Our final speaker of the entire convention is Miriam Delogu, project leader for "The Circle."

Miriam has "spent the last seven years in a sunken roundabout in the centre of Bristol"

The story we are about to hear is one of the convention's most powerful, inspirational and genuinely gut-wrenching displays of community spirit.

Did Locality save the best until last? I think so.

This is St James Barton Roundabout, also known as "The Bearpit"

The Bearpit was once voted as the single worst area for crime in Bristol. It was a hotspot for drugs and anti-social behaviour.

Miriam has been working in The Bearpit for the last seven years, starting out selling coffee part-time. Soon though, due to the hostility of the area, this business was forced to cease trading.

During this short time bonds had been created with regular customers and Miriam felt that her presence was important to the community. In order to "make the change needed" Miriam decided to go full-time at this neglected site.

"Bearpit Social," a small cafe, opened at the site and seemed to be well received. Miriam describes the "two minute relationships" built with commuters and witnessing "social integration at it's best."

Things were not always smooth sailing though as we learn that Miriam was physically assaulted a few years later. Whilst this would put most people off this empowered Miriam to make a difference.

A meeting to find solutions to the area's problems was held with the council, police, various agencies and local businesses.

Out of this, a new social enterprise took off and within a couple of years The Bearpit wasn't even in the top 20 hotspots of crime.

"We were winning" Miriam exclaims.

As this project has evolved Miriam's team have battled racism, homophobia and extreme hostility as they took their roles as "guardians of the Bearpit." In the face of adversity they had found the perseverance to continue and remain optimistic although Miriam states that "Optimism without action is simply wishing on stars"

The site is described as "this one unique place where you can see the worst in humanity, but in the very same day you can see ordinary people show true kindness and demonstrate the very best in humanity"

After another vicious assault the decision was made to close the businesses as they could not justify the safety risk to staff.

However, showing true grit and determination a brand new vision was formulated.

The Bearpit is soon to be renamed "The Circle" and will become Bristol's first "Green Gateway, a brand new destination that brings the city together."

The circle will include:

  • A sustainable food hub complete with urban farming that will provide education and employment
  • A brand new community centre
  • An incubation centre showcasing new technologies to help improve food production and energy efficiency
  • An inclusive well-being centre
  • Community gardens "like no other"

"We have to strive for sustainability. Environmentally, economically but most importantly socially"

Miriam ends her speech to a tremendous round of applause and receives a well-deserved standing ovation from teary-eyed delegates.

I can't think of a better way to celebrate the brilliance of this project and their demonstration of community-driven willpower.

This really was the perfect way to end an utterly amazing Locality 2018.

To read more about my Locality experience click here!