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Community

A few nights ago, the wonderful folks of Boneshaker Magazine, had a wee party for the launch of their latest issue, number 18, in our local community bike cafe, Roll for the Soul. My friend Luke Francis also showed a beautiful film he’s made, Beulah. I was showing the porteur bike I built for Boneshaker.

These things are wonderful and huge and excellent. It was a delight to be invited along. But the thing that gets me, the thing that hits me right in the feels is actually the community.

I find it hard sometimes to be in big groups of people, I can feel nervous or shy, slightly clumsy or foolish. That night in RftS, the place was packed to gunnels with a huge cross section of the Bristol bike scene. But despite my occasional total social awkwardness, I felt at home. Here was the place. This was our cafe, these were our folk, these were the things we made. I felt surrounded by people, all of whom I didn’t necessarily know, but all I had an affinity with.

We hear the word “community” often these days. It’s bandied around by politicians and media people almost as a reflex. I mostly disregard these peoples’ use of that word, because I don’t often feel that community, even when they’re referring to a “community” that I’m nominally involved in. But this night in RftS was that actual thing there, that was a community. Because there’s folk who would hold each other up, who will cheer for each other’s achievements, and feel a little bit of belonging. That’s the thing that keeps me in Bristol.  It’s the thing that makes the bikes such powerful objects.

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