Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Street

My Street (Channel 4 documentary by Sue Bourne)

Documentaries don’t get much better than My Street –Sue Bourne’s portrayal of life in the street on which she lives. 116 front doors. Yet after living on the street for fourteen years, Sue Bourne knew very few of her neighbours.

First broadcast on Channel 4’s Cutting Edge strand back in February, My Street records the faces and stories behind the doors, residents who let Sue over the threshold to permanently put their lives on the record. If you’re lucky, the documentary will still be available for free streaming/download on 4oD.

She met a fantastic range of characters people. Some lived alone. Others shared with a bewildering and fluid number of people – like the Kiwi house! Medical problems. Social housing. Musical ability. Happiness, but much sadness, and loneliness.

And along the street, Sue discovered that pockets of community existed. A rota of people taking a cancer sufferer for his daily radiotherapy. Suddenly the street wasn’t as anonymous after all.

The last section of the film ends with the commentary:

“Life on my street continues but now I recognise faces as they go about their daily business. Houses that were once blank and anonymous now contain lives and stories I know. ”

Sue Bourne in My Street

In a publicity article published on the morning of transmission in the Telegraph, Sue Bourne explained:

“If something dreadful happened to me a year ago, I would have sought help far away from my own street. Now there are a couple of people I feel I could tell. And some who might support me if I was burgled or sick. I feel safer and less fearful of crime. It was odd that I wasn't friendlier with my neighbours, given how much time I spent in the street. I've been working from home for the past few years.”

She added ...

“My street is a microcosm of big city life. Its inhabitants reflect the waves of economic incomers over the past half century: Poles, Irish, middle-class gentrifiers displaced from more pricey locations, and Scots like me. All these people had their own networks and clung to those they knew elsewhere, rather than making friends with their neighbours.”

Which makes me wonder about my street, and the depth of relationships that I don’t have with my neighbours. And wonder about Titanic Quarter again, and the two thousand apartments being built over the coming years.

What sort of community do we live in?

What sort of community are we building?

What sort of community do we want?

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