ABOUT PROJECT NEIGHBOURS
Project Neighbours is a series of short essays and interviews with people from around the world about diversity and a world that's fit for purpose. What is diversity? It's a way of thinking that allows for multiple points of view and where many people seeing very different things can be right at the same time.
A collaboration between people who live, think, work, love and create in-between cultures, countries, languages and disciplines, Project Neighbours is a conversation that's quiet, thoughtful and wonderfully textured.
It's a conversation full of risk. There's nothing safe about learning what another person really feels and thinks. There's nothing safe about discovering we've been wrong, that our experience is not the "only one", that it's not the norm and that (maybe) it's been at the expense of someone else.
Talking about race, class, money, (dis)ability, age, art, science, religion, languages, love and politics, Project Neighbours is about courage; courage to tell and, most importantly, courage to listen.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT IS PROJECT NEIGHBOURS?
Project Neighbours is where we talk about what’s most important. In a series of interviews, people from around the world reflect on country, nationality, citizenship and what it means to be from somewhere. We talk about language, religion, art, science and politics to share and develop ideas that build a world fit for purpose.
Project Neighbours ambitiously sets out to bridge a gap between “winners” and “losers” of globalisation by examining problems, priorities and proposals from many points of view.
WHAT’S THE GOAL OF PROJECT NEIGHBOURS?
The goal of Project Neighbours is to develop a framework for shared living in modern-day Europe by drawing on experiences and practices of people from different backgrounds.
There isn’t a problem in the world that hasn’t been solved somewhere in the world. As humans, we tend to be self-involved and convinced that only what “we see” is relevant and only what “we know” is insightful. Project Neighbours aims to show the different things we see when looking at the same thing and to combine these perspectives in considerations of how we live, love, work, speak, design, decide and aspire.
In practice, this means looking at ideas like “state”, “country”, “nation”, “citizen” and “economy” figuring out what – if anything – they mean in a seemingly borderless world, how they depend on and relate to each other and what are the resulting rights, responsibilities and trade-offs.
Previous interviewees include a writer, academic, playwright, youth worker and humanitarian photojournalist from countries including England, United States, Mexico, Poland, China and India. For a full list, feel free to browse all interviews.
Zuzanna Fiminska is the community organizer and main writer behind Project Neighbours. She’s had (and continues to have) many sounding boards that you can read about in Acknowledgements. All interviews you read are in collaboration between Zuzanna and the person sharing their reflections.
Graphics and teasers were developed and produced by Kitt Owen.
WHY INTERVIEW FORMAT?
The most magical, insightful, life-changing moments are in conversation.
WHAT’S THE BRIEF FOR INTERVIEWS?
Click on this text to read the interview brief.
CAN I BE INTERVIEWED?
If you’d like to be interviewed – or just talk to us without getting things on record – please get in touch via projectneighbours_at_gmail_com.
We look for people who are thoughtful and reflective, engaged with the world around them whether it’s their immediate community, faith, art, science or news headlines. We’re curious about “why” you think and feel a certain way about a certain thing, not so much in the thought, feeling or thing.
HOW DOES IT WORK? WHAT’S THE PROCESS?
Most interviews happen over the phone or Skype, but, whenever possible, we pick a time and place to meet in person. Once we have a slot then:
We work together to define the specific brief focused on any of the Project themes that’s important to you
We talk for about an hour and the conversation is recorded before being transcribed and written up as a first-person draft. If there is anything you talk about that you definitely don’t want to include in the draft, you can say, “this is off the record”. This way, whatever you’ve said doesn’t make it into the transcript. The recordings and transcripts are never shared.
Within the next 6-8 weeks, you receive a draft of about 1000-1200 words. As this is your story, you are entirely in charge of the material. At this stage, you are free to revise and rewrite as you please. If the whole thing makes you uncomfortable, you can also withdraw or decide to publish the story anonymously. All in all, this is your perspective; it needs to sound true to you.
Once you’re happy with the draft, we ask for a photo and a short bio to go with the piece.
We publish stories that are insightful and reflective, which means they take time to develop. Interviews are produced in batches and it may take up to a year between us signing off a story and the story going live. We have a flexible publications calendar and aim to publish every other week showcasing reflections most relevant to what’s going on. All in all, we never want the process to be rushed; having a significant margin of time means a long lapse between speaking and posting.
DO YOU ACCEPT SUBMISSIONS?
Yes – we are happy to hear from anyone who would like to get involved, share their reflections or write for us. If you have a friend or a grandparent that you’d like to interview for us, please let us know. If you would like to write a short, down-to-earth essay about reforming capitalism (or the like), please let us know.
WHAT ABOUT TRANSLATIONS?
At the moment, stories for Project Neighbours are developed and produced in English and another language version is available for interviews conducted in that language. While we would love to offer perspectives in other languages, it is too resource-intensive at this stage. For now, we’re focusing on writing in a way that’s approachable, accessible and meaningful to speakers of all varieties of English, including international English.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU WANT TO DO?
We would like to speak to everyone in the world. We plan to run conversation-driven, arts-and-crafts based events where we can talk about important things while making origami parrots. Ultimately, we would also like to produce a piece of fully immersive physical theatre about seeing the world from another point of view.
HOW IS THE PROJECT FUNDED?
At the moment, Project Neighbours is a volunteer endeavour with overhead costs covered from our own pockets, which we hope to change in the near future.
Project Neighbours is possible thanks to imagination, generosity and courage of many people. Thank you to everyone who commented on the early plans: Simon Columbus, Alina Berendsen, Henri Arndt Dora Tamari-Tutjnevic, Paul Simms. Thank you to all the contributors who allow me to listen to and write up their stories. Thank you to Silvia Schmidt for encouraging my ideas and pushing me to think harder. Thank you to Paweł Dymitrowski for designing a logo for the contemporary iteration of a school paper we worked on fifteen years ago. Thank you to Kitt Owen for championing diversity and being an awesome film producer. Thank you to my parents and my sister for making it possible for me to study languages. Thank you to Pete Hardy for jokes, chocolate and lifts to places where buses don't go. Most of all, thank you to everyone at No.20 - Peter Pang, Daniel Navarro, Francesco Della Porta, Kevin Schlegel (and Anton Muehlemann) - for making me laugh during one very cold winter. Zuzanna Fiminska