I try to be a fairly community spirited person, but it has to be said that a lot of the time other commitments can get in the way. The Enfield neighbourhood where I’ve been with my wife and kids for the last couple of years seems to have a real sense of a growing community spirit, people making an effort, and I like it. As soon as we moved in, in February 2011, we had a note through the letterbox from a neighbour looking for support in organising a ‘street play’ day for the kids in the street, which involved closing the street for traffic for a summer Saturday afternoon. The same group of us organised a street party for the Queen’s Jubilee last year.
I’ve also been involved in the organisation of the community festival in the park which took place last year, attracting about 5000 visitors. The festival is going ahead again this year on September 1. In addition, this year will see the second Open Studios event for local artists and craftspeople, and an enterprising group of business women have set up a business networking group for the borough called Love Your Doorstep. In addition, another omnipresent business woman has made the BBC news with her Shock Cash Mobs, a spontaneous gathering of local people to descend on a local independent shop and spend a tenner each.
The latest community project to catch my attention is Talkies. Partly on the back of a small grant generated by the aforementioned community festival, local resident David Williamson and a small band of volunteers and helpers has established a pop-up cinema. It has it’s third event last night, enticing over 80 people into a pub to watch ‘Strictly Ballroom’ on a big screen. Not only was the film excellent, it was preceded by a salsa demonstration which, after the film had finished, became an impromptu salsa class. Talkies will be holding a fourth event in February with talk of a Junior Cinema Club evolving in the summer if the project can maintain and gather momentum.
The evidence on show in this part of Enfield and the borough more widely, suggests that despite the gloom (or maybe because of it) people still crave contact with each other and social interaction. The feeling is a growing familiarity with the communities here – the residents, the artisans, the businesses. There’s a sense of helping and supporting one another which may sound twee but is palpable. It’s really quite optimistic, and I only hope it’s maintained.