My community

There is a plaque outside the pub which says people have been drinking in this inn for over 350 years. That is quite a sesh, I think, someone should tell them to go home. Walk up the hill north towards the cenotaph, and you pass some lovely buildings, some half-timbered. In the shopping mall there is Dorothy Perkins and WH Smith, and here there is a shop selling speciality teas and a hardware store. Or you could turn off past the fifteenth century barn and the sculpture of the swans in flight. On the river you may see dozens of swans, I had not seen so many together before coming here. It is beautiful.

You will get quite a different story about the town from a certain website which tells of “chavs”, which means oiks, or lower class people, in British towns. I noticed that website, talking of shell suits and jogging bottoms, which I rarely see. “Chavs” is an offensive term for my neighbours. Not a word I would use. Not really how I see the town at all, my town is beautiful. Not the way I see my neighbours. Look at these trees, gardens, open spaces. My next door neighbour taught me my two words of Bulgarian. Perhaps I should try to remember more: Dobre, meaning well, but also translating the word Uhuh, as in I understand, yes, go on, is a useful word. Like “Acha” in Bangla. My other next door neighbour fixed my dehumidifier, and I helped him with a question about benefits.

It is as if the person who wrote in that horrid, mocking site and I see two different places, different people, different worlds, parallel universes. Not all of us are well off, indeed Ofsted wrote in its report about the Children’s Centre that some parents studying school-age qualifications were doing these as an end in themselves and not as a route into employment, as there is little in the area. This writer sees an oik, and I see my friend M, and we go for coffee. It is important to me to see the beauty in the place I live and the people I meet. Fortunately, that beauty is easy to find.

6 thoughts on “My community

    • Welcome, John. Not in the sense of community building and yet it is the Community in which I live, where I meet most of the people I meet, which provides my needs in the supermarket, the road maintenance and the recycling collection, where I get most of my human contact. I can go away for a weekend with other seekers, to any one of a number of enlightening trainings, and get a high, and get real, deep contact and new learning, but it is in this Community that I make my way at the moment. It is not a perfect community, but, yes, I would call it a community. The Children’s Centre and the police station help to make it so.

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  1. Community is such an abused word.

    Most definitions of community are inherently EXCLUSIVE – no matter what Scott Peck once said – even his practice of ‘community building’ excludes those who don’t share his notions. The only definition of community that makes sense to me is the one on Wikipedia:

    “in biology, a community is a group of interacting living organisms sharing a populated environment.”

    which makes us all communards of course.

    but

    if one places any value on the other uses of the word ‘community’ then it is because they imply a deeper sense of connection and shared purpose. A town does not become a community because it has a police station and bin men – they could be (and probably are) provided centrally and it wouldn’t change the town in any way.

    I have an ambivalent relationship with the value of various notions of community – but I do not like calling a series of connections that are mostly functional and economic (a town) a ‘community’ just because they happen to take place within an artificially drawn boundary.

    I think we play into the hands of politicians and consumersim when we water down this powerful word – it implies that the current lamentable fragmentation that pervades western culture is both normal and the best we can aim for. I applaud you for finding beauty in everyday life – a lesson I would do well to apply – but in doing so lets not call shit as gold.

    My hometown of Bicester has its charms and has some lovely people living there – and its also a sprit sapping shithole – full of chavs. and to call it a community would be an insult to my intelligence and my humanity.

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  2. I couldn’t agree more, and one has to ask who is the commentator’s audience? Perhaps he feels that the only way he can impress anyone is by being cynical…all too common. The only way is to witness for oneself, and make up for ourselves what we think – that goes for ideas, philosophy, anything really.

    It is really important to encourage the seeing of beauty, especially for those who live in “disadvantaged areas”. That said, if I had to choose between a bunch of welcoming neighbors or a new porshe, I know what I would choose. Ann xx

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  3. What is too common Ann is the tedious predictability of new age name calling and posturing. This is why i rarely bother with blogs etc anymore.

    Do you actually have ANYTHING to SAY about COMMUNITY. That was what the post was about.

    You accuse me of cynicism but waste no time dismissing my passion for community and my defence of the importance of the word. So who is the cynical one?

    Don’t bother replying – I have been back in internet land long enough to remember why I left.

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