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Staying Naïve

book cover for The Club on the Edge of Town

I read The Club on the Edge of Town in one sitting. It was recommended by my friend, the amazing Kim Leclair and it's so good I'm already re-reading it.

The book is a memoir of Slung Low, a theatre group in the Holbeck district of Leeds, UK.

Actually, it's a memoir of Slung Low, the managers of the oldest working men's club in England.

Actually, it's the memoir of Slung Low, a free, no-means testing food bank in Holbeck that sprung up to help the community during Covid.

Any one of those things would be a lot, but Slung Low has done far, far, more than that over the years. The stories in this slim volume blew me away, from their public art projects to Zoom based TV game shows to the distribution of thousands and thousands of vegan burger patties.

Their process is pretty consistent:

  • See a need
  • Have an idea to meet the need
  • Do it
  • Be called naïve for doing it. Get told it won't work. Repeatedly.
  • When it works, get asked to give seminars and speeches to explain why it actually worked.

The key, it seems, is to remain naïve. Take action because it makes sense to you, before people can gather round and tell you why it can't possibly work.

What needs doing in your world? How might you stay naïve long enough to take action?