“Now more than ever we need to celebrate our common humanity,

by coming together to build bridges and

unite against the voices which seek to divide us”

Kalpna Woolf 2018

The dominant story of our times and the biggest threat to global peace is the persistent focus on our differences: from terror, negative rhetoric, intolerance and a deluge of confused information. And yet, in cities and communities across the UK, we are faced with the challenge of bringing our diverse communities together.

Our story

We are a dynamic, social enterprise known as 91 Ways to Build a Global City, which was named after the 91 languages spoken in Bristol. Since 2015 we’ve collected recipes and food stories from many of Bristol’s language communities and helped to bring together groups who have never come into contact with one another before –bringing together over 12,000 people, speaking 40 languages, at  over 152 events in schools, universities, places of worship, with community organisations and even on boats.

Since our first launch event, 91 Ways has kept growing and spawned all sorts of follow ups: centrepiece mass meals at food festivals, local community events across the city and a roving pop up International Peace Café.

All of this has not only brought together diverse communities across the city and showcased a myriad of world food cultures, but it has also provided an opportunity for a group of refugee women in Bristol – from Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Eritrea – to become part of the wider community, show off their local food cultures and develop skills to help them pursue fledgling catering careers.

Where next?

We want to go deep into our communities both locally and nationally. Reaching into areas where people feel isolated, fearful and forgotten. We plan to visit all these communities and to hold inter-community events so people can meet people from their community and from other parts of Bristol.Our focus will be Avonmouth, Southmead, Lockleaze, Hartcliffe, Stockwood, Knowle West and Barton Hill.

Our activities will encourage people to make genuine connections with their neighbours from other cultures by using the uniting power of food, to cross these divides and talk about our traditions and heritage.

Our events will feature food which is representative of that community and this acts as a starting point to talk, share personal stories, memories and cultural understandings throughout the event. These conversations lead to long-lasting connections and friendships. We will feature people’s recipes and memories on our website and share them with their community and others so that they can celebrate their diversity.

Bristol can be a beacon for peace

We are also looking to expand our activities into other cities across the UK; in 2018 we have used our projects in Bristol as template to trial similar style community projects in Nottingham, Belfast and South Gloucester and the results of these have been very encouraging.

If you would like to create a similar events in your city we have created  a 91 Ways “manual” to help you get started, and we are always available to provide advice and support. Contact us to get a free copy of the manual.

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