There's snow business like local business
7th January 2010
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I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.”

-         George Bernard Shaw

If this week’s Siberian blizzard has reminded us of anything, it may be that there is still an appetite, and indeed an essential need, for neighbourhood closeness.

Amid the sensationalised drama of ‘The Big Freeze’ being meted out by the national news media have arisen local stories of heroism and self-sacrifice: home care nurses trudging for miles across ice and snow to reach their housebound patients, supermen with shovels in every neighbourhood, volunteers providing blankets and warm sustenance to stranded motorists who have reached the point of no return in their area, firefighters housing chilly reindeers in their fire stations overnight.

At the end of our street is a fine local shop where people congregated this morning to stock up on cold weather essentials amid discussions about weather reports and vulnerable people in the district whose needs were being made a high priority. It was just like the old days. The weather no doubt created a temporary equalising effect in which at the city outskirts nothing could be heard but the office hum of empty multinationals, whilst demand increased for businesses in the central streets.

Despite the difficulties it has created, these adverse conditions remind us that perhaps in time we can say farewell to the modern condition of alienation, centralisation and dependence on anything but the collective community project. There is a way back. In fact, a return to neighbourhood thinking could very well be the next big idea.

Wishing you a happy 2010.

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