It’s 5.25am. There’s a huge harvest moon out there. I’ve been awake since about 3.30am, and I figure that once it’s gone five it’s just getting up early really.

Fun Palaces weekend insomnia. Not new to me, but it does change every year.
In the first year it was sheer terror – “what if it all goes wrong, what if no-one goes to any of the Fun Palaces that people have worked so hard to create for their communities, what if …”
By the second year this had morphed into, “what if it’s not as good as last year?”
In year 3, last year, it was about building on what we knew, supporting Makers to be braver, different – to try out new stuff, to go deeper, broader in their communities. Insomniac worries about getting too big too soon – last year we more than doubled in size, with no extra staff, no extra paid time, no extra funding. It nearly broke us. It maybe made us.
And now, year 4 – which sort of feels like a lead-up to turning 5 next year.
This year we have ambassadors in Cornwall, Bristol, Stoke, Sheffield, and Scotland. They’re working more intensively locally, bringing in a much wider range of people from their communities, opening doors in a passionately different way. This year we know so much more of what we’re doing, how to do it, how to support the Makers doing all of the work on the ground. (We know so much much more about how much there is still to do, how little we know.)

And still I’m awake in the middle of the night.

I think I’m awake because, despite the (growing) numbers, despite the (obvious) impact, despite the amazing feedback, it’s actually a very delicate and precious thing we have created, are creating.
This locally-led movement, this community-led passion, this person-centred campaign for neighbourliness which uses arts and science and craft and tech and digital (and yes, also sport!) as a way to connect, as a catalyst for friendships – with a belief that we can get to know each other better through making together. This hoped-for change and creativity so utterly rooted in every single individual who makes a local Fun Palace, every single person who comes along willing to take part, to join in, to learn, to play.
And when we have week after week of bad, sad, awful news, constantly telling us that we’re all screwed, that there is no humanity – when we have seeming proof that this is so – seemingly small acts of local generosity (which are actually never small), such as the time and effort given by Fun Palaces Makers to their own communities, are glimmers of light to hang on to. And that’s huge.

I think I’m awake because I’m only now beginning to fully understand what a big, brilliant, hopeful thing we’re trying to do, to grow. A thing that changes with every new person who takes part. A thing that is constantly developing. A thing that cannot be tied down. (How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?) A thing that is made by all of us doing it. Made in the doing.

I think I’m awake because I’m hopeful – and I’m very grateful for that hope.

Good morning Makers, good morning our amazing team. Thank you.