4 people attend and present 4 dreams

There are several interruptions – workshop announcements, coffee, tea and cookies, a request to pack a tent into its bag.  A little girl plays near by and she  influences the group’s reflections.


1.         (This dream was presented in the first social dreaming event.)  The dream takes place in a forest in which there is a wolf that is both ‘awesome and crusty’.  A car passes by and through the reflection in the mirror, he realizes he is the wolf.  

Associations: Boris Johnson referring to the Tent City people as ‘crusty’.

2.         ‘I wish I could dream this dream every night.’  I see my daughter, whom I have not seen in a while.  I cannot look into her eyes.  I am prevented from being at home and I have not seen her for six months; she is 15 or 16 years old.  I have lost my car, job and home. My family do not know whether I am alive or dead. I think I and my daughter are changing all the time. Does the group think my daughter is telling me to come home?  I do not believe I will survive for long in Tent City.

A man identifies himself as a ‘training psychoanalyst’ and offers an association around the difference between the pack and the individual.  Everyone in Tent City is an individual, but there is also a pack and individuals in the pack.  An alternative to the individual in the pack is the person in the community.  What is the community? Is it one that can acknowledge and listen to their differences? 

3.         A dream of a 6-year-old son – that is both happy and sad.  His mother has given him a locket.  He was wearing it and is happy because he really wants it; but then loses it, which is associated with the sadness.

Associations – holding the tension between something lost (the lost child and lost locket) and something re-found (the daughter and the new locket). This is also associated with the awesome and crusty wolf.  Lost and found dynamics – the experience of trying to recruit office people from Finsbury Square into the social dreaming event and experiencing feelings of curiosity and a fear of being judged.

4.         In the Grandma’s kitchen preparing a turkey for Christmas and wondering why Thanksgiving is not celebrated.  There is a discussion with cousins about what stuffing to put in the turkey (apples, corn, potatoes).  The dreamer prepares the dinner table and she is told to set for 80 places. She asks why only 80 and she thinks because there are now great-grand children.  She thinks they should be more but she is reminded that others had passed away. The associations are around the turkey as Tent City and the different elements (potatoes, corn, apples) representing the different elements contained in Tent City.  Association – Thanksgiving as “something American that can get stuffed” vs Christmas as the celebration of the birth of a child.

Main themes:

Several attempts are made rationalize the meaning of homelessness. Disagreements are followed by hugs or solutions (a young woman offers the man money to buy flowers; or a method on how to write a letter to his daughter).  These ‘quick fixes’ leave the man in despair while he struggles to express the complexity of his situation.

There is a struggle to differentiate between “existential homelessness” with “real homelessness”; idealism and realism; open and closed minds.  There are several discussions on the subject of homelessness, without managing to integrate the difference between homelessness as a state of mind and real homelessness.

Intergenerational dynamics were expressed and explored in the form of idealism and real despair of the elderly. Young people in Tent City offer quick solutions without listening to the pain expressed by its oldest member – young tenters hold an idealistic view of Tent City as a home they choose to be in, and an older man hates it, wondering if he can survive it.  It was near impossible to hold both positions in mind.  It seems the conflict needs to be sugarcoated with Belgian cookies or hugs (a man interrupts to offer cookies).  While this discussion takes place, a little girl plays with an umbrella outside the event tent. 

Tent City contains many contradictions – there are different motivations for joining the movement and therefore different levels of choice: some hate being here and hate their situation; others feel more at home here that anywhere else (the crusty and the awesome).

The turkey (the social dreaming event?) can be stuffed with dreams (apples, potatoes or corn) or sugar-coated with Belgian sweets and cookies (the ‘solutions’).

Facilitators:  David Armstrong, Sarah Miller, Monica Velarde.