Reflecting Friendliness

Standing in the street broadcasting colour is something that attracts some people, and is ‘a red rag to a bull’ for others.

“There is good and bad everywhere”, and, “Some people in some parts of Hackney are friendly”, were two views expressed today.

Hackney is a diverse inner city area that is under pressure from change, recession, human density, poverty and its recent neighbour, wealth. Into this potentially explosive mix step I, the naïve white middle class hippy who believes that friendliness can make a difference.

People react to me with a range of responses that include ignore, avoid, vent at in frustration, wave and smile encouragingly, approach with caution, and beam in with understanding. Sometimes a conversation will start with one response and shift into another.

Some people read ‘Hackney is Friendly’ as a provocative statement and disagree. “Hackney IS friendly” one woman stated with gusto. “That’s why I moved here,” said another and she talked about finding neighbours here you can count on.

I met many amazing people today, and in micro conversations have heard about life journeys that elicited brave, valiant and extraordinary responses. Thank you to all who spoke to me (some of whom are pictured here). “When people ask me how I am, I say I am happy!” said a musician who exuded a love of life.

A man with impaired vision but good insight pointed out that if you are friendly, you will see more friendliness in return. I noticed myself reflected in his dark glasses as we spoke.

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