The Conservation Foundation celebrated 21 years at the Royal Geographical Society and three years of running O2’s It’s Your Community programme with an exhibition of photographs, film and stories in the RGS Pavilion in December and January.
Over the past three years, with small amounts of money from O2’s It’s Your Community fund, ordinary people have been doing extraordinary things to make their communities better places in which to live, work, play, grow up and bring up families.
Their success was chronicled in a series of hundreds of photographs, film and stories, brought together in an exuberant and colourful celebration of community life at the grassroots in thefirst decade of the 21st century. The exhibition, which also marked the Foundation's 21 years at the RGS, took place over Christmas and New Year.
Since 2006, 2324 communities have been helped to turn their ideas into action, bringing many thousands of people of all ages together.
From the Shetland Islands to Land’s End and the Atlantic Ocean to the North Sea, with amounts from £100 to £1000, gardens, allotments, orchards and whole streets have sprung into life; books, films, costumes, scores and instruments have flowed into libraries, cinemas, theatres, choirs, circuses and brass bands; village shops and community cafes have opened their doors again and football, cricket, netball, rugby, boxing, biking clubs have received balls, bats, bikes and gloves.
“What makes a community tick is connecting people and one of the biggest draw-backs for grass root projects is lack of money,” said Helen Parker, O2’s Community Investment Manager. “Communities need people and people need somewhere welcoming and safe they can call their own, to play and relax together and share ideas and concerns. It’s Your Community has shown how real people can make a real difference.”
Read about the exhibition on the Guardian Society website http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/gallery/2009/dec/14/community-work?picture=356784487
and on Mark Easton's BBC blog http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markeaston/ (14 December)
There's more about the awards and the exhibition here.