How are communities held together?
Earlier this week I met Anne and Gill. They are Church of England vicars. We talked about the way their local community had fewer opportunities to share real experiences with other people. I agreed with them.
Local shops in small towns are closing – so those interactions have largely ceased. There used to be many a chat at the grocer’s or the butcher’s. Supermarkets have more or less finished them off.
There was a time when most of the population watched the same TV programmes. Conversations were easy to start through a mention of Morecambe and Wise, Coronation Street or Top of the Pops. Satellite TV, the internet and catch up TV mean that rarely does the nation – or even a small community – watch the same thing.
Pubs are closing all around us. The idea of the “Local” is now history. Whilst bans on smoking and “drink driving” are to be welcomed there is a strong argument that the numbers visiting pubs have been reduced by changes to the law. The availability of wine and beer in supermarkets and the access to in home entertainment has further reduced visits to pubs. This means most will close. Another chance for communities to interact disappears.
There is an argument that the internet has allowed greater interaction between human beings and whilst on one level this is true there is a lot of evidence to suggest that much of it is false and some of it is dangerous.
So what’s left to pull people together. My friends from the clergy and I agreed that the churches and schools were crucial in pulling people together. High profile buildings in the centre of towns, villages and estates should be put to better use to unite groups of people. We decided that schools and churches should work more closely. From now one we intend to.