This is my friend Dr David Bramwell.
He’s an author and musician, and a very funny chap.
David used to be a school teacher, running a regular cabaret near his home in Brighton, and doing odd bits of broadcast for BBC Radio 4. Eventually, he became so successful at all those other things, he jacked in the teaching.
But some time ago he was dumped by his girlfriend. She said she was leaving him for somebody “younger… and more mature”.
His response was to set off round the world looking for Utopian communities. Not everybody would do that, but David is David. He liked much of what he found in these unusual communities. But each one, in its own way, was flawed. So after a long journey, he came home again. And he found that, while he’d been away, his own neighbourhood in Brighton had been part of a Utopian experiment.
He was sorry to have missed it. But he did his best to bring it back again. This video explains. It’s a short excerpt from a longer talk. Watch it now:
4 mins, 26 seconds
I hope you enjoyed it. If you did, I recommend David’s book.
David’s discovery, on his doorstep in Brighton, gives a hint as to how we can all do something to get out of the little bubbles we find ourselves in: the gender bubbles, faith bubbles, bubbles of group-think.
But I’m not an idiot. It won’t be easy, because people will resist. After all, Brighton’s “muesli mountain” (where David lives) is quite unusual. Other places might need a different approach.
But it’s worth trying, isn’t it? Because despite all the vaunted connection made possible by digital devices, many people today feel horribly disconnected, isolated.
And not just in “communities”. Recently, I went back to one of the newspapers where I worked a decade ago. I was chilled to see how quiet it was. Instead of people shouting into telephones, nobody was talking. They were all just plugged into the matrix… earphones in, fingers flying quietly over keyboards.
Conversations don’t just happen. They need to be engineered.