As Community Builders we have to go to the people, earn their trust, discover their hidden passions, gifts, interests and ambitions for where they live, but then what? How do we help to allow people to utilise these gifts and share them with neighbours? That’s when we begin making space.
Space is where people come together, where people meet and share their gifts. Space can be anything and anywhere. Space can be an internet Chat room, it can be a social networking site, it can be the pub, a café, a piece of green space or walk around the park. For Example if numerous neighbours have mentioned that a certain area in the neighbourhood is under used or derelict I would create a space in that spot. I’d Invite all the neighbours down to join me, tell them when we got there that they all said that they would like to do something with the space and encourage them to share ideas, I’d refer to the Assets they’d already mapped and offer examples of how these could be utilised, I’d ask if there is anyone else they would like to get involved or would like to get involved and encourage them to seek these people out.
2 recent examples of creating space highlight how diverse “Space” is as a concept. First I had met a local resident who wished to see a Zumba Class in the area, I was aware of a few classes but none that are actually in Lostock, I did however know a lady who is somewhat of an encyclopaedia regarding Zumba and knows everything you could about it and which local classes would suit an individual. Both of the ladies have busy schedules so after talking with them found it would be difficult for them to meet up, they are however both on Facebook so after asking them if it was Ok to pass on details I put them in touch and created a “Virtual Space” for them to share knowledge and interests.
Second we have the Allotment Group, a bunch of like-minded residents of all ages but who had never been brought together as a group. At an event we got to see a disused Allotment space in the area and everyone who viewed it became excited about its possibilities, My Colleague Gary has written a blog about Communities Growing Food...
With the Lostock group I built on their initial enthusiasm and invited them to come for coffee and discuss what could be done, the conversation flowed and plans were hatched but an interesting by product of the meeting was a local history lesson given by some of the older members of the group to its youngest member who is 13. The group discussed building and local points of interest long lost by development and building works, ideas about forming a local history group came out and further names added to the ever growing list of people with shared interests and knowledge.
I’m starting to believe that there are 2 key foundations to successful Community Building. First, and most obviously, we must find the Assets but after that the key is to create spaces for neighbours to come together to share the Assets and have the important conversations and the fun part is where we create the space, how we use initiative, creativity and innovation to create a space where as many people as possible can join in and share.
James Hampson - Lostock Community Builder
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