Monday 22 September 2008

Portadown: community spirit

Joshua Hart's study implied that busy roads had less of a community. But what if it goes the other way? A strong community spirit reduces through traffic?

Here we have some photographs of Portadown, County Armagh in Northern Ireland. Birth place of the Orange Order, with Drumcree Church to the North of the town, it is a flashpoint even today. But what are the positive aspects of the town?

A key one is the strong community spirit. Look, the walls are painted in bright red-white-blue or orange-white-green colours to indicate which part of the town you are in.

And in the unionist quarter, the entrance to a wide street is marked with a big banner saying "No Surrender", "Honour the King" and "Fear God"; strong community statements one does not normally encounter in the mainland..

The whole length of the street is decorated in flags and banners, and even though it is quite a wide road, it has surprisingly little traffic. Even a stranger walking down the road taking photographs is enough to encourage curiosity.

As a result, this area has both low traffic and, low crime, although apparently the disarmament of the paramilitaries has increased the amount of local crime, as burglary and car theft is no longer punished by kneecapping.

Looking at the celebratory nature of the streets, and the benefits for community spirit, one must wonder if Bristol could adopt such practises. Obviously religion would not be a viable theme, but there is always sport. However, few streets have such uniform support for either of the city's football teams that one could have Bristol City or Bristol Rovers areas, and those same supporters would probably view pro-Bristol Rugby decor as being anti-football. So what does that leave as a sporting theme for Bristol residents to get behind and build street communities from? Gloucester County Cricket team!

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