2025

*Creative disclaimer*

This is one person’s vision of how this space could evolve over the next few years, and is based in imagination rather than truth. We strongly believe, however, that imagining is the first step in creating the future we want to see – and would warmly welcome your interpretations of this idea. 

 

As I walk down the street I can sense that something has changed.

The building is a beacon, its walls freshly painted, its windows glinting in the sun. Outside, behind the railings, people gather in small groups. Some hold mugs of tea or coffee, steam rising into the crisp morning light. A couple of prams are tucked beside the entrance. In one a tiny baby sleeps, the other is empty – its escapee toddling among the planters. In those planters grow herbs and edible flowers for all to share, colourful and nourishing.

A young woman pulls up on a bicycle and waves to her friend, reading on a bench beside the wall. Her friend beckons her over enthusiastically to share the words she’s just read.

I walk through the open gates and soak up the greetings of my friends, my comrades, my community.

Stepping inside, past the laden fridge and pantry in the doorway, I move into the heart of the space. Tables are dotted around with people sat quietly or in conversation. Through the glass screen you can see the stage where someone is tidying up after last night’s gig. A smiling face at the café hatch calls out to check if I’ll have my usual: I nod and wave, and drift over to check the notices.

Family yoga starts in half an hour in the meeting room, open to all from 8 months to 80. There’s a gathering later this morning in the main hall for creative social entrepeneurs from across the region. Upstairs in the gallery there’s an exhibition of paintings by local artists. Some of the coworking desks are up there too, tucked beneath the windows, and people are drifting up with their laptops to find a spot for today’s work.

I grab my coffee, adding another to the pay it forward board, and pull up a chair. My eyes are drawn towards the wall of books – available to borrow or buy – and I mentally add to my ever-growing ‘to be read’ pile.

There’s the changemakers’ book club tomorrow afternoon alongside story time for the younger ones. I love that we’re all welcome here, that I can bring my whole self to this space and that my children are valued as human beings.

As I’m basking in my gratitude for that I spot two familiar faces at the door. Arthur grins, waving his Buckfastleigh Pounds, and goes to grab a couple of vegan croissants. Orson runs and jumps into a cuddle, waving goodbye to Dad who’s off to work at the hospital.

Our day will be spent here as it is twice a week, in the learning hub downstairs. We drift down as friends start to arrive, children and their adults. Some part ways as adults head off to honour their other commitments but others stay together.

The room downstairs is large and vibrant. There are chairs already set out in a circle and some people gravitate towards these whilst others sink into beanbags or go through to the kitchen to grab a drink.

Five days a week this kitchen is a space for the wider community to come together to cook and eat and learn, but on these two days it’s ours: a space for food but also science and art, with a big table to gather around.

Several more doors open off the main room: one to the media den, where music, speech and film is recorded and edited, and one to the caregivers’ work space. There are two parents working in here today, and another computer available for the kids to use.

Another door heads out to the garden which started life as a field generously donated by Devonia Sheepskins once the moor imagination collective began to gather pace.

A third of this field is safely enclosed for the children to free flow: a couple of tables and chairs, some raised beds, a den.

The rest, accessed by a gate from the centre but also separately from the ever-evolving Devonia site, has flourished in the couple of years that have passed since this site came into community ownership. The forest garden is beginning to take shape, fruit tree guilds standing tall as paths weave around the edible shrubs and plants below.

There’s a more formal growing area too which feeds the community café and kitchen, with enough leftover to contribute to the pantry – free to access for anyone who needs a little help.

In the midst of this space is the fire circle. It’s not burning now, but it’s regularly lit to bring people together, sharing stories and songs and hopes for the future as the night rolls in.

Everybody has so much more hope now. It’s incredible the impact this space has had, a once-neglected church on a well-worn street. I don’t think anyone had realised before quite how much energy for change buzzed in this town. We’d all been railing against the system within the confines of our own homes, desperate for comradery but feeling so alone.

Once there was a place for people to go that all began to shift. And now it feels like anything is possible.

 

2025

5 thoughts on “2025

  1. Sophie this is beautifully written. You made such a vivid picture in my head. I cannot wait to see what is to come for this wonderful project.

  2. I am 75 years old, and this brought tears to my eyes. I feel with my lifelong experiences there is something l can offer in any way to help. It really lifted my heart and regain my trust in humanity. Made me feel there is a good future for my grandchildren god bless you all. 01364643691

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