Community and Spaces

After this weekend, where my community – often a bit hard to bring together and engage – came out 350++ people in full force. Absolutely blown away. I was SO nervous, I barely slept the night before that I’d got all these people together, and barely anyone would turn up. But they did. And BUCKET FULLS OF IDEAS and energy!



I’ve been thinking a lot about community (what does it mean?) and how important spaces are to growing and sustaining communities, and practices/energy.

The importance of space in growing communities is that it reflects the World. Whatever World that is.

Making art, living life, getting old, raising kids, working is all really hard. It can be hard because it’s really important that whatever we do, whatever we make, it has to speak to and from, and about the World. — The World is endless. It’s messy and complex, and irrational and big, but communities need spaces to allow the freedom to come together, to think, feel, speak, be safe and to be seen – or not seen.

There’s something about *space* (a hub, a community centre, a studio, a classroom, a cafe, etc) that gives you some freedom to do some of that.  Space gives you space to think, fail, feel, and grow, and play, and ultimately help to see the World. That’s why saving the Welfare Hall is *SO* important to us in Woodlands. We’re missing a space like this, and it really shows. There is a grief for the loss of it and nothing falling in its place. And yet part of the loss is the potential it taunts to people having sat there for 10+ years under used.

It’s not just its high ceilings and massive windows with its centre location within a whole residential block of space and green land that makes it special. (Though that has its charm). But how the space has functioned within various communities and institutions in the past, and how it’s the glue that holds us all together many communities.

This building, nearly 100 years old, has had many lives. From glorious ballroom dancing, to the centre of care for miners on Strike, to carboots & dog shows – adored by many, to signing on “the dole” to slimmers world. It’s been and done everything, almost.

Bruce Mau generated an Incomplete Manifesto For Growth and I think about it often in relation to why having space is important to communities.

Allow events to change you. You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.

http://www.manifestoproject.it/bruce-mau/

Every day is an adventure in here. A time for growth. And I got to see an afternoon of this play and growth this saturday.

We don’t hide our mistakes (or at least, not all of them). Instead, we try and go deeper and learn from them, or find them even more interesting than our original ideas. Our discussions this saturday were full of resistance, freedom, and criticality: where we talked about how we as communities in Adwick & Carcroft can tactically claim a World.

Marketing aims to make people feel empowered. But Community gives people literal power.

You can’t bring a dead tree back to life. If you want to revitalize a community, you have to plant new seeds. As someone said in a meeting last week, if we don’t try new things – then you’ll keep getting the same outcomes/answers. But we always forget, in trying to skimp on things is that you need space to grow, too.

A community is often a group of people who share the same story. Community isn’t your community team’s job. —- It’s everyone’s job.

Community is never a quick win.

Humans need a variety of community:

  • Small and large
  • Intimate and passive
  • Financial and social
  • Online and offline
  • Adventurous and grounding
  • Synchronous and asynchronous
  • Anonymous and transparent

community is when…

– They notice when you’re gone.

– You want to come back.

– They accept you.

– You see them in you.

– They make your problems into their problems.

– You have an urge to give back.

– They need you.

– You feel home.

Small communities (ie. friend groups) can sustain on just social capital. But as communities get larger, so does the amount of time and effort required to sustain. And social capital doesn’t pay bills. At a certain size, communities become economies whether we like it or not.

The point one shouldn’t miss, after this sprawling thoughts, is that in order to try and unravel the experience of the World in any and all of its aspects—and seeing the World in the light of particular aspects, we need a (relatively neutral) space to bring it into, reflect on it, recurate, recalibrate, be inspired, be seen and do all of this in. It’s not just simply crafts groups or knit and natter, it goes much much deeper than that.

A few years ago when I fell chronically ill, I had an intense reflective period of my life and what it meant to be alive – to be in the World. I looked for patterns and turning points to wonder and see if any of it is significant.  But the thing that I kept coming back to was about leaving a (my) mark on the World. This plagued me. It still does. But this past years, I have learned that my community is part of the answer to this.

Many forget that it’s a rare privilege to find something you care about so deeply and be able to make it part of your life. Getting to do what I do is an even rarer privilege. Getting to do something you love, and also then having a space to make, think, and play, and wander and wonder and hope, and to be part of something like a community is even more incredible and invaluable.

I want the Welfare Hall to be a space that gives us all a home to our constant context: the low hum that powers each day – which is the people who give our lives texture and joy and depth. The space gives will finally give us all a place, a home, and to see and connect to the gift of just being a part of a World.

Published by smizz

I've had this blog since I was 17. I use it process thinking & work. It's changed with how my life has changed. Artist → Re-evaluating life→ Rad Oncology graduate + public health worker→ @lab4living PhD-er → Want 2 make a positive difference → Rule-Breaker → LIVE DRAWZ! → councillor! → Loves cities → rides fixie → adventures → wanna be ramen master → <3 Tokyo + NYC

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