Monday, May 30, 2005

Community Politics – What’s happened to it?

I have to say I’m becoming increasingly despondent about my local community, when it comes to getting together in positive manner.
It’s true, whenever there’s an issue to get hot under the collar about – then people will get up off their butts to complain. Recently there’s been a lot of noise about the proposed recycling plant in the area, and the council’s attempt to introduce a one-size-fits-all system of rubbish collection in the form of wheelie bins. In these cases local folk seem happy to go to public meetings, hold a demo, burn down the Town Hall, whatever.
But when it comes to taking some positive action I find the response is generally very different. Last year there was a brief flurry of support for a scheme to purchase a local church that has become defunct, for the purpose of setting up a community centre for Fiveways. Sadly, an early set-back has led to stagnation and loss of enthusiasm from all but the very dedicated.
I speak from a position of some experience. I have been involved in a couple of ‘Friends’ groups supporting a local park and some local woodlands for several years now. It’s like getting blood out of a stone trying to drum up support for projects or events. The hard work is always in the hands of a dozen or so dedicated volunteers, while the public at large sit on their hands to keep them clean.
Sure people will turn out for an entertainment where they can just consume the fruits of other people’s labours. But get involved in organising something – most people’s reaction is – ‘Well, I’d love to but…’ I honestly wonder sometimes whether it’s worth bothering.
It’s not as if there’s nothing to put some effort into. As in many middle class, seemingly well-off areas, there’s precious little in the way of facilities for our youngsters to get involved in that hasn’t got a hidden (or not-so-hidden) agenda. There are many older folk living in isolation, afraid to go out at night because of the real or imaginary threat of being set upon by gangs of hooded young tearaways. [The press has much to be ashamed of in the way it delights in scaring people unnecessarily – and the government puts out equally negative messages.] Single and other isolated people are made to feel even more alone by the insistence that all local activities have to be family orientated.
There is so much that people could involve themselves in if they were motivated to do so. Or, rather, if they could be bothered. We could be providing a centre where young & old could get to know one another and spend their evenings and weekends in useful occupation, without telling one another how to live their life [which is what I suppose I’m doing now!].
I really can’t be bothered with ‘Direct Action’ over bins and such like – it all seems so petty & negative. But if there’s anyone out there with ideas for some positive action to provide something worthwhile for the Fiveways community, I’d like to hear from you so we can start getting it together.


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1:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have just discovered your site. Are you still still out there, the write ups are a few months old now!

Anyway, I am involved with the Fiveways Youth Project (a small organisation, sadly lacking in volunteer help)- Would be interested in having a chat about the "Community" and how to get them motivated. Have attended a couple of meetings at St Matthias Church this year where the local community police are encouraging the setting up of a "Local Action Team" - have you been along. The response has been sad!

Well, perhaps there is something someone can do.... be good to hear from you.

1:46 PM  

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