To the newcomer, Harston may seem not to have much of a community. Riven by the A10 and with no obvious village centre, it can feel a bit transitory. But after living here for even a short time, it becomes clear why there are so many long-standing and loyal residents. People coalesce around the school, football team, pub, orchard, brewery, churches and Village Hall. It's history and proximity to both Cambridge and wide-open countryside are obvious draws. The population is diverse and interesting, and many of them care deeply about Harston and want to make it a nicer place to live.
This caring is evident in the recent resurgence of the Harston Residents' Group (HRG), which has come together around a few key issues after a period of relative inactivity (read about the formation of the Group and its aims). One of those issues - voiced by one resident on Facebook but then quickly echoed by others - is the litter which fills the hedges and verges right through the village. It's worst on the High Street, as one might expect, but it's evident on almost every street and path. Some will be accidental 'drift' from refuse day, or the odd thing falling unseen from a pocket; but most of it is discarded thoughtlessly by people either unaware or uncaring about the impact it has on both the environment and those who have to look at it day in, day out.
In early January this year, HRG held is first public meeting in some time, primarily to discuss cuts to the 26 bus service through the village. But litter was also on the agenda, and those in attendance agreed to organise a litter pick. So last Sunday, 12 March - after not much more than a few Facebook posts and posters around the village - some 40-odd people of all ages, from all corners of the village, gathered at the pavilion to collect their pickers, gloves and bags (kindly loaned by SCDC). We divided the village into sections and off people went, combing the verges and ditches, filling bag after bag with every conceivable kind of rubbish. Cars were dispatched to collect bags too big to carry, new bags were delivered, and one person who had no idea that the event was happening asked to join in!
Bags full and with limbs aching, people drifted back in dribs and drabs to enjoy some well-earned tea and cake, generously baked by some of the volunteers. Spirits were high as we surveyed our haul: a good catch, but we'd really just scratched the surface; there is more to collect, and work to do to prevent such a build-up again. We'll be looking at some ideas for prevention alongside other suggestions for improving the village's appearance at future meetings.
Best of all, people got to know each other, deepening that sense of community. Seeing that other residents care about the same things - and working together to improve them - is highly motivating. See pictures from the day.
Our next meeting is on Tuesday 18 April, 8pm at The Queen's Head. Come down, have a drink, make some new friends and contribute your ideas.