Thursday, 25 August 2011

Active Hastings

The St Leonards (& Action for Happiness) context for 9th & 10th September Training: "words are windows or walls", (Part 1 of 2)

Dear (would-be) attendee of the 'Words are windows or walls" two-day workshop at the Southwater Area Community Centre,
What St Leonards has been offered by the Centre for Peaceful Solutions (worth £6-9,000 at market value; given that the usual cost of these trainings is £300 per person), I see as a precious opportunity for us to learn how we can connect with each other on a more caring & sharing basis. The host organisation for this 'Dialogue Road Map' training is Mediation Support Ltd. I write as CEO of that micro-company, having moved into St Leonards & the Southwater Area Community Centre only this summer & having made the first aim of the company "to support the generation of a more caring & sharing Hastings & St Leonards". It has been a privilege to set-up sufficient structure for Hastings & St Leonards Action for Happiness to attract central committee members who are each exploring the happiness agenda in their own way whilst helping to support a coherent organisation, linked to (and influencing) the national Action for Happiness organisation. Many thanks to Sue, Graham, Shirley, Barry & Gaye.
The initiative that we have taken in St Leonards has been recognised by a 'highly appreciative' and unsolicited letter from the local MP [add link] and by a 'very helpful' write-up in the Hastings & St Leonards Observer [add link]. In the UK as a whole, we are, so far, the leading local group arising from the launch of the national Action for Happiness movemnet/charity in April.

The vision that I'm putting forward is for a network of "local wellbeing groups" across Hastings & St Leonards, each group being formed from areas no bigger than your road and the nearest other 4 roads. PLEASE respond to this communication by giving us the name of your road and the nearest 4 roads, so that we can begin to map who is in the same local area and consider what we can offer to you to support the transformation that you'd like to see. The key question here is: "What, for you, would a better relationship with ALL your neighbours look like?" Perhaps it would involve more sharing of resources & skills (saving everyone money), mutual care, a clearer structure for problem solving, personal/group empowerment & a local voice that makes a difference?
Whatever it is that you want to see more of locally, unless it is unhappiness! - Hastings & St Leonards Action for Happiness have something to offer called a "Happiness 101" session. This is an hour provided for a group of 5 people; during which we begin to unfold the nature of the shared human wish to be happier, the diversity of elements involved -in brief: body, mind, spirit, people, place and planet- and the ways of working with difference to create a unity of purpose (using some mediation skills such as enhanced attentiveness to everyone's needs etc).
Sue and I hope that you will be inspired to ask for a Happiness 101 session & find out what else is then being offered for you & your friends/neighbours to choose from , or shape for yourselves from teh structures interaction we facilitate. PLEASE suggest a convenient location (your place? or a friends or local community centre, for example). PLEASE suggest who you'd like to be there. AND PLEASE make suggestions for the date & time of this hour. Doing that would be greatly appreciated & may lead somewhere truly WONDERFUL FOR US ALL.. The next step is just to let Paul or Sue from the Action for Happiness Grup know that you are a little interested.
The groups email address is actionforhapiness[at] If you send your interest and/ or questions there then we all receive your words & can respond creatively as a team.

The St Leonards (& Action for Happiness) context for 9th & 10th September Training: "words are windows or walls" (Part 2 of 2)


Usually this "international level" training in how we appreciate each others'values/needs more fully & work with them more constructively costs £300 per person. Maria Arpa however, as a friend and colleague for some years, is keen to support the initiatives of Mediaiton Support Ltf in Hastings/St Leonards, which include the introduction of a new model of timebanking. Maria gets back frm her training no money from our local economy. What Maria gets is:
1) 20 hours of my time providing social media (A blog, a facebook page, a twitterstream & videos on YouTube Channel Toothpaste007), all of which will be supporting the launch of the new Centre for Peaceful solutions charity shop.
2) Satisfaction from hearing about (or just having confidence in) the hours that you put into the community, having received this training.

I'd enjoy hearing more about the difference this training makes to you & what you do locally. I have really appreciated Alison Cooper volunteering more than 20 hours of her time at the Hasting & St Leonards Action for Happiness & Mediation Support Centre, based at Southwater Area Community Centre. Alison has been sorting out hundreds of items (books, DVDs, Camping equipment, Catering equipment, Computing equipment, tools etc) & is putting them on as a step towards the wider community having access to them. Here we have launched the first streetbank depot in the country. It will require creativity & support -maybe you can help?- to make it more fully accessible & truly useful as part of a wider community library initiative taking place in St Leonards.


Please consider sharing parts of your journey in seeking a happier life for yourself and, inevitably, others. I will be filming parts of the training and asking people attending for interviews about where you are on "the dream cycle" with any of your projects:
[add link/picture]

If you say something to me on video & don't want it quoted or used in my best judgment for the benefit of others, do let me know. We can then review any video (or audio) footage together & find a way to respect the needs underlying our wishes.


