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  • Writer's pictureJo Parkes

Making Matters #3 Hope is an action


I write on my way back from Berlin where we performed The Walking Project again over the weekend. We made the piece just after the first lockdown in 2022. It explores “hope” as something that you do, rather than something that you have.

At the centre of the piece is the writing of Rebecca Solnit. Rebecca Solnit is a writer, historian and activist who writes (among other things) about social change, walking and hope. Over the last days, many audience members have spoken to me about the resonance of one particular text, which I want to share with you here.

The text has morphed in the creation of the piece. It was edited for the performance (including changing the order of some sections) and it is spoken by a child, so we occasionally chose simpler language or added repetition of ideas. I put it here in the form in which we use it in the performance - close to the the original but also different - because it is the one which inspired the conversations which have filled my weekend. There is a link to the book “Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities” from which it comes at the bottom of the post, where you can read the text it in its original version.

There is another reason why I want to share this text at this time. Over the last weeks, a good friend of mine in Berlin has flooded my consciousness with images, words and music emerging from the protests being led by the women of Iran - in Iran and around the world. She has reminded me how of how many bodies, moving in solidarity in public space, can make change. She has also reminded me of the importance of each person passing the news in whatever way they can. So here is my small contribution for her and for the extraordinary courage of our sisters in Iran.

“It is important to say what hope is not: it is not the belief that everything was, is - or will be - fine. The evidence is all around us of tremendous suffering and destruction… It is also not a sunny everything-is-getting-better story, though it may be a counter to the everything-is-getting-worse one.

Hope locates itself in the understanding that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. When you recognise uncertainty, you recognise that you may be able to influence the outcomes – you alone or you in concert with a few dozen - or several million - others.

Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists adopt the opposite position. Both excuse themselves from acting.

Hope is the belief that what we do matters.

In the moment of uncertainty, there is hope. When you feel uncertainty there is room to act.”

Adapted from

Rebecca Solnit

Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities

The Walking Project

(You can access other texts from the performance through this link too)

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