I’m planning for this to be my last post of 2021. Of course, we all recognise that things are in a very fluid state right now so don’t be surprised if you see me pop back up in the next couple of weeks!
In the meantime, I wanted to say thank you to everyone who has participated in the conversations I’ve started here this year, either on the website or by emailing me directly. There has been so much careful thought in your contributions, and so much obvious concern for what is happening in our neighbourhood and the wider city.
One comment in particular stands out as summing up what so many of us feel:
“As a person born in Cambridge, to Cambridge born parents, I have felt for a while a disquiet, an oppressive feeling, and powerlessness. Recently I have discovered that there is a name for it: solastalgia. The place I call home, that I identify as part of me, has been damaged, and in places made unrecognisable, by people from far away who view this space simply and only as a column of numbers on a spreadsheet. This space they imagine is an abstract representation akin to that of a mathematician who works with geometry – stick in a different set of numbers and a whole new space is magic-ed into being. Hey presto! it’s a business park. Oh, no, it’s a shopping centre… But it was my Home, a place that had meaning for me, and for many others. But that meaning, my feeling of attachment, is nowhere on that balance sheet, and nor are the lives of birds, insects, trees, wildflowers…”
Much of what I’ve written about this year has focused on the nuts and bolts of local politics: planning, transport, facilities, funding, governance, consultation. But while these are worthy of consideration in their own right, what really matters is how they add or detract to shaping something bigger: community, and the “sense of attachment” mentioned in the quote above.
We have never needed that sense of attachment more. What the pandemic has already shown us is that we are stronger together. Now, as we enter into yet another demanding phase, it is that commitment to community which we will once again need to protect and support each other. Let’s resolve to do everything we can in the year ahead to nurture that commitment and maximise its potential.
I wish you a very happy and healthy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.