The future is already here, it's just...

The hopeful magic of community action

Tomorrow is the day of the community picnic. It is, on the face of it, relatively straightforward: we’ve chosen a day, put up some (beautiful) posters, and said to people: “come! bring food to share with your neighbours”.

It will be held in our local park, and is nominally organised by the “friends” of the park, of which I am nominally the secretary. We’ve got some money from the local council to print posters and pay for a facepainter (and public liability insurance). A local mum has surpassed herself making some really lovely posters, which are now adorning trees in the neighbourhood:

But in many ways this is not straightforward at all. It is an attempt to cast ourselves forward into the future we want to see, into a future where sharing food with neighbours is commonplace, and doesn’t need posters. It is an attempt to start to re-weave the social fabric of a place that often feels neglected.

It’s an attempt to will a “friends” group into being – as in reality there are only two of us, doing monthly litter picks, sometimes with others. It’s an attempt to overcome the fact that a troubled, passionate, angry local man has decided we are getting in the way of his attempts to improve the park, and who has been abusive to both of us, repeatedly.

It is an attempt to cast a spell.

A spell that says

we can come together

we can re-find neighbourliness

there is a “we”

there is an “us”

we can build interdependence here

we can re-learn how to live, here

we belong here, all of us