The trick in life...

But to me, the trick in life is to take that sense of generosity between kin, make it apply to the extended family and to your neighbour, your village and beyond.

Tom Stoppard

We had a happy accident. The KIN Festival, at which Patrick was going to take part in several events, was cancelled at the last minute, leaving us with non-refundable flights and the prospect of a boozy but unproductive weekend in Bristol.

Instead, with a little help (actually a lot of help) from some friends, Patrick managed to hack together a short notice screening of When Citizens Assemble up the road in Frome. The screening turned out to be the catalyst for a wondrously uplifting weekend, which was a tonic for the soul. We missed out on KIN but hit the jackpot with kin.

Flour power. Peter Macfadyen introduces the screening in the atmospheric surroundings of Rye Bakery.

Flour power. Peter Macfadyen introduces the screening in the atmospheric surroundings of Rye Bakery.

Peter Macfadyen, ex mayor of Frome and author of Flatpack Democracy, hosted our pop-up screening in Rye Bakery, formerly the United Reformed Church in Frome. Sitting beneath the organ pipes, surrounded by flour and sharing food, we showed our film and shot the breeze about radical democracy. Frome is a radically independent town, and its inhabitants (based on the sample that turned up) have enjoyed their taste of participatory, deliberative politics and they are hungry for more. We discussed Citizen Assemblies from first principles. We stripped sortition down and reassembled it. We listened and we learned from each other. We were made wiser and warmer.

We are also grateful to Pete Lawrence, founder of Campfire Convention, for the loan of the presentation kit for the evening, and for his efforts in generating awareness of the event at short notice. Frome, it seems, is full of generous people.

Peter gave us beds for the night. We were welcomed into his home a week before the first Extinction Rebellion protests in London. Preparations were underway in the Macfadyen household. The atmosphere was convivial with an undercurrent of urgency. We had come to Frome to discuss radical democracy but we left with some bonus insight into holocratic organisation and the process of non-violent direct action (NVDA).

Peter and Annabelle Macfadyen are magicians. They conjured a pop-up screening for us out of nothing. And they are experts at Tom Stoppard’s trick in life. Thank you.

Peter and Patrick walking out among the 1,500 trees planted by Peter and his wife as a rewilding project.

Peter and Patrick walking out among the 1,500 trees planted by Peter and his wife as a rewilding project.