on building a community

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.


11 thoughts on “on building a community

  1. There was a piece in one of the papers about Cliftonville’s fans showing their support for the gay community in Northern Ireland recently. I think it was the Independent or Guardian – somethng to do with your wonderful political leaders blocking a gay marriage law?

    1. Our ‘leaders’ are often a disgrace- it will be interesting to see if this election will shake the status quo any, even though it’s not for Assembly membership.

      Needless to say, those who regard themselves as most ‘British’ have no intention of allowing nasty GB policy to sneak in here…

      I think they decided not to place The Thick of It here because nobody else would believe the farcical- yet often dangerous- nature of our politics

  2. Thanks for this Speccy – especially the link to Future Learn – another great idea I hope it takes off. How do you manage to find so much good stuff? I am so glad you pass it on.

    1. Elspeth, I spend too much time on Twitter! That Future Learn course is being run by an old friend. I’ve started 2 this week, so I’ll come back to identity another time. It’s a fascinating topic.

  3. I think there’s a ton of real community around the world, but our news chooses to focus on the factions, the dissent, the crazy. (But maybe that’s just America.) I’m glad to know someone who’s working the other way, Fiona.

    1. It’s not just America, Andra!! That Health Minister was very happy that the motion to allow same sex marriage was defeated this week, and when questioned by someone on Twitter, made reference to ‘your lot’ needing to accept democracy. Happy to promote division rather than build shared society.
      I’m still in a rage about ‘your lot’.

  4. This little video was a true joy to watch! I am so deeply impressed. You roll up your sleeves and put it all out there, and you are an amazing advocate. Well done to you and your friends, Fiona!

    1. Thank you Debra; I think it’s edited well to give a true flavour of the day- serious issues, but a lot of fun and mutual support 🙂

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