Thursday, December 24, 2009

Lighting fires with Santa Claus

For many years now (10 or so) I've been going out rattling tins with Santa and St Neots Roundtable for 5-7 nights each December.
This year was my last, officially, thanks to increasing commitments elsewhere.
Although a chore in terms of finding the time required, it's always fun to see the kids' reactions (and we do raise a chunk of change for good causes).

What I really liked about the run we did in the snow on Sunday (and no, that isn't me in the picture), was how in some communities, the arrival of Santa and his sleigh became the content.

He brought people out of their houses, where they came together to interact - to be together.

No Santa, no conversation. No conversation, no community.

Reminded me of a chapter Alan Moore is writing for his new book No Straight Lines (which I have had a preview of) in which Alan recalls the impact of the Queen's Silver Jubilee (in 1977) in creating a surge in community.

It was self-organised street parties that brought people together to speak. But it was the Queen's Silver Jubilee that excited people enough to self-organise.
Alan bemoans how, after a while, the sense of community the day created just faded away.

A big idea across the nation all in one go. Or a small one, travelling through communities street by street. They bring people together.

And when people come together they act.

All groups are ultimately adhoc, self-organising around what matters to its members right now. The real-time web is revealing this more clearly by the day.

Sometimes what matters to the group comes from outside. Like Santa. Like The Queen's Silver Jubilee. But the brightest, warmest glow comes not from the spark - but from the fire it ignites.


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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?