When the centre closed in doors in early March 2020, we imagined that a 12 week closure might be the worst possible scenario.
Our first thought was how we might support both facilitators and participants on our courses in this challenging time. We decided to do three things
To change our monthly newsletter to a weekly one, with some reading material, reflections and information on upcoming events. This would keep people connected who might not use zoom but were happy to read an email we felt. This has proved hugely popular and now regularly travels across the globe! We will keep this newsletter alive in its current form until the centre reopens full time.
To send a weekly text to everyone, so those who don’t use the internet at all would also know that we are thinking of them. This lasted 12 weeks and was a big success.
To put some courses online so that those comfortable with zoom might have a chance to interact. We offered the first series in March more as an expression of support, in truth. We really didn’t expect such a take up, but every class filled quickly and zoom worked well for us. We are very grateful to those early facilitators who took the risk of leading workshops in this brave new world
Slowly a new reality has emerged. Zoom or Teams cannot replace face-to-face contact. However they have opened the centre up to a much wider community – whether its creative writers from the States, poets from Europe or students from Africa. People who would not have been able to afford – time or cost – to travel to Dublin are now able to participate in dynamic workshops with local leaders, on themes ranging from poetry, mysticism, Laudato Si and yoga to Culture Night, Song workshops and Lectio Divina.
While we eagerly await the reopening of the centre, we may never fully return to only offering courses in person. Now that we have a certain comfort with the technology; some courses might involve videoed talks followed discussion groups or a conference might have interactive online aspects to allow a speaker from abroad to present ‘live’ to us all. An interesting new way of being together will emerge, let us make sure it is inclusive, affordable and kind.