When Juniper became a Tenants & Residents Association five years ago on June 25th 2015, I allowed myself to be elected Chair. Initially, I wasn’t very confident, but was lucky in having a lot of help from a supportive community. And soon, the job became not just a duty but a pleasure.
Making things work is fun – like the succesful bids for bike-sheds and drinking fountains.
On the other hand, watching projects blocked by short-sighted bureacracy is disappointing – as with the solar PV project. But either way, both experiences feel more alive than doing nothing and complaining about it.
An organisation like Juniper is always trying to discover what a community means, mostly by a process of trial and error. It is designed to try and bring people together. Covid19 was designed to keep us apart. And yet, on the first NHS Balcony night (March 26th), joining in with my neighbour Mrs Yusuff setting the rhythm on her drum, I heard a whole community acting together for the first time in over 5 years. Nobody could have felt ‘apart’ on those nights.
The next five years will hopefully see more fun and fewer disappointments, but only if we can keep some of the commitment we displayed when we applauded our Front Line workers. Covid19 has destroyed too many lives and hopes to be allowed to get off scot-free. The best way to get our own back is to replace some of the dead hopes with new ones, and make them real. Otherwise the virus will have won.
Jaki Wilford. (Chair. Juniper TRA
When the Juniper Tenants & Residents Association was formed in June 2015, there were still genuine fears that the block was in danger of demolition. The same was true in 1978 when Juniper was a wreck, with much of the plumbing and cabling stripped, people living in the roof, and Juniper Coop was founded to reclaim the block for public housing.
Now, the future of the building is secure, the Coop is dissolved, and we have £30,000 in the bank to spend on community projects – but infuriatingly, have no way of doing so at the moment. Plus our lives are disrupted by a global problem we’ve never faced before.
It stands to reason a journey like that means there are many untold personal stories which are worth sharing, from new and long-term residents alike.
If anyone would like to contribute any words or photos to the luxury 100th edition of the Newsletter, please deliver by 20/06/2020.