Village Business

There seems to be a general view (media etc) that village life and community spirit in 2010 is dying, across the land. The assumption is that if your school closes and/or your village post office ceases to trade, or your village pub turns into a gastronomic enterprise, people stop talking to each other and hide under the bed, moaning about their lot.

If our village is anything to go by this is not actually the case. The closure of the school meant that residents now have more educational and relationship options in neighbouring villages. This can really only be a good thing. The pub issue meant that people started using other pubs more, which is good for their trade and broadens horizons. The old pub is now a thriving top class eatery: The White Hart, Fyfield, OXON (Michelin and AA rated). Perhaps I won’t mention the post office’s demise because that is still sorely missed, although regular visits to the next village’s excellently run establishment allows me to check out a different stock selection and drop into my friends for a coffee (when I have time).

We are a small village, yet within our community we have huge and varied expertise: high spec, second hand cars, carpentry, landscape gardening, floristry, vegetable growing, meat production, free range eggs, local history, charitable trusts, teaching, social work, construction, the Criminal Justice System, catering, events management, authors, stone masonry, marble cutting, life coaching, merchant banking, equine chiropractice, history of art, publishing, building regulations and planning………… the list is extensive and help is always at hand.

Clearly the reason for people’s success lies in their capacity to tap into the extended market and facilities outside the village, not least in cyberspace! So why does current wisdom paint a picture of mourning for the spirit of past times?

As I sit at my kitchen table I am conscious first of my nearest neighbours on all sides. One is hanging out her washing before she starts on her garden. Another has just gone to the shed to collect some tool or other. No I’m not looking out of the window, I’m drawing on past images in my mind’s eye. Another has just driven into the drive having dropped the kids off at school. Another has just walked by with her dog. I saw that out of my open kitchen window! The postman has just delivered the post through the same window with a cheery smile and a ‘hello Penny, lovely day’. Our dog Toby has just been returned (again) by another neighbour whom he has decided is part the family and we discussed what I’m going to have to do to fix the gate post, which is so wobbly it may as well not be there at all.  I am listing connections, mentally conjured up and real. I am choosing to represent my environment as being connected – to myself. It’s what I want to believe. I am surrounded by friends who are within a stones throw away, over the garden wall, and to whom I could chat, pretty much at any time, if I want or need to. It’s my choice.

I do not choose to see myself as isolated, although in fact I am alone at my kitchen table! I do not choose to construct our village as lacking because I have to travel further to get at community facilities. It’s great and we are connected. So the ‘death of communities’ phenomenon is simply an attitude of mind. Change that and we’ll get our communities back!

Oh, and by the way, a new business venture is being launched tonight in the village. I’m going along to enjoy it. It’s called Dots and Daisies: Stylish gifts and home furnishings. ML whose enterprise this is also offers to bring her wares to homes and businesses with 20% discount for hosts.

Check out the website at www.dotsanddaisies.co.uk

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