BrocSoc BiteBack

We recently received this article from Clare Cowen, editor of the Brockley Society newsletter, as an open reply to the recent article we wrote about BrocSoc:

Brockley Society welcomes the arrival of Brockley Central blog. It adds an important internet dimension to the Brockley community.

A lot of discussion followed the original posting about Brockley Society. Yes, Brockley Society is really the Brockley Conservation Area Society. All conservation areas - of 'special architectural interest' - have an associated amenity society to maintain vigilance over developments. But they have no obligation to carry out other activities, though BrocSoc does.

Unusually, Brockley Society's membership is everyone who lives in the Conservation Area and the newsletter is distributed to every house bynumerous volunteers who deliver in their street or block. We would likewider distribution, even outside the area, in various outlets. But here comes the crunch. Who will organise it? At the moment it's taken on by busy people already doing other things in BrocSoc (all voluntary). It requires about eight hours of time three times a year, with a few phone calls in between. Will someone volunteer to take on this interesting andnot very arduous challenge?

BrocSoc is good at cooperating with other community initiatives in thearea, such as Hilly Fields Park User Group, Francis Drake Bowling Club,Brockley Cross Action Group, Ladywell Society, Brockley Artists' Open Studios, Brockley Max, Friends of Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries, Lewisham Arthouse. We are proud of these and other local organisations. Brockley Central says BrocSoc 'could be doing so much more' and'would like to see BrocSoc focus on Brockley Road'. Fine. WHO in BrocSoc? The people who already spend hours checking the planning applications and attending meetings? The people who work so hard on the brilliant Midsummer Fayre? The people who deliver the newsletter or run other events within BrocSoc as volunteers?

When some teenagers wanted the weatherproof gym bars for their age groupat the top of Hilly Fields, BrocSoc helped them apply for funding. In 1999 local sculptor Polly Ionides came to BrocSoc with an ambitious proposal for a Stone Circle on Hilly Fields for the Millennium celebrations. With enthusiasm BrocSoc provided the organisational structure for this imaginative project.

What ideas would YOU like to carry out within or supported by BrocSoc? In the 17th century John Donne wrote: 'No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. . . therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.' Grotesquely to paraphrase: 'No man (or woman, or child) is an individual outside BrocSoc (if they live in the Conservation Area). Don't ask whatBrocSoc should be doing. BrocSoc is you.'

Please bring your grand ideas -- and your small ones -- and let BrocSoc assist you in achieving them.


The next events are:

  • Brockley Barbecue, Friday 4 July, 7.30pm, Stone Circle, Hilly Fields. Bring friends and family - meet others from the Brockley area. Somefood and refreshments provided - and bring your own to cook on BrocSoc's large barbecue. All welcome!

  • Brockley Society Open Meeting, Wednesday 16 July, 8pm. Baptist ChurchHall, 60 Upper Brockley Road, SE4 (entrance in Vulcan Terrace). Speaker from Stephen Lawrence Centre (to be confirmed). Bring your ideas forBrockley, meet neighbours, and find out more about Brockley Society.

49 comments:

The Cat Man said...
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Hugh said...

I heard someone had been paid to shoot the Brockley Foxes who review local restaurants.

I'd like to pay that person a bonus.

Anonymous said...

are they the same ones that go through my bins?

patrick1971 said...

The tone of that "open reply" suggests to me that the original article has been the subject of more than a little heated debate at the Brockley Society! It does skirt around what I thought one of the main issues users of this site seem to have found, though, and that is that its membership is limited to conservation area only.

The Cat Man said...
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Anonymous said...

Yeah I think they should drop the 'cross' aspect of their name - it confused me for ages as to what they were actually referring to.

westsider said...

I like the fact that they've welcomed Brockley Central's arrival more than a year after it started. Better late than never!

Anonymous said...

I don't like the simmering hostility that seems to be building up towards these organisations. We must remember that they are voluntary, the people are NOT being paid.

When it comes down to it these people not only plan but achieve things for our community. Sometimes it may be to our full liking but as said if want that to happen we have to get involved and try and shape things ourselves.

Its not good enough to carp at the side making snidey remarks on blogs.

They are taking their time out when they could be doing other things for themselves and they don't even get much kudos. They are publicity seeking.

Tressillian James said...

Well said Anon.

Brockley Nick said...

Agreed.

I think we should welcome this article from BrocSoc as an attempt to engage new people in their work.

I don't think there's anything wrong with BrocSoc only having membership from the conservation area, since this is what they were established to protect. However, it's important that they engage with other relevant groups in the area (which they do) and as my original article suggested, it would be nice to think more widely about the issues that the conservation area faces (such as the state of Brockley Road) - this is something they are willing to do, but have called for people who care about these issues to come forward and get involved. That is a perfectly fair and positive response.

lb said...

I was a bit puzzled by their characterisation of the Lewisham Way Memorial Gardens as "sorely neglected" in the last newsletter, given that the gardens appear to be well-maintained and overflowing with bedding plants. I mean, I agree that people should do more than just make negative comments, but the BS newsletter sometimes comes across as a litany of negativity itself.

