The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids is quite a big part of my life, if I stop to think about it. It gives me an extended family of like-minded souls that is a source of enormous inspiration and strength. I am deeply grateful for everything it has added to my life.
It is, however, a disparate group of people who live all across the UK and beyond. And although that has enormous value, I believe that in the future we will need another kind of community to help us survive the challenges to come. We need to re-build community with the people who live around us.
And that's a bit of a problem for me. I love being around people I know and trust. But being around strangers, and especially making new contacts, is a bit of a challenge for me. I haven't really broken out of the boundaries of Westacre's garden since we got here 16 months ago. And even after 17 years in our house in Harrow, we didn't really get to know our neighbours. Life with my husband, my work, and my close friends, is enough for me. As an introvert, anything beyond that feels like work.
Still, it is work worth doing. We would all be better off in a world where people have strong connections to those geographically close to them. Benefits go from sharing equipment (we don't really need a lawn mower per household, do we?) and planning together what food crops we will grow (your neighbour may have more success with carrots while your garden produces great cabbages) to simple neighbourly friendship.
I have this idea to start small. We live in a cluster of four houses on this side of the lane. We could invite just the other three couples for drinks and treats by the fire on the Summer Solstice. The thing that makes that a doable challenge for me is that at least I've met them all. And if that works out OK, I can take it from there and plan something slightly bigger for Lughnasadh.
Will I do it? I might. It will take some courage. In theory, I know where to get that. The world around me is buzzing with it: the courage of leaves and flowers to burst out of their buds. All I have to do is sit with that and breathe it in. I know for a fact that that helps.
It would be much easier, though, if I had another kind of community backing me up. If other people with the same social awkwardness would do something similar at the same time, we could egg each other on. Anyone up for that? Do get in touch.