100 places to find hope in 2018








100 places to find hope in 2018

“There’s no hope.” “There’s every hope!” “It’ll all be fine.”  “Except the sky will fall in by the end of January.”

In 2017 I had lots of fascinating discussions about hope as part of the book tour for my thriller, We Know What We Are. People found hope in good conversation, in making connections, in the love and support of friends and colleagues. Others found hope in opposition and down the pub.

Writing a novel with a hopeful aspect to it tested my own thinking on the subject. I’m not usually a list person but I challenged myself to write a list of 100 places to find hope in 2018. Admittedly I had a head-start on this task – but thought I’d start the year by sharing a few of my favourite hopeful places.

i) Hope in uncertainty – Life isn’t fixed or inevitable. Possibility lives in the grey areas, not the black or white. I don’t know what will happen and I definitely don’t want the future to be the same as the past. Uncertainty is where we can make change, experiment and be creative.

As a writer, I can’t ever be sure that what I write will come out well. If I was, I’d either be kidding myself or it would be boring or safe. Equally if I believed it would all end badly I’d never put pen to paper. There’s always the chance it might touch somebody and that it could even be great, who’s to say?

ii) The rebellion – I find hope in standing together to shout when something’s wrong. The #metoo movement in 2017 was so important. I also went on the massive impromptu women’s demo to protest against Donald Trump’s sexist attitudes. It was awesome, yet people in the US still voted for him. As a half-full kind of person, I know life isn’t all bad, but when it’s appalling, I find the motivation to get active.

I also love writing rebellious characters, outsiders who question the status quo. I find hope in sharing different understandings of any problem, looking under the surface of issues and telling it as I see it.

iii) The work – If hope is what gets me to start any project, I’ve learnt that it’s hard work that makes the difference. Writer and activist James Baldwin said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

Sticking at a project pays dividends. Books get written, services get delivered and the work done for free by people in communities up and down the country because they believe in it, always gives me hope.

In 2018 I’ll be collaborating on more stories and developing at least three new book projects. I’ve registered Shared Press (our publishing imprint) as a Community Interest Company and will be supporting more people to tell their stories. I’ll keep working towards making a TV series of my first novel Hard Change (there is a script now and a schedule, if not a fully funded programme!) And I’ve signed up to a sculpture course. Whatever I produce it’ll have something inherently wobbly about it and I’ll probably love the process if not the results.

Here’s hoping we’ll connect in some way this year and I look forward to finding out more about your hopes too.


(And for anyone who likes lists –here’s my top 100 places to find hope… not in order except for the end?!!)

