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News, Stories | 20 December 2021

2021: A year of Tea & Chats

Dolphin House Young Womens Group taking part in a drama workshop. Photographer: Dan Butler.

Dolphin House Young Womens Group taking part in a drama workshop. Photographer: Dan Butler.

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Tea & Chats is part of our programme of year-round conversations with the people of Dublin.

In 2021, we’ve been meeting people from all over the city, hearing a range of diverse and rich perspectives and making connections through culture and conversation.

Below, the Engagement Team reflect on a year of Tea & Chats.

Listening to Dubliners

Tea & Chats is first and foremost about listening to communities and individuals throughout Dublin. It gives us at the Culture Company a chance to hear about what people in the city have on their minds and this year we learned a lot. People spoke about their relationship with the city and its culture, their aspirations for growth and improvement, the challenges they face in their local neighbourhoods, creativity, and a million and one other topics in between.

This primary activity of listening is what drives and sustains our work at the Culture Company, and Tea & Chats is reliant on the openness and generosity of people who agree to have these conversations with us.

Strengthening our communities

The very particular situation of the pandemic gave way to grounded reflections on the use of public space and access to public amenities, while restrictions meant we had to take a closer look at our relationship with our immediate and local environment.

We asked people what they love about where they live, what they would like to see more of, and how they thought this could be achieved.

The responses have been nuanced and innovative, putting forward ideas that aim to strengthen communities at a local and community level. There have also been more far-reaching suggestions that centre on the work of our local government, mechanisms for redistributing resources, and giving priority to environmental concerns.

Adapting and appreciating

Changing habits was another important theme that came up throughout our chats. We listened to how people quickly adapted their usual routines and began to question their own use of time, creating new priorities that centred on wellbeing, community-building, and trying new things - from hobbies and educational goals to activism and advocacy. People spoke of experiencing renewed appreciation and gratitude when they were finally able to meet again in person and in the spaces and places they would usually gather. At the same time, it became clear that time and connection are not a luxury that can be enjoyed equally by everybody. We listened to the difficulties endured by people carrying out essential work, and to elderly people and those more vulnerable to COVID-19 about the effects of isolation.

Health and happiness

Across the board, we have seen a real desire among the groups we spoke with to see their communities and youth happier and healthier, with more things to do and more opportunities to connect and thrive. It is particularly with these aspects in mind that we have been working to respond to what we learned through Tea & Chats. We always aim to develop creative programmes and projects based on the interests of the people we speak with, and to make meaningful and relevant points of connection between communities and our partners at Dublin City Council and many different cultural institutions around Dublin.

Thank you

Our work is only possible because of the willingness of communities to be open, to engage with us, and to participate. We are really grateful to everyone who chatted and extended their trust to us throughout 2021. We would like to express heartfelt thanks to the groups and individuals that have participated in Tea & Chats and other Culture Company programmes with us this year; Dolphin House Community Centre, Running Amach, Crumlin Youth Reach, Venezuelan Community Ireland, Black Queer Book Club, Dublin Welsh Male Voice Choir, St. James Brass Band, Brazilian Left Front, Suaimhneas Raheny, Good Counsel GAA Drimnagh, St. Laurence O’Toole D8 Men’s Shed, Venezuelan Roots, St. John Bosco’s Youth Project, Bolivian Residents Association, Crumlin Community Clean Up, Radio Latina, Clogher Road Community Community College, Tidy Drimnagh, Daughters of Charity Henrietta Street, Complex Youth Theatre, Laurence O’Toole Centre Ladies Group and many more.

We would also like to thank those who have taken part in Your Tenement Memories; an oral history project that is strongly embedded in the experience of our tours at 14 Henrietta Street. Your Tenement Memories is part of ongoing efforts at the museum to gather and share stories of tenement life as an integral element of our city’s social fabric and history.

From the Engagement Team, we hope you have a very happy Christmas and are sending all our best wishes for the new year.

We can’t wait to see what 2022 will bring and how we can build on what we have achieved together throughout 2021.

Dani, Sinéad, and Tracey

Get involved

If you are part of any group, social, cultural or community-based in Dublin and are interested in taking part in our Tea & Chats programme in 2022 (or you simply would like to know more), you can drop us an email at teaandchats@dublincitycouncilculturecompany.ie