Letter: Sense of community

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The Independent Online
Sir: Andrew Marr's article about the meaning of 'community' is packed with pejorative adjectives, but he misses the point by a mile. Working together to preserve and enhance the amenities of one's immediate neighbourhood cannot be patronisingly dismissed as 'cosy, nostalgic and vaguely moral'. It's all self-interest, really, bang up to date.

Surprising as it may seem to Mr Marr, voluntary work in the community is flourishing here and there as an activity whereby children can teach their parents a thing or two, the commuting classes can make new friends in the place where they live, and the prematurely retired can find a new commitment to replace a little of what they have lost.

Helping to run a jumble sale in aid of a new ward for the elderly mentally ill (and arranging for unsold items to be trucked off to Bosnia) is a far less depressing and more self-fulfilling way of spending one's leisure than staying at home and listening to the news from Sarajevo.

If these are the kind of 'lifestyle changes' we have to make in return for rediscovering a sense of community, quite a lot of people are all for them. They know it's going to work a lot more quickly than blaming the politicians for everything, or 'rethinking, at some deep level, the pay-off between individualism and community'.

Cheer up, Andrew]

Yours faithfully,

COLIN STAMP

Chairman

Barnes Community Association

London, SW13

9 February

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