You’ve probably heard about The Big Lunch – the latest idea by Tim Smits – the creative force behind the Eden Project. The idea is to encourage people who live near each other to hold a street party so that they get to know each other. All over the country on 19th July, some 7000 parties are going to be held.
We had ours a day early, on 18th, (today) due to the fact that one of the prime movers was keen to do it but travelling on the 19th.
And it was terrific, a tremendous enthusiasm from people to meet, get involved, provide something. We did some fund raising for a local charity and have raised around £1,000, most of it from a pledges auction with people freely offering some of their time or skills which were then auctioned, proceeds going to the charity. We bought four hours babysitting, and I donated an hour’s career counselling. The symbol of the charity we’re supporting is a butterfly and loads of people decorated their windows and houses with butterfly pictures.
We got the road closed for the day and all the cars were driven away – and the street was WIDE and full of children playing without their parents watching every move. And people ate too much and drank sensibly. And the sun, by and large, shone, and the rain stayed away. And the local builder who has an antique fire engine in his yard brought it along for kids to ring the bell. And a big bubble machine frothed in irridescent profligacy.
And I met lots of my neighbours. Many of whom I don’t think I’ve actually even seen before. I didn’t hear many deep conversations, but I saw smiles and smalltalk, greetings and grins.
And we all helped each other to clear away at the end of the day, the first cars started to seep back into the street, … and the last bubble eventually burst.
Then. Later this evening, I was walking up the quiet street, and I saw a former stranger, someone from earlier, on the other side. And we waved and smiled.