Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 4 March 2010

Facebook and Twitter are all the rage and great fun to those who participate, but how long will they last? Is it the kind of networking on which communities can be forged? On average a person will engage with these new social networking tools for six months before dropping off.
Our grandchildren now attend the same school as our own children did. On the few occasions I have been trusted to pick them up, I do get a wonderful sense of deja vue. Jan often has long conversations with mums who used to do the school trip twenty or so years ago – and some of them have remained firm friends. These experiences bring with them a sense of belonging. Our area is rich in community organisations: churches, civic associations, drama and dance groups, sporting clubs, scouts and guides, horticultural societies and many more. Somehow they seem to replenish themselves even though it is often just the few same stalwarts holding it all together. Together they help us to weave together a rich tapestry we call society.
Communities are forged over time. They need roots and traditions to enable them to prosper. They need buildings in which to meet and for activities to take place. They need a strong sense of corporate memory. Although there must always be change, it is vital that a strong thread of continuity runs through every neighbourhood to keep it strong. Our area has deep roots. Plympton was a stannary town "while Plymouth was a fuzzy down," it is often said. Plymstock is made up of ancient villages which form the glue that binds the whole suburb together. Ivybridge, was in danger of losing itself in rapid growth, but in recent years, has managed to draw breath and revitalise its community heart.
I was mightily relieved when I asked a group of local sixth-formers recently how they wanted me to stay in touch with them. I dreaded them saying I had to use Facebook and tweet to them constantly. They didn't. They said they wanted me to come and chat to them from time to time, to which I readily agreed. There is a value in face to face meetings that cannot be overstated. There is a priceless potency that comes from a generation to generation continuum. Technology can bring tremendous benefits, but we must make sure that we do not undermine the essential building blocks of our society: people meeting together.

posted by Gary @ 17:32