Bea said...

The Cat Man - what do you mean by failing to deliver on key public pledges whilst expanding the areas they want to focus on? (They didn't plant up a flower bed on the west side?). They aren’t the council! As they state their aim is "to celebrate, empower and improve the community and environment of Brockley Cross". Something they do incredibly well and we all benefit from.

Brockley Cross has just finished a very successful Brockley Max (whose continued existence was in doubt at the beginning of the year), the Brockley Fun Run as well as maintaining the flower bed outside the station. (To name just a few recent things).

If you are concerned don't snipe from the sides, contact the people involved and ask them why they didn’t use the funding to get the flower beds done – I’m sure there’ll be a pretty valid reason. And how about getting involved yourself (I think you mentioned somewhere that you can do pro bono work as an accountant) and then you can ensure that the west side gets it fair share of attention too!

The Cat Man said...
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Anonymous said...

Personally I don't believe that hostility is a constructive response to 'a mis-match of public perception.' towards a voluntary organisation. Help not hostility is the way forward.

Anonymous said...

You know, I think that there is a issue with managing volunteers, with a few of these local organisations. I have heard several reports about this.
Of people volunteering and not being replied to or turning up to meetings and contact details not being taken and so a lost opportunity.

If that is the case and then thats poor. The first principle of running a successful voluntary organisation is to be able to manage volunteers.

I don't know whether they need a database or something to facilitate the management of this process.
Again if they need help they need to ask for it but be specific about what skills they need.

fabhat said...

Anon - I think Clare has been pretty clear about what she wants - someone to organise volunteers for delivering newsletters and for people not to mindlessly gripe about what BrocSoc isn't doing, but actually get in touch and offer to help...

Tressillian James said...

Andy , Bea may be too well bought up to mention it, but I'm not -refering to her as "Bea, honey" is an incredibly patronising and sexist thing to do - but you probably knew that already didn't you?

Tressillian james said...

or "brought" up... I hate it when I have to come down off my moralising high horse to correct a sp. error...

Anonymous said...

I offered to put an event on for Brockley Max but the organisers didn't get back to me. I've heard of a couple of other people wanting to do an event, but who were also ignored, even after several calls/emails. The organisers on this blog kept citing lack of time, but it would have cost them a length of a phone call to have an other event. I wonder how many other people were not contacted back?
Seeing as this year's festival was so short on events compared to last years, I, for one, am extremely annoyed and I only hope there aren't too many other people like me who really wanted to support the festival.

step up to the plate said...

Fabhat, we've gone past the point of 'mindless griping' in this discussion. It is about practical solutions. The society have extended invitiations to two events. I intend to take them up on one or both. However, I am happy to give my ideas, but I am asking whether the structure and organisation is in place to benefit from people turning up. Will they call people back for instance?

As for the delivering of newsletters, I know who to contact, Clare Cowen, but how do I contact her, phone, email, letter or at the barbeque on 4 July or the meeting on 17th?

As to the work is it 3, eight hour days or can they be spread. It has been said before on this blog people are unlikely to sign up for open ended commitments. Having lots of people doing little bits. Is a solution to that issue, but it takes organisation...

The Cat Man said...
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Step up to the plate said...

This thread is about the Brockley society, let's focus on what we can do to help. Clare asked for people to bring ideas. Has anyone got anymore ideas. This is what I've picked up from this thread so far.


1) Change the name to suit remit
2) More focus on Brockley Road
3) improve quality of restaurant reviews by the Foxes
4) Improve management of volunteer recruitment
5) Reiterate and make clear remit of the organisation
6) Emphasize the positive changes in the area.

Tressillian James said...

You did not call Bea (which is a short form of Elizabeth, Beate, Beatrice or other such names), Honey Bee or any other such thing; and it is disingenious to suggest you were. You used the correct spelling of her name, followed by comma, followed by honey

Andy - not sure if you work for one of the big 4 - but try calling any of your female colleagues 'honey' and see how quickly it gets you removed.

Bea said...

Tressillian James, thanks for the support – that was very “sweet” of you ;-)

However, I don’t mind being call "honey" – usually I get “Queen Bea” as a put down.

Anonymous said...

To me it's derogatory. It's the same as saying Bea, listen luv, why don't you run along and wrap your hair in a towel and paint your nails because this is big boys stuff we're talking about on here and you wouldn't understand.

fabhat said...

Step up to the plate - I just did a bit of googling and found Clare's details on a Broc soc newsletter on the web and her email is c.cowan(@)btinternet.com. I thought your first posting seemed a little negative about the society and it's attitude to volunteers, before you'd even got involved, but it's great to hear you'll be helping them out.

Andy - I'm afraid I also thought calling Bea honey, was patronising at best and rude at worst...

Tressillian James said...

Bea - as you are fine with it, I'll drop it - but I agree with both Anon and Fabhat. I'd just hate to see it as a standard way of communicating on the blog

Bea said...

TJ - I agree with your and others belief that it is patronising. Thanks for the support.

