in the Big Top the stories were being read by a group of people
calling themselves the Commonweal Storytellers. Our curiosity was
aroused so we asked Commonweal Children's Outreach Worker Peter
Moore to explain what it is all about.
What we are doing now is a project that has been funded by the Paul
Hamlyn Foundation - we got a special experimental grant from them
- and the idea is to bring socially-conscious ideas about how we
can live sustainably, how we can live in peace and how we can resolve
conflict in a non-violent way. We've been building up a collection
of stories that have these messages and we've been trying to make
them available to parents, teachers, community leaders and anyone
who is interested.
Commonweal Collection housed at the University of Bradford is
"one of Bradford's best-kept secrets."
exactly is the Commonweal collection?
It's a non-violent library for social change. We've been based at
the University of Bradford for thirty years and our objective is
to bring resources to the community in Bradford and throughout England
around the idea of how to change society without resorting to violent
do these stories come from?
A lot of publishers are now clueing into the idea that we don't
have to have action sequences and violent resolutions, and that
parents are actually looking for stories with a positive, non-sexist,
non-violent message. We also want to get storytellers from the area
to bring along their ideas and mix Bradford and Yorkshire into the
stories in any way we can. It's a great way of engaging the kids
who really get into it. We had a group yesterday who were putting
off their parents and saying, 'No, Dad. We want to stay for another
story' because they were interested in the very, very positive message.
it important for kids to find out about ideas like this when they
are as young as possible?
You need to give young people alternatives. The funny thing about
video games is they are very straight and there is only one way
to go and there are certain ways to act. Kids want alternatives,
they want other ways of dealing with problems. A Rambo approach
is not going to work in the playground so what do they do then?
How do they respond to bullying? How do you respond to somebody
insulting you or making fun of your race or your colour or your
sex? Kids want alternatives.
George Foreman has written inspirational stories for young people.
you suggest any suitable authors to parents reading this?
One author is George Foreman, the boxer, and we're doing one of
his stories today called Dinosaurs And All That Rubbish, and it's
about how one man's greed can destroy a planet and we have to look
again at the way we live in our world so we can all enjoy it, and
that's from an old boxer. It's a great story and really inspirational.
is the origin of the Commonweal ideal?
It came from David Hoggett, a carpenter, who was building homes
for refugees in Austria in 1955 and he had always been interested
in the Ghandian non-violent ethic and how it could be applied in
society. What would a non-violent United Kingdom look like? As a
result of some charity work he was doing on one of his vacations
he fell from a roof and was paralysed. After a few years of recuperation
and getting to know his new limits he came up with a better way
of relating to the world for him, he also came up with this idea
and said "I'd like to do this."
started as a postal library for the peace movement but when David
Hoggett died the trustees moved it to Bradford because the University's
Peace Department was just starting up at that moment. It's an amazing
resource for our community and it's one of Bradford's best-kept
secrets. It's a unique collection. There's biographies of peace-makers,
it's one of the largest collections of Gandhi's writings in Britain
and you also have lots of ways of looking at a lot of different
issues from nuclear disarmament to vegan cooking, to sustainable
development and a healthy environment. I think anyone who walks
in could find something they would want to look at.
Commonweal Collection at the University of Bradford's J.B. Priestley
Library is free to use and open to the public during library open
information about the Commonweal can be found at the Commonweal's
BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.
a look back at the 2004 Mela!