Corrymeela News


How long is a piece of string?

22 Apr 2013

On the 18th April 2013, Corrymeela Centre Director Paul Hutchinson was one of the guest speakers at the the NICVA Community Leadership Programme.

His title was – A border made of wool.He explored the role of creativity in community relations. He began with the example of a recent conference at Ballycastle, where a lot of anger, fear and positioning was in evidence.

God was invoked (and how do you reply to that?) as well as personal experience (these are my feelings no matter what you say!)

Paul created a border of wool across the room, to demonstrate the polarised thinking from the conference.

He said, “We try to cut the tension in this wool – to release the tension, either by fighting (my truth is stronger than yours!), by fleeing (lets not do this again..) or by polite–ing (is that a real word?) – talking about the weather whilst simultaneously wanting to put heads on a stick”.

The conference was asked a new question:  Can you find any wisdom/learning in the tension?

Can you stay in the discomfort long enough to get a new and healthier relationship or perspective?

Paul then turned the line of wool into the partition of Ireland – North and South, created with string. He discussed a schools project where Corrymeela engaged with 14 year olds on the causes and consequences of the partition of Ireland.. A piece of wool, a border.Other borders emerged – sexuality, gender, religion, ethnicity, family, class, comfort zones. Majorities –minorities.

The wool dropped and the partition of Ireland disappeared,

Just like that.Just a game.Just a piece of yellow wool.

And yet, new worlds were glimpsed, if only for a moment.

How long is a piece of string?

That night, Paul seemed to make it stretch for miles…