You will have noticed from recent posts that I've been (admittedly accidentally) finding out more and more about local projects and events; The Best of Hammersmith and Fulham, Oxjam Shepherd's Bush Takeover and Bush Festival. All of these have the potential to help, enable and generally be a positive thing for Shepherd's Bush.
I have to say more than any other project, finding out about Bush Festival has fascinated me. Unlike any other event, Bush Festival represents the Shepherd's Bush I love. The main reason for this is how and why it came about, which is the story I am now about to tell you. I hope you are sitting comfortably.
Once upon a time there was a girl who grew up in the Blythe Road area of the Shepherd's Bush W12/W14 borders. She and her friends had a fairly normal childhood; they went to school locally and played locally. The highlight of their summer was a one day street party on Masbro Road organised by the Masbro Centre. On this day local families would all come out and join in listening to music, eating freshly cooked street-stall food and would just enjoy each others' company. Families were black, white and any shade in between. The young girl remembered the fun and the community spirit of the event and looked forward to it's annual appearance.
In 2007 the street parties stopped. The young girl, who was older now, tried to find out why. After getting a mixed bag of answers, the young girl decided what was more important was bringing the event back. After doing weeks of research and thinking, the young girl and her friends decided to bring it back and make it bigger and better. They wanted to keep the party spirit of the street party and add to it more integration and engagement with the wider local community of Shepherd's Bush. Last August they achieved just that when Shepherd's Bush Green was taken over by a stage, live music, food stalls, creative workshops and local families enjoying all of the above. Even the rain didn't dampen the spirit.
I met with this young girl earlier this week as she is busy preparing for Bush Festival 2011. She and her team of young volunteers have had new challenges this year thanks to public funding cuts hitting those who sponsored and supported the event last year. They were also forced to change the date due to the fun fair dominating the Green on their preferred day. Bush Festival will now take place on Saturday 13th August. Yes, this is the date of QPR's first home game but both the council and the police have reassured organisers that Bush Festival can and will still take place. With fun kicking off from 1pm and carrying on until 7pm I'd like to think QPR fans can join in before and after the match.
So why does Bush Festival represent the qualities I love in Shepherd's Bush. Well, there is the resilience of this young girl, Philippa Berridge, who with other local young people achieved something most of us (older!) people wouldn't have bothered to even think about pursuing. She has had to pitch to the council, to businesses, to equipment providers, to sponsors to just about anyone you can imagine to get this Festival off the ground and on to the Green. I also admire her vision and the mission of Bush Festival; "for the local people, by the local people". Philippa explained to me how important it is to her personally that Bush Festival goes some way to achieve integration of all the sub-communities within W12. That's why she wants food stalls from as many ethnic groups as she can gather, culturally diverse creative workshops and the live music to be equally as culturally rich. Bush Festival is about co-existence, acceptance and appreciation of diversity. And if we can't achieve that in Shepherd's Bush, where can we?
And yes, there will be a bouncy castle.
The Bush Festival team still need lots of help to ensure Bush Festival 2011 achieves its goals and become a fun family day out. They are looking for more craft stalls (handmade/homemade goods to sell on the day), more creative workshops (particularly anyone local wanting to share any ethnic skills/crafts), any local bands or musicians who would like to perform and any food stalls (though you must have your own outdoor catering facilities). Specifically they are also looking for a creative soul or designer who can help create an artistic but informative pamplet for the event. And last but certainly not least, they are also looking for help with fundraising or sponsorship so if you're a local business or private individual who wants to show financial support of the Bush Festival, please do get in touch.
If you fit any of the above and would like more information please do contact me and I'll put you in touch.
You can also show support of Bush Festival on Twitter and Facebook and please do spread the word to any of your Bush buddies to get down there on Saturday 13th August 2011.
For more information go to www.bushfestival.org.
* In case you are wondering why I chose this song lyric, which is from the Thundercats theme tune (duh!!) it is because when Philippa emailed me to say that Saturday 13th August had been confirmed as the new date for Bush Festival she simply said; "Thundercats are go!!!!". This made me smile, a lot.