Friday, 6 June 2014

No man is an island

I live in Blunham village in Bedfordshire, the village has some lovely thatched cottages, a winding high street, a hill in the middle and a very impressive church. John Donne was once the rector of the church here in Blunham, as in John Donne, the legendary poet. It's the biggest claim to fame the village has, together with the once held record for longest cricket match although hopefully they will win that back at some point.

As you might know, John Donne is responsible for the well known phrase "No man is an island". I've always been vaguely away of this phrase, particularly so after seeing "About A Boy" many moon ago with Hugh Grant banging on about it for the much of the film. 

Yesterday this phrase completely occupied my thoughts for two reasons. By the way, it comes from the Meditation XVII, the 17th Devotion from the Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions written by Donne and published in 1624. You can read it in full here.

Donne was quite right, no man is  an island - we are all dependent on each other and rely on each other. For the last few weeks a lot of local residents here in Blunham have been shocked and upset by plans put forward by a housing group who want to buy the glebe land near to the church and build houses on in. I won't go into the details because I will be here all day, but I do feel very strongly that this shouldn't happen and they should leave the land as it is; rural, beautiful and untouched. An interesting side effect of this really rubbish idea is that there has been a great sense of community. People from all over the village i.e. not just those who are directly affected have come out to support our opposition. One person alone could not stop this, but as a group we are stronger and rely on each other for different skills. I feel very lucky to be living in a community where people care so deeply about preserving the rural qualities of life here. We chose to live here because it's rural and quiet and quaint and it's reassuring to know others feel the same way.

The second reason I've been thinking about this phrase particularly, is that last night I took part in the PechaKucha event in Bedford, organised by Creative Bedfordshire. PechaKucha nights, in case you're not familiar with them, are gatherings where creative people get together and share ideas in a specific format 20x20. You have to show 20 slides and you get 20 seconds to talk about each one. Needless to say I was absolutely petrified but I did it anyway. The group of speakers, all local to Bedfordshire, were amazing and so inspiring in lots of different ways. I came away feeling quite recharged. Without each other's support, many creative businesses would wither and die. We rely on each other for inspiration, encouragement, support and know-how and events like this really promote that sense of creative community. Thank you so much to Creative Bedfordshire for asking me to take part.