May 2, 2019

Twelve years since People United’s beginnings and several years since moving into our office and it’s safe to say, we have accumulated a lot of ‘stuff’ along the way. Since our inception we’ve collected countless cupboards worth of paperwork, postcards, photographs, fan letters (really!), files and keepsakes, but with office space at a premium, we knew it was time to sift through the chaos and get our annual Spring clean under way!

With that in mind, last week some of the team downed tools and took on the task of going through our treasure trove hoard, to see what we needed to keep and what could be spared to free up space and be repurposed in a new home. Cleaning, tidying, decluttering are all – broadly speaking –  known for being good for your personal wellbeing. It is thought that a clutter-free space supports a clutter-free mind and this certainly chimes with Netflix hit series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.

Operation ‘major office declutter’ felt daunting at first, but soon became a welcome trip down memory lane as we uncovered souvenirs glittered with nostalgia, reflecting People United’s history, and helping us envision our future. In 2017 we celebrated our ten-year anniversary and it was such an exciting, pivotal time in People United’s journey. We launched our research paper ‘Changing the World through Arts and Kindness’, gifted ten of our famous neon ‘be kind’ signs and commissioned some amazing artists along the way.

With a decade worth of work, spanning genres, concepts and ideas, we commissioned artist Lucy Steggals to research and create a poster informed by our huge archive of work. This was no small undertaking and the special poster ‘Grow’ – which has been gifted to and loved by many project participants, artists, communities, mentees, students and more – echoes a myriad of themes that have been uncovered through the diverse work of our organisation. The work highlights words such as grow, complexity, experimenting, flash, sparking, illuminating, risk, joy, yes, story, challenge…all encompassing so many of the key ingredients of what makes our projects so unique.

Throughout our Spring Clean I found myself returning again and again to Lucy’s poster and the reoccurring words she unearthed, rediscovering them referenced in old project plans and handwritten thank you notes from participants. All of this, in what is a time of change at People United, shows the importance of keeping an eye on our history and legacy which reassures and guides us all – our work is important and we must continue to grow.

With big clean ups like this, unfortunately you always need to make a bigger mess before you can start seeing any improvements, but perseverance does pay off and taking the time out to ‘declutter’ is definitely a form of self-care and can be truly nurturing.

After two days of organising and clearing the office, the mood feels somewhat lifted and was achieved by giving ourselves time to indulge in some of our past treasures and then revel in the space we’ve created to fill with future gems.

With summer just around the corner we’re looking up at our ‘Grow’ poster by Lucy Steggals and feeling a renewed energy to continue experimenting, taking risks, having fun and sparking kindness! For the first time we’d like to share the ‘Grow’ poster with you as a free download. We hope it offers some inspiration and joy and a peek inside the plethora of projects grown during a delightful decade of People United!

Let us know what you discover!

 

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