Posted by: Mike Grenville | 10 April 2009

The Big Lunch

the big lunch
Imagine a summer’s day on which millions of us, throughout the UK, sit down to have lunch together, with our neighbours. In the middle of our streets, around our tower blocks and on every patch of common ground. An Eden Project inspiration, the idea is to get your neighbours out for a street party Sunday lunch together on 19th July.

The food, entertainment and decorations we will have either grown, cooked, or created ourselves. This will be a day to break bread with our neighbours, to put a smile on Britain’s face.

Communities were built around agriculture and worked to the rhythm of the agricultural calendar, or were formed around a particular industry that bound them together. People’s surnames were often born out of their role and skill in the community: Smith, Baker or even Thatcher!

For many of us there is now no narrative as to why we live where we do, except to earn a wage. Whilst there are a significant minority of communities that are closely-knit and act as a beacon for neighbourliness, many of Britain’s communities are, at best, anonymous.

Whilst 9.6 million UK residents regularly used social networking sites in 2008, according to research conducted by the BBC, 97% of UK communities have become more fragmented in the last 30 years. 1 in 6 of us may be extolling the virtues of Web 2.0 but most of us are experiencing the isolation of what one might term Community 1.0. To quote Professor Daniel Dorling “Even the weakest communities in 1971 were stronger than any community now.”

In April of last year, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation conducted a survey of 3,500 people. Their biggest single concern, across the social spectrum, was that communities are weak and people are increasingly isolated from their neighbours.

The website has lots of ideas and tips on how to run the event such as how to arrange for the street to be closed, what to do if it rains and what to sit on.

Find out more and add your Sunday lunch to the directory here:


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