#TinyRevolutions: Write a Story with your Neighbours

During lockdown Jennifer Lunn found a brilliant way to connect with her neighbours, while keeping a safe distance. Although this Tiny Revolution started last year, it’s still going strong. Here Jen shares the story of how it all started and instructions if you wanted to start a story with a neighbour.

During the first lockdown in 2020 we noticed that the family over the road were filling their windows with lovely drawings and then one Sunday they came out onto the street and played some music on their violin and guitar. Thinking they might want to play a story game we wrote a note and asked. A few days later three young faces appeared at our door with a handmade story folder, handmade book and a letter telling us lots of interesting things about them. 

A year later the story is still going strong. (It’s a big epic fantasy story!) It passes back and forth between us every couple of weeks now we are all back at school and work. It has been the loveliest way to get to know our neighbours and we have indeed exchanged baked goods and gone for walks in the park since.

And who knows…. One day you might get to read our book!!

How to make a story with your neighbours:

  1. Identify some neighbours you’d like to connect with. It can be someone you know or someone you don’t. It can be someone who lives by themselves or it can be a whole family. Perhaps they had lovely artworks in their windows through lockdown or perhaps you wonder if they might be lonely.
  2. Write them a note introducing yourselves. You can tell them as much or as little as you want about yourselves. Perhaps tell them you appreciated their rainbow in their window, perhaps tell them some things you like to do.
  3. In the note, ask them if they’d like to make a story with you. Explain that you could simply pass it back and forth by posting through each others letter boxes. (Some people might feel happier doing it electronically if that’s an option for you.)
  4. Include the opening few lines of a story. A couple of sentences is perfect. You might even want to leave it mid-sentence for them to finish off.  You might want to make a small book for this to be written in or you might use a notebook you have. Or you might just start with a piece of paper. (you can always transfer into a little book once you get going).
  5. Then post it through their door! You might want to think about putting your note and story start in an envelope, bag or folder. 
  6. Wait… Be patient, they might be taking their time to reply. But remember that some people might be too busy or nervous to write back so don’t feel too upset if your first attempt doesn’t work. 
  7. Some tips for co-writing a story: 

-Try not to have fixed ideas for how you want the story to end. You are making this together so be prepared to be surprised.
-Add in illustrations, or maps. Maybe design a cover for the book.
-If the story gets long, you can always start in another notebook.
-If the story is short then start another.

8. Let the story be a start of a friendship! Once you’ve started exchanging the story, perhaps you could stop for a chat sometimes, take round that spare piece of cake or even ask if they’d like to go for a walk. It’s just the beginning!

Enjoy – and do send over pictures of your own story file, if you start one. Email them to amie@funpalaces.co.uk, text them to 07747 182 865, or tweet them to @FunPalaces.

If you have an idea for a Tiny Revolution that you’d like to share with the world, send it to: amie@funpalaces.co.uk to be shared on the Fun Palaces website.