Our Guest Speaker this week is Jenny Denton. Jenny went on her first Skyros holiday in 2007, where she got a taste of the Skyros community way of living - in which everyone has a part to play.
Here Jenny shares the story of how, on her return from Skyros, she set up a local community group which now has over 100 members and continues to go from strength to strength.
The Skyros Holidays brochure talks about offering a transformative experience and a taste of community whose function depends on the participants and the staff. The fantastic thing about my visit to Skyros was that not only did it transform my own life, but also undoubtedly the lives of so many of the people who live in my local area. People repeatedly tell me how the ideas and initiatives that I brought back with me have touched their lives and those of their families.
I came to Atsitsa for the first time in 2007 and then again the following year. During my second visit I took the opportunity at Demos (the morning community meeting where thoughts and news are shared) to tell everyone about how I had taken the Skyros spirit home to my own street and started to develop a local group – the Wheeldon Avenue Group – now the Six Streets Group….
The Six Streets Group
Six Streets is a not-for-profit, non-political and non-religious community group. It exists to increase neighbourliness and friendship. It began with the 'Wheeldon Avenue Group', started in 2007 when one resident (me!) had the simple idea of posting letters through every door in my street asking if anyone would be interested in getting together over some communal activities. And many were, with several people saying that they had always wanted to do something like that but never had. They hadn’t been to Skyros!
Over the last four years, the community group has grown and transformed – it now even boasts its own website and forum. It includes book groups and walking groups, street sales and community picnics; plus funds have also been raised so that events such as Christmas and Halloween parties can take place, along with a newsletter to keep people in touch.
An important theme throughout its development has been the way people have been able to help each other out - from babysitting or sharing DIY tips, to lifts to the station or sharing a veg patch. Something that I wrote in my letter to me on both years I was at Skyros (Skyros participants are encouraged to write to themselves explaining how they feel at that moment, so they can read back at a later date) was that I had learned that you must not judge people and that everyone has something to offer. This is something that is central to the Six Streets Group and has proved true over and over again.
This Christmas we held an annual Christmas party with about 100 residents! At the beginning of December 2011 we launched our first living Advent Calendar with 28 households unveiling a display in their front window on an allocated date. Plus 2012 looks to hold just as much excitement, with a highlight being the Six Streets Group latest initiative – an Art’s Trail.
The Six Streets’ aim is to build a spirit of community, bringing people in the area together to develop a sense of neighbourliness, shared community and reduced isolation. I cannot encourage other Skyros participants enough, to think about doing something similar!
With thanks to Skyros for the inspiration,
Jenny is a brilliant example of how Skyros Holidays can have a positive effect on your life. We are all at The Skyros Holidays office, truly inspired by Jenny's motivation and enthusiasm, and privelledged to have played a role in such an inspiring community.
Skyros Holidays will be running holidays in Greece from 21 July - 21 September, and weekend workshops at The Grange by the Sea throughout the year. See www.skyros.com for more.