12 Jul 2008

Street party gets press coverage

The local press has shown lots of interest on the recent street party in Bread Street - see write up previously on this blog here. The SNJ used that blog entry almost in it's entirety - I am almost a journalist? Well except I didn't get paid - and my writing still needs some work on - anyhow Stroud Life took a different approach and sought 350 words on street parties. I enclose those below.

Photos: Tree planting and below thw inning 'Sheep' entry to the Bread Making competition plus some other entries

Margaret Thatcher once declared "There's no such thing as society." We have certainly seen an on-going and continued assault on our local communities: post offices, pubs and village shops close and membership of community groups has declined. Some of us lead such busy lives that we don't really know our neighbours while others rarely see a soul from one week to the next.

But this is not the whole story. Many communities have tried to defend against these changes and the floods last year brought out the best in neighbourhoods who had to face flooding and a prolonged loss of services. There seems to be a silent yearning for something more: a reconnection with our communities.

Earlier this year a few residents in the street where I live, talked about not knowing other neighbours. This rapidly developed into an idea of a street party, not to celebrate anything, but rather just a chance to get to know each other. After some initial caution, the enthusiasm amongst residents for the idea was palpable.

Last week we had the party, and what a great day! The road was officially closed, bunting hung out, two local bands got us dancing after eating food prepared by virtually every one of the 34 houses in the road. We planted a tree on the green, judged the bread making competition, had a treasure trail, made chalk pavement drawings and more. Everyone from the oldest resident to Cas, born in one of the homes in the street 4 days previously, played their part in making it a success.

It was wonderful to see the street alive with children cycling and running about: some children, although living in the same street, were playing together for the first time. One child, eyes all lit up with glee, shouted to me: 'I'm cycling in the road!'

Street parties are not the answer to all the problems we face, but they certainly go a long way in bringing together communities. Apart from being fun they apparently can also help reduce crime and fear of crime, increase house prices and some have led to actions like tackling traffic speeds. Why not see if your neighbours are up for it?

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