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Le Cèdre, Paris, January and February 2024

This start of the year we have experienced some very harsh weather in France and our sessions at the Cèdre have been punctuated by the different conditions outside. Over these past few weeks we have met people who have arrived in France just a few days earlier and find themselves sleeping in train stations as night shelters are full. Others have been here for many years but are still struggling to renew their residency in France or access the healthcare they need.

One week we awoke to find Paris covered in snow and ice, bringing a certain electricity to the atmosphere in the Cafe Papote. Despite the huge fatigue caused by struggling to exist while living outside in the intense cold, the activity around The Community Table was intense. Many constructions appeared, quickly inhabited by little lights, and then little by little by animals and figures.

“We build houses because we don’t have them” commented one of the builders at the table.

Around the table some people spoke about their homes and family, their crossings to Europe, or their time in a prison. A conversation about quantum physics emerged whilst nearby someone wrote a love letter at the typewriter. Their neighbour at the table painted silently, whilst another person read poetry and was suddenly very struck by the word “courage”.

Words by Muriel Bucher, Kate France & Naomi Press.

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