Cycling to Palestine

3 months cycling to Palestine, engaging with communities along the way, especially communities of resistance. Sharing stories, creating a story. Using performance and art, perhaps building up an international troupe of performers. All the while highlighting the struggles and resistance of the Palestinian people. Sound exciting?

On Sunday I was working with a group of activists planning just such a venture. The conversation had started during an outreach cycle ride to the Rossport Solidarity Camp this summer. The cyclists were moved by Israeli forces attack on the peace flotilla bound for Gaza to deviate from their planned focus and stop to take action in solidarity. The idea of an outreach ride to Palestine was almost inevitable.

We met to begin to explore a vision for the project. It’s a real pleasure to play a useful role at the start of projects such as these. Another pleasure was the absence of pressure to have it all done and dusted in a day. This was an exploratory day and decisions could be deferred to the next meeting.

I used several of the tools used with the Bridges group and added a spectrum line discussion to provoke thinking on some of the major issues behind the purpose of the ride. Once again using a simulated media interview to invite reflection and analysis of a project worked a treat. I’d been asked for a creative day that avoided a ‘big circle’ meeting.  We possibly went too far the other way, as there was an evaluation comment that “more plenary discussion would have been appreciated”


The group was tired and a little worse for wear from the Just Do It fundraiser the night before, which impacted on the later activities. But with regular energisers we got there.

In terms of what worked well on the day, the group said:

  • we got to know each other on a personal level and had opportunities to relate as humans – not something that most meetings provide the chance to do
  • the spectrum line exercise was good, leading to useful discussions
  • the media interview activity was good especially for putting ourselves into other roles
  • having an external, neutral, facilitator worked really well
  • the energisers actually energised
  • we were clearer at the end than at the start of the day (!) – it was good and exciting shared space

Inevitably there were things that worked less well

  • we could have found time to work out a strategy for people who want to support the ride from here in the UK, but not actually join the ride
  • the ‘splurge’ (as the ideastorming somehow became known!) and 6 thinking hats sessions were frustrating because I wanted to talk as a full group
  • I would have liked to hear everyone’s ‘who we are’ conversation
  • the timing of the day wasn’t great – it’s Sunday and some of us are hung over

3 months in the saddle ought to sort out those hangovers…