The honesty box is a place I can walk to from home, roughly half-way between Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge in the Calder Valley, West Yorkshire. It’s up a steep cobbled lane, on a farm with a view. It’s a shed, with an additional bench outside.
The honesty box is a small and simple space. Four wooden walls close together, with a door and some windows. Inside, you feel enclosed and sheltered, whatever the weather outside. It is interesting to notice the difference such enclosure makes, how it transforms one kind of space into another. The honesty box is a space small enough for conversations in pairs or small groups, even those in which people speak quietly.
The honesty box is a place where you’re trusted. The door is open to anyone who passes by. Inside, there is a kettle to make tea, a table with a basket of cakes, a freezer stocked with ice-cream. You’re trusted to pay for what you eat or drink into a metal box, and it’s up to you whether or not to record your visit in a guestbook. It feels hospitable and welcoming without demanding very much from visitors.
The honesty box is a place that people – individuals and small groups – move in and out of. On a nice day, it can get really busy. Sometimes, this sparks random conversations between people who have only just met.
The honesty box is a good place to pause on a walk in progress, to catch your breath. It’s a place to rest, warm up on a cold day, get out of the wind or seek shade. It’s a place above the valley, in a spot that offers an overview of the landscape.
In the honesty box, some things stay around. A mini Christmas tree and fairy lights, for example. Or a yellow plastic bike that first appeared when the Tour de France came to our valley in 2014. I like these random juxtapositions. Others are replaced on a daily basis – the water, the cake, clean mugs. Evidence of care.
The honesty box feels like an appropriate metaphor for what I’m trying to do with this blog – to create a space to pause and share work in progress, much of which first emerged in spaces small enough for honest conversation, experimentation and private writing. To trust that some of these offerings will be welcomed by passers-by or regulars. To see what happens when – if – others who I might not have met enter this space.