The start time each day is being texted to all attendees; this way I have a handy means to contact all of you.


By the time you have a text message we will have had any necessary conversation about leaving a deposit to secure your place.

-then please email actionforhappiness[at] & use the phrase TRAINING & COMMUNITY BUILDING REQUEST in the email title please.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Maria Arpa on Fairness & The Dialogue Road Map -training in St Leonards on 9th & 10th September

A sense of "unfairness" is a major cause of unhappiness. This video is Part 1 of two on how 'fairness' is handled in life, and introduces the training being offered on Friday 9th & Saturday 10th September.

More details are in a flyer on the left hand side. Whilst this training usually costs £300, we are this time just asking people attending to give something in their community. See the timebanking blog post below for more on how this works. If you are already giving in your community this will count. From Maria Arpa's time donation to St Leonards, many new hours are already going into growing local community projects. One example of this is Alison Cooper's work on -lending & borrowing neighbours possessions & skills, that you might not have known they had or known they were willing to share for free. (Engaging with streetbank has been called an "anti-riot"; a point of view which I hope spurs you on to share more with your neighbours).

Sunday, 21 August 2011

August Riots & Hastings Faith in the Criminal Justice System

Hastings & St Leonards didn't have a riot in August this year, as far as I am aware. Perhaps we had one on October 5th last year?; we won't know until we know what the intentions were of those on the pier that night. The 5th October 2010 was, in the words of one contributor to this blog, a night when "the heart was ripped out of Hastings".
  • Does using a word like "riot" really help anyway?
  • How many people does it take to start a riot?
  • What kind of attention does a riot get?
  • Is the attention that riots get the kind of attention that addresses the underlying rifts in the society or not?
If 5th October 2010, for all it's excitement, wasn't a riot, I wonder whether it's the closest thing that Hastings has had to a riot, in that it is a focus of much public concern and calls for justice.
(The Hastings Justice Facebook Group is here)

Let's start an "anti-riot"!
One example of this is Alison Cooper's work on -lending & borrowing neighbours possessions & skills, that you might not have known they had or known they were willing to share for free. (Engaging with streetbank has been called an "anti-riot"; a point of view which I hope spurs you on to share more with your neighbours).

Encouragement & support for sharing also necessitates having access to the skills for handling situations where sharing doesn't go as you would like it to go.
Some people like to save the word 'conflict' for situations of intense physical violence whereas I find it a useful word whenever someone does something I don't like - a conflict of some sort now exists between what I want and what they did that was contrary to that.
The August Riots in London, Birmingham and Manchester are important conflicts, just as 5th October 2010 looks to me like an important conflict in Hastings' history.

What prompted me to make such a controversial link between the August riots and the fire on the pier? It was this email that I received that prompted me in making this link between the two. The correspondent wrote:
"The nation is divided on the rights and wrongs of punishing the rioters. My mother in law apparently nearly came to blows over it. Once the names and pictures of the pier arsonists are published I will begin to regain my faith on British Justice and not before."
My view is that one of the things that matters greatly, both for the future of Hastings & St Leonards, and for the future of the cities of London, Birmingham & Manchester, is that in the wake of these conflicts we learn something about the underlying causes and, as responsible citizens, each become part of the solution.
How we do this will be discussed on the anniversary of the Pier Fire (Wednesday 5th October 2011 at 7.30pm, (venue to be announced) & again on Saturday 8th October. Further enquires about attending these  opportunities to become part of the solution via the Mediation Support Ltd contact form please (Here).

Here's the link to the Panorama programme, the intro to which is as follow "The worst civil unrest for decades has led to tens of millions of pounds of damage, dozens of injured policemen and wide-scale looting as gangs of youths have rampaged through London and other major cities. Panorama tells the full story of the August riots and asks what has led a generation to violence.

These days I find myself singing to myself this old song called "Riot on Eastbourne Pier":

More reflection on the urban regeneration potential of actually processing the conflicts underlying the pier fire last October is at

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Doctor's Surgery Leaflet - front page

Thanks to Gaye for bringing this in to put on the website & compare with what we're doing as the local Action for Happiness group:

Happiness leaflet in all GP surgeries, so I'm told

Second side:

Timebanking in Hastings - Press Release on how we are all now richer through offering & multi-party giving/trading our skills (Part 1)

