Welcome to the Newsletter of the Belsize Society. (The whole pdf of the May Newsletter is here, but you can link to individual articles below.)
This issue of the Newsletter covers some of the activities in the Belsize area, responding to Covid 19. The Hampstead and Kilburn Community Relief Team started in March and has quickly grown to over 300 local residents/volunteers supporting their neighbours and communities. This Newsletter also give details of how to support the Chalk Farm Foodbank, which is currently requesting donations of food and supplies, and the Royal Free Charity. The Charity has been providing vital wellbeing support to front-line workers at The Royal Free Hospital, Barnet Hospital and Chase Farm Hospital. Continue reading
We asked writer and philosopher Alain de Botton for something to inspire us in these difficult and unusual times.
At some point in the 1650s, the French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal jotted down one of the most counterintuitive aphorisms of all time: ‘The sole cause of man’s unhappiness is that he cannot stay quietly in his room.’
Really? Surely having to stay quietly in one’s room must be the beginning of a particularly evolved kind of psychological torture? What could be more opposed to the human spirit than to have to inhabit four walls when, potentially, there would be a whole planet to explore?
And yet Pascal’s idea usefully challenges one of our most cherished beliefs: that we must always go to new places in order to feel and discover new and worthwhile things. What if, in fact, there were already a treasury inside us? What if we had within our own brains already accumulated a sufficient number of awe-inspiring, calming and interesting experiences to last us ten lifetimes? What if our real problem was not so much that we are not allowed to go anywhere – but that we don’t how to make the most of what is already to hand? Continue reading
We asked Belsize poet Robert Ilson for some reflective words in the age of lockdown. Here is what he sent us (originally published in Ham & High in April).
If you step into the World today
Remember to use your eyes
To grasp the myriad shapes and hues
Of earth and trees and skies
And should you in a thoroughfare
See someone smile at you
Recall that to return a smile
Is perfectly legal too
And when your path brings you back home
Your freshened memory
Will keep you in good spirits till
We’re all at liberty !
The Winch is scaling up support and moving services online – working with young people over the phone, hosting meet-ups for parents via Zoom calls, and keeping connected with the community, whilst we all have to stay physically distant.
The Winch has continued to support many of the children and families already known to them with food, regular check-in calls and in providing extended school care for the children of key workers. Continue reading
Hampstead and Kilburn Covid Community Relief team write:
Hampstead and Kilburn Covid Community Relief is a community led volunteer group operating a buddy system which has been operating on a ‘trust basis’ since the commencement of the government’s lockdown. We match volunteers with people who need assistance with the delivery of essentials such as groceries from supermarkets, collection of prescription medication as well as provide emotional support to tackle the feeling of loneliness resulting from imposed isolation. Continue reading
Camden Arts Centre, Arkwright Road, NW3 www.camdenartscentre.org
Online at https://www.botanicalmind.online/. The Botanical Mind, A new online programme of artist commissions, podcasts, films, texts, images and audio drawing on indigenous traditions from the Amazon rainforest. Free.
Online at: https://camdenartcentre.org/public-knowledge-ignota-books-the-carrier-bag-of-theory/. Carrier Bag Music is a series of sonic fictions inspired by Ursula K. Le Guin. Free.
Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre: Film Collection online Continue reading
Local tree expert Bettina Metcalfe writes: Belsize Park has more different tree species than most people realise, ranging from native to quite exotic trees. The traditional planting consists mainly of London Plane trees, Lime trees, Maples and Ash and we can still see magnificent large old trees in some of our local streets. Nowadays, many councils adopt a different planting regime; they favour smaller spring-flowering trees such as cultivars of Hawthorn, Cherry, Apple, Pear and Juneberry. Due to climate change, there is, however, also a trend to increasingly diversify and plant more exotic trees from further afield in our streets. Continue reading
Camden Pollution Monitoring Project
Due to Covid-19, the planned meeting for Camden Council to report back on the results of the community air quality monitoring study in Belsize Park had to be put on hold until such gatherings are again possible. In the meantime, our August newsletter will present the quantitative findings for the 10 locations where we measured the levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), plus some initial discussion of what we have learned about local air quality during 2019. As soon as we are able to arrange the meeting, details will appear on the Belsize Society website and will be sent out by email to the survey volunteers and members. Continue reading
Members may recall that over the years Belsize Residents’ Association made a number of donations to the WAC Arts organisation, based in the old Hampstead Town Hall on Haverstock Hill. In 2019 BelSoc continued this with a further donation of £200. For members unaware of the organisation’s work, we thought some account of its history and activities might be welcome, particularly in view of its intention to carry out some building work within the Town Hall. As you may know, the Town Hall is a Grade II listed building. BelSoc now has as one of its charitable objectives to promote high standards of architecture, conservation, planning, design and use of buildings in Belsize Ward, and to promote the protection, development and improvement of features of historic interest in the area. So it will be part of our responsibility to take an interest if significant changes of this kind are planned. Continue reading
Friends of Belsize Library are seeking funds from Belsize ward’s Community Infrastructure Levy allocation for a bench commemorating the life and works of Arthur Rackham.
Born on 19 September 1867, English illustrator Arthur Rackham was recognised as one of the leading literary figures during the Golden Age of British book illustration. Famous for drawing sensitive and scary images of fantastical woodland creatures and enchanted trees, Rackham’s influence continues to this day with Director Guilermo Del Toro and Brian Froud, illustrator for the recent Dark Crystal series on Netflix, citing him as a big inspiration on their own work.