100 places to find hope – from where I sit… 

  1. In being together – and in being alone, in quiet reflection
  2. In changing course, being flexible, evolving
  3. In moving – escaping my office/spare room and experiencing other places/cultures
  4. In being mindful – which for me is making a great breakfast everyday
  5. In our good intentions – which we all have, even when we get it wrong
  6. In our ability to heal ourselves – mental and physical healing
  7. In letting go of things… like duty or ego – it’s a work in progress
  8. In learning – I love learning, fishing for new ideas and seeking out new stuff
  9. In shining/letting your light shine
  10. In really connecting – and in the super-connectors who make it easier for the rest of us
  11. In laughing – because and about our mad world
  12. In being the same as everyone else and different too
  13. In accepting what is and that I’m part of it, good or bad,
  14. In touching, I love shaking hands or the clumsy half hug/embrace of a colleague
  15. In being well, and being ok for now– in living pain-free
  16. In the mess of life, it’s where creativity starts/thrives
  17. In creating meaning/s – thinking critically, sharing understandings, applying our own filters
  18. In uncertainty – where there’s space for different endings, for movement
  19. In opposition – in the courageous people who organise, agitate, don’t accept the status quo
  20. In anger – there can be passion and the potential for release (not when it’s expressed as violence.)
  21. In expression/our voices matter – #metoo is a powerful e.g. of being heard, individually and collectively
  22. In sharing vulnerability – because we all wobble and although difficult talking about my emotions can be hard, it makes the tough stuff is bearable and it builds trust
  23. In creativity – in everyone’s ability to think creatively and to make creative choices
  24. In sharing the load – I’m confident in the knowledge that other good people are thinking about the big problems in the world that I care about and can’t always imagine a solution to
  25. In seeing and seeing through – that we are all becoming more conscious of how we see what we see
  26. In collaboration – together we are stronger, it’s always true
  27. In conversations – that get under the surface
  28. In being surprised and being wrong
  29. In ideas – theories of change, sociology, philosophy and experimentation
  30. In the image – in visual communication
  31. In our individual and collective imaginations – to see ourselves in a better world we can create
  32. In the vibrations –that we give off and sense, in trusting our gut feelings
  33.  In a fragmented and flexible sense of the self – I’m trying to hold on lightly to the things that make me me  (and I’m hoping that my alter ego’s will teach me more about myself?!)
  34. In human nature – the bit about us that recognises our interdependence
  35. In doubt and fear – because they stretch us, give us useful information and remind us we’re human
  36. In the potential to live life well  and the potential to begin again, to re-imagine myself
  37. In the balance shifting – as it will, as it must
  38. In our differences – which I love and aren’t as big as we like to think they are
  39. In forgiveness – in our ability to forgive each other & in the hope you forgive me
  40. In international solidarity – with people around the world, the friends I haven’t met yet
  41. In those fighting for liberation and self-determination – and the small successes that we can grow
  42. In teenagers – who think and do amazing things, including volunteering in local library projects and reading to younger kids
  43. In young people – who do inspiring things
  44. In third agers – people who continue to volunteer in their 70’s
  45. In the anarchists and ecologists – small and somewhat chaotic things matter
  46. In the people that lived here before me and succeeded in creating the Islington Eco Centre
  47. In Jeremy Corbyn – as a principled and passionate politician (and the good women of the Women’s Equality Party and the active collaborators of the Progressive Alliance)
  48. In the work – that we all do to make things happen/to live life
  49. In the fantastic community responses to tragedies in 2017 – here in Finsbury park and across London, the Jo Cox meet-ups, the Grenfell survivors and too many to mention
  50. In the team – the awesome Malawi netball team
  51. In people trying to change the system from within – the heavy lifters
  52. And in people outside trying to change it too
  53. In those trying to bridge/cross communities
  54. In the existing green shoots of change – examples everywhere spread inspiration
  55. In the collective – never under-estimate the power of a small group of people to change the world
  56. In those who endure and continue the fight – like the Gay and Lesbian Society Zimbabwe
  57. In sport – especially at grass roots
  58. In the supporters – of competitors and of fan owned clubs like FCUnited amongst others
  59. In the carers
  60. In the healers
  61. In the volunteers
  62. In the men that are feminists
  63. In art – and the artists who manage an artistic life
  64. In taking control of the means of production – the indie-authors, musicians et al
  65. In families of all sorts /shapes and sizes
  66. In the good people who work in public services, their amazing ability to hold it together and make positive change
  67. In social workers, planners , front-line staff – all the under-valued & under-staffed
  68. In the regeneration of places – Like The Piece Hall
  69. In our ability to deal with crisis – and the specialists involved in London Bridge/Manchester
  70. In the ability of leaders to let go of command and control
  71. In the queuing to get on the train –there is hope in order
  72. In democracy – because it’s the best of the worst system
  73. And in local democracy – because it really matters
  74. In town halls! And anything that supports/contributes to/ makes visible civic life
  75. In the Nolan principles – and everyone who lives the standards in public life
  76. In letting people choose – both individuals and subsidiarity (at the lowest possible level)
  77. In partnerships – too many good examples – that’s for another blog
  78. In education for all about everything
  79. In writing – the ordering of thoughts on the page
  80. In the dance /movement to convey things – the first world war piece by Akram Kahn &DV8
  81. In alternatives – it doesn’t have to be like this
  82. In those that don’t fit in
  83. In creativity in unexpected places
  84. And in surprising allies
  85. In cities like Nottingham and Wolverhampton (and those outside the core cities movement)
  86. In the spoken word – especially the inspiring Kate Tempest
  87. In the collaboration – the magic mix of artists and scientists
  88. In the shadow – the dark side of everything that’s always with us
  89. In reading quietly – the beauty of the word
  90. In laughing loudly
  91. In the story – of course
  92. In justice and equality
  93. In the chain passed down – the work that went before so that we can continue
  94. In everyday resilience
  95. In getting to the starting line
  96. In being kind.
  97. In being alive, right here, right now.
  98. In hope itself
  99. In love
  100. And in you.


(the photo is a card that came from a friend who sings in the fantastic and hopeful @commonerschoir)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.