I Am Beeston

Communities - Citizen Actions Jul 19, 2016 No Comments

Fortunately, this is not a new hashtag for our Facebook or Twitter accounts after another horrible (terrorist) attack. This is a very nice campaign that is going on in my home town: “I am Beeston”

Very simply, The Beestonian Facebook page is introducing, in 50-60 words, people who are living in Beeston or are active members of the town and their picture. You can see then restaurant, cafes or pub chefs, singers, inhabitants, boxers and president community centre, Carnival queen,…

Here is the Beestonian introduction about this campaign:

“We at Beestonian Towers were sad to hear that some of the wonderful non-British Beestonians that make this town so fresh, vital and diverse felt that recent incidents in politics made them feel unwelcome in Beeston. We also were told of an incident when a guy was abused in the street and told to ‘get packing your bags’.
These are, of course, not at all representative of Beeston, but the cowardly acts of bigots. Still, we hate to think of our great Beestonians feeling that this place doesn’t welcome them. We’re a town that benefits massively from the mix we have here, and we should be celebrating this, and showing how we are all, first and foremost, Beestonians.
As such, this week we will be running a celebration of just that, giving a human face to the wonderful people from all over the world who have come to Beeston to make it a better place, and to make it home. We’ve called it ‘I Am Beeston’ : a place is its people.
If you’d like to nominate someone for us to feature here, drop an email to thebeestonian@gmail.com and we’ll be round with our notepad and Box Brownie.

I had the great pleasure to talk with Matt, Editor in Chief of the Beestonian and, for him, Beeston is mixing an exceptional diversity of people and inhabitants and a strong sense of community.

The Beestonian, as a paper magazine, was born with a friend of Matt who strongly advised him to print his Beestonia blog. After one issue, Matt received a call from a local shop to sponsor the next issue. Then the same for the third one and so on! More pages thank to them but also more writers and contributors in the magazine. Without the strength of the Beestonian community web, the magazine could not be what it is now.

This campaign started with the diverse abuse some people were experiencing after the “Brexit” referendum. He wanted to reassure his friends and acquaintance that, yes, they are welcome here in the UK, they belong as much as others to Beeston (or other places in the UK). It’s the Beestonian contributors who suggested this campaign and had started with people who were coming from abroad. Then, after the success of these first posts, the idea to widen these portraits to every Beeston inhabitants allowed to scale up the project to 2-3 portraits a day and more and more volunteers to interview and be interviewed. The idea is to carry on until the end of July and reach an hundred-ish of people interviewed. Who knows if that will become a book (with benefits reversed to a charity) or carry on longer but, in any case, we just have here a real snapshot of Beeston and its dramatic change since 15 years.

Matt was marked by someone who told him that “it’s the first time I live in a town where it doesn’t seem to have class” and, yes, that’s all  about that: mix of people, the real value of the community. He hopes that this campaign will help to look differently the UK, for its “new” members but also for the ones who are born there because they can to rediscover, thanks to the others eyes, their own place.

To read more about The Beestonian magazine:

Helene Herniou

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