A Letter on ‘Starting’

Photo by Luke Brugger on Unsplash

“Every thing must have a beginning … and that beginning
must be linked to something that went before.” 

– Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein

“Don’t look back, I want to break free
If you’ll never see ’em coming
You’ll never have to hide
Take my hand, take my everything
If we only got a moment
Give it to me now”

– Perfume Genius, Slip Away


Before we get going, can we just say; starting is straight-up hard yo. 

It’s sitting, staring at a blank page, with no idea where to begin.
It’s seeing your running shoes in the hallway and not being able to remember the last time you put them on.
It’s being passed the microphone, and feeling your throat close up.
It’s looking down the barrel of a job application – or an Arts Council application – or a mortgage application – or a Visa application – and wondering whether you should just save yourself the hassle. 

And maybe this is partly a new problem. Maybe a few months ago– before the world went into lockdown– things seemed a little easier to set in motion. Processes which were previously effortless, second-nature, now take a bit more energy– and a lot more faith. And if we’re honest, we’re running pretty low on both of those things right now. 

Starting something takes
courage. Global pandemic aside, it takes guts to put yourself out there– even if it’s something you’ve done before. New starts require a kind of faith in the future– a hope that things can be different, that our actions have impact. We’ve found enormous courage in all of the people we’ve spoken to this month, and we can’t wait to pass on their inspiring stories to you. 

To kick us off, we chatted to the hugely driven
Beth Botham, whose first steps into the world of entrepreneurship– at the age of 22– will seriously motivate you. Our own Casimira Hayward-Peel is making the case for a long-term shift in attitudes towards the climate crisis, with our Monthly Sustainability Plan. Later on in the month, we’ll be introducing you to Kate McKeown, one of the women behind Quarantine FM, currently the fastest-growing digital radio station in Ireland. And we’ve been particularly inspired by our activist theatre-maker friends this month, like The Uncultured, who are starting their own producing company while continuing their advocacy work on the Freelance Task Force; as well as the wonderful Penny Babakhani, who has some amazing ideas about a new ethics for creative producing and climate activism in a post-Covid world. We also chatted with Megan Rose Bill Designs about starting her online printed textile business, and how she’s developing confidence as a new small business owner. And we’ve got plenty more conversations in the pipeline, so stay tuned for more new collaborators each week. 

We’ve chosen
Starting as the theme for our first month– not only for the obvious reason that FreeBird is our attempt at a new start, but because there are 7.7 billion of us starting something new right now. Our lives are all starting out on a new course– and it’s our hope, with FreeBird, that we’ll be able to encourage you to make this new timeline a good one. We don’t assume it’ll be easy– and for some of us, making the decision to start something new, right now, is incredibly fraught. But we hope you’ll join with us in seeing the potential in this moment. We’ve got that ‘first day of school feeling’, and we can’t wait to share it with you. 

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