These principles help when you are being a camerado, especially when things get difficult, so try bearing them in mind.
We connect much more quickly and stronger with people if we own up to our weakness. We have a badge in Camerados that says “I’m a bit shit sometimes” – people love it. There needs to be someone with whom it’s OK to be rubbish Or in the case of Public Living Rooms somewhere it’s OK not to achieve and be a bit crap. There’s not many places like that in our world. We think it’s missing and essential. Otherwise we become paralysed by this need to always be winning and living an instagrammable wonderful life.
This is crucial when interacting with another camerado or when sitting in a Public Living Room. A camerado is halfway between a stranger and a friend precisely because a friend may feel compelled to fix their friend’s problems and their life. There’s space for something else – space where no fixing is expected, it’s amazing what can actually be achieved when that happens. Everywhere is hunting for an “outcome” so let’s create one place or one relationship where that doesn’t have to happen. Relieved of the pressure then true connection and probably true awareness can occur.
Mix with people
that don't look like you
When we ran our first ever Public Living Room we’d never seen a space where hip young folk mixed with homeless people and builders and shoppers and people with mental health problems and students and tourists and so on. Increased understanding leads to increased human connection. It’s a good thing.
Remember to have fun!
This principle is really about keeping things human. Being silly brings out the human. Being comfortable does too. Think of all the places we go in times of terrible crisis – hospital, police station, council offices – do they feel fun? human? No they are stiff and scary. We are inspired by Srdja Popovic the political activist who invented “Laughtervism”. Being funny erodes fear and might just change the world!
When we disagree we level with each other
This is really important for general human interactions and for how things are in Public Living Rooms. We need to know it’s OK to say we disagree and say when we don’t like what someone’s done without fear of repercussions. Far better than the two extremes – immediate expulsion or letting someone off the hook – to have a conversation with someone, maybe even over a cuppa, and then still asking them to leave and come back tomorrow. If we treat each other with respect when we disagree too then human connection has a chance.
When we see someone struggling ask them to help YOU (it creates purpose)
This is what we call the secret sauce of camerados. It’s the highly counter-intuitive principle, it doesn’t seem to make sense. If someone is having a tough time they become devoured by their own problems so watch what happens when after a bit of sympathy you then ask them to look out for YOU, to do YOU a favour or give YOU advice. They come out of their own problems, they feel trusted, talented and driven with a new purpose. They have something to offer. This way of working – not a handout but mutual help instead – coneys more dignity and respect than traditional “charity”. It also happens to work better too.