An English Love Story
"One of the most valuable insights we can have is to appreciate the insights of others. The world of love seen from a different angle than our own. Anyone travelling through this extraordinary island we live on with little more than a guitar and an open heart is always going to show us things that we previously had not known or seen. Make time for this man his ministry is both vivid and invaluable"- Rev Peter Owen Jones - BBC Extreme Pilgrim, Around the World in 80 Faiths
An English Love Story was launched in 2012. Since then I have walked over 1000 miles through England as a pilgrim, seeking hospitality where it is offered, meeting people where they are; on the path, in the pub, around the corner, in prison, in church, on the towpath. I talk to them about their love stories, recording them talk about these personal and emotive experiences. These recordings are then brought together into our Online Audio Archive where they are broadcast all around the world for people to hear and share.
An English Love Story is all about sharing; our lives, our experiences, our humanity. I believe in facilitating encounters where people can connect deeply, feel safe, tell their story, be heard, and discuss matters of the heart, wherever and in whatever way that conversation may find its form. Through these sharings we help to nurture 'true community', connecting people deeply with their emotional and spiritual self, with other people and with the place they live in. The sharing of these stories together becomes an act of connection, something that can transform and continue the world. We reconcile thought with matter, our soulful spiritual life with the world in which we live. In sharing our love stories we engage in the poetics of love, but also in the politics of place.
The Online Audio Archive
The Audio Archive is home for this beautiful collection of love stories. It is the essential tool of connection, sharing these stories around the world, allowing others to hear, experience and find common ground. In this place people find comfort, community, insight. Our nature and humanity are shared and heard. So far these stories have been listened to all over the world and by thousands of individuals, in the UK, Europe, the US and Canada, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, the Middle Eastern countries, South America, in China and across Asia. It is really exciting!
Here is one of the love stories you can hear in the Archive from the South Downs, England.
Why I need your help
I need your support to help build and expand this amazing project. Up until now An English Love Story has been self funded, created out of my passion and belief in the work.
The Online Audio Archive: I need your help to allow me to edit all the beautiful and powerful stories that I have gathered on my travels through England this year, helping the archive to grow and expand, reaching more people around the world.
This year was a particularly significant year for the project. Throughout October I pilgimaged to Holy Island in Northumberland from Avebury in Wiltshire, walking nearly 500 miles through England, meeting and engaging with people in all kinds of circumstance. Hearing many profoundly moving love stories; stories of passion, grief, loss, self-love, joy and discovery. I need your help to bring these stories to our online archive.
Each love story takes several hours to edit, upload and present to the public on the archive, online at www.anenglishlovestory.info and on our Soundcloud site. Every stage of the editing process takes time; talking with those people who have shared and recorded their stories, drafting the initial audio story, making sure they are happy that the story is true to them. Sometimes re-visiting and re-recording. Every love story is born out of a face to face encounter. It is wonderful and inspiring but it all takes time.
If we make our Kickstarter target I will be able to edit and present more than 50 new love stories from this year's travels to the online audio archive. The more money we raise above the target the more stories I can edit and add to the archive. These stories will be added to the Archive during February and March. Each story funded by this campaign will be highlighted and as supporters you will receive the news of the addition as it happens.
Every penny raised from pledges will go towards bringing these stories to the online audio archive for people to hear all around the world.
If we raise more money than the Kickstarter Target of £3000, I will use that money to transcribe each love story, so we can begin to create a written archive, allowing more people to access these unique stories and potentially bring together a future book.
Kickstarter is the perfect way to support this work, because it encapsulates what An English Love Story is all about. Together, through sharing, openness and mutual support we can re-vision the world.
I'm offering lots of rewards for all of you wonderful people that are supporting this campaign. You can Sponsor a Love Story. From the edit, to the upload and the image, you will have helped bring a love story to the world, for people to hear and share. There are unique limited edition photographic prints, and the limited edition Audio Book 'The Path & the Heart', from my recent journey to Holy Island, thoughts, reflections and love stories on the road through England. With the 'Family Audio Portrait', I will visit you and spend time with your family, hear your stories, listen and record while you spend time together, building you an audio portrait of your family to keep and share. You can receive my previously un-released album 'And to this Last'. Of all the rewards my personal favourite is the 'Individual Walking Audio Portrait'. Walk with me for the morning, share your story, share an organic lunch and hear my love story too. Then i'll edit our conversation and personally make you a Presentation CD of your love story for you to keep and share with your partner, family and friends.
Thank you for your time, thank you for connecting. This is your project as much as it is mine. Something you have helped to build. A shared social history, a place of connection, an alternative story of England, not defined by wars, boundaries and acquisition but by the love stories of those people who live and work in Englands field and factories, hamlets and cities.
Go well and in love
Here are some more love stories gathered on the road. So many more stories like these are ready and waiting to be added to the archive with your support.
Pilgrimage to Holy Island with An English Love Story - October 2014
Images on the Road from Avebury to Holy Island with An English Love Story - my 500 mile pilgrimage undertaken during October 2014.
Graffiti on the towpath in Birmingham - just next to this image sat a group of young people, taking time out, drinking, smoking. They sat me down, shared some of their story, their hopes of new love found. One guy asked me to carry his love story with me on my journey to Holy Island. One girl asked me to remember her.
On the Path to Ashington - just after this shot I met a gentle man who shared a small part of his story with me while I waited on a brick wall. He cried for the loss of his love and his loneliness. He smiled at the fond memory of her.
Holy Island, Northumberland - on arrival in Holy Island we spent time remembering people who had shared their stories and asked for their names and names of loved ones to be carried here. Along with the names written I left objects given to me on the road, crosses, letters, plants, stones, memories. Written and left in the sand for the tide to wash clear. x
Love Letter at sea - This love letter was given to me on my journey to Holy island. I was asked to read and then allow it to sail away on the tide. A private story shared, the burden let go and given over to the sea.
The Pilgrim Staffs - Walking across the tidal causeway to Holy Island at the end of my 500 mile journey from Avebury, October 2014.
Risks and challenges
The challenge with this endeavour is that we are dealing with the intimate narratives of people’s lives. Each story I heard, whether individually or in a group, was told to me in confidence with the acknowledgement that nothing would be broadcast or made public without the consent of the person who’s story was being shared. So for every ten stories I edit, 1 or 2 individuals come back and say they would rather their story was kept private. So it is worth taking into account that not all the stories that are edited with your funding will be heard by the public. The process of sharing listening and editing is still incredibly significant, however, as the most important aspect of the whole project is the telling of the story. The sharing of our humanity with others. These stories are still added to the archive, but are privately held.
The greatest challenge with this project is time. Often I am tempted to create an app or an online interface that allows people to share their stories without the personal interaction. But, for me, the most important aspect of this project is the personal encounter. It is in bringing people together that sharing our stories begins to create community. We give of ourselves, we open up, we express our humanity. In turn we are heard and our humanity is affirmed, our hurts, joys and pains are shared, we are understood, we are not so alone. So it all takes time. The good news is that with precious little time so far, these stories have been heard all around the world by thousands of people in every continent on the planet. It works, people are coming together, people are finding comfort in the stories, are feeling unified.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (21 days)