As a total outsider, being Dutch and having never been to Wales, my first and big question was; what is Rhayader like? When I joined the Stich&Bitch club and the local bingo my question right away changed into; how can I become a real woman of Rhayader? How can you become a real insider if you are born in a totally different place. And of course all this comes from the deep wish to be part of the grouw – to belong. How do you fit in if you are an outsider? What is the process to become a part of a close community?

After a few days of research, lead by the PeerGroup, I noticed that I was fascinated by all the clubs and the huge feeling of solidarity in Rhayader. It started with Alan Samuel. He took me to one of the many pubs in Rhayader where the men were drinking beer on the right side and the women were embroidering on the left. Embroidering is one of my secret hobby’s. And embroidering in a pub with all ages was totally new for me. At the crafs-table I noticed that the talks we had with women I just met, were very personal and open.

In my next research for what is typical for a Rhayader man or woman, I found it hard to create an environment in which I could ask the question I wanted. I know that it sounds pretty hypocrite. But I noticed if I started questioning people, it became a formal question-and-answer conversation, however I longed for the personal atmosphere with the Stich&Bitch ladies. So I joined the bingo night. And yes, there I got what I wanted. The fact that I was a young girl who joined the bingo night, was apparently enough to make the people question me and to eventually have a real conversation.

Questioning felt as interfering and not joining. To get the conversations I wanted to have, I had to create an environment in which I could join. An environment in which people would question me first.

That became the base for the small performance on the last Saturday. I needed to create an environment like the pub or the bingo. Eventually I walked around with small chairs, two big planks, bags with apples and small knifes. I tried to hold as much as possible so it looked like I needed help. If anyone asked me, ‘Can I help you’, than my conversation could start. I tried to force them gently into sitting at my table, peeling an apple and answering my questions. My questions were all based on, how do I become a woman of Rhayader. Do I need to marry someone from here? Do I need to have children? What do I do on Monday? And what does my Thursday night look like? The conclusion was, just come over, live here and join some clubs. Easy as that.

What I experienced during my days with the PeerGroup and NTW was, how to create your own working process and conduct research. Force yourself into inspiration. Most of the time we see inspiration as a passive force, which is based on coincidence. But in this week I saw how inspiration can become something you can actively look for. To force yourself to look, listen and feel as objectively as possible, brings you to different ways of thinking – resulting in inspiration.

Thanks Rhayaders, NTW, PeerGroup and fellow creatives for the overwhelming and inspiring week. 

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Comment by Simon Coates on February 13, 2014 at 15:04

Hi Eva - great to hear from you. It was great to have you there with us. Thanks for this blog and for sharing your experience.

How are things in Holland?

With love from Wales

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