Article featured in June 2018 Waltham Forest Echo
Life without risk is life stuck in a rut. Sometimes taking a gamble can stretch and help me grow. On the flip side, fear of failure can be an obstacle that prevents me from taking that first step. I can worry about what will happen, if and when I fail. But failure is only failure to the extent that I see it that way. Instead I’m going to try and perceive it as a valuable learning curve.
A recent enriching experience has been sitting on a roundtable judging panel for the Grow Your Idea project at The Mill. The aim of the competition is to enable local people to share their skills and experiences. It has the added advantage of connecting local people with each other, supporting development, and helping nurture friendships. The prize is the offer of support from The Mill; in the form of venue hire, resources, publicity, as well as mentoring and training. It was a difficult decision process.
In an ideal world, everyone would be given the opportunity to develop their big idea and turn it into reality. The 20 entrants all inspired me to follow their lead and take risks. It’s a risk to step out of your comfort zone to make the application rather than delay and let the deadline date pass by. Each candidate showed glowing merit; all had heart and passion. We debated long and hard on selecting the winning applicants.
The ideas we chose are varied. One is a workshop for new immigrants to meet, share experiences, and develop their own photographic albums. Another is a herbalist and artist who have joined together to run a guided local walk with practical creative sessions and develop ‘herbal journals’. Other chosen ideas include a storytelling and drama movement group for children with additional needs, an engagement project focusing on the original Coppermill in Walthamstow from which The Mill gets its name, and an oral history workshop open to people from all walks of life. But our first supported project will be an introduction to bicycle maintenance and repair run by Margaret Gibbs from Sick Bike Repairs.
For these chosen six the risk has paid off. But for applicants not selected I hope they don’t give up – The Mill’s door remains open to them. Putting down on paper what they’ve been thinking in their head alone can outweigh the downside of not getting through. As Mark Twain once said: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.”