Community values

Chesterton Festival’s showcase for community values ​​is quite a triumph

Community values ​​topped the bill at this year’s Chesterton Festival, with groups and organizations ranging from Cambridge Sustainable Food to Camcycle to Friends of Elizabeth Way and many more advocating to stick together, work together to build a better city and seek after the people and ethics we love, value and respect.

Eat for our Future at the Chesterton Festival, June 18, 2022. Photo: Mike Scialom

The community event, which began in 2012, took place at Pye’s Rec, with the doors open around noon and the musical program beginning with the Chesterton Community College samba band. Just yesterday, gazebos in the park would have provided shelter from the intense heat, but today they pushed back the rain that beset the afternoon on and off. Undeterred, entertainment areas, playgrounds, tents, food and coffee stalls and community businesses were busy by 1 p.m. when the rain cleared.

The variety of stalls was remarkable. Within yards of each other were the Cambridge Art Salon, Cambridge Museum of Technology, Hundred House Society, Hope Church Chesterton, East Chesterton WI, CamSight, Winter Comfort, Cambridge Liberal Democrats, Cambridge Water, Healing Dogs for Deaf People, the 12th Cambridge Scout Group and the 1st Chesterton Girls Brigade. Plus raffles, raffles, garden ornaments and a free-hand reflexology booth.

The Camcycle stand at the Chesterton Festival with administrative agent Rosamund Humphrey, left
The Camcycle stand at the Chesterton Festival with administrative agent Rosamund Humphrey, left

While the Cuban salsa band Los Orejitos played Oye Como Va by Santana, I was offered a piece of cake at the Eat For Our Future stand run by Cambridge Sustainable Food, which launched a new offer – backed by the Cambridge Independent – for recognition as a sustainable food place of gold winning a silver medal in 2012. The UK-wide measure is designed to help create a healthy, climate-friendly and fair local food system for all, says Becca Smith, project coordinator and volunteer at Cambridge Sustainable Food.

“We kicked off our gold campaign at the end of May,” Becca told Pye’s Rec. “Today, it’s to encourage people to adapt their diet. Half of what we do is to focus on the climate emergency through food, the other half is food justice – so that everyone has access to healthy and affordable food.

Everyone knows how Cambridge is one of the worst cities in the country when it comes to wealth inequality, but how much worse is it, given the broader picture of rising food prices and global food insecurity?

Becca Smith, Project and Volunteer Coordinator, Cambridge Sustainable Food on the Eat for Our Future stand at Chesterton Festival 2022
Becca Smith, Project and Volunteer Coordinator, Cambridge Sustainable Food on the Eat for Our Future stand at Chesterton Festival 2022

“There are people who can’t afford to cook in Cambridge,” says Becca, “and people who have to choose between eating and heating.

“There are nine community food centers in the city, with people going there because they can’t afford to buy food.”

Is she shocked by this state of affairs?

“Heartbroken more than anything,” Becca replies. “It’s shocking, yes. However, in my opinion, there’s quite a bit of community in Cambridge, and it works… There’s a divide because of the inequality, but the community really came together during the pandemic.

“We recommend people find out where their local food center is and see how you can help out or volunteer with us – we have 140 volunteers and have contributed 10,000 hours of community service over the past year. »

At Friends of Elizabeth Way, Simon Fitzmaurice and Carola Schoenlieb were campaigning for a 20mph limit on the town center bridge.

The Out of The Shadows choir changes at the Chesterton Festival
The Out of The Shadows choir changes at the Chesterton Festival

“A reduction in speed is also a reduction in emissions,” Carola said, “but the amount of cars is also an issue. It’s better if there are fewer cars allowed into the city, so yeah, we also support a congestion charge, plus infrastructure improvements.

Transport arrangements for the city are also the subject of the day at the Camcycle booth. The administrative manager of the cycling campaign group (and Camcycle Magazine editor) Rosamund Humphrey is one of four people on the stand and she is excited because she joined at the start of the pandemic.

