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CHINWAG: Hosted chats with global strangers

Thursday, April 30, 2020   Posted in: Signatory Notice Board By: Administrator With tags: resilience, community connection, Communication

Chinwag has been such an exciting project for Gap Filler. We are so used to experiencing people interacting with us and our projects in person and right now, we can't do that. We have risen to the challenge this has created by experimenting, using all means we have at hand, and doing what we do best, working to create opportunities for people to get together. Gap Filler is known for its experimentation and prototyping, its ability to use what's available, calling on its networks to make something work. We throw ourselves in and, above all, make it possible for people to experience others in new ways. Gap Filler has done this while working remotely, making sure we keep our own connections with each other alive. Chinwag has been one of the outcomes and... Yay!

Chinwag has been regularly attracting a group of about 25 people from Aotearoa and around the world. We are pretty interested that the number of people has remained so consistent and, whenever we get together at a Chinwag, that number of people 'feels' about the right. We speculate that this is the 'natural' size of a group of people wanting to connect up with strangers, using Zoom. We wonder if we will able to create a feeling of intimacy and connection in a bigger group and what a bigger group will evoke in its members. Will they be shyer talking in the whole group? Can the feeling of 'we are all in this together' be maintained?  We know that we can 'take in' a group of 25, will a bigger group allow us to take them all in? We are keen to find out and will keep experimenting.

Many years ago, Max Clayton, a teacher of sociometry (the science that measures relationships), said "The world works best when people notice each other and when people notice each other noticing each other". We understand from this that the effect of Chinwag extends beyond the actual people attending. The people who come along are having a purposeful, meaningful and focused dialogue with one other person and they know that, while this is happening, each of the other Chinwaggers is also doing that. Chinwaggers then know that they are involved with something bigger than just themselves. They are getting together with a stranger in the context of a community of people who there for the same purpose. This has an amplifying effect, that context has a major impact. People 'notice each other' and they 'notice each other noticing each other'. They are part of something that's more than they can create by themselves with one other person.

We have loved hearing back from Chinwaggers. They are letting us know they applying Chinwag principles in their own communities. They are using what's available, making something of their own networks and getting meaningfully in touch with others, encouraging people they know to connect with people, despite the current requirement to isolate.

Momentum is created in them to keep building, to keep connecting, attempting to bridge the gap between themselves and others in their own networks. They are motivated to create their own online communities, places where people can intentionally build relationships and find people who are stimulating to talk with, where they can share their experiences of these remarkable times we are living in.

Check out the GapFiller Facebook page for details on the next Chinwag event.

You will need to be online 5 minutes before the Chinwag session starts if you want to participate. You will be put into a waiting room and the main room will open at the Chinwag start time.

This project is supported by Christchurch City Council.

Healthy Christchurch Champions

  • Canterbury District Health Board
  • Christchurch City Council
  • Environment Canterbury
  • Ministry of Health
  • Ngai Tahu
  • NZ Police
  • Pegasus Health
  • University of Otago, Christchurch