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Common Threads Uncommon People

Written and illustrated by Jennifer Williams

Centre for Creative Communities, London, 2004, 136 pp., £ 12.00, ISBN 0 9514763 6 X

The Center for Creative Communities (CCC) is an acknowledged leader in the promotion of collaborative work in diverse settings. The Centre has gained extensive experience by facilitating cross-sector projects in which people participate with a diverse cultural landscape resulting in communities pioneering new approaches to regeneration and inclusion.

Their latest publication, Common Threads Uncommon People, written and illustrated by Jennifer Williams, tells the stories of several 'uncommon people'. During a formal research project about social change carried out by the author, a pattern emerged that revealed the existence of a special group of people. They were the committed, uncommon individuals frequently found to be the engines behind creative change, who shared the belief that the world will not get better on its own. Weaving their personal stories, the book highlights the contributions of these unsung heroes and encourages us to discover and nurture others like them. As the author puts it, the people represented here 'are just the tips of the human iceberg.' The book has an international focus, featuring artists and art practitioners based in the UK, Europe, and USA.

The author's aim is to acquaint the reader with some of the motivated individuals she has met and their roles in building capacity in communities. She also hopes it will help people combat the feeling of helplessness felt by many in the face of frustration and anger about contemporary inequities. The book is not meant as a scientific study but rather as a set of observations made over many years. It includes ten interviews with ten different 'uncommon people': an actress, a journalist, a school teacher, a charity director, a musician, a trainer of art teachers, a values specialist, a choreographer, a community worker and a math teacher. Each of the people presented in this book is engaged in solving local and global problems simultaneously.

In the last chapter, after the interviews, Jennifer Williams reflects on some of the overarching principles and abilities that seem to be present in these kinds of people:

  • they sense that little steps matter,
  • they understand that diversity is s strength,
  • they uphold the values of society,
  • they follow a vision and make a path for it at once using and ignoring systems that exist,
  • they make the most of their own curiosity and drive, allowing them to be an engine for engaging people with very different abilities, and
  • they harness a form of leadership which inspires and generates creative energy.

And finally, the author proposes a few ways in which these uncommon people and their work could be put to better use.

Contact: Jennifer Williams, Director, Centre for Creative Communities, Ground floor, 118 Commercial Street, London E1 6NF, UK; tel.: +44 (0) 20 7247 5385; fax: +44 (0) 20 7247 5256; e-mail: info@creativecommunities.org.uk; www.creativecommunities.org.uk

For further information, please contact Antonio Molina-Vazquez, Communications and Information Manager.