Call for Submissions: Toilet Zine

We’re inviting contributions to a zine all about toilets, access, and inclusive/exclusive spaces.

What can I submit?

Contributions in a range of formats are welcome: personal experiences, creative writing/stories, drawings, poetry, political essays, experimental pieces, or whatever you feel like doing. Contributions can be written anonymously if you prefer.

Please keep submissions to under 1,000 words.

What’s a zine?

A zine is a self-published mini-magazine. They can be collaborative or written individually. We’re making a collaborative zine because we’re hoping to express the wide range of different uses and experiences we have of toilets.

What are the themes?

One of our aims is to raise awareness about the ways that toilets can be unsafe, uncomfortable, and inaccessible for some people. However, we also welcome submissions that reflect on positive toilet experiences, the important role they play in our lives, and the privacy and quietness they can often provide for some of us. Themes may include:

  • Toilets and mental health

  • Disability and accessibility

  • Transphobia and public toilets

  • Racism, Islamophobia and public toilets

  • Intersex, body policing and public toilets

  • Toilets and intersectionality (especially experiences from trans, non-binary, queer and/or disabled people of colour)

  • Fatness and fat phobia in toilet spaces

  • Sex and sex work and public toilets

  • ‘Invisible’ impairments/disabilities and toilet-use

  • Parenting/childcare and public toilet facilities

  • Drug-use and toilets

  • Homelessness and public toilets

  • Funding cuts and the closure of public toilets

  • Periods/menstruation and toilet facilities

  • Importance of gender neutral toilets

  • Toilet door signs/labels

  • Queer and radical potential of toilets

  • Toilets, campaigns and protest

  • Critical ideas about ‘access’

How do I submit?

All zine submissions should be sent by Friday 14th July 2017 to aroundthetoilet@shu.ac.uk or, if you would like to submit your contribution anonymously, then please use our electronic form. You’re welcome to email us an online document, scan or photograph of your contribution, or you can post something through the mail if you’d prefer.

All contributors selected for the zine will be given a small gift of thanks.

Please note: we’re hoping to include a wide range of submissions in the zine but we want to keep the zine readable and easily reproducible, so we can’t guarantee everything we receive will be included in the final publication. We’ll be in touch to let you know either way.

Please get in touch with us via aroundthetoilet@shu.ac.uk if you have any questions or if would like to discuss your ideas with us.

Thank you to the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCPPE) for funding this zine.

Toilet Zine flyer.png

Please make use of our toilet resources!

We’ve created a new section on our website to collate the Around the Toilet materials we’d like to share with you all – please make use of it and feel free to share it with your colleagues/communities. The ‘Materials‘ page will be regularly updated with new resources as they become available.

There are a range of ways we think these resources might be useful to others, such as: university teaching/lecturing, teaching in schools, activist/political campaigning, research, design and workshops. We hope you may have other ideas too!

The materials we’ve produced focus on toilet use and access in a range of ways, but may also be of use in exploring issues beyond the toilet. Some of the themes of our work include (in)accessibility, discrimination against queer and trans people, disability, ableism, religion, gender, sexuality, bodies, parenting, workers’ rights, architecture and design, schools, and toilet ‘training’.

If you do make use of our materials (or if you already have!), we would really appreciate your feedback and a bit of information about how the materials are used. There’s a short form on the Materials page for you to get in touch. We hope the materials will be useful to you and encourage some interesting and important conversations!

We’re back! Taking Around the Toilet to New Spaces

Good news! We’ve been awarded further funding from AHRC Connected Communities to continue the Around the Toilet project. We’ve called the next stage of the project: Arts, Architecture, Activism & Access: Taking Around the Toilet to New Spaces (or ‘New Spaces’).

Over the last two years, we’ve been working with various communities – including trans, queer and disabled people – to explore the ways that toilets can exclude some, whilst including others. A lack of access to suitable toilets affects people’s lives in all kinds of ways; exclusion from toilets often connects to wider social and spatial exclusion and segregation, as well as personal discomfort. The New Spaces project will focus on impact and engagement activities to help us develop this research further. The project has three strands: 1) working with queer and disability arts organisations and events internationally; 2) sharing our Toilet Toolkit design solutions with trainee architects and design professionals; and 3) exploring toilets creatively with children and young people.

