Sunday, 18 September 2011

Hairy Bikers, Caring Bridge, Community and Northern Loops web site

The latest program by the Hairy Bikers (for American readers these are a pair of motorcycle fans who also cook and make a living doing cooking programs with their motorcycles--Hmm. Not on their motorcycles exactly though I can imagine they would cook on them if they could, but with some good excuse for traveling and cooking.) I watched the Hairy Bikers first because it sounded so improbable and then again because it was actually good fun and I learned about cooking and places and times iun the UK that were foreign to me. The Hairy Bikers and I had drifted apart until I stumbled across their latest adventure--Meals on Wheels. OK, once again it was the inherent incongruity of it that attracted me to watch. And again I was rewarded with more than I had expected.

The Hairy Bikers--without abandoning their leather exteriors-- talked about how they first came to cooking. It was touching. Not too sappy but just helped me understand in an instant why they would care about Meals on Wheels. And so now I care, too.

That is an important facet of community--awareness and caring. One of the things you often hear when any of us start the tongue clucking associated with the Decline of Everything is something like "we used to know our neighbours". Northern Loops (you knew it was coming, didn't you, despite the title and the opening paragraph?) connects neighbours--one woman now has a good reason to call on her neighbour to show her the latest knit project. Another woman learned about a weekly lunch event where she can see her neighbours--or near neighbours. Up here we live in the country and our nearest neighbour may be a mile or so away, so these face to face get togethers take on a particular importance.

Distance--the bugbear for knowing neighbours and hence building community. Caring Bridge is a free web site hosted by Indiana University Health Centres. It makes it possible to stay in touch with folks you already know and care about but are no longer neighbours. My friends around the knit table have heard me say how and why that is important to me personally just now, so I'll just say that overcoming distance is one of the reasons why I have wanted from the outset to have an online presence for Northern Loops. Now thanks to Web Integrations and funding from NESTA, we are going to make that a reality.

You can view the Hairy Bikers program here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b013y0nz. Thanks to the wonders of technology, you can see what makes me like these guys and take to heart their campaign for Meals on Wheels.

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