Hopefully by now you would have understood that one of the core values of the Visit Banbury project is Community.
What you may not know is the Visit Banbury project is born out of an amazing initiative established by the guys at the Eden Project in Cornwall called the Big Lunch.
In 2009 the Eden Project released an idea across the UK, a very simple idea, to sit down with your neighbours for a few hours on one day of the year and to share lunch. And that was it.
A very simple idea of how to get together and start to build a community, even without actively thinking that you are building a community.
Some of us, having seen an advert for the Big Lunch, decided that we would run around for the next six weeks and put together a street party in Queens Road, Banbury.
There were a few challenges at times but mainly everybody was really supportive and we got the road closed, insurance, entertainment, a bouncy castle, music, food, fun games and lots and lots of people altogether and we had a wonderful party despite the terrible British weather.
In fact, the terrible British weather actually helped, because when it rained we all huddled under a gazebo, we all put food on one single table and shared it amongst ourselves and we started to talk and we build friendships and those friendships have lasted nearly 7 years so far.
And that is kind of it, a very simple idea to get together and share food and conversation and laughter, with a few – or many – of your neighbours to build a network, a community, a resilient, supportive group of people, who are there for each other in the good times and the fun times but also in the difficult times.
People often hark back to the good old days; well this is one example of how you can turn back the clock to re-establish a community amongst your closest of neighbours so that you don’t feel isolated, alone, afraid or bored!
Nowadays there is always something going on – a party, a book club, a sports event, a chat, a coffee and meetings about all sorts of things, including the next Big Lunch street party!!
This year, after attending the next phase called Big Lunch Extras at the Eden Project, we decided that it was time to encourage others around Banbury to hold their own Big Lunches.
So the Visit Banbury project have set up a Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/pages/Banbury-Big-Lunchers/1428236297476106 and we are actively supporting other people around Banbury in the organising and setting up of their own big lunch events.
This year, Queens Road is holding our sixth Big Lunch with the theme of “60s 70s flower power festival”. It will be a chance to dig out the flowery shirts and bellbottom trousers; everything to do with festivals but also creativity with floral displays and decorations to brighten up the whole street.
As usual, there will be bring-and-share food and lots of it, fun for the kids with the bouncy castle, live music, face painting, competitions such as the best dressed front garden, our mega raffle and lots of fun, smiles and laughter.
What could be better than a day when the street outside our front doors is cleared of cars, the road is empty and the kids can run up and down or cycle up and down in safety and the knowledge that they are part of a growing community.
For more about the Big Lunch in Queens Road see:
And lots of fab photos from previous years’ events: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ypbp9dbycci2vu9/AACkIwzhEmK73rhSF3nxZal1a?dl=0
The second part of this blog will focus on some of the other events being organised around Banbury – the main Big Lunch day around the UK is 6 weeks from today, so still plenty of time to organise your get together for that day or an alternative date later in the Summer.