“It’s the first time I’ve organized an event at a stand,” she says. ” It was great. The rain was intermittent but it was non-stop for us.

So what are people asking for today?

“People are talking about road safety, wider cycle lanes to further separate cars and bikes, roundabout safety and the Greater Cambridge partnership. [GCP] suggestions of course.

Mrs Caroline Bewes, Second Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire with Deacon Ian Murray, Minister of Chesterton Methodist Church, on Pye's Rec for Chesterton Festival.  Photo: Mike Scialom
Mrs Caroline Bewes, Second Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire with Deacon Ian Murray, Minister of Chesterton Methodist Church, on Pye’s Rec for Chesterton Festival. Photo: Mike Scialom

The consultation process to adapt the city’s transport infrastructure began in May.

“Essentially, the GCP is consulting the public on the biggest changes to road layouts since the 1980s,” Rosamund said. “The idea is to make space for sustainable travel, including active travel, to free up the roads to make more trips by bike, bus and on foot.

“A lot of people ask why not remove traffic further, ie a wider ring road rather than diverting the roads. This is not to support a congestion charge, but to recognize that the GCP proposals put enormous pressure on specific places, such as Mitcham’s Corner.

Oakes Summerfield on stage at the Chesterton Festival
Oakes Summerfield on stage at the Chesterton Festival

“People support anything that makes it easier and more sustainable for them to get around, so any way we can help facilitate that is good, while still being inclusive.

“We encourage as many people as possible to take part in the consultation – which ends on July 18 – and to make their voices heard.”

On the main stage – in fact the only – stage, Oakes Summerfield performs. It’s just him and his guitar, and he sings a fantastic version of Let her go of Passenger, followed by commendable versions of Oasis Don’t look back in angerby Van Morrison brown eyed girl and Pink Floyd wish you were Here. It’s hard to work out how old he is but he’s got a fan club – the whole front row is taken up by his mates, and I ask one of them how old his hero is.

Friends of Oakes Summerfield from Chesterton Community College watch him perform at the Chesterton Festival
Friends of Oakes Summerfield from Chesterton Community College watch him perform at the Chesterton Festival

“13,” one says, before explaining that they all go to Chesterton Community College.

At the organizers’ tent, Rachel says she estimates 500 people attended and it’s only mid-afternoon. Rachel explains that the steering group for the festival is made up of St George’s Methodist Church, St Andrew’s Church, St Andrew’s Hall, Brownsfield Community Centre, Chesterton Working Man’s Club and is supported by a grant from the City Council of Cambridge. The groups are organized by Margaret Nimmo-Smith.

Once Oakes has finished performing, he is followed by the Out of the Shadows Choir, before a speech by the Mayor, Cambridge Ukebox and a circus round out the afternoon programme.

This Scout from the 12th Cambridge Scout Group at the Chesterton Festival was one of four in the group selling cakes to raise money to go to the World Scout Jamboree in South Korea in 2023
This Scout from the 12th Cambridge Scout Group at the Chesterton Festival was one of four in the group selling cakes to raise money to go to the World Scout Jamboree in South Korea in 2023

There’s something about the Chesterton Festival that’s quite charming: it supports and nurtures the visitors and the team that put it together. It’s discreet and endearing. It is an unpretentious area.

On my way out, I met Deacon Ian Murray, pastor of Chesterton Methodist Church and one of the organizers. Ian was with Mrs Caroline Bewes, 2nd Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire – ‘one of 41!’ Ms Bewes says modestly, while downplaying her role as Cambridgeshire’s High Sheriff for 2021/22.

“It’s my first visit to Chesterton Fair,” she says, “and there’s a real community spirit here, it’s absolutely fantastic, people really enjoy it – and it’s a really good festival. managed, with organizational help from Ian.”

“And an incredible team,” adds Ian.