Monday, August 3, 2009

St Helier's new party scene

One of St. Helier's main traffic arteries was blocked on Sunday 2nd August by the Stopford Road street party, organised by Rod Bryans (pictured). I walked over to see how it was going and was really impressed by the difference the lack of traffic makes to a community. No surprises there - there's plenty of evidence that interraction between town residents is reduced in direct proportion to the speed and volume of traffic, but it was good to see that demonstrated in practice. There were tables down the middle of the road with food and drink (thanks to the Co-operative Society of the Channel Islands for sponsoring that) and people of all ages (8 weeks upwards) mixing, many of them for the first time. There were also leaflets available describing the history of the road, how it got its name, and some of its more famous residents.
As I met and talked to some of the residents I had a curious sense of this happening across the town, and how good that would be if, say, on the last Sunday of the month, April through to September, town residents were able to turn their stretch of the highway into a village green.
It's probably no coincidence that the first St. Helier street party in many a year has taken place in one of our Residents' Parking Zones or RPZs. Since their inception a dozen years ago, one of the key arguments for creating RPZs was that it would foster a sense of neighbourliness, of belonging to an association of people who share common experiences (like having to move their cars every two hours in the pre-RPZ days) and common needs, like the ownership of a car on Sundays as well as during the rest of the week. I still get a buzz out of seeing the RPZ permits on people's dashboards as I walk past their cars, though the buzz of a street party is even better. So thank you, Rod, and to everyone who helped run the Stopford Road street party. I hope we can use the 'event plan' that was required to snip through the red tape as a template for future street parties, both in your street and elsewhere in the Parish.