Various culprits have been blamed for the extent of last week’s riots – violent video games, social media, lack of police powers, lack of parental control – but whilst the cause of the troubles remains a debatable issue, certain displays of hopeful positivity shone through.
Perhaps the most uplifting result of last week’s horrendous uproar came from one man and his Twitter account from our very own Worthing town.
Dan Thompson is a Worthing resident who, like a lot of us, watched the riots become increasingly volatile from the anxious calm of a riot-free town.
As Twitter quickly emerged to be a more involved and more up-to-date news source, the user known as @artistsmakers began to do something about the helplessness felt by a distant observer.
Dan began to ‘@’ business and community Twitter profiles to ask if volunteers would be helpful in the light of day following the riots, “trying to match volunteers with local shops”.
And as the offers of help grew to an overwhelming level, the optimism spread via word-of-mouth (or Tweet) as 140 characters became the only spark necessary to ignite a #riotcleanup revolution.
The hashtag #riotcleanup was soon trending higher than #londonriots, but the ever-modest Dan Thompson, writing recently on the artistsandmakers website of the riot cleanup, placed the ‘Blitz spirit’ across more ‘neutral channels’ than just Twitter.
“And actually, while hundreds of thousands of people gathered around a diverse set of Twitter accounts relating to the Riot Clean Up, that's not why people were on the streets. It helped, but so did word of mouth, and seeing your neighbour walk down the street with a broom, and so did hearing somebody on the radio, and so did watching people sweeping the streets on television.”
Our communities may have seen the worst self-destruction in thirty years, but the power of the locals, the people who are our community, has shone through more than ever before.
Now, the most important thing for us to do is support our local retailers – the people hit hardest by both the recession and their own destructive neighbours.
Make sure that you BUY LOCAL at independent retailers whenever you can; it doesn’t mean any more expense than with big name shops and you can help to ensure that our high streets remain the unique, diverse, and vibrant heart of our local communities.
(Photo of shopkeeper cleaning up by Meldon.Lobo)