Super Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours - Susan Dalgety

The street party gets into full swingThe street party gets into full swing
The street party gets into full swing
There is a growing movement of ‘Super Neighbours’ across Paris. People who live next door to each other, but may have rarely spoken, now communicate via WhatsApp to organise regular get-togethers, such as brunches, drinks after work and community gatherings where older residents share memories with younger neighbours.

I am not sure what the students living in our street would think about my tales of when I was a councillor in Edinburgh or a single mum in Wester Hailes, but I do like the idea of becoming more neighbourly – up to a point.

I am a bit of an introvert and like nothing better than curling up on the sofa with a good book or social media. The prospect of a weekly brunch with strangers who have nothing more in common with me than we share a postcode fills me with fear. Less so an annual street banquet.

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The residents of Aude on the Left Bank host one each year, with a table 400 metres long running down the street.

Now, as I live in one of the most congested streets in the city – where traffic is forced into single file to cross the bridge over the Union Canal – I am not sure the city council would take too kindly to me and my neighbours setting up La Table de Viewforth every July, but the canal side would make a great location for an alfresco street party. And every city neighbourhood has a park where friends and neighbours could gather to get to know each other.

One of my most enjoyable days out last year was to a Platinum Jubilee street party in the hamlet of Blainslie, outside Lauder. I was the guest of my sister, so knew no-one when I arrived. But when I left a few hours later, replete with pulled pork and just enough wine, I felt I had found new friends.

As Patrick Bernard, the man who set up the Aude scheme says, conviviality has the power to change cities. “When we awaken the sense of place and community, the citizens and urban fabric are transformed.”

I can’t match his Gallic rhetoric, but I do think Edinburgh would benefit from us all becoming super neighbours.

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