Thursday, 31 May 2007

Sociable or Community Minded?

Another non-walk themed post. I do have plenty to write up but they require more research and these "off the top of my head" ones are easier to get on with.

I recently met up with a colleague who is British but has lived in Spain for many years. I briefly outlined to him some of the things I am involved in locally, from this blog, to, the Forest Hill Society, SE23Living Magazine, Friends of the Horniman, etc.

Now, I admit that this is a little over the top and not exactly common here either, but the fact is that all these organisations exist for local enthusiasts and volunteers to get involved in. In general, the British are "community minded", supporting all sorts of societies, clubs, charities, institutions, .. that are for the benefit of the community, whether specific or general.

In Spain, and to a large extent in many other southern European countries, people are much more sociable than we are here. They are familiar with many more "neighbours" than we are and several generations of families hang out in cafes and bars till all hours chatting generally about life. They are outwardly much more likely to seem friendly and open.

However, my friend pointed out that this rarely carries over to social organisations. People are not THAT interested in their neighbours, and in that sense are less 'social' rather than 'sociable', if I can draw that distinction.

I am a big fan of the outdoor, friendly lifestyle of Spain and Italy, but I think that on the whole I support the idea of being interested in others in a more general sense.

Maybe Forest Hill is unusual, having all these civic groups dedicated to the area (and there are lots more, I know), but I like to think that all sorts of my neighbours are involved behind the scenes trying to make this a better place for everyone.

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