Quaker A-Z: X is for eX-hibitions

climb up to the moor flyer3X is for eXhibition

Earlier this week I went into Friends House specifically to visit this exhibition – and thoroughly enjoyed it. Gorgeous colours and textures shown off beautifully in the space, the sound track enhanced the art as you moved around the exhibit.

There were several Ffriendly faces that I recognised, but there were also others who had been tempted into the space because of the art.

I was delighted to see such an event and was glad to hear that it had been busy and attracted people who were in Friends House for other reasons as well as those attracted by the exhibition.

I’ve known several meeting houses hold similar events – ranging from small displays in the lobby to larger installations which fill the entire building. Kingston Quaker Centre, which opened in September 2014, built in picture display rails to the main communal area with the expectation that they will hold exhibitions at some time.

So why hold such an event?

It can be a form of inreach – a way of supporting and encouraging members of the meeting, members of the wider Quaker community (Area Meeting to Yearly Meeting and beyond) who are artists professionally or as a hobby.

It can involve artists in other faith groups who are producing spiritually inspired work on a similar theme, encouraging discussion across boundaries.

It can encourage people to visit the building who wouldn’t otherwise. A form of outreach and marketing – as visitors may remember the venue when they next organise an event.

It can show regular visitors aspects of Quaker beliefs and testimonies in a way that a leaflet rack, no matter how well stocked, cannot.

It can inspire discussion and exploration of the themes within the meeting, with these discussions occurring across ages and involving the whole worshipping community.

It can raise money for a specific cause or for general Quaker work or support the artists who created the work.

It can be fun as the group work together to create something beautiful.

Inspired?

Although the Climb up to the Moor exhibition was also a lot of work, done by a dedicated group from the Quaker Arts Network.

However, you can start smaller – displaying a range of historical peace posters such as those available from the Quaker Book Shop, or a series of prints from the Quaker Tapestry (perhaps linked to one of their Slide Talks?)

  • Have you ever held an exhibition at your building?
  • Have you any hints or tips to help such an event go smoothly?

To browse through all of the posts click on the Quaker A-Z link here or in the side bar.

Quaker A-Z: W is for Woodbrooke & Websites

2008 07 12 Woodbrooke Labyrinth 1

This is part of the Quaker Alphabet Project – click here for more information.

W is for Woodbrooke

I should start this with an acknowledgement that Woodbrooke is one of my favourite places – I have been lucky enough to learn and teach there. Life Artistry, the spiritual scrapbooking course I developed, has been taught there several times.

Woodbrooke is Europe’s only Quaker Study Centre. It is based in the former family home of the local (Quaker) chocolate maker, George Cadbury. Since 1903, Woodbrooke has provided education for those of any faith or none from around the world. It also runs courses at other venues – most recently in partnership with Swarthmore Hall, and for individual meetings when requested.

Among the courses offered are several that can be considered helpful to those responsible for running a Meeting House as well as a meeting. There are courses for Treasurers, Trustees, plus the annual ‘Managing Our Meeting Houses’ course which will run at the end of January.

This year’s Managing Our Meeting Houses weekend is full, but do look at next year. I highly recommend this weekend for both those managing the building, business and practical aspects, plus those overseeing that management – a time for inspiration, information and a sharing of good practises.

Woodbrooke on the Road can also help your local meeting or area meeting to develop a course to meet any needs that you may have.

W is for Websites

Friends House has set up a basic page for each Quaker Meeting in Britain – for example Leigh on Sea. They also have a page of Quaker meeting websites and a page of ideas on creating a website for your meeting.

Other meetings have set up more complicated sites – as part of their local Area Meeting or on their own. Central England Quakers covers a large geographical area while Kingston Quakers include photos of their new building, their terms and conditions and current leaflets.

What might you consider putting on your website? Well – it depends on who you are writing for.

  • Are you writing for your own local worshipping group and don’t want to share that information?
  • Are you writing for people who are looking to find Quakers to attend a Meeting for Worship or to hire a room?
  • Who is going to maintain the site – are you going to look for volunteers or are you going to pay someone? (Yes, MBS does offer this.)

You can also link to other websites – for example Muswell Hill has a page showing who uses the building with links to the hirers’ own websites. Those pages also have a reciprocal link back to Muswell Hill so that visitors can explore that site as well.

Google for business is a free way to ensure that your meeting house shows up on searches across Google. Other sites such as Halls Hire will take your listing and promote it on their own site – you may find a local website run by your council or chamber of commerce.

To browse through all of the posts click on the Quaker A-Z link here or in the side bar.

Quaker A-Z: V is for Volunteers and (school) Visits

2009 10 06 Wendrie w Volunteer badge 2 This is part of the Quaker Alphabet Project – click here for more information.

V is for Volunteers

If you read the last post ‘U is for understanding and undervalued‘ you may be wondering how to avoid having your wardens or other volunteers feeling undervalued and misunderstood. Is it just as simple as following the list of advice given last week?

2010 12 09 Volunteers Desk

Volunteers Desk at Quaker Centre Friends House

It is always tricky to balance the skills you need with the skills offered but then that is part of the fun of working with volunteers rather than calling in professionals.

Remembering that you might get a professional volunteering too!

Well, I’ve been both a volunteer and managed volunteers – in small or large groups with a variety of ages, experiences and abilities.

There are some things that can help your project succeed and your volunteers leave feeling satisfied and willing to come back for more.

