The Borough Common
The Borough Common died some time in 2023 of natural causes (migration, aging, changing times) but like all of us was also affected by the global pandemic. Born in 2009 in South London it was a community of high hopes, happy memories, and its fair share of imperfections. Through it all it made sincere attempts to be common property, to be a haven for spiritual growth, and to do some real good in the real world.
Sunday October 22nd at 8pm (UK time) we will gather on Zoom for a short funeral to honour the end.
There will be a eulogy, a liturgy and space to share. Everyone is welcome.
The Borough Common Story
It started as a church experiment in 2009
The Borough Common was born in 2009 out of Headspace, an experimental open-minded community-run evening service attached to what is now Oasis Church Waterloo. Over the summer of 2009 Headspace was coming to an end and a group of friends hosted community dinners to explore what becoming our own entity might look like. What emerged were the founding principles and structures of Borough Common, along with a group who wanted to give it a go. We would be a group without dogma/creed or hierarchy - but hold the group as 'common property' and a twofold intention (1) to grow together spiritually (with a deliberately vague sense of what that might mean) and (2) to do good in the world.
From 2009-2015 the community met every sunday evening at the Welsh Chapel in Borough. We took it in turns to host services, facilitated by 'open planning' sessions every 6-8 weeks. Every 6 months or so we held a 'deep planning' session to reflect on where we were as a community and what changes might be needed. At Greenbelt in 2013 we gave a talk that gives a bit more texture about the whole process and where we were at that point. You can listen here or look over our old blog.
For 2016 we moved to meeting monthly in the mornings, and moved to St Giles Centre in Camberwell. In 2017 we felt the need for a spring clean and so (after a survey assessing where we were) refreshed the format, switching to monthly 'richer conversations' over brunch.
In 2020 with the arival of the COVID pandemic, the monthly meetings turned into weekly online gatherings, reconnecting with those who had moved away from south london and welcoming some new faces. After a while this turned back to a monthly rhythm before meetings ran out of steam. After a while there was no sign of life returning, so it was agreed to mark the end the community.
Initially the community was maintained by seven founders, which became an "organisers group" which became an open access group which people could move in and out of. Finances were maintained by a nominated treasurer.
Every six months 2010-2020 we hosted a tea party for socially isolated older people in Southwark in partnership with Contact The Elderly (now rebranded as Re-Engage).
In the winter for six consecutive years, we took a leading role in Robes Project – hosting homeless guests on Friday nights for 8 weeks in partnership with St George The Martyr in Borough.
Communications in the group were mostly via the facebook group and then WhatsApp.