(Just didn't want this to become another "Andy" post - which I am afraid it is rapidly becoming.)

drakefell debaser said...

A daily trend at the moment is the cat man managing to offend someone.

On a more serious note, I am keen to volunteer my time for projects aimed at making Brockley as a whole a cleaner and better place to live. Moving the focus to Brockley Road is a good idea as everyone will benefit from it regardless of which end you live. When are the bins outside the post office being painted? We could use this and the good weather as inspiration to get stuck in. It seems we are not short of people with interest at least; this is often half the battle.

Anonymous said...

Some people just want to take offense.

Tamsin said...

Management of volunteers can take more time and effort that the managers - volunteers themselves - can give. It's a Catch 22 situation - you have so much to do in the little time available from necessities like earning a living or feeding your family that it is quicker to do it yourself than take time out to give those who have offered to help you a proper induction. And unfortunately everyone ends up unhappy.

The only solution is for those needing help to be aware of this situation and make a real effort, and those offering likewise to be a little understanding of why their offer might not be taken up straight away.

Anonymous said...

It's all about communication Tamsin. If someone is snowed under a quick email saying as much in response will do.

Even small things like preparing standard emails that you can cut and paste and whip off, saves time.

Tamsin said...

Yes, that's fine if the original contact has been by e-mail and you can just hit the reply button. It's what I did with several who volunteered assistance to the Livesey Friends via the google group. However if what you've got is a phone number - where the first time you call there is no response - or an e-mail addres that is not clearly written and gets bounced back - or a bundle of forms from an event that need to be transcribed and put on a data-base - things get much more time-consuming.

But you are quite right, a little bit of effort at communication, some understanding and apprecation of what is achieved would go a long way.

Looney left was Liverpool, I thought. Lewisham has veered so far to the right that there are a couple of break-away Socialist Councillors in Telegraph Hill ward.

drakefell debaser said...

Aren't socialists left wing?

Tamsin said...

Yes - absolutely. The mainstream Labour group moved pragmatically into real politics so far from the ideals of Socialism that one local councillor gave up on them and broke away towards the left and others now campaign (and one has been elected) on that ticket.

JPM said...

I take great issue with Tamsin suggesting that the "Looney left was Liverpool". As a Scouser I am deeply offended and will immediately report this site to the Race Relations Board.
Tamsin, expect a visit from the Busies. Get the door, go 'ead!

Brockley Kate said...

Right, no more off-topic discussion about Andy - it was a patronising and sexist remark, I completely agree.

On the subject of BrocSoc (and BXAG), what would really help me to get involved is a regular (perhaps weekly?) email out to everyone who's volunteered their email address and said they were interested in helping. The email would set out what was happening in the next few weeks, where and when, how much time was involved, any special skills that the society organisers were on a particular look-out for, and so forth.

Putting my money where my mouth is, I would be more than happy to try and help either organisation to try and develop this kind of means of communication. However, it relies on the people who are already doing things within those organisations to let me (or whoever is organising the email list) know, very regularly, what they need help with, and when and where etc etc. This may involve some change in working practices from the people most involved. But given what a good job they have all done so far with their respective societies I have faith that they will see the benefit of this.

(Anyone wanting to contact me, my email address is on my personal blog, which you can reach by clicking on my name on this post).

Brockley Jon said...

Kate, if it would help, we can create a permanent post on the site (in the top nav) with the details of who currently needs volunteers, who to contact, etc. A sort of 'Brockley Needs YOU!' :)

Tom said...

Jon, that's a great idea.

Brockley Kate said...

Yeah that's a really good idea Jon!

Headhunter said...

Look at that, we don't hear from B Jon for ages than he storms in with a good idea...

There seems to have been some confusion earlier in the discussion here between Broc Soc and BXAG. Broc Soc did not organise BMAX and are not concerned with the area around Brockley Cross

Headhunter said...

Actually does anyone know who is responsible for delivery of newlsetters at Broc Soc? I deliver them but they always come addressed to the woman who used to live in my flat 2 years ago. I told Broc Soc before but it obviously hasn't regsitered. I tried the email address for C Cowan below but the email bounced back

Nina said...

I would go to one of the meetings if I were you, at the very least you should be able to get some proper contact details to get it sorted out in the long run.

fabhat said...

headhunter - apols here's a new version:

clare(at)sumner-type.co.uk

Headhunter said...

Cheers for that, fabhat, have dropped her a line

Hugh said...

I understand from the BrocSoc newsletter that all conservation area residents are automatically BrocSoc members.

I don't want to be a member. How do I opt out? And is such automatic membership an infrigement of my human rights?

Tressilliana said...

I suggest you picket the meetings, Hugh.

'What do I want? An opt-out. When do I want it? Now!'

Should go down a storm.

The Cat Man said...

lol. Thats a good point Hugh. Automatic membership seems abit like 1970's trade union speak.

Amanda said...

Tonight's the night! The meeting is on this evening

Baptist Church Hall,

Upper Brockley Rd (entrance in Vulcan Terrace)

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