Kindness: February 2023

I have lots of really nice things here that have come from the kindness of other people.  

I live  just above a community centre so it has a community aspect with lots of different people coming through.  

My place has a kitchen..a living room a hall.. office/bedroom space where I  work/sleep/write do all of that kind of stuff  – it’s a proper artist’s garret!

curved staircase in community centre looking down at 2 chairs. kindness in community

This building  used to be an industrial building.

I like the idea that is was converted from a factory.

As soon as you step outside the ceilings are really high but  it’s nice that the ceilings  are lower inside – it’s also less expensive to heat.

I’m above the community centre so  I benefit from when they put the heating on below.

I’m not from this area.

It was a series of events that brought me here: a marriage that ended.. then I spent a period of time with my parents who are elderly. Then all that changed.

While living with my parents in lockdown I did an artist’s residency in a beach hut. 

People of all ages would come along for free art sessions. 

Lots of families would come and join in and soon  I went from knowing nobody in this area to meeting loads of people in the community.

I have done art  projects before but never got to talking to people in quite the same  way. 

It was actually one of the highest levels of participation  the council have every had for  any art project – and probably with the lowest costs.  That’s because it was held in a place that everyone  actually goes  to – rather than a posh place. 

Through that project I met people from the council.. from different churches …voluntary Services … Gay Pride…. schools…  residential care homes.

And so when I came into difficulty myself all these people helped me. 

It was like a miracle!

At that  moment in time I had zero.   A bag… 

Emotionally I was  going through quite a lot, and all these people stepped up to help me.

It was quite incredible how that came to be.  

The organisation who own this housing complex said they’d never seen anything like it! 

This place has a happy energy because of how I came to be here:  I’m talking about the serious kindness of people.

community hallway and corridor  in apartment block. kindness in community

So much had changed in my life.  

I’m the kind of person  who usually wants to do everything for myself and so I had to go into a different mode of being able to receive help.

It was a hard time… and I did need help.

People here sorted me out: from the cooker to the fridge… they brought me bedding…everything…and helped me moved my stuff in. 

plant and cups from the kindness of community
The espresso cups and plant were presents from friends.

I have lots of really nice things here that have all come from the kindness of other people.  

Over a couple of weekends some old friends from school slept  here on camp beds and turned this place  from inhabitable to habitable. 

And now I love it.

It’s got such a nice energy.

It’s the energy of kindness from different people. 

My old school friends found me things I really needed  – not expensive things –  small things like cutlery trays… a washing up bowl. These were things chosen  with care so they fitted perfectly.

They also helped me to do a really good deep-clean. 

It’s lovely now… really, really nice. It has lots of light coming from all different angles… north, south and east. Different light. 

grey sofa and mirror support from kindness in the community
The sofa and mirror were gifted to me by friend

Outside there’s a communal garden space which I have used quite a lot, and also different pockets of spaces.

I have asked  permission to convert one of the  balconies into a little garden for growing things like  herbs and tomatoes. There will be pots, plants, grow-bags.

Nothing complicated. More like a herb garden.

I was visiting my parents when lockdown started and because I still hadn’t found a place to live that’s how I came to this area.

Lockdown forced us all inward. 

 I spent a lot of time  working in the summer house at  my parents’. I did painting there.. drawings… and I turned it  into a little studio.   

It was really nice to have time in nature.

I would do one really long walk a day, a different direction each time.  

weather vane on community building

We had a very nice time together during lockdown. 

Life was centred around the garden – rather than the house.

I was in the summer house every day doing workshops on Zoom online – which I’d never done before. It became a way to connect with others and to continue to work.

For me it was a very positive time of change. 

Lockdown didn’t feel  like a restriction to me,  except that  I couldn’t go to London to see my daughter.

That was hard. 

I’m an early bird – I get up with the dawn and do meditation. 

One practice I started doing years ago is to keep a dream diary.

During lockdown it kind of took on a whole new flavour, it was a time of self-cultivating energy.

large painting of female face - kindness in community

I have breakfast early around 6.30 am – after meditation  –  and then go for a walk on my own.

I have started a business and  work mostly at home  but my meetings are International.

A few clients who have stayed with me from London for coaching and art. 

If I get a commission I spend a lot of time working on the concept and if I  feel blocked I go for a walk. It’s very safe here.

chair by window - soft lighting community. kindness

I don’t have a TV. I was given one but it’s not even plugged in.

When friends came and wanted to watch football we went into the communal area. 

I have only been living here since June but about a  third of that time I have been visiting friends – and cat-sitting.

Christmas, I spent in London with my family.

Although this place is nice but it is a bit small for gatherings. 

The rise in the cost of living hasn’t affected me that much.

My energy costs are included I’m pretty low-energy use and quite careful.

I don’t think I’ve changed how I shop but I do feel that growing our own stuff is  a good thing and  would be a nice to do as a community. 

I get my fruit and vegetables from the market once a week.  

There is a butchers… baker… florist… greengrocer… and hardware a lot of different choices.

It is more affordable than going to the supermarket

kitchen  with large clock and window
 above community centre. kindness

In lockdown I realised that the outdoors is such an important aspect of life.

There was something nice about being able to step out into a garden.

My parents’ garden was very hard work,  because it was big and had a pond. It was a lot of work to clean it.. look after the fish.. drain  all the sludge.

There is always stuff to do but it’s kind of grounding.

It’s nice. 

welcome mat in doorway above community centre. kindness

This home is a symbol of a new beginning. And I am very grateful for it.

Where I live now I have a view of the river and can see fields. 

It is a place to be peaceful and  calm… to cook what I like – because I love cooking. I can live a life of my own choosing. It’s comfortable…. and everything is nice. 

It’s like a new beginning. 

I have thrown away loads of stuff from the past.

The only thing  I’ve kept is my art and my daughter’s art. 

2 paintings outside of front door above community centre. kindness

I’m quite sentimental and I love the art she did as a kid.

She’s not that precious about these things but I love them –  especially  the little books she did when she was young. 

Looking at them because makes me feel ‘at home’.

They remind me of the nice times we had together.

My own sketchbooks are mostly of my journeys and travels  and, because I am an artist, my home has lots of my art in it and other people’s art. 

 I read a lot, I am an avid reader.

A lots of books here I’ve collected over the years from around the world. 

books on shelving - home above community centre

The  people I am meeting here are really nice and  interested  in things I care about, like the environment.  

This is a much better fit than  I have had for a long time.

There is an amazing little woodland here .. the river.. the sea.. I walk out  and it’s like: Wow! So beautiful. 

 I really, really like that. 

What matters to me most is a sense of belonging.. a sense of community.. like-minded people – to some extent. 

net curtain - community

My ultimate dream is to be in a community living on the land  where there’s self-sufficiency of resources and like-minded people, with a vision for how they want to be. 

It’s not to do with religion or anything like that.

It’s more to do with a certain quality of thinking… of being..  There’s  probably going to more things like that happening. 

Lockdown taught us that we can be on our own but when we have ‘community’ that’s the thing that sustains us. 

Without it we are on our own  – and  that is real isolation.

Isolation with no contact with other people has no joy. Isolation is when you don’t feel free.. it is a feeling  of being in prison  of your own thinking. 

Antique Chinese cabinet in home above community centre

One thing for sure is that if without community I would not have been able to make this transition  without it. 

It’s all down to the kindness of people.

I will always  think of that, and how it came to be. 

All photos by respondent.

Nuala Rooney

I am designer, educator and researcher developing creative and holistic human-centred insights within the social/spatial sphere.

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