Over the next year, expect to see new toilet films and appearances at local and international arts festivals; further collaboration with Architecture students and the Toilet Toolkit used in practice; as well as an expansion of Storying School Toilets through art workshops with children and young people with learning difficulties and an exhibition of their work.

We’re still committed to expanding our collaboration and communication with grassroots campaigns, activism and communities, whilst also working with organisations who are making decisions about toilet design. Feedback at our project events reminded us of the importance of taking our findings to schools, so we’re also looking forward to the new collaborations which will come through our work with children and young people.

New Spaces will include collaboration between members of Drake Music, Purple Patch Arts, Tabú, Project Re•Vision, The Wisdom Factory, Public Toilets UK, Truckers’ Toilets UK, Action for Trans Health, Queer of the Unknown, and Live Works, as well as three UK universities.

As always, we’d love to hear from other people who are interested in the New Spaces project or are doing toilet campaigns, activism or research of their own. Get in touch with feedback, ideas, or just to say hello. You can also keep track of our progress on Twitter: @cctoilettalk and #cctoilettalk.

Around the Toilet shortlisted for national public engagement award

We’re delighted to announce that Around the Toilet is one of three projects shortlisted for the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences award in the national Engage Competition, run by the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE).

Finalists have been selected from over 180 entries which demonstrate a broad range of high quality activities to inspire and involve public audiences. Finalists’ work ranged from digitally reconstructing city histories to protecting endangered species; from working with older people as researchers to delivering hyper-local science festivals; from young children conducting their own research to influence the United Nations, to using theatre to improve oral health outcomes.

The NCCPE first launched the Engage Competition in 2014 to provide a UK-wide opportunity to recognise and celebrate some of the public engagement with research activity that universities are involved in. There are six competition categories, and the winner of each category will receive a prize of £1,500 to go towards further public engagement work. The winners will be decided on the 28th November, before being announced at an awards ceremony as part of Engage 2016, the NCCPE’s annual conference, on 29th November 2016.

We would like to send our thanks to everyone who has been involved in Around the Toilet (including our sister projects, Travelling Toilet Tales, Storying School Toilets and Servicing Utopia). We really appreciate the range of contributions and support we have received over the last two years.

We’ll let you know how we get on!

Servicing Utopia – Toilet Toolkit Launch

TT logo

[Image: Servicing Utopia logo. Orange toilet stencil.]

Servicing Utopia is a digital Toilet Toolkit designed to support planners, architects and designers to critically and creatively rethink notions of access in relation to the toilet design process.

The digital toolkit has been developed in response to the stories of people involved in the Around the Toilet project for whom accessing a safe and comfortable toilet space is a continual challenge.

For many people everyday journeys are often planned around the un/availability of a suitable toilet. People speak of not leaving the house, not drinking and losing jobs due to a lack of toilet access for a number of distinct reasons. There is, in its most literal sense, ‘no place’ for them to go (and hence, sometimes, they go ‘nowhere’). For many, ‘a good place’ to use the toilet does not yet exist, or at least not in sufficient numbers.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 09.30.06

[Image: Screenshot of the Toilet Toolkit. Four grey drawings of the insides and outsides of buildings, some with toilet doors or signs. Orange captions label different contexts.]

Since March 2015 we have run workshops with architects to engage with their responses to these stories and explore the opportunities and challenges related to the design of safe and accessible toilet spaces for many people. Their insights have supported us in developing a digital toolkit that is intended to be both useful and applicable to practice. In the final stages of producing the toolkit we also consulted with Sheffield City Council’s Access Liaison Group who gave us invaluable feedback.

