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Jim Haynes Day – 10 November

Jim Haynes in his kitchen

Jim Haynes (1933-2021) was a self-proclaimed ‘Citizen of the World’ and aspired to introduce the whole world to each other one person at a time.

He lived an extraordinary life and was at the vanguard of a host of progressive twentieth century innovations and campaigns in the world of literature, theatre, art, travel and liberty.

His life was dominated by a piece of advice his father gave him:

“When you do something nice for somebody, forget it immediately

When someone does something nice for you, never forget it”

At Grow Social Capital we think Jim Haynes is an icon for a society that is more trusting than suspicious; more inquisitive of difference than ignorant of it; keener to traverse borders than re-enforce them; and where social networking starts by giving, rather than taking.

#JimHaynesDay is celebrated annually on his birthday: 10 November

#JimHaynesDay will share, publicise and celebrate people’s efforts to build social capital in their communities by introducing the world to each other, one person at a time. It will be the showcase and opportunity to place in the spotlight projects that are making an effort to invest in and build social capital.

Biography of Jim Haynes

  • 1933 – Born in Louisiana, US
  • 1946 – moves with his family to Venezuela
  • 1959 – demobs from the US Army in Kirknewton, Scotland and enrols at Edinburgh University
  • 1962 – opens The Paperback Bookshop, the UK’s first paperback book shop (though he preferred to call it a ‘salon’ where people could meet, have coffee, or just chat)
  • 1962 – co-founds the Traverse theatre
  • 1963 – organizes the first Edinburgh international book festival; kickstarts the Edinburgh Fringe
  • 1966 – co-founds the radical International Times journal
  • 1967 – opens the Arts Laboratory in Drury Lane, London, an alternative arts centre comprising a cinema, gallery space, theatre, accommodation, film workshop and classroom space, and later a restaurant. It lasts only two years but spawns a host of similar ‘counterculture’ spaces. Events could be pre-planned or be spontaneous; what Haynes called ‘happenings
  • 1971 – founds The Cassette Gazette, an occasional audio magazine published on then-cutting edge cassette
  • 1972 – begins teaching media studies and sexual politics at the University of Paris
  • 1974 – publishes Hello, I Love You in which he expresses his ambition to have everyone in the world in his address book
  • 1977 – starts the Salon Project – a weekly Sunday evening open house dinner party at his home in Paris’s 14th arrondissement (‘Jim’s Place’). Anyone can attend and only the Covid-19 pandemic stopped it. It is estimated that over 150,000 guests have passed through Jim’s Place
  • late 1970s – starts printing a ‘World passport’, a non-national passport for anyone who wanted one. They were not legal documents, but in the spirit of Haynes’s ‘happy anarchism’ the world passport encapsulates his ideals of peace, global freedom and open, welcoming borders
  • 1979 – founds the publisher Handshake Editions when he improvised a “book” of poetry by poet Ted Joans who was due to give a reading in Paris but had no copies of his book to sell (“I called it Handshake because the contract with the author is a handshake”).
  • mid 1980s – starts the People to People guidebooks about Eastern European countries behind the Iron Curtain. Instead of the usual descriptions of sights and hotel listings, the People to People books were more like an address book featuring the contact details for hundreds of people willing to act as hosts and guides in their countries. The travel phenomenon it spawns becomes known as ‘couchsurfing’ (it can be seen as a precursor to Air BnB).