The brief update on the time-banking work I'm doing is as follows:
- I was visited by Adam Chugg, the CEO of 3VA who is interested in skills sharing, and for the time being I suggested he use . I also created for him the example blog called
- I have invited the director of to my office in September, and we will be talking about next steps.
- Dr Edgar Cahn, the (US) founder of time-banking, whose talk I recently attended, announced an Open Source timebanking software application being launched in December; I'm keen to work with this.
- Finance for running the Hastings & St Leonards Action for Happiness & Mediation Support Ltd Centre currently runs out in September, issues related to funding will delay forward progress.
- The date I officially wish to launch the time-bank coincides with something called "AGoodWeek" in 2012 -18th -24th June.
- Meanwhile Mediation Support Ltd have begun phase 1 of the time-bank by offering to provide for "Hastings Pier Trust volunteers a free hour on a course or an event for every hour's volunteering work that is done for the Trust. This is intended to be the start of a time-banking initiative in Hastings & St Leonards that enables more people to benefit from each other's skills without paying money, and that values an hour of each person's time equally."
- It has been inspiring to meet Erica, who works three days a week for a time-bank in London as a volunteer, and would only require one day a week's funding to move to Hastings to do this work here.
- If funding opportunities enable an earlier official launch to the timebank than next June, I will engage with this earlier.
- One of the next steps is to contact act with an organisation called Circles Network who were recently awarded nearly £19k to deliver a Time bank model in Wealden through 2011 Adult Social Care Commissioning Prospectus. I don’t know what Circle’s plans are in terms of future expansion or not of this scheme to other areas in East Sussex, and therefore how open they would be about discussing their plans or bid with you, but if you are able to link in some way contact details:

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Happy Buildings No 1 (Rye)

Siouxsie And The Banshees - Happy House (Famous Figures dubstep remix ):

Saturday, 6 August 2011

One of our wigs was in the fireworks show tonight!

And here is Action for Happiness's Great Dream Poster: 10 Keys to Happier Living

Hastings Old Town Carnival - Amber Rudd MP

Amber Rudd MP
Member of Parliament for Hastings & Rye

House of Commons

Mr Paul Crosland
Action for Happiness
Southwater Area Community Centre
1-2 Stainsby Street
TN37 6LA

Dear Mr Crosland

I am writing to congratualate you for leading such an inspirational group as Action for Happiness, with the aim of making Hastings a happier place in which to live.

This is a wonderful initiative, and it is so good to know that you and your group are doing all that you can to remind us all of what is important in life, such as connecting with other people, being active and healthy, learning new skills, giving to others, and learning to appreciate the good things in our lives.  Indeed, gratitude is a powerful and energising force for good.

I see that you and your group have been handing out happiness hints to commuters at St Leonards Warrior Square train station, and conducting stress-busting sessions and talks.

I thank you and your group for offering our town such a valuable and positive contribution.

Kind regards,

Yours sincerely,

Amber Rudd

Friday, 5 August 2011

Alison volunteers to get the Streetbank moving faster; more community connections to be built by borrrowing & lending

Given her wish to attend the "Dialogue Road Map" training in September at the Hastings & St Leonards Action for Happiness & Mediation Support Centre, Alison wished to earn some time- credit by getting items in the streetbank lending depot on-line on
The Streetbank depot is based inside the building; not outside, as this (reluctant) YouTube film shows:
Rather than just turn up at the streetbank depot, as you are someoen clearly with access to a computer, why not If you turn up in person by Warrior Square Station Platform 2 (the pink building), we haven't got very regular hours over the summer. Notices will be put in the Action for Happiness window about opening times, which are going to be allied to times that there are other events on here eg Weds 10.30-12.30 Community Veg sale.

Hastings Happy Crew 1

Hastings Happy Crew 2

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Which of these views blocks your happiness?

1) Your view of other people?
e.g. men/women ….or other (please state.................................)
Say more please..........................................................

2) Your view of the planet?
eg how can I be happy when others are suffering/ it's all doomed
Say more please..........................................................

3) Your view of your place?
eg I live in a place where I have no power
Say more please..........................................................

4) Your view of your body?
eg I can't get into shape or look how I'd like to look
eg It hurts too much
Say more please..........................................................

5) Your view of your mind?
eg Happiness is not something you can cultivate; you just are or aren't happy?
Say more please..........................................................

6) Your view of the spiritual?
eg Generosity is just 'do-gooding' & no good to anyone really.
Say more please..........................................................

For a fuller Happiness MOT, try a Happiness 101 session (free) or a one-to-one session with a mediator, trained in assisting people to process their inner connections, or their difficulties with others, who are seen to be blocking happiness (negotiable arrangements;
For a fuller Happiness MOT, try a Happiness 101 session (free) or a one-to-one session with a mediator (negotiable arrangements; guideline £30/hour, and negotiable according to how much you use or doing something else for your community.)

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Hastings Happy Crew start recruiting at local Eco event

The newest addition to the focus on promoting happiness in the local area, 'Hastings Happy Crew', had their first recruitment stand at Horntye this Sunday. Although the event was sparsely attended, the Happy Crew were well received (especially the hula-hooping!!) and around 20 new shipmates were welcomed on-board.
Future events planned by HHC include a 'Getting to know you' coffee morning with details to be arranged.
Anyone interested in finding out more about the Happy Crew can contact Graham Hodgson at hastingshappycrew[at]