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I believe in communities. I believe that the concept of people coming together and working to mutually improve their lives is really cool. It sickens me to hear people (well, conservatives) suggest that there is no such thing as society.

It seems to me that in the age of worldwide communications and media, when it has never been so easy to look out upon the world, that the majority of people are basically self centred. Can anyone tell me why? We sit down at night with delicious microwaved sustenance in front of the TV and expose ourselves to death, destruction, chaos, murder, depravity, sports and weather, and then we go right back into our own little shells where we have the audacity to allow trivial personal concerns to dominate our lives.

Shit, that sounds preachy.

Seriously though, the vast majority of people in my area do little or nothing with the intention of improving the local community. Ironically, these tend to be the people who do most of the complaining about the state of the local environment.

"Bloody council tax. Bastards do fuck all about nuffin'."

Those who are working for change are poorly coordinated or even directly competetive towards each other. Lefties like me don't want to work with religious groups. Religious groups don't want to work with anyone promoting sexual health rather than abstinence. Health workers don't want to risk being seen to be exceeding their authority by involving themselves in the affairs of other organisations. There are so many sticking points it's not even funny.

I'm attempting to find the most effective way that I can devote a little or my time and energy to making life a little better for myself and for others around me. I'm organising a free music festival in a run down town which was all but destroyed when an auto plant closed. I'm getting in touch with youth music programme coordinators.

"Yes, I'm metalhead. Yes, I'm aware that you do classical music. I don't care."

People have told me in the past that one person can't make a difference. These people have never really tried. Individually, I can organise gigs, I can have "Learn to Play Guitar!" sessions with local kids. Laugh if you want, you cynical, MTV-breastfed Generation Xer, but it's a difference, no matter how small it may appear to be.

Now imagine what five people with a little council grant or some lottery funding could do. Imagine what similar groups could do with sports or drama or art. Imagine the kind of facilities we could provide people with. Imagine how much better life could be if people just realised how much they can acheive if they only get off their ass for a few hours a week.

Just the other day someone informed me that I was wasting my life on an idealistic worldview. Well, that was what he would have said had he been completely sober. I argued, and eventually we reached a compromise.

I'm going to keep right on wasting my time on an idealistic worldview. He's going to attempt to clamber his way onto the corporate ladder. In twenty years time we're going to meet up in a pub. The one who's had the least rewarding life buys the first round.