October 2nd, 2014
Meeting People People at Hurtado
The Hurtado Listening exercise on Monday evening was my first proper introduction to the life of the area. What instantly impressed about the diverse group of people brought together to share their experience was their willingness to talk about their projects to a complete stranger and their passion for the area and its people.
For me, as something of a suburban drifter, avoiding putting down roots in any one locality, this is new. My previous job involved much remote work with a widely scattered group of people. But here I met people who were committed to a geographically well-defined space and living and working with their real, rather than their virtual neighbours. This is a fascinating, counter-cultural witness in an age when technology, politics and economics drive us towards ever more digitalised relationships.
It is a witness that unites Atheists, Muslims and Christians in a search for ways of breaking down the barriers that divide one group from another, or those who fall outside the charmed circle of a working intentional community. The conversation around restoring value in community celebrated the moments of natural generosity when strangers are welcomed across the threshold, identified the way that a shared interest – from childcare to knitting to local festivals – can lead to new depths of personal relationship and sketched characteristics of the ideal community leader, resilient yet flexible and always approachable.
The challenges are many in an era of economic uncertainty for all but the super-rich. The tension between competition and collaboration affects all groups occupying common space. But the collective will that I experienced on Monday is a real sign of hope.
John Moffat recently joined the Hurtado Jesuit Community in Wapping.