Reimagining Home Together: Saving Planet Anksi!

An interactive story for children ages 8-12 years in response to Covid-19

This story can be read in full or just by using the stepping stones in bold.

Home means different things to different people, for some it is associated with a place, for some a person, for some home is associated with feeling, emotion, affect and a sense of belonging for others a sense of dislocation, unbelonging and oppression. For all of us, our association with home has been radically changed over the last few weeks. Paradoxically at this present time, we stand upon a precipice of the Earth’s history, the seas are rising, we are on lockdown in our homes, we are in it together, interconnected, whether we like it or not! This is our present moment.

Reimagining Home Together was the original focus of our Story Makers Festival summer 2020. We had chosen the title because through our Story Makers Press, over the last year, we had been lucky enough to co create three different stories with children: a Roma story, a story retelling of a South Asian fairy tale with Muslim girls and a sci- fi adventure with boys in a Special School . These are critical stories of place told through the eyes of children, they are also stories about aspiration and hope. The stories are published and children co create them from conception to completion. Through the story process they tell us that they feel empowered. Sharing diverse stories is a way for us all to see differently and the festival was a celebration of this. My role as drama facilitator is to create spaces for imaginary communities, settings and exploration of social problems with children in the fiction, which we call Worldbuilding. It’s a complex process which is littered with ethical questions and community building. We work in different ways, speaking different languages, 100 languages through our bodies, materials, graphics, objects and sound. This means that all children can join, expressing themselves in different ways which adds depth and meaning to the story. We are a ‘polyphonic’ community. Together, within the fiction, children negotiate different places and alternative ways of being which matter to them. They ‘live through’ these experiences in playful, felt, everyday ways. These experiences become shared place stories, a critical pedagogy of place. Within the fiction, we all affect and are affected by the actions of each other. What happens to you, happens to me. It is the rehearsal of global citizenship, activism and hope. A fictional home.

For me, the heart of this work is embracing uncertainty as hope. It is worth defining hope here. By hope, I draw of conceptualisations by philosophers such as Brain Massumi, Sara Ahmed and Rebecca Solnit. Hope is located itself in the premise that we don’t know what will happen and in the spaces of uncertainty there is room to act, even in the smallest ways. The key word is to ‘act’ in the present moment, not to focus on future visions of optimism or pessimism which excuse any kind of action but to focus on where we are right here and now. This is what children practice when we are Worldbuilding using dramatic enquiry. It is a very broad perspective of hope, within the fiction children are called to action, to embrace a social problem, where there are no immediate answers or resolutions but possible actions. They are called to act together and find the spaces of possibility in a story, the wriggle room in the situation, the immediate issue to be tackled. Embracing the idea that not everything will always get better, but not everything will always get worse. In this sense, they are also practicing active citizenship without the direct consequences of actions. This gives confidence and some experience of ways to act in the real world. Central to this work is the social imagination as a tool for thinking about ‘other ways of being’ and it is nurtured through this work. As we develop ethical fictional communities where everyone has a role to play, we produce knowledge together and rewrite social histories. It is critical work and I have spent the last 5 years mapping the affective and effective responses of children to this work as part of my PhD in relation to positive wellbeing and critical consciousness.

It seems to me that this kind of knowledge creation has never been so relevant, not just for children but for adults too. As we ponder on the uncertainties of our global situation, we have the present potential to become more interconnected, if we choose to act. That’s why we are launching Reimagining Home as a critical place project on May 11th 2020.

Reimagining home is a 3-part immersive online story experience for children and families across the world. At its heart, the project is about celebrating the joy and wellbeing associated with ‘making’ creatively together but it will be underpinned by hopeful action. It will draw from children’s ideas as it develops over 3 settings as we produce a shared story about home, past and present. The story narrative will change in response to children’s interaction. A story conversation. Children will be called to action:

What if the secret of our secure future laid in the forgotten past? A secret that only children knew about. It told the stories of a past world which became a wasteland. Once upon a time there was a city of dreams. Something happened