Exeter Street Hall belongs to the community. We love hearing what being involved with the Hall, volunteering or your neighbourhood means to you. We’ll be featuring blog posts from our volunteers, shareholders, guests, hirers, sponsors and fellow activists. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to chime in with 300 words or so.
What better way to kick off than with a Hall hero? Iain Chambers has been involved from the get-go, not only contributing to the successful campaign to buy the hall, but regularly rolling up his sleeves and staging stellar events. Here’s why…
If you engaged with the Scottish referendum, and it was pretty hard not to, you’d have sensed the energy emanating from people on both sides of the issue at hand, much of it positive. I think one reason for this was the feeling that this was no time for a barely considered tick on the ballot paper, let alone opting out altogether. The subsequent unprecedented high turnout has reflected well upon Scotland and its people, young and old. This really mattered.
Now I know what you are thinking – what on earth has this to do with Exeter Street Hall? Are we planning a big vote on the colour of the front door (perhaps it could be ‘gordon’ brown?)? No, my Laboured (that’s quite enough – Ed) point is that I often feel the same energy when I’m involved with the hall. This matters. It feels like more than just saving an old but distinguished building so that the community can still meet up. It runs deeper than that. As we watch our roof being renovated, insulated and sealed against the winter weather to come, it really feels as if we are weather-proofing this community. I love living in a community that has its own street parties, dances, comedy shows, banquets and food markets. I love it that the Prestonville pub will raise money for the hall by staging beer festivals. I love it that the local schools are shareholders in our hall. Don’t get me wrong, it’s no walk in the park for everyone who makes these things happen. Yet even when I think to myself “Blimey, why did I put my name down, I’m too busy for this”, I always end up chuffed to bits when I see the results of everyone’s efforts, and when I see a hall full of my neighbours having a great time together, in the hall we all own. It makes me feel better about life, and that’s no mean feat when five minutes of listening to the news can bring me to tears.
So I would urge you to get involved to help continue the still pretty gargantuan task of renovating and running the hall. There will never be a shortage of things to do, money to raise, events to stage, loos to clean, walls to paint, cakes to bake, stalls to man, chairs to stack, quizzes to devise. We need people who can just give an hour or two washing up at an event or baking a cake just as much as we need people to take on the more involved jobs running the Community Company that owns the hall. Take my word for it, one of the most gratifying things for those of us who have been involved in the hall project for the last few years has been watching new people come forward recently to join in, lightening the load for others, and full of enthusiasm and ideas and energy. Come and join us and you never know, we might even witness unprecedented queues outside the hall next May as our community seizes its own democratic opportunity, and then ruminates over the unfolding results well into the evening in our lovely, warm, dry hall!