When I’m travelling on the London Underground, I often wonder at the magic of the tantalising stories all around me. Maybe I’m just irrepressibly curious, but I can’t help myself from thinking about the journeys of my fellow passengers. I imagine your life: where you’ve come from and where you’re going. I can see hints of your story in the expression on your face, in your choice of clothes, or in your reading material. I ponder your ups and your downs, your twists and turns. And I like to think about what we share – is it our sense of humour? Our favourite food? Being a sibling? A parent? A Londoner? A creative soul? A hopeful dreamer?
Several years ago, Alex Glennie (my former IPPR colleague and long-time friend and collaborator) and I began to nurture the kernel of a new idea. We both share a fascination for the transformative power of stories, and we began to explore how we could share stories in public places. This was borne out of the belief that sharing stories helps us to understand one another better, and to live well together. In these early stages, we thought about the journeys we make every day, which, knitted together, make up the bigger picture of our life.
And then we hit upon the idea of sharing stories in travel locations. We reflected on our daily journeys: the time when we are not at home and not yet at our destination. It’s a place where we cogitate and muse, and travel locations are democratic spaces, where anyone can go. We began to ask ourselves: could we reflect on someone else’s life journey while we go about our daily journey? Could transport hubs play a role in connecting people as well as places?