Making community

Community doesn’t just come about by itself.  We have to make it happen.

  • We make it happen every time we say hello to a neighbour (whether or not we already know them).
  • We make it happen when we take the trouble to make the public surroundings to our home look good: our gardens, our balconies, the road verge by our home.
  • We make it happen whenever we pick up litter (even though we may never drop litter ourselves).
  • We make it happen when we show up at a local event other people have taken the trouble to organise.
  • We make it happen every time we volunteer with a local organisation.
  • We make it happen when we offer something we no longer need (or want)  to someone who needs (or wants) it.
  • We make it happen when we use a local small shop instead of a supermarket.
  • We make it happen when we use our local library, or bus service, or rail station.

This year’s Micron Theatre production on our local allotment field (organised by the Residents Association)

Terraced house in Weymouth. No garden, but they’ve created one all the same

We make it happen.  We are our community.  Not them.  Not someone else. No point in waiting till someone does it/starts it/says something.  Just do it.  DIY.  With a friend, or on your own, or with a stranger (who’ll maybe soon become a friend, or maybe won’t).

“Help yourself” – box of surplus apples left on wall of someone’s front garden

It doesn’t have to be complicated.  It can be as simple as chatting to the person sitting next to you on the bus.  As simple as inviting someone to meet you in the park for a picnic. As simple as sweeping the pavement outside where you live.

As I thought these thoughts, by chance I began reading the book I had set aside for holiday reading – Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space, by Jan Gehl.  Jan Gehl is a Danish architect who was very influential in transforming Copenhagen (and many other Danish towns and cities) from being car-dominated to being far more people-friendly.  It was originally published in the 1970s; this version is a 2006 update.  It gives a fascinating insight into what features of the built environment promote or work against positive uses of outdoor spaces.

What did you do to make your community a better place this week?  what will you do next week?

About deborah @ the magic jug

Now I've passed 60 I'm still doing all sorts of things I haven't done before, as well as carrying on with the things I already love. I live a happy life with my long term love Malcolm. In my blog I explore local and low tech ideas, food, growing, making, reading, thinking, walking, and lots of other words ending in 'ing'.
This entry was posted in Allotment, Community, Do what you can with what you have, Inspirations, Local, Reflections on life (and death), Seeing differently, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Making community

  1. Anne Wheaton says:

    You’re right – simple actions can make a big difference.


  2. Good points but it can be a struggle to find time beyond family. Happy to use buses, libraries and share the bees in my front garden with others


    • Oh absolutely Jackie! Only once I no longer had massive family responsibilities have I been able to re-engage with volunteering in my community. But during that time, I benefited from things like babysitting and allotment swaps, and carried on with the small things like chatting with neighbours and strangers. We do what we can at the stage we find ourselves in. And sometimes we have to be more on the receiving end than the giving end. Which is also fine. I’m loving reading about your garden and growing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Marian says:

    I was away when you posted this, but just wanted to chime in to say how much I love this post, Deborah. My 20-year-old is interested (obsessed) with urban planning/transportation and I’ve read a couple of his books on the subject. I’m familiar with the work of Jan Gehl and wish our North American cities had had the foresight to see the damage a car culture would cause in our communities. Denmark (and The Netherlands) have done so well in this department.

    Community IS so important. Since spring, I’ve gone to two climate rallies and joined a local climate action group. It’s been both a relief—I no longer feel quite so alone—and a boost to my self-esteem. The skill I’ve brought to the table has been writing/editing, and it’s been so uplifting to actually feel useful beyond my own four walls!


    • Hi Marian, as always, lovely to hear from you! I’m so pleased that you’ve felt able to take part in climate stuff. I’m certain you have really valuable skills to bring to it, and the whole not-feeling-so-alone thing is essential.
      Also thrilled that your son is so interested in all this stuff – we NEED young people like him with their enthusiasm and ability and energy, and after all the future will be theirs not ours. I veer between feeling angry that if the UK and other countries had done the stuff me and others were agitating for from the late 70s we’d be in a very different (less scary, more enjoyable, more equitable) world now; and feeling energised by the younger people who are really acting consistently with it being a climate emergency.


  4. Margaret Gibson says:

    Moreno -good morning,
    A blue sky day but fresh -winter lingers. The daffodils are out but the garden needs attention.
    Community is a hard thing to quantify, when the earthquakes struck Christchurch & Kaikoura everyone looked after each other.
    Then this year we had the Mosque Killings and much the same happened, but that’s the wider community. (But there is a lot of racism from some quarters which is nasty.)
    Our street has changed over the years, we’ve been here for 45 years. We all had children and then people moved to bigger homes and there was a time when there were no children. Today we have families again. Faces appear over the fence bouncing up and down on the trampoline. Two babies over the road. the community is rebuilding it’s great.
    Long ago I read about giving people a smile when you’re out and about. Most people respond but some look terrified
    Now to watch the US tennis and knit for you know who
    Tena koutuo katoa


    • Moreno back! (though it’s late afternoon here now, so I’m sure that’s wrong). Our street is much the same as yours – we’ve been here for (only!) 27 years, our children were young when we moved in and so were most of the others. They’ve all moved on and out now, but thankfully new ones have moved in. However, ours in the smallest house in the road. Most of the others are very large, and all the new people are wealthy and have remodelled their homes to be even larger. So the mix of people here has narrowed considerably. Nonetheless, community is important, and we continue to do what we can to build and broaden it.
      I’m glad to say that so far I haven’t had the terrified look when I smile or greet passers by – even in inner cities (Bristol, London). Better still, our granddaughter has the delightful habit of waving at people as they walk towards and past us, and almost everyone breaks into a broad grin and waves back. Something to learn there for all of us, I think.
      All the best, Deborah


  5. Sharon says:

    My small contributions to our local community. I shop locally, support a new greengrocer (although at this time of year, I could be selling produce to him!) say hello and chat with neighbours and the same with fellow dog-walkers in the park (in London!!) and acknowledge the bus driver with a hello and thank you. I think this is an age thing, but recently I find myself picking up litter…


    • I truly believe that these ‘small contributions’ make all the difference. They’re the difference between people feeling alone and isolated, and feeling that they’re part of something bigger. Even if all you do is smile and greet people you see regularly. My son was a bit taken aback when I did this as we walked around Lewisham and Blackheath, but the test was that people responded positively.
      Ah yes, picking up litter….

      Liked by 1 person

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