Picnic for Peace: celebrating Chester’s diversity

This is not a blog post about how people voted in the referendum a few months back, nor is this a post about whether the result was right or wrong. That is a topic for a completely different blog post. This blog post is about what was done in the aftermath of Brexit to change the negative narrative that was taking UK in its firm grip.

Now I don’t know about you, but I felt a definite shift in the general atmosphere post-Brexit. Maybe I was more tuned into it, being for that-there-abroad myself, but it was definitely there. It was tangible. And it was utterly negative and downright heart-breaking.

And that is exactly why events like this are so important.

Picnic for peace, Chester

Picnic for Peace started at Lewisham, London, as a direct response to the negativity experienced in post-Referendum UK. As a result of its success similar events are now being taken up nationwide, and Chester was one of them. Somehow I managed to convince a bunch of super talented and brilliant people to let me be a part of the team organising the Chester leg of the UK wide phenomenon. It was a pleasure as much as a privilege, but enough about that. It sounds really corny.

And this picnic was anything but corny. It kicked some serious butt.

Picnic for peace, Chester

The picnic aimed to promote peace and harmony and to celebrate our diversity and multiculturalism. But at the same time, it took a stance against the negative narrative of late and affirmed our commitment to our fellow Cestrians, regardless of where they were born.

Picnic for peace, Chester

There’s no need to overcomplicate the simple, but fairly brilliant idea: the event was at its essence a giant family picnic, with people bringing their own food and drink. But here’s the catch: everyone was encouraged to bring food from their own culture, wherever that may have been, and to share it with others.

I mean, I don’t know about everyone else, but I personally think that food is the singularly most uniting thing in the world, ever. We all like good food. We may have very different view on what good food exactly is, but we all enjoy it nonetheless. And sharing food is an age-old way of coming together, you know, breaking bread and all that. In a fundamentally simplified way, the Picnic for peace was actually terribly, terribly clever.

Picnic for peace, Chester

Regardless of pretty harrowing weather broadcasts Sunday turned out to be a sunny and warm day. With my limited math skills I counted around a 100 people who came, brought and/or enjoyed food and the generally very jovial atmosphere. Some poets and musicians randomly got up and performed to the unsuspecting audience. Kids ran around playing and crafting little doves. Bob the dog (my favourite things about the whole picnic, I cannot tell a lie) was awesome.

Bob the dog

It may have only been three hours but I genuinely think it had a very lasting effect on those who attended. I spoke to a lovely Italian lady who told me her experiences of late and how much she appreciated initiatives like the picnic; small, but loud speaking gestures that affirm that everyone, everyone, is welcome in Chester. And that is no small feat.

You can read about the original Picnic for Peace HERE.

And you can check out the Picnic for Peace Chester site HERE.