100% London: Bursting my bubble

by Jonathan May on April 04, 2012

Starring 100 everyday Londoners - each of whom will represent 1% of London’s 7.8 million population - 100% London will tell the truths of modern London life in a way graphs or pie-charts never can. 100% London has began with the casting of one person who then had 24 hours to recruit another, who then recruited another and so on all according to a specific criteria that exactly mirrors the demographic make up of one of the world's most diverse cities. Project Manager Hannah Kerr tells us about her experience of recruiting a cast of Londoners so far in this statistical chain reaction...

 

Back in October 2011 I travelled to Cologne and met Rimini Protokoll and the 100% Cologne project team to get some tips on running the project in London. On the (very early) flight home I daydreamed about the project: imagining myself in a Challenge Annika style jumpsuit briefing my team at our HQ surrounded by maps, before racing to meet the next person in our special 100% London helicopter.

The reality is actually not too different to the fantasy (although unfortunately the project budget didn’t quite stretch to a helicopter). Along with one of the project assistants – Coco, Yamin, Kate and Tiphaine – I travel to meet every participant, ask them a set of ten questions designed to tease out their thoughts, opinions and perspective; and then to ask them to recommend the next person in the chain. We have to meet someone new everyday to stay on track and we don’t know who that will be until the day before.

While this can be nerve-shakingly tense as we wait for someone to call us back or realise the dates don’t work for that person or that the person who recommended them has actually recommended a 26 year old from Havering when we asked for a 65 year old from Brixton; it’s also exhilarating as we don’t know what gem we’ll be uncovering next.

This project has been a real eye opener for me and I’ve learnt more about London in the last two months than in the seven years I’ve lived here.

 

A few things I’ve learnt about London:

 

• It’s huge – I have been to places I didn’t even know were in London and my geography of the capital has improved 10 fold. I’m also very familiar with the TFL website.

• Everyone has his or her own London – one person’s perspective on London will be totally different to another’s. So far I’ve heard London described as: ‘full of opportunity’, ‘dangerous’, ‘cosmopolitan’, ‘friendly’, ‘unfriendly’, ‘free’, ‘full of weirdo’s’ and ‘busy’, amongst others.

• People are territorial – the North/ South, East/ West divide is real and people really identify with the vibe of their area. Try telling someone from Lewisham they come under the East London category and be prepared for an ear full of reasons why you’re wrong!

• Tea is London's favourite drink – in true British form I get offered a cuppa everywhere I go. 45 cups later I’m on an almost constant caffeine high. 

My main realization has been that there are a lot more people in this metropolis than I ever really acknowledged. Sure I knew other people existed but like most Londoners I lived in a bubble made up of my friends and my experiences, and I rarely have cause to step outside of that. Sometimes I’ve had to swallow my own feelings, particularly if the subject turns political and I have to remember my job is to listen not to judge. I’ve met people who are statistically the same as me but in reality couldn’t be more different. That’s what is so interesting about this project and what will be so intriguing to watch on stage.

I feel very privileged to have been introduced to so many more people than I would ever come across in my daily life and my perspective on London will definitely be changed by this project. In fact I think I’m going to start a campaign for it to be compulsory for all Londoners! Now where did I put that petition…

Hannah Kerr
100% London Project Manager



You can follow the chain reaction as it happens on @100percentLDN