Dr. Bramwell of the Catalyst Club writes ….
Last year in early September, Brighton’s Hanover area welcomed the return of the TV-free neighbour day, Zocalo. It was a stomping success.
The sun shone and nearly every street had clusters of people sat outside their houses chatting, eating and drinking. Some dragged out barbecues, some brought sofas and rugs. On Albion Hill a table football game appeared while other neighbours challenged each other to games of chess and backgammon. One heroic household on Islingword Street set up their entire living room on the pavement, complete with the obligatory stag’s head.
Brighton Zocalo was set up in 2001 by the anti-TV campaign White Dot as a red-tape free community event for getting neighbours (young and old) to socialise and as a reminder that there’s more to life than Top Gear, Eastenders and Donkey Kong. On the 9th of September 2012 at 5pm, all you have to do is put a chair outside your house, sit on it and talk to people.
As well as being an excuse for an informal knees-up in our streets, real change can come from these events too. As a consequence of last year’s Zocalo, in my street (Beaufort Terrace in Hanover) several of us now have keys to each other’s houses and help out with cat-sitting and plant-watering. One neighbour has also set up shared composting boxes on the patch of grass opposite our houses.
Zocalo has now spread to Preston Circus, Fiveways and Whitehawk. We hope to spread it all over Brighton and Hove. To set up a Zocalo in your street just requires the good will of a few people who are willing to play the role of the Ambassador. The more streets that take part the more momentum we will build towards Brighton’s streets feeling like a real community.
This year’s Zocalo: 5pm on the 9th of September
Place: your street
Find out more: 7pm on 20th Aug at the Great Eastern pub at the bottom of Trafalgar Street