1 – Have we been taught to distrust each other?
2 – Making initial links!
3 – Give freely and without agenda.
4 – Build the local trust!
5 – Have faith people/communities will do the right thing.
6 – UK People in the 2020’s – A British Community Renaissance?
It would seem that we go through trends of hating sub-groups as we get played by a media that savages us from our mobile devices, our televisions, laptops & tablets, public media points and other avenues of communication. This has resulted in many of us growing up in quite a cynical state with a natural unhealthy distrust of others.
Granted there are an abundance of trouble makers and exploitative entities that wish to take advantage of your isolated vulnerability. Yet if you live in a functional community, where information is readily available (free up-to-date stuff to support local awareness) can support a stronger community dynamic.
The neurosis that stems from the news – even if we accept we are being brainwashed by the media (and joke about it) we still get sucked into it. Yet as people generally are being more objective and make factual based observations relying less on opinion we are more widespread becoming a better society.
Many people will understandably do a Google search for ‘volunteers in town or city of your choice’ to find something of interest to your own belief systems. Internet searches may be efficient and a good starting point; however to use the local hardcopy newsletters/community notice boards is just as important. Such phenomenon which has existing in thousands of communities all over the world for several centuries – sometimes the classic ideas are the best to get information out to everyone in your locale:
- Community liasons
- Public house regular events
- Local library events
- Schooling open/parent evenings
- Local councillor
- Police contacts
- How to go about making a complaint of bad neighbours/local trouble makers etc.
- When/where is regular community meeting
- Contact local art/music/acting/culture groups
- Find the local Transition network group
Yet if people have access to a regular monthly calendar and be it pasted up on the faith buildings, or local community hall or schools etc. it will help get the information out and encourage people to partake in regular local events. If there are very few of these options or none of these options – perhaps you could consider setting one up yourself?
It would seem some of us have ideas on how to begin engaging with the locale. Yet everyone will have their own ideas on how to progress on different things.
- Skills exchange/skills encouragement
- Food growing on streets / Community Gardens /
- Replanting worn down green spaces in built up urban areas
- Local Economy Initiatives
- Community Energy (Electricity or Heat)
- Community Building (as in restoring properties for local causes)
The main point is to listen to your neighbours ane try and do something with the material/ideas/recommendations received (and make sure you reference everyone accordingly – if they give their permission) and make efforts to see it all integrate together to make for a more effective community dynamic which everyone can share/partake in.
It would be a lie to say this is done overnight. It will take years of breaking down the distrust – yet if you offer everyone some token information when you are trying to find out who exactly is in the community and what would they like to see happen/improved in the community. Ideally you should leave the people with a sheet of information stating:
- Who you are – leaving a contact point like your email or phone number.
- What you are attempting to do.
- Background check links (i.e. with the Police, local recognised community leader/co-ordinator or local councillors).
- Give information of any community meetings that you are trying to set up.
This is not about just building up links, sharing with people what you are aiming to do; so that everyone can share in the mutual benefits of being a more inclusive economy. YOU MUST BE CAUTIOUS of those who will exploit your genuine community ideas and attempt to monetize and corrupt a local project. This has happened with too many groups in the past, which causes bitterness, a decline in genuine community link building and reduction in positive local projects.
Keep records of everything you do. The metadata in documents will prove yours is the original work in order to safeguard the original premise.
It would be foolish to try and control everything you attempt to establish. Communities have many dynamics and you may find that people may wish to branch off into their own organisation and develop things differently to the way you do.
WARNING: IF you do something with a biased agenda to suit your own needs & gains and exploit those around you – with a connected community around you; people will exchange/talk – you’ll only end up shooting yourself in the foot!
It would seem prospective decent socially rewarding projects based on hard work & sacrifice (much of it on a voluntary basis) has evolved since the last recession of 2008. In the 2010’s many people have began to congrgate on projects which they feel passionate about. Healthier local food production, or cleaning out the local rivers of debris and litter, pushing for a zero-carbon towns & cities, starting health clubs for all age ranges and abilities; the positive local connections as a new potential long-term emerging locally-empowered-economy begins to take over is something we may all be laying witness to.
There is no better time than now in the 2010’s and 2020’s to embrace traditional community links, supported by innovations of social media, local news networks and other supporting communication mechanisms.
Can the rural farmscapes may become community hubs again (can the broadband co-operatives reach every farm, rural establishment and other countryside building in the next few years?
City Centres that may have seen serious decline in franchises – may see an opportunity for localised businesses to become more ubiquitous again. What about more local bakers? more local micro-brewery production? stronger links for recommended word-of-mouth plumbers, bricklayers etc.
To encourage more local art, improving the visual appearances of areas that have allowed to become derelict due to austerity measures etc. New planting initiaitves, local art and general clean up’s can bring people together and bring a proper sense of community back to your area!!
So much can be done if you are willing to put the time in. The ideas are out there (even if you can not come up with anything feasible yourself) yet encouraging them to coalesce in a democratic format without any degradation of the purity and standard of your community initiatives will be as challenging as actually making the ideas a reality!
The projects in your locale are out there waiting to be realised – what can you all do about it?
As they put it in Field of Dreams (and Wayne’s World 2) “If you build it – they will come!”