The toolkit aims to communicate design possibilities in relation to the issues faced by different toilet users. It is hoped that the toolkit will allow planners, architects and designers to creatively respond to the design challenges raised by the stories and experiences of those involved in the Around the Toilet project.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 09.30.34

[Image: Toilet Toolkit screenshot. Two toilet cubicles with various different furniture and equipment inside, each lit up in a different colour.]

The toolkit was developed in conjunction with Live Works, The University of Sheffield School of Architecture’s ‘Urban Room’ in Sheffield city centre, and Content On Demand, a boutique content marketing agency based in Sheffield and London.

Access the toolkit at: toilettoolkit.co.uk. Take a look!

Wandering Around the Toilet, 15th September, Manchester

To celebrate 10 years of playing out, The Loiterers Resistance Movement are holding Loitering With Intent: The Art and Politics of Walking, a special exhibition at the People’s History Museum in Manchester. The exhibition will be open July 23rd – October 14th, hosting a number of fascinating events, including one from us, details below:

Wandering Around The Toilet
Wednesday 15th September (walk 2-4pm, installation all day).

This tour will explore the history of spending a penny and how a lack of public loos impacts on who can use the city. There will be tales of public health, gender inequality, the blurring of public and private space and the fight for fair access to the toilet. All day in the gallery you can meet members of the Around The Toilet Team, and see an installation designed by Architecture students at the University of Sheffield. The construction is based on the materials and design of public toilets to challenge assumptions and provoke a rethinking of issues of gender, ‘ability’, access, surveillance and the meanings of ‘public’ itself. Drop into the People’s History Museum gallery all day and book free tickets for the walk here: http://toiletwalk.eventbrite.co.uk


Loitering With Intent: The Art and Politics of Walking
July 23rd – October 14th, People’s History Museum, Manchester

The Community Gallery will be full of art by LRM members and friends from Manchester and beyond who are inspired by creative walking. There will also be archive material, short films, music and a programme of talks, walks, games and tools to take away to start your own explorations. From cake maps to CCTV bingo and DIY maps, from strolls across oceans to travels around toilets and the fight for the right to roam we demonstrate how the pedestrian becomes an artistic and political act. Join us for a very special exhibition that shows our pavements are full of stories,  adventures and new connections just waiting to be discovered. Please come and walk, play, wander and wonder with.  A full line-up of participating artists to be revealed soon. An introduction can be found here, and the events programme here.

The LRM (Loiterers Resistance Movement) is a Manchester based collective interested in psychogeography, public space and uncovering the secret stories of the city.  Since 2006 they have been organising public walks, dérives (drifts), games and spectacles offering new ways to explore the streets.  To celebrate 10 years of loitering, please come and play.

does that include us? / yn cynnwys ni?

We’re looking forward to participating in the opening weekend of ‘yn cynnwys ni?‘ (‘does that include us?’) at the g39 gallery in Cardiff on Friday 22nd July. If you’re nearby, please come along. Full details below:

does that include us? / yn cynnwys ni?
22 July – 24 September
launch weekend: 22/23 July
g39, Cardiff

[Image: A cut-out of graph paper with a hand-drawn red border and a number on each axis. In the centre it says ‘You’ in bold, hand-drawn font.]

Does That Include Us? is a multi-artform programme of events presented by artists, facilitators and activists, some who identify as disabled and some who don’t.

For the first part of the season, 22 July – 25 August, you are invited to participate in social gatherings, performances, practical activities, conversations and debates. Through these activities we will find innovative and experimental ways to promote discussion around the subjects of access, inclusion, empathy and diversity within the arts and the wider community.  All workshops, gatherings and events are free to attend, and you can find more information on individual events throughout the season on the website; updates and amendments to the timetable, will be published here throughout the programme, as well as a weekly calendar at the beginning of each week.

