It’s coming up to election time (local councils and European Parliament). Politicians are doing their things- some doing the same old same old, some aiming to look radically different. There’s a whole lot to be said about how Northern Ireland and other jurisdictions uses ‘identity’ and ‘culture’ and ‘community’; our mate @domsball says it well- Future Learn course Identity, conflict and public space: contest and transformation. He can be quite sensible when he puts his mind to it.
It’s interesting to consider aspects of my own identity. When do I feel part of a ‘community’? ‘Community’ is a warm, fuzzy, inclusive word- does it always feel like that? ‘Community’ can be political, exclusive, sectarian. We all know about personality differences, contrasting ways of working, conflicting expectations that challenge even the most well meaning of associations.
So what do we do, on a small scale, to support others, to build a community of interest rather than disparate, competitive wee groups? Strategic thinking, hard work, determination, conviction, lack of interest in own status, cunning plans, relentless positivity, networking, experience, listening, finding solutions. Knowing each other’s interests, strengths and concerns. Valuing all the voices. Daring to work differently.
Three years ago, a group of people gathered together to consider whether there was any value in working together. Did we have any issues in common? Could we have a greater impact working together on those? We had; we thought we could. We did research; we made connections. We formed a company, we obtained charity status. We kept listening and talking and reaching out.
Watch our community in action- from the Rare Disease Day event in February (warning- includes the NI Health Minister). Watch Ditzy and Auntie Sadie and I’m only slightly and Chairperson and Michaela and PSP families and S- just some of the rare disease community I’m fortunate to have around me.
The whole event is available on youtube- you didn’t have to be there.
It was a sunny day, and despite all the hard work and angst, I was playing with my friends.