Achola creates Stofan | A Public Living Room

Achola Otieno, who works in the public sector, will curate her personal edition of Stofan in March and open the first conversation on the 29th of March: Beyond Melanin. She will discuss how some issues become mainstream while Others are OTHERED. And how these two worlds meet. We asked her a few questions about her public living room. 

Which spot did you choose for your Stofa? 

I chose the 5th floor, and this is after walking around all sections of the library. I spotted the cozy area with vinyl records of David Bowie, Bob Marley, Madonna, among others, and books on the other side. I like that people would come to the library to read or collect books and perhaps be drawn to my Stofa and listen in on the conversation. Music has always connected people from all walks of life. I find vinyl records engaging. OK, kids, you might not connect to this, but maybe that is the intention of my Stofa engaging with visibility. 

What will you place in it?  

My Stofa will resemble a feel-good retro style living room, colourful, and warm surrounded by my favourite records. The style of sitting is conversational. There are round chairs that anyone can sit and chat in, the area around has book collections. 

What kind of feeling would you like to give users? 

I want everyone who enters the space to have a feeling of belonging. The setting is conversational surrounded by a display of diverse books and collections and record collections. I offer refreshments, and anyone who enters the space can have a glass of water, tea, or coffee.  

Who would you like to invite to start a conversation with? 

Everyone is welcome in my Stofa, the conversations are a perspective of women of colour who are connecting the issues in their daily life but also want to include everyone in as much as they want their issues to be included. Anyone can listen in and maybe pose a question if they relate or add how differently they experience the space. One quote I live by is by Audre Lord “There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”   

Do you have an inspiration, a place that you relate to your Stofan?  

I am using this space as a pilot project. Me and my two girlfriends have posed this question of how some issues become mainstream while Others are OTHERED. And how do these two worlds meet? I recently heard Trevor Noah talking about how important it is for a society to have messier conversations where we allow people to express their point of view by having conversations that build us because of our differences. And create space.  So we are still figuring out the perfect way to go about it, but one thing is sure we want to start a conversation that will have a space on mainstream platforms. 

Find out more about the experiment of Stofan | A Public Living Room here 

Further information
Dögg Sigmarsdóttir 
Verkefnastjóri | Borgaraleg þátttaka 
dogg.sigmarsdottir@reykjavik.is 

Monday March 14th 2022
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