeill / 18 Dec 2017

The ‘core group’ lies at the heart of the Distant Voices research project. It is made up of people with different kinds of skills and experiences, all related somehow to our common purpose of trying to understand coming home (or making home) after imprisonment or community sentences. For a longer introduction to the core group click here.

In December the ‘core group’ of the Distant Voices project got together for the second time, spending two days in the beautiful and inspiring surroundings of Ardeonaig on Loch Tay.

Keen to build our fledgling community of explorers and to develop a shared vision for the project, we had decided to run the two-day meeting like a Vox Session – so the musicians in our group led the programme. Our song-writing centred on the theme of ‘the story (or stories) so far’.

We  began by watching the following TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on the danger of a single story, and then had fun inventing more complex back stories for the one-dimensional characters in the 1980s TV soap, Dynasty.

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Though we all went on to write our own songs (with the help of our musicians), I was struck by the common and complex themes that echo through them – about our identities (both personal and social), about family life and home life, about the possibilities of change and about the lessons that life teaches us — if we learn to listen to what one of the group Sandy, called that ‘Strange Tutor’.

Some words in Gordon’s song, ‘Ring Out the Old’, seemed to sum things up for me, and also seem fitting for now, as we approach the turning of another year:

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“This world is not so cold when I’m with you

I’m not so old when I’m with you

Bells are ringing clear and high

Feathers tumble from the sky

I told you something good is going to happen sometime soon

Ring out the old 

Sing something new”

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I think we all left Ardeonaig warmed and rejuvenated by one another’s companionship and openness, and inspired and reassured that we might indeed learn to ‘sing something new’ by working together.