Over the last few months we have reflected on how it’s possible to shift culture in a range of different settings. This month we want to take a look at shifting culture in our own street.
Anything that can introduce the values of healthy relationship and authentic community will bring health and healing and help to restore our community to the state that was our loving God’s design.
I recall 2012 was a huge year for building community across our nation. We had the Olympics preceded by both the Queens’ Jubilee and the Big Lunch. In our community here in South Reading, the main road, Northumberland Avenue was closed off and, with St Agnes church as the pivot point, the road was filled with tables and chairs. 5000 people were part of that moment, it was something that the community did together – everyone helping with food and drinks, the local fire brigade came and helped put up the high bunting and took an amazing areal picture of the event. The party is a huge highlight in the community’s memory to this day.
Another friend of ours, Jenny Woods, lived for several years in the same house in Croydon, Surrey. Over that time she established a rhythm of annual street parties which led to other events that the residents put on to celebrate various life events as well as Christmas and other movements. In her time there, Jenny saw the neighbourhood transformed from a street of isolated households, to a street of neighbours who knew and cared for each other. She didn’t do it single handed, she invited a handful of neighbours who together with her planned and organised and gathered the rest of the street for each event. So not only each event but the process leading up to the event, helped to build healthy relationship and a sense of community in the street.
In her time there, Jenny saw the neighbourhood transformed from a street of isolated households, to a street of neighbours who knew and cared for each other.