Around the Toilet
Fri 22 July 4—7pm

The research for yn cynnwys ni? at g39 begun in early 2015, and started by looking at one of the most fundamental manifestations of the need for debate around inclusion and institutional good practice – the toilet. Although the warehouse currently occupied by g39 is fitted with several toilets, none of them were accessible in a wheelchair or met the current regulations in terms of planning. Eighteen months later, we are very pleased to be able to invite you to the grand opening of our brand new toilet space, built by artists, and fully compliant,  the new toilet will be opened by  Around the Toilet, a team of academics, artists, activists and students who use arts practice based methods to explore notions of belonging and what makes a safe and accessible toilet space. Following the grand opening, there will be a workshop between 5-6pm based around the idea of the Utopian toilet, run by artist Nicky Rose from The Bower Wirks and inspired by her ‘toilet challenges’.

Between 6-7pm, hear from some of the Around the Toilet team, Dr Jenny Slater, Dr Emily Cuming, Dahlia Tayel-Brown, Mikhail Tayel-Brown and Gillian Kemp about their latest project, Travelling Toilet Tales, an animation documenting journeys taken or not taken due to in/accessible toilets. People of all ages and abilities welcome.

For more on the project on Twitter : @cctoilettalk or visit their blog aroundthetoilet.wordpress.com.

Travelling Toilet Tales Film Release

Imagine a world without toilets: How would you go to school, college or university; take a trip to the park; wander around a shopping centre; go to work; or get on a long-distance train? Using the stories of people whose access to toilets is compromised in some way, this film explores how our ability to get out and about is transformed by the availability of toilets: featuring parents of disabled children who require full-length changing benches, non-binary people who are subject to abuse in gendered toilets, people with irritable bowel syndrome who might need to use a toilet with urgency, and women truck-drivers who work for long stretches without a toilet in sight, amongst others.

In our research for the Around the Toilet project, trans, queer and disabled participants shared with us their difficulties in finding toilets that were functional, easily locatable and safe. One trans woman described how her ability to socialise and go to work was limited by her access to toilets; she explained that when she felt unsafe to use public toilets, she was unable to leave the security of her house. The toilet ‘extends to everywhere’, she said, and accessible and comfortable toilets allowed her to take necessary, everyday journeys away from home. We wanted to think more about these journeys, and the importance of toilets in the seemingly mundane routines of some people’s lives.

Over the last five months, we met with a range of toilet-users and asked them to share their stories with us. Some recorded themselves from home, others recorded their stories when they were out for the day or chatted to one of our team about their experiences. This film is an edited collection of these stories, in which key moments have been highlighted in a ‘soundscape’ by Gemma Nash and animated by Sarah Smizz. The individual stories are also available to listen to and read in full here.

Around the Toilet at the Utopia Fair

photo 3

[Image: ‘Utopia Fair’ sign on a block of wooden crates with Somerset House in the background, people to one side and a cloudy sky above.]

The three-day Utopia Fair event at Somerset House began on 24th June – the morning Britain found itself plunged into Brexit, an irony in terms of timing which was lost on no one. The Fair was part of the UTOPIA 2016: A Year of Imagination and Possibility activities, celebrating the 500th anniversary of the publication of Thomas More’s radical imagining of a better world. The grand, cloistered courtyard of Somerset House was to provide a pop-up version of More’s imagining of a ‘no place’ that is also a ‘good place’ – at once located centrally just off London’s West End, and yet strangely set apart from the rest of the city. The carnivalesque juxtaposition of worlds was a theme that continued throughout the event – from Brexit to utopia, academics mingling with tourists, to the country fair style of the stalls set within the walls of a Tudor palace, this was to be a weekend of playful and stimulating contrasts.

The Fair presented a number of different stalls presenting outputs from various Connected Communities projects, all engaging with the creative and political possibilities of utopian imaginings. The event proposed future-oriented thinking as a gesture of hope and political agency. As one person noted at a speaker event on Utopian Housing which took place in one of the wings at Somerset House, communities are often asked to reflect on the ‘history’ of a place, group or institution. But often, when the conversation turns to plans for the ‘future’, then experts – architects, designers, councillors – will step in to declare what is possible or permissible (or affordable). In other words, there is often an unspoken privilege – or symbolic capital – in speaking about and for the future which is not always afforded to community groups. The Fair’s celebration of utopia seemed to suggest that everyone should have the opportunity to radically reimagine, shape or design the way the future. Utopian thought, in this way, has the potential to be a levelling act – one that is creative, ambitious and a powerful statement of a shared, collective will.

