One dome, one humanity

Connie Treves writes about life inside the Good Chance Domes.

The dome was a fully functioning town hall, bustling with activity and lined with the creations of previous months.

The artist Ai Weiwei says that “establishing that we all belong to one humanity is the most essential step for how we might continue to coexist on this sphere we call Earth.” To survive, we must dismantle the borders dividing humanity from itself. At first glance, this can sound like a huge, insurmountable challenge. What I found at Good Chance was how simple and enjoyable small acts of bringing people together can be. I think this is why I stayed as long as I did. Every day I felt inspired, joined new collaborations, and learned so much from the people I met.

That is not to say that it wasn't difficult, at times. We all had different cultural upbringings, different ideas of gender, politics, religion, and — a small but hotly contested area — very different opinions about the music that makes for a really great dance-off. Yet these debates and discussions were part of the ecosystem of the dome, and in many ways at the root of what it allowed to happen. Together we had to overcome language barriers, learn to work together, create a mutual understanding of respect, and witness everyone expressing themselves in their own way. 

Outside the dome there were picnics, swimming in the canals, a lot of dancing. I made some real friends, and many people still continue to see each other. What the volunteers showed me was how easy it was to integrate community-building into your daily life — all you needed was an afternoon a week, and an openness to meeting new people. 

Recently, many of our closest friends from the dome have had their asylum claims rejected, and been asked to leave France. It’s difficult, but I believe that most of them are doing okay. The Good Chance domes may come and go, but the community created within them lasts long beyond their encampments. I miss being part of that community now that I'm back in the UK, but I'm thrilled it's still continuing. 

This piece first appeared in The Curran programme Mar-May 2019