I recently had the pleasure of meeting Kate Davies, CEO of Notting Hill Housing Trust. Kate is a very interesting person. On her travels she has observed that in some countries, particularly Japan and China, there seems to be a greater sense of community connectedness than in Western cultures. Very simply the Japanese and Chinese people seem to appreciate that their behaviour has an affect on others. As a result they appear more considerate of others, at a local level and beyond.
The internet has allowed geographically disparate communities to flourish, I enjoy this ability to connect worldwide enormously. However I sense that local community connectedness is withering. Where I live now, it’s a quiet place with little traffic and so conversations with neighbours are pretty easy. They still don’t happen very often. As for action, well that’s rarer still. There is a neighbour close by who runs an afternoon tea once a year as a get together and fund raiser. Sometimes a few of us pass surplus fruit or veg across the fence, maybe even run the odd shopping errand. But that’s about it, and even that is probably more than what goes on amongst neighbours generally.
So I wonder if maybe the reason why we repeat these mistakes is something to do with the fact that we don’t seem to care about each other, as a community. If I don’t care about someone else then I’m probably not concerned about the impact my action has on that other person, or persons.
I’m interested in a project called The Big Lunch. It’s about getting to know the people who live around you, understand each other better, and do stuff for each other. Make connections, nurture relationships, think beyond the next pay packet. This is how a community in South London made it work last year. Encourage people to take a look and maybe use this idea as a way of reconnecting. You never know, if there’s a manager in your neighbourhood, reaching out might help him or her to learn that there are simple and easier ways to learn how to stop doing dumb things to customers?
This year The Big Lunch is on Saturday July 18th, why not put the date in your diary and get involved?