Last weekend, I attended the second weekend session of The Ideas Collective, a 100-day programme coordinated by Dublin charity, SUAS. The aim of the programme is for a group of participants (including me) to develop an idea for a social or environmental project into a practical plan. I applied for The Ideas Collective with an idea in May, but I can safely say that my idea has evolved. In this blog, I’ll outline where my project idea stands at present.
A bit about my background. I read Law at the University of Cambridge and completed a Master’s in International Human Rights Law (Distinction) at the Irish Centre for Human Rights. I’ve been involved with non-governmental organisations across the UK and Ireland and in 2014, I worked at the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva. Currently, I’m a full-time professional singer, teaching, recording and touring with Anúna, Nova Collective and Tourist Walk.
This weekend, I will present at the NUIG Summer School 2015 on the Arts & Human Rights about how singing fosters belonging in a community. As I consider the effect of singing on community, I naturally turned to the songs of my local area – Newry, the Mournes and Carlingford Lough – and I intend to publishing a songbook of my research within the next six months.
It’s a year since I left the OHCHR and I’ve reached a point where I want to combine the two passions in my life: singing and rights-based advocacy. With the support of The Ideas Collective, I’ve developed an idea in the hope of growing it into a nationwide community of human rights advocates.
My project [provisionally entitled either COMMONSONG or COMMONPLACE... Any thoughts are welcome!] entails hosting a series of song workshops for participants from marginalised groups across Ireland. In these workshops, we intend on developing both the soft and hard skills of individuals who agree to participate in the project. Their contribution will be centred around the performance of a favourite song. I will work with participants directly on singing technique, breathing, musical expression, etc. Through this process, the participants are encouraged to explore their own story and talk about their experiences with the goal of speaking/singing in public.
At the end of the series of workshops (5-6 weeks), we will invite community & voluntary sector workers in the relevant field, as well as music-lovers and local communities, to attend a pop-up Gathering featuring other well-known musicians. For example, if the participants are affected by homelessness in Dublin, we would invite key stakeholders in that field such as Focus Ireland and the Dublin Simon Community to attend the Gathering. We would invite local, ordinary citizens (especially music-lovers) to attend, and well-known professional musicians will also perform at the Gathering. I’m in the process of collecting a list of interested musicians from Dublin.
The project participants will perform the song(s) they have worked on through the workshops. This way, the project provides a platform for participants to share their story with an engaged audience. Through the workshop series and the gatherings, the project can create a community of human rights advocates through song.
Any thoughts you have at this stage on what you've just read are very much appreciated! Please get in touch. x