23 posts tagged london
Did you know that I run my own supper club?
I launched Hub Suppers in June this year with Impact Hub Islington, the London coworking space for people working in the social justice, tech and creative industries, where I moonlight as a member host.
I’ve long been obsessed with the way that people do (and don’t) connect. Why networking events always set most people’s pulses racing, as we search awkwardly and at random for a stranger to talk to. Why people feel alienated by the communities that are supposed to serve them, and what community organisations can do to become more open and accessible. What makes people feel welcome and safe, and what leaves them feeling isolated.
So I wanted to start a supper club that did more than provide a cool/pretty room and some tasty food. I wanted to create a supper club where making conversation with the stranger sitting next to you wouldn’t feel awkward, because that stranger had been hand-selected to sit next to you based on your mutual interests and enthusiasm for meeting new people. And besides, the whole point of the night was to talk to interesting strangers. An individually curated dinner party where the guests are as interesting as the food.
We’re currently pulling things together for our fourth Hub Supper, scheduled for Wednesday, 11 December. If you buy your ticket by next Wednesday November 20, we’ll find out what you’re into and who you’d like to meet. Then, based on the information you provide us, we’ll match you with your dream dinner companions. Jude Law might be a bit of stretch, though.
It will be ace. It always is.
You can by your ticket to the December Hub Supper here.
Is getting hitched an inherently anti-feminist act? Or can it be (indeed, has it been) reimagined as a more equitable, progressive institution?
The next meeting of the London Feminist Discussion Group, hosted by Lucie Goulet and myself, will be held next Monday 14 October, at the usual time of 7pm, at the Breakfast Club in Soho. We’ll be looking at feminism and marriage, drawing on a provocative mix of liberal and radical writing for inspiration.
To RSVP, drop us an email at email@example.com, or join our Facebook group here.
And some links to get your brain ticking:
Feminism and the marriage contract (Carole Pateman, PDF)
The marriage trap (Slate)
Marriage will never set us free (Organizing Upgrade)
No, marriage is not always anti-feminist (Jezebel)
Feminism and the modern woman’s backlash against marriage (The Scarlett Woman)
An anti-marriage feminist gets happily married (Everyday Feminism)
Hi Gabrielle. Moving to London - how exciting! What will you be studying? Re: feminist events, UK Feminista runs an activist training camp each summer, this year to be held in Birmingham on 17-18 August (not London, I know, but the UK is tiny compared to the US or Oz, and pretty cheap/easy to get around by train).
The London Feminist Network is a bit more radfem than, say, I am, but is an excellent source of feminist news and events. And you should definitely follow Feminist Events (@feministlondon) on Twitter. The Feminism In London conference, which I attended when I first moved here in 2010, is scheduled for 26 October. @Sarcastathon on Twitter has just launched a feminist group, too, focussed on taking feminism “out of the tweets and into the streets.”
And of course, I run a feminist discussion group of my own, which you can get on the list for either by clicking here, or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We meet on the first Monday of every month.
Anything I’ve missed?
Just a quick note to let you know that the next London Feminist Discussion Group, hosted by Sarah Graham and I, will be held on Monday March 4, at the Earl of Essex in Islington. We’ll be talking about Hilary Mantel’s essay on Kate Middleton and Royal Bodies.
Our ethos is as follows: “We want this group to be a space where we can be messy, to dig into the issues that leave us uncertain, and to challenge ourselves politically and intellectually. Disagreement is great – it’s the process by which we open our minds and refine our ideas – personal attacks are not on.”
All women (and interested men) welcome. We are a trans-inclusive group.
To RSVP, please email email@example.com before Friday so we can book an appropriately sized space. Meeting starts at 7pm.
Via the new Time Out London blog, Now. Here. This., this made me laugh:
HOLD THE PRESSES! It turns out that we’ve made a terrible mistake with the name of one of our most treasured landmarks. The BBC has reported that according to a Chinese tourist, Violet Chun Yang, Big Ben has been snubbed by Mandarin speaking visitors because ‘ben’ means ‘stupid’ in their native tongue. The traveller – who is more interested in seeking out Prada than the historical sights of London – said that they’ve nicknamed our good old pal ‘Big Stupid Clock’; not exactly inspiring is it?
It was about life as an expat. The strange feeling of not-belonging that hits you when you return to your native soil. Which mirrors the feeling of not-belonging in the place that you live; the perpetual cycle of abandoning and being abandoned, as you or your friends move on to the next stop.
Monica has been living in Beijing for more than three years now, and was pondering her next move. She felt like it was “time to choose”: to either put down roots in Beijing, or return to Sydney. Or pick up to yet another place and make her life there? (The answer, of course, and somewhat selfishly, is that Monica’s next move should be wherever I am. Monica should be in the same city as me.)
Reading Monica’s article made me ask myself the same questions. Was it time to commit to London, to throw myself into it fully and without reservation? Or was it time to cut my losses and put the wheels in motion to move on to somewhere else, somewhere I might “fit” better?
It’s a silly question to ask, really – the ultimate in “first world” problems – but it’s been one that has preoccupied me ever since I left Australia two and a half years ago. And maybe it’s not so silly, after all. “Where should I live?” may be a question infused with privilege, but the emotion that lies beneath that question is common to us all. “Where do I belong?”
I’m conscious that when I write about London I often sound overly negative. Too inclined to focus on what’s missing from my life here – the ways that I feel awkward and out of place – rather than on the things I love about it: the friends I’ve made, the constant opportunities for adventure. (Next week I’ll be travelling to Berlin for the day, for a meeting associated with my volunteer job and a potential story. To another country! For a day! Who does that? Only a Londoner, I tells you. Or someone else who lives in Europe.) The truth is, I would be sad to leave.
But I am also prone to spending a lot of time thinking about not just what I want from my life here and now, but what kind of person I want to be in the future. “What kind of middle-aged person do I want to be?” (To which one of my friends responded, “But you’re not middle-aged, Rachel.” Which is true, but it’s never a bad time to start planning for the future.)
And the kind of middle-aged person I want to be is kind of like Nora Ephron as depicted in this New York Magazine article: working on interesting projects, meeting great people, surrounded by friends and mentors and mentees and collaborators. Can I be that person in London? Possibly, but I definitely don’t feel like I am her now. I feel like it would be a hard slog. And I’m not even talking about the career bit (which of course would be hard). I’m talking about the social life.
But here’s the funny – and perhaps not so surprising – thing. It is infinitely easier to be happier with where and who you are, if you stop evaluating what “is” against your final destination.
When you (I) stop feeling embarrassed that your career is based primarily out of Australia and the United States, even though you live in the UK. When you stop fretting about where your creative community is (across the Atlantic, you fear?), and throw yourself into your immediate future: the events you want to go to this week, the people you’d like to meet this month, and the places you’d like to visit and the projects you’d like to pursue this year.
As they say in Avenue Q, everything in life is only for now.