By Christine Sefton, Community Project Developer at Eden Project Communities. As a Community Project Developer, Christine spends her days working on innovative ways to bring communities together to create lasting connections, and collective happiness.
A man sits with his son on his knee, a look of concentration on his face as he winds wool around a gadget. Every so often, he stops to ask a little girl if what he is doing is right. The trio is sitting in a beautifully draped tent decorated with colourful pom-poms. This is a Share Fair and the little girl is teaching the dad and his son to make a pom-pom.
A Share Fair is a community event, a bit like a market but instead of buying and selling, people swap and share. Share Fairs are inclusive events where everyone, whatever their circumstances, can contribute and connect. They are money-free-zones where not only items are swapped such as clothes and books, but people share crafts and conversations, skills and stories. In our society, money can mean power – so by being free, a Share Fair empowers everyone because everyone’s contribution, whatever their age, is equally valuable. Of course, the most important thing anyone can share at a Share Fair is their company:
“[we] really loved it. Thank you. It’s wonderful to find something that adults and children can do. It was great to sit around with other people – there was a real community feel – Beautiful!”
Jo – Cornwall, October 2016
Learning how to make a pom-pom may seem trivial but at every Share Fair the pom-pom tent has been one of the most popular spaces. All age groups are attracted into this comfortable, colourful space to make pom-poms. Adults enjoy rediscovering this age-old craft and youngsters are thrilled to learn something new. The exclamation of joy as a person completes their pom-pom and holds it up for all to see is a very common Share Fair sound.
Pom-pom making is not the only Share Fair activity encouraging different age groups to interact. We encourage people of all ages and abilities to get crafty together by having art materials suitable for little and big hands, play together by including equipment that fits adults and children (for example differently weighted hula hoops), and providing social spaces to just be together with seating to support bottoms of all shapes and sizes:
“Amazing and so friendly too. Thank you. Can’t remember the last time I made a pom-pom! Now my son and daughter can make them too. Share Fair is a wonderful idea ...”
Katherine – Cornwall, October 2016
Of course, the most important way that a Share Fair encourages different generations to do things together is by being joyful. Because it doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from or how old you are, everyone wants to have fun!