30 August 2010
A Sense Of Community
On Saturday morning, I went to Havenhands the Bakers in St James's Square in Boroughbridge*, then on to the Post Office before going to Ripon to watch the start of the Annual Raft Race in the Ripon Canal Basin. On that short journey, I met several people who I knew really well in both personal and business life, and a few others who I knew well enough to pass the time with.
It made me realise why I enjoy living in the country, in a rural space, rather than in a town or city. I love that sense of community that gently underpins life in our rural community-scape. We know the current Mayors of Pateley Bridge and Ripon quite well, which sounds grand but it's not especially so in our small community - this ain't London or New York. We know the family that runs Boroughbridge post office, many of the local postmen, the local courier drivers, a good proportion of the local policemen, the local vicars and Dean of Ripon and many of the local schoolteachers and so on and so on. You soon realise how many people you know who create the fabric of our local community. And we know many of the local business people well enough to have an idle natter with, and we do have those chats.
I like that, having been brought up in a rural Northumberland. City life never fitted comfortably, and the money never got close to compensating for a loss of that fabric that can bind people together. While some business gurus talk about the business environment giving that community spirit, it does not really work, as there is always a hint, an undercurrent, of tension and aggression; business does not forgive mistakes and transgressions, whereas real communities live with, forgive and forget, and perhaps are defined by their own sense of forgiveness and tolerance for day-to-day transgressions amongst their own.
I feel that the Internet can go some way to recreating that sense of community and rebuild a fabric for society and go some way to letting people have a sense of belonging to something, a community, and hopefully that is a civil and decent digital and online community. Maybe the Internet and its web can bring people together in a way that Governments really have failed to do, in spite of the billions in cash spent and huge amount of brain cells and legislation proposed on areas such as social inclusion and redevelopment. In the end, it is people and communities that matter not politicos with an agenda to grab power.
Recently, Ripon as a community celebrated its founder, St Wilfrid, with the exuberant St Wilfrid's Parade, full of joy and singing and not a small amount of indulgence. This weekend our real life community had fun with its Annual Raft Race held at Ripon Canal Basin, where teams competed on a course in a mobile swan and on home-made, but rather professional, rafts; then on Sunday, it was the turn of the duck race held by The Water Rat at Alma Weir in Ripon. What is great is the huge amount of fun and joy that people have when taking part in these community events - just look at the smiles on peoples faces and in their eyes.
That's community, that's North Yorkshire.
Photos from St Wilfrid's Parade 2010 (more at Facebook):
Photos from Great Raft Race 2010 (more photos on Facebook):
Photos from Great Duck Race 2010 (more photos on Facebook):
* I bought croissants, jam doughnuts, cinnamon Danish and a loaf of bread which Havenhands bake every day on site and the bakers still live above their bakery. How about that - I bet you thought small village bakeries like that had died away and the only ones were the new wave of hip, ultra healthy microbakeries.