20160624_202145

[Image: Around the Toilet stall decorated with drawings, signs, and other materials. Two people sit behind the table.]

Travelling Toilet Tales and Servicing Utopia both had connected stalls at the fair in which we provided ‘hands-on’ activities for members of the public as well as exhibits from our past activities. The public received the first viewing on iPads of our animated Toilet Tales film, an exploration into the ways in which everyday journeys are planned around the un/availability of a suitable toilet and featuring stories from a range of toilet users, including truckers, disabled parents, and non-binary people. Visitors also got the chance to listen to the individual toilet stories in full, browse our postcards designed by artist Smizz, and talk to the special guests who were helping on the stall. At various points over the weekend, we were lucky enough to be joined by members of Accessible Derbyshire, Changing Places, Action for Trans Health, Truckers’ Toilets UK, and the Loiterers Resistance Movement, as well as the storytellers and artists behind the films for both projects and the digital Toilet Toolkit.

Toilet fair 2

[Image: L-R: The Toilet installation posed in front of Somerset House; two people looking at an ipad, one sitting down with headphones and the other leaning over behind; a close-up of the stall – hanging luggage tags for feedback, a tote bag saying ‘smash the cistern’ and decorated toilet roll.]


20160625_174406

[Image: The utopian model town – a cardboard landscape with colourful handmade buildings and scenery.]

We were also delighted to have with us Nicky Rose, an artist in mixed and recycled media, and Tom Gayler, a designer at the Royal College of Art, who led interactive sessions which invited visitors to create utopian toilet models from cardboard, wooden blocks, pipe cleaners and other bits and pieces. The intermittent sunshine over the weekend allowed us to stretch our craft materials out onto the floor for visitors of all ages to get involved and get messy. Once built, utopian toilets were added one-by-one to a utopian model town, assembled by Leap of Faith: Anarchy and Play on the stall next-door. If only all towns had so many (sparkly) public toilets…

Toilet models

[Image: Nine photos of handmade toilets or various shapes and sizes created by people attending our stall. One says ‘rotating loo’, another says ‘don’t put me in a box’ and another says ‘compost loo’.

This weekend also presented the first opportunity for the public to use the interactive digital Toilet Toolkit and view the short animated film produced by the Servicing Utopia team. The toolkit is aimed at architects and other design professionals to promote the accessible design of toilet spaces, and allows users to virtually ‘walk around’ toilet spaces and interact with the items and facilities. This will be available to view on our blog very shortly (watch this space).

20160624_202115

[Image: A close-up of the toilet graffiti people wrote on the acrylic boards of the toilet installation. The installation asks ‘Can we improve toilet design?’ and ‘Why are toilets funny?’]

Our interactive toilet installation, designed and built by MA Architecture students at the University of Sheffield, was constructed for visitors to view, prompting conversation and graffiti contributions. Written comments from our visitors ranged from a poll about toilet roll use, toilet confessions and jokes, to reflections on personal habits. People wrote on the back of artist Smizz’s postcards to include their own toilet tales, sharing stories that were informative, funny and sometimes disturbing: a dad being told off for changing a baby in a women’s toilet; one person’s account of the inadequacy and fallacy of ‘Community Toilets’ (businesses allowing the general public to use facilities); cleaners rebelling against unacceptable toilet mess; recollections of an instance of violent bullying in school toilets; library toilets providing ‘safe spaces’ for users to have private conversations; one person having to resort to using the ‘please wash your hands’ sign as emergency toilet paper; stories of global lavatory etiquette from the Gambia to the Himalayas to Tokyo; and important notification of a new venue in Liverpool that has a toilet DJ. All of these contributions turned into conversations over the course of the weekend as new visitors responded to the comments left by other people attending the Fair.

