As I type, which I do rather slowly, so that I’m constantly behind-hand, the Chemic Tavern in Woodhouse, Leeds, is about to pass, or maybe has already passed, its crowd-funding target of £5,000 – the sum judged necessary to save the pub from the bailiffs and the locals from life-threatening despondency.
I hadn’t previously had any direct contact with crowd-funding and thought it was generally used for glamorous enterprises like making films or saving rhinos, rather than helping a small pub to avoid the fate of many pubs, large and small.
This was not an investment opportunity. The Chemic crowd-funders will get nothing back for their money except the right to feel a little smug (or insufferably smug if their donation stretches to three figures) about their contribution to the community – meaning not just the community of Chemic regulars but also the wider, socially-minded community; the community of people who think , pretty much against the current grain, that there are things such as communities which ought to be supported on the grounds that they make life more satisfying.
The modern habit is to create all sorts of sub-communities (the gay community or the disabled community, for example) but the older, overarching idea was that you were, or would want to be, in community with your neighbours, whether you liked them or not.
Specialised communities can look after themselves, local communities involve a building up of trust, tolerance and co-operation among a spread of people who are, especially in the inner-cities, quite unlike you. It’s more of a challenge but also more of reward – and at this point I’ll stop talking because I’m beginning to sound as vacuous as your local election candidate.