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What do strong communities look like? by Alex Augustin

July 30th, 2021

London Festival of Ideas launched 28 June – 23 July with intentions to explore the many different individual and collective plans for strong communities in London, and help the city become more equal, connected and inclusive.

With activities ranging from spoken word, dance, cooking, films and parties – people across the capital came together to envision a better collective future. The festival was the result of a partnership between Consortium, City Bridge Trust, Greater London Authority, King's College London, Locality, London Boroughs Faiths Network, London Councils, London Funders, London Plus, Toynbee Hall and The Ubele Initiative.

Groups all over London took part, and Ubele joined in with a Garden Party in Brixton on Friday 23 July. Lloyd Leon Community Centre is a community asset that allowed us to safely gather for the first time in many, many months, for a day of steel pans, mural painting, rum punch, sunshine, songs and parachute games. The feeling of community was palpable, and helped to stimulate enthusiastic, productive discussion around what makes strong communities. Below are some of the conversations we had.

What does community mean to you?

“Community means where there are people in a space who at least acknowledge each other and can consider people. If anything they have individually is problem, is a concern, is a worry, that person can go and check that person and say ‘look, a little something’s come up, I wondered if you could help me.” – Tony, 81 Acts of Exuberant Defiance


“For me, community is a safe space with the people that I love, where I can share everything that I feel, and they can share with me, and we can help each other and support each other.” – Marilena, BUD


“In order to develop communities, I think it’s really important that there’s no judgement. There’s a non-judgemental space, a safe space where everyone can flourish.” – Martha, The Ubele Initiative


“Community is Ubuntu. It always takes a village. We need each other, we need our communities, we need our people. We need to make sure that we’ve got each-others’ backs. We need to take time to care for one another, but also then care for our planet. I think communities are places and spaces where we can be one with nature and one with each other, and therefore ourselves.” – Nicole, The Ubele Initiative


“Community is everything, it’s the foundation. It’s the source of what brings something alive. You can’t do anything without community. It allows each person to recognise how valuable they are together. It’s all about people coming together and not being isolated, there’s always magic that happens when people come together. That’s is really what community is, it’s coming together with things that are really interesting. Some of those things that you’ve never learnt before from each other – it just builds such a strength and a unity that can come from nothing. When you come together it’s amazing.” – Georgina, BUD


“Sharing with each other and caring, coming together in a space and understanding other people in that space. Understanding difference and making use of the resources together, so that we can all thrive, grow and survive in the best way possible.” – Alex, The Ubele Initiative

How do we build strong communities?


“Create things like this today, where people can come together across difference. All walks of life can come for a central aim - to play, to meet, to eat, to identify with each other. How do you build communities? You put on events that are sociable, that are open, that are inclusive, that are surprising, that pop up, that are structured, that are unstructured, that are a little bit provocative. You build communities by just bringing in all sorts of people to design and create those communities.” – Tony, 81 Acts of Exuberant Defiance


“To accomplish that, we just need to bring people together - either online or in person and just find activities that energise different generations together and brings everybody close and create a warm feeling.” – Marilena, BUD


“For me, I think community is like family. Everyone has a role: there’s a mum, there’s a dad, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunties – everyone has their unique position. And whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, you accept people for who they are, and you utilise all their strengths.” – Martha, The Ubele Initiative


“To build strong communities I think we need to get back outside, get outside with other people, have barbecues, enjoy food, come together like today and just be out and about with each other. Allowing people to have access to green space as well would also help facilitate communities, so people can let off stress of work and just get together and enjoy themselves.” – Nicole, The Ubele Initiative


“In Jamaica, there’s a saying that says ‘hand wash hand’ – you can’t do something on your own, you need the community working together. When we realise that, that there’s strength in numbers, we come together – not only does it benefit the community, but it benefits the individual as well, in terms of that they’re learning skills or passing on new skills and ideas, and really everybody benefits from it. It just makes for a fuller society and a better community.” – William, The Ubele Initiative


“Building communities comes from collaboration, it comes from shared interests, it comes from sometimes working together across different interests trying to merge, and find where we can have commonality.” – Alex, The Ubele Initiative

Festival of Ideas by Alexander D Great

When we imagine a strong community

What we’re looking for is real unity

Where people can share their experience

Free from political interference

Where we can discuss with one another

Ideas between a sister or a brother

Talking about our hopes and also our fears

Sharing in this festival of ideas.

Social clubs are places where people meet

To have a little drink and something to eat

A day trip in the country or to the sea

Have a lovely time and come home safely

Different cultural groups can tell what they know

About each other’s histories which we can show

Let’s talk about our hopes our dreams and our fears

Sharing in this festival of ideas.

Funding is required for stability

And also to ensure continuity

Invite each other to special occasions

Europeans, Africans and Asians

But this all depends really on whether

We make the effort to get together

To talk about our hopes our dreams and our fears

Sharing in this festival of ideas.

Written and photos by Alex Augustin, Communications Volunteer at The Ubele Initiative

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