What makes a community?

Posted on: 31st January 2012

In a special workshop, Teen Spirit members talk ‘community’ – and how we can make ours better…

Chicken shop! Chicken shop, chicken shop! In the TRIBE workshop, the teens and volunteers are trying to outline all the things that make up a community – what people, places and organisations make up the place we live in? We’re all brainstorming – churches, hospitals, policemen, teachers, friends, the Doctor’s, celebrities, our local MP… And the chicken shop!

“We go there all the time. It’s where I meet my mates. I chat a lot to the guy behind the counter; he knows my order before I even tell him!” It’s clear then, that the chicken shop really is an important, valuable part of these communities. When all these ideas have been jotted down on coloured post-it notes, three posters are created – one apiece for People, Places and Organisations. From a slow start, they’re now packed with bright coloured scraps of all the bits and pieces that make the area we come from our community, our home.

Next, the teens are asked to join the people, places and organisations together with lengths of string to show how they are linked to each other. Teacher joined with school, family joined with church and so on… A nice moment came when one teen connected the organisation ‘Body & Soul’ up with a pink post-it that said ‘my best friend’ – showing how Body & Soul is creating its own unique community.

A conversation started up about the nature of the police – are they a positive or a negative effect on our community? Lots of interesting comments resulted in the group’s organisers promising to invite some local police to visit Body & Soul, to link directly with members of Teen Spirit, to share ideas and views, and perhaps help build some bridges. The talk soon turned to gangs – what can we do as individuals, or as a group, to help protect our communities from the harms that gangs can cause? Lots of ideas soon came forward about how we can counter fear and negativity by acting positively and being a good role model – by showing how things can be different.

What started as excited chatter about chicken shops has, in no time, turned into the real sharing of ideas and enthusiasm around the positive notion of ‘community’. It’s all part of TRIBE’s quest to create mini ‘tribes’ that contribute to social change in areas. By the end of this project, the Teen Spirit tribe will have created a multimedia ‘time capsule’, which celebrates the elements of their community that they’re proud of and investigates areas for possible change.

It’s all about building social awareness in young people, as well as giving them vital skills that could help with further education or employment.

Find out more at www.allthetribes.co.uk. And look out for an update on the B&S TRIBE’s time capsule – coming soon.

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