Point of View: Brief encounters

Molly Flatt

Who would you describe as your core community? Your family? Your Facebook friends? Your professional network? The members of your Tolkien role-playing group?

Community has become a complex and confusing word over the past few years. Yes, it has been devalued by corporate prat-talk, appropriated by brands that want to suggest that their relationship with customers is more cosy-coffee-in-the-village-hall than one-night-stand-click. But it has also evolved. The old idea of the long-term, geographically-based community just does not fit with the nomadic way most of us now live, and even if we had the time or space for them, those local communities are dying out; research from Manchester Metropolitan University has shown that 50% of community groups in the North West of England face closure within the next three years due to government cuts. So much for Big Society.