Tessy Britton is an inspiration and so is Maurice Specht. Tessy got to me to write a chapter on social media surgeries for Hand Made – her book on new community culture and militant optimists. Maurice ‘dragged’ me over to Holland to talk about the work we do to government, housing associations and community groups.
From that has emerged the “Community Lover’s Guide To The Universe” and we’re editing the Birmingham edition. Sort of like the Grassroots Channel but with better pictures (and a book). Let Tessy explain:
A few weeks ago Maurice Specht turned to me on the way to Schiphol airport and said ‘So when are we going to bring out a Hand Made for Rotterdam?’.
What a brilliant suggestion!
Since then the idea has really taken off with 12 community enthusiasts already volunteering to edit special local editions – collectively now called the Community Lover’s Guide To The Universe. Since we brought out Hand Made last August the number of people-led projects has continued to grow and we wanted to explore both the common themes, but also the unique cultural ideas and interpretations from all parts of the world.
We also wanted to start to show how places that are buzzing with community activity and projects are amazing places to live, increasingly more amazing than places with cool architecture or luxury shops. Community brings places alive, gives us new and interesting ways to contribute and connect … and there are signs already that people are finding places that have this creativity and excitement going on highly desirable.
Community can’t be mass produced and it can’t be ‘delivered’. But in rising numbers there are a lot of very excitable people just getting on and making and shaping their local communities for themselves. This series of books will create the opportunity for them to tell their stories, which in turn we hope will encourage other people to put aside any hesitations they might have and get more involved in their neighbourhoods.
So I’ll be doing one of my favourite things - chuntering my way through the wonders of Birmingham, asking for 800 words or so and loveley pics. No one’s getting paid for this, but I hope you’ll join in.
Who should I talk to – where is the new community culture in this city and who are the militants optimists?