Appreciating the spaces and faces around us – Community Matters

By Joanna Reynolds, Community Builder for Paignton Town Centre & Clifton with Maidenway

Tegen (dog) and I normally walk from home in various directions, but recently I treated us to a short car journey, and we enjoyed the glorious lanes around Galmpton. It was so peaceful. The hedgerows were bursting with Bluebells, Stitchwort, Dandelions, Campions, to name just a few; a riot of blue, white, yellow, and pink, and I spotted my first Black Cap (bird) and Orange Tip butterflies of the season.

How fortunate are we to live in this corner of the world where we are free to enjoy the stunning spaces all around us? Sadly, amidst all this beauty I passed the seemingly inevitable fly-tipping, and no, even if old tyres and tins of paint are stacked neatly, this is still not acceptable. Ever. Our open spaces are spaces to breathe and should be respected and treasured by everyone.

Swisco brought me ‘treasure’ today! I had mentioned to my neighbour, Matt, that I would love to share a garden waste bin with somebody locally as I could not justify the expense of having one to myself for the occasional sack of grass cuttings. To my surprise, Matt was keen, and we agreed to house the bin on my side, whilst he hauls it down and up my 13 steps each fortnight. £25 each for the year: bargain. It was ordered on Saturday and arrived this morning, 48 hours later! I am inordinately excited about this and encouraged to do more gardening now that I have somewhere to discard all the cuttings.

What a perfect illustration of how easy it is to ‘be a community’? I had considered posting a notice or leafletting locally, both requiring time and effort, but all it took was a chance remark and everything fell into place. Okay, we cannot expect immediate success all the time, but perhaps if we were brave enough to share something with our local community maybe more little pieces of jigsaw would slot into place.

As Community Builders, we were recently encouraged to name our ‘Utopian Dream’ for our neighbourhoods. Mine was a clean town – our stunning town centre buildings scrubbed clean, with fresh paintwork, flowers and trees flourishing; a space where litter does not exist. Yes, a dream, but surely not impossible? It would not even cost a lot, but it would require our communities to take pride in the local environment and refuse to accept anything less. That’s my dream.

To contact Joanna, phone 07416 074903 or email [email protected]

Bluebells photo courtesy of