Foreword by Debz Hobbs-Wyatt
As part of the small team at Bridge House Publishing, I have had the pleasure of being able to read and help select the stories for the Waterloo Festival Writing Competition for the past three years. The theme has always been connected to the idea of transformation: transforming minds, transforming being and this time transforming communities. Of course, at the time the theme for this year was announced, we could never have anticipated what 2020 would bring or the impact that would have on all our communities globally.
Covid-19 has clearly had a major impact on what it feels to be part of a community. It has touched all aspects of our lives, including how even this collection is launched and how the 2020 festival is run. The good thing is that at no other time in history have we had so much technology at our fingertips to make that possible. In modern life, we already know about virtual communities, some even fall in love that way, and now we have realised the real importance of making our connections through different means. Of course, that is no substitute of the warmth of a real hug – but those days will return when we will once again close the two-metre gap and understand that part of community we are closed off to at the time of putting this collection together. If that has happened, go hug someone right now and appreciate something as simple as that. Perhaps not if you’re reading this on a train full of strangers!
Community for me is connection. We connect, we come together, we support, as you will see in the stories in this collection. But connection also has its dark side, as we will also have seen at this strange time in our history, perhaps non-conformity is equally part of community.
You will see community explored in the most diverse of ways in this little book. From a mining community trying to save the planet but at the same time killing its workers, children who disappear, segregation according to colour but not as we know it, though disturbingly similar. You will read about a book club for the elderly, about storytelling, about communities who come together at times of adversity…each story unique and exploring the theme in new and interesting ways.
There were stories I loved that I almost chose for the collection but this for me had everything I felt a collection about transforming communities needed. At this current time of transformed communities one thing you can always rely on – writers will write, stories will be read and people will find ways to come together.
Enjoy and well done to all of those who made this collection possible. Even if you did not make it into the collection this time, we enjoyed reading the stories and there’s always next time!