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.
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).
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?