Team

[Image: Some of the toilet team. Six people stand in a row, smiling at the camera. The person in the centre holds a ‘Changing Places’ leaflet.]

As toilet specialists, we were curious to see what kind of facilities would be provided in the historic grounds of Somerset House. There were plenty of options available, including gender neutral toilets near the main reception area which were the source of much discussion (and not just on our particular stall). These were impressive ‘state-of-the-art’ toilets that had given some consideration to providing gender neutral options for everyone, with gleaming surfaces, modern fittings and private washing facilities in each stall. But what was striking was how far the disabled toilets fell short in comparison. Dated, not quite as clean and certainly not intended to be any utopian ‘showcase’ for twenty-first century toilets, the small-ish cubicle also functioned as a boiler room and the only space for baby-changing. Like many accessible toilets, it could have been more accommodating and indulgent…and accessible.

20160626_150547

[Image: Cobbled flour in front of our stall. A range of craft materials in the foreground. Children and adults sitting to the right.]

The Utopia Fair also gave us the opportunity to meet with other researchers working on Connected Communities projects and to reflect on the potential for new links and points of connection. The Stories of Change project, which explores energy and community, transported their mobile photobooth across to our stall and asked us to contribute a vision of energy-efficient toilets.  Ours included a wind-powered flush and use of recycled/‘dirty’ water. The open and informal setting meant that there were fluid interactions between the various stalls, and the opportunity to share experiences, tips and stories about our diverse projects. What was particularly effective about the Somerset House Fair was the combination of abstract thinking and imagining on the one hand, alongside a more tactile sense of getting stuck into hands-on activities, talking, designing and listening – from building utopian playgrounds, to model-making, to finding yourself immersed in a live puppetry performance. It was also wonderful to reunite various members of our Toilets team – and for us to also think creatively and ambitiously ahead to our own future projects.

IMG_7485

[Image: Somerset House lit up in pink at dusk. A dark, cloudy sky above, with tented stalls and people standing and chatting in the foreground.]

Utopia Fair – Join us this weekend (24 – 26 June)!

Our newest research projects, Travelling Toilet Tales and Servicing Utopia, will both appear at the Utopia Fair in Somerset House in London this weekend (24th-26th June).

The Utopia Fair will be hosting 35 representatives from contemporary utopian movements from all over the UK on stalls in the Somerset House courtyard. The Travelling Toilet Tales stall will offer the public an exciting first glimpse of a draft of our animated Toilet Tales film. Featuring stories from a range of toilet users, including truckers, disabled parents, and non-binary people, the film is an exploration into the ways in which everyday journeys are planned around the un/availability of a suitable toilet. Visitors will also get the chance to listen to the individual toilet stories in full, browse our postcards and artwork, and talk to the special guests joining us on the stall.

Next door, the Servicing Utopia project will be joined by artists who will invite visitors to create utopian toilet models. This weekend will also present the first opportunity to view the interactive digital Toilet Toolkit and short animated film produced by the Servicing Utopia team. The toolkit is aimed at architects and other design professionals to promote the accessible design of toilet spaces and will allow users to virtually ‘walk around’ toilet spaces and interact with items within the space.

This is an addition to our interactive toilet installation, designed and built by MA Architecture students at the University of Sheffield, which will be constructed for visitors to view, and a cinema room which will be screening a premiere of the projects’ films in full.

If you’re nearby come by for a chat with one of the toilet researchers, or with our special guests who will be joining us at various points over the weekend, including members of Accessible Derbyshire, Changing Places, Action for Trans Health, Truckers’ Toilets UK, Public Toilets UK, and the Loiterers Resistance Movement, as well as the storytellers and artists behind the films for both projects and the digital Toilet Toolkit. See you there!

The Utopia Fair is held at Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA. The fair opening hours are Friday (24): 17.00-22.00; Saturday (25): 10:00-18.00; Sunday (26): 10.00-17.00. It is free to attend. For more details, click here.

[Image: Flyer for the Utopia Fair: blue, purple and yellow shapes frame the banner advert for the weekend.]