I have just had the privilege of spending my weekend helping the initial stages of development on a community plan for the local Atmos Project. The old dairy site in Totnes has been empty and derelict for many years, but is part of an exciting new development, where the plan is to bring the 8 hectare brownfield site into community ownership and to submit a Community Right to Build. This would mean that the community itself determines the development of the site.
The last few months the project has been open to the public and around 1200 people have been in to contribute their memories of the past, thoughts on the present and ideas for the future. At random about 20 people were picked to help look look through all the information gathered from the community and to start to put it all together to develop a community plan for the site and I was one of those people.
The idea of community is one that is coming back into focus. I feel this is essential if we are to move away from the damaging idea of constant growth and if we are to re-build the connections that have become lost with the current quest for individual fulfilment, economic success and mobility. As with all things, it's not a case of one is right and one is wrong, my belief is one of balance.
We are so fortunate here to have so many community ideas on our doorstep. On Friday I went to a Community Potluck Dinner. I have shares in a Community Pub, I have spoken to so many people getting involved in community growing, Co-operatives and Social Enterprises. Within the Atmos Project, so many of the ideas that came out of the consultation were for community inclusion, young and old alike. Growing, cooking, sharing, learning, housing, workshops, creating space to pass on skills from parenting to blacksmithing, being part of sharing space, the arts, activities, culture, history. It is all so exciting.
And here at Hestia we are about to enter into our third year! We continue to provide high quality care for those in the community and I am as determined as ever to move the shift away from profits and money to care and love. My thoughts turn to the future and the weekend has strengthened my resolve to develop a space that is truly holistic and caring, that will provide extra services and support and open up the community to older people. It is time to re-think the whole system.
Claire Burton has worked with older people for many years. Her background is in Occupational Therapy. She has now set up a Holistic Home Care Community Interest Company, to deliver care to older people in and around Totnes in Devon.