Saturday 2 October 2010

Celebrating is a Way of Life

'It reminds me of Ecuador', I recently said in reply to a friend asking me about the Magdalen Street celebration. 'What, Magdalen street reminds you of Ecuador?!' 'No, no...not Magdalen street exactly, but what happens know, the idea of CELEBRATING in the street, reminds me of Ecuador', I replied.

My own sense of celebration is almost calibrated against my experience of traveling and living in Ecuador 32 years ago. As a young, somewhat naive, social activist, I expected to find in this most impoverished of countries, the palpable sense of doom,gloom, and despair everywhere around me.

Instead - amidst a materially very poor infrastructure and people - I found people celebrating. They appeared to me to be celebrating their everyday existence. True, they also celebrated in true Latin style, every conceivable historic event, feast, war, revolution, local artist, Mayor, ex-Mayor, that existed, with small street festivals amass with colour, music, art, and in particular - hats. Ecuadorians have a hat for every occasion - but I digress.

What impressed on me the most, was Ecuadorians inner sense of celebration. All the street fests, the neighbourhood parties, the small traders - they all seemed to reflect outwardly a real sense of inner celebration. I got the feeling that people had this because they lived for the day, because that was all there was to live for.

When I arrived back in Britain with it's sophisticated infrastructure, it's wealth, and it's individualism, it was my own culture's shallowness that hit me.

So here we are, in Norwich's creative quarter, celebrating one of it's most diverse areas.

And it is no accident that Transition Norwich is behind this, really engaging with the community that is Magdalen Street. Transition work after all - helping initiate practical local projects, and helping to build community - is actually building the infrastructure, or the beginnings of it, that we are likely to need to withstand future shocks. This is very much about encouraging celebration as a way of strengthening community. It is the element which is both so crucial, and also most tellingly missed out of many a community-building initiative.

An academic recently wrote:

Motivating sustainable consumption has to be as much about building supportive communities, promoting inclusive societies, providing meaningful work, asnd encouraging purposeful lives, as it is about awareness raising, fiscal policy, and persuasion . [ Jackson, T. 2005 - Motivating Sustainable Consumption. Centre for Environmental Strategy, University of Surrey].

O.K. so I allowed myself a bit of poetic licence there - he doesn't use the 'celebration' word, but then that's academia for you ( whoops).
Motivating - answering the question 'why DO people act', rather than why they DO NOT act - will very likely lead us to celebrating, supporting each other, connecting with each other.

So a big 'well done' to all those organisers, musicians and artists, street traders, historians, craftspeople, writers on this blog - who are making this a day to remember in Magdalen Street's long history.

1 comment:

  1. nice blog Chris
    celebration is so important, you cant have too much i reckon!