Bit by bit, we will re-build things with colour, hope & togetherness.

This is one for the lesson & memory books.

Yesterday we were crawling on missed bits of glass shards and gravel as we painted heavy-weight stainless steel playground equipment that’s nearly double my age. Instead of whining, we heard laughter. Instead of complaining, we heard stories and ideas and hopes.

Residents, of all ages, came out on both days – offering their time and commitment to making things better. Last week we got rid of multiple bags of trash, loads of soil that had accumulated for years off shoes around the play equipment, and broken glass and plastic. We scraped off flakey layers of years of paint off the equipment – ready for when the weather was right to paint.

It took us 3 hours in the freezing wind to get the park ready, and over 6 hours to paint it in more wind and sun. As a team. At one point, over much needed sandwiches in our 15 min lunch break, we got deeper into issues of mental health and the access issues and needs locally. All were discussed over mechanical paint and coca colas.

We often hear “community isn’t the same anymore“, “Community is dead“, “People aren’t interested” etc, etc. That is a story of separation that gets told to us. It gets whispered from ear to ear. Said like it’s fact. But it’s not true.

Every day, both as a resident – & as a councillor, I see that our community is very much ALIVE. People, everywhere, all at once, are caring for each other.

That care and community are in people helping to paint playgrounds, it’s in people turning up every day to make sure that our amazing library is OPEN, it’s in the coaching of junior sports clubs, figuring out how to open a youth club, growing a community garden, doing litter picks….

…It’s in the people working non-stop to help build new assets like a community sports pavilion and run foodbanks. It’s in the groups, the chats, the neighbours checking in on one and another, the dog walkers saying hello. It’s everywhere. And community is ALIVE.

Every day I am privileged to witness people being good to each other and believing in a better tomorrow. That is no small feat, especially after years, and years of national government massive cuts and endless negative (often untrue) media that seeps through everything, working hard to pit us against one and another.

It takes hard work and commitment to people, care, love, planet, and community to fight against the general status quo of every day.

Whilst I see this stuff as a truly revolutionary act; the act of growing and blooming despite the conditions being in the cracks of concrete rather than a garden bed. This isn’t some toxic positive nonsense, because smiling our way through real injustices and hardships won’t change the system. But underneath this, the true fertilizer of life – even in hardship – is compassion, kindness, courage and hope. This stuff scales better than competitiveness, frustration, pettiness, regret, revenge, merit (whatever that means), or apathy. Kindness ratchets up. It leads to more kindness.

Making things harder for ourselves is the easy thing to do. Being a jerk to yourself or someone else? Easy peezy. Being unsupportive and negative? Lemon squeezy. We don’t get better when we’re tearing ourselves, or our communities, or other things down, or refusing help because we tell ourselves that we don’t deserve it.

Do you want to know what is hard to do?

Building yourself back up after you fall apart/being sick/etc. Giving yourself a proper break. After everything has been cut.

Believing in yourself.

Holding onto hope during a rough day/week/month/year/decade. That’s badass behaviour. Accepting help. Trusting yourself enough to take a break. To take a leap of faith in yourself and your community? That takes confidence and courage.

Being kind to yourself and others. That takes real strength. And all those things actually lead to you getting better. Better in your work, better in your ideas, in your body & self, a better community. Because it’s infectious!

Everyday I am being schooled by my incredible residents. They show me this, give me a lesson reminder: I am inspired and moved by my communities commitment to believing in us, turning up even when the odds are stacked against us, and making things happen/better for everyone!

The work is sometimes incredibly hard – but what I know about Adwick, Carcroft, Highfields, Skellow & Woodlands is that we are all hard workers! And our legacy is planting seeds in a garden that lasts for MANY years to come.

What I need to keep refusing to forget is that every great and difficult thing has required a strong sense of optimism. Don’t lose it, even when things are extra grim and tough.

Thank you again, so much, to these amazing people!

Charleen Hopper, Kelly Walker, Caz Smith, Richard Bailey, Lauren Beaumont, nicola culkin, my partner in crime: cllr Debbie Hutchinson and the blue smurf (hehe) & anyone else I have missed who helped us get the park ready to paint, and then spent all day painting with us.

To the next challenge. Bit by bit, we will re-make things colourful, hopeful and bright!


Published by smizz

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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