  • Have you clearly defined the job(s) or tasks that you want done?
  • Have you ensured that appropriate tools and working areas are available and supplied by you?
  • Have you categorised the jobs and tasks to fit a wide range of skill sets and abilities? Pairing not so able or skilled with others more skilled or ensuring there are jobs suitable to all abilities.
  • Has someone done a dry run (even just on paper!) to ensure all obvious snags are reduced and that the tasks can actually be done in the place and time you’ve allotted?
  • Do you ensure all volunteers are welcomed and given an induction suitable to their age and ability?
  • Do you thank all those who came to help – even if they weren’t able to help? I always find that sharing food together is a good way to ensure fellowship and a feeling of being appreciated.
  • If the project is over a longer period of time, do you ensure that everyone is kept up to date with developments and is able to give input?

All Quaker meetings are of course run by volunteers – and one of the joys of giving Quaker service is meeting others who are also giving service. Even when it is frustrating, or hard work there are always benefits – to paraphrase A&Q 23:

In times of difficulty remind yourself of the value of prayer, of perseverance and of a sense of humour.

V is for Visits – school and others

One interesting way of getting people to visit your meeting house is to invite them to visit. A common visit can be from a local school – Quakers can come into the National Curriculum in a range of ways.

Dissenters, slave trade, or individuals such as George Fox and Elizabeth Fry, or even local religious groups is another for younger children.

However, I also had a visit where I was informed they wanted to come as the sixth formers were looking at ‘Religious Architecture and Icons’. When I hesitantly pointed out the building didn’t have much to look at in the way of either icons or obviously religious architecture – I was reassured by the teacher saying that we were being compared to the local Greek orthodox church.

There are resources available from the Children and Young People’s Team at Friends House ‘Schools Journeys’ to help you plan and organise the visit – you could invite all schools to a specific exhibition, or just contact the local schools to inform them that the meeting exists and that there are people willing to come in to do assemblies or to host a field trip.

Along with other recent commemorations of WWI two new packs were produced by QPSW Conscience and Conviction which can be downloaded for free from that link.

Over the years I’ve hosted school visits and always found the groups interesting as well as challenging. I’ve been thanked by the adults attending as well as the students. I hope you are tempted to try out a school visit!

  • Does your meeting have a relationship with any or all of the local schools?
  • Have you any tips for a successful visit?

To browse through all of the posts click on the Quaker A-Z link here or in the side bar.

Quaker A-Z: T is for Twinning Toilets plus Terms & Conditions

Toilet Twinning

by Michael Coleman on Flickr

This is part of the Quaker Alphabet Project – click here for more information.

 T is for Toilet Twinning

I first heard of this project at Woodbrooke, where the male and female toilets in the New Wing corridor are both twinned, and was impressed by the idea. Individual toilets are £60 to twin. Or a meeting house could twin a block in a school for £240.

Delighted to see that Bakewell, Bridport, Gildersome, Hammersmith, Harrogate, Hartington Grove, Ross, Stocksfield Meeting Houses and the Priory Rooms, have all raised monies – and a bit of awareness, to twin their loos. Some raised the money themselves, others involved others using the meeting house. There were even articles in the local press for the opening of the twinned toilets.

A simple but effective way to support a good project, help improve the lives of others and perform a bit of outreach at the same time!

Has your meeting done this?

T is for Terms & Conditions

You might call these Terms of Use or Conditions of Use – they may be written down and formal or perhaps there is just a verbal list someone runs through with any new hirer. Or some combination of the two.

Having them written down does make things easier when a problem arises – issues can be thought out in advance, consultations made and decisions made calmly. Although, it is always possible to change them once they’ve been made!

A formal definition of Terms and Conditions could be:

“rules which one must agree to abide by in order to use a service.” (Wikipedia)

Examples of such things can be found on some websites:

Does your meeting house have a set of terms and conditions for room hire agreed?

To browse through all of the posts click on the Quaker A-Z link here or in the side bar.

Quaker A-Z: N is for Noticeboards and Newcomers

2011 01 Front tri sign This is part of the Quaker Alphabet Project – click here for more information.

N is for Noticeboards

Noticeboards, such as the one above are fairly standard outside most meeting houses.

Usually they consist of space for Quaker posters plus information about the Meeting as a worshipping community. However, there are likely to be other places within the building that have notices meant to be read by people using the building.

  • When was the last time you looked at the various display areas around the meeting house?
  • Are they tidy and updated regularly, so that any new information can be found?
  • Do they look welcoming?
  • Are any notices legible?
  • Do they convey the messages and tone that you want them to?
  • Do the messages/notices/tones need to be updated?
  • Have the Quaker posters been changed recently to attract more interest?
  • Are they interesting enough for you to stop and read them?

In the Marketing your meeting house the basics I mentioned that another type of noticeboard can be useful for both outreach and marketing. This is just a summary – to read more click through to the full article.

2012 10 22 New outside noticeboard croppedOutreach – people who are looking for a class or an event realise that the building exists – and may even realise that Quakers exist too. If they come onto the site to look at the noticeboard, or have at least become more familiar with the building, it increases the likelihood that they will feel able to cross the threshold and actually attend one of your outreach events.

Marketing – you can of course put your own meeting’s events here – they are happening at the meeting house after all. It also gives some marketing to the groups using the building, supporting them and hopefully ensuring that they stay in business and hiring from you.

To browse through all of the posts click on the Quaker A-Z link here or in the side bar.

Images for Quaker Meeting Houses

Friends House design and circulate a set of posters every year along the theme of Quaker Week – this year Quaker Week runs from Friday 27 September to Sunday 6 October.

However, what if your Meeting House doesn’t have enough space to run all of the series or has difficulty relating to this year’s posters? Previous designs are sometimes available through the Quaker Bookshop in the Quaker Centre at Friends House.

Did you know that there are other Quaker designed images which can be used for leaflets, postcards and posters? Visit the Q-posters page on GroupSpace to see the range available.

  • Which one do you like the best?
  • Have you used any – if so how did you use them?