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‘We noticed more tension in the streets around the CEDRE, with many confused people wandering around under the concrete bridges, and a new camp which has sprung up on a traffic junction. Nearer the centre, street vendors were selling meat on skewers, cooked on upturned cans.

This week Art Refuge delivered the first of three experiential training sessions for the volunteers of Café Papote, on the theme of “être-avec” (being with), using large maps and postcards. We focused on the way in which we encounter each other around The Community Table: what it means to be alongside other people making art, and how to find ways to initiate conversations, exchanges and connections with people from different backgrounds and cultures, and with different kinds of lived experience.

The next day around The Community Table we could already feel the positive impact of the training. The chairs around the table were full all the afternoon, on one of our busiest days yet, and the colourful table impacted the atmosphere of the room. There were playful moments: a series of large and elaborate houses were built, fitted out with balconies, swimming pools, garden benches and domestic animals, and even given “for sale“ signs. Impromptu poems and proverbs were written on the typewriters, and many subjects came up in conversations, including how bricks are made, English and American accents, the sea in Guinea, fossils, how big crocodiles legs are, or tiling a luxury bathroom…’

Kate France and Naomi Press

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