Arboretum Ward and Nottingham East: Councillor Merlita Bryan means a new kind of community business: care, support, expect miracles

Featured Image:  Arboretum Councillor Merlita Bryan Canvassing in Berridge Ward with Nottingham East MP Chris Leslie

On Friday I was lucky enough to spend a couple of hours with Councillor Merlita Bryan who was out canvassing with a labour team in Arboretum, her own ward 

Canvassing in Arboretum friday 2nd June

with the Nottingham East MP Chris Leslie

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Canvassing is an art and it’s something Merlita does with consummate ease.

In the two hours we walked, canvassed and talked she noticed fly tipping, explained the weak and strong connections between different parts of the ward, the way that Alfreton Road is really developing economically as well as the reasons behind the phenomenally successful Black Achievers Awards 

And in Arboretum Ward Merlita Bryan is someone who works with the team but when she sees the need can become a leader and a pioneer.

When things were falling away after the Tottenham Riots in 2011 for the poor, the dispossessed, when everyone was asking ‘what should be done?’ when the idea of success, support and a great future seemed impossible for the black community particularly, Merlita set up an awards evening where spirit, effort, innovation and an outstanding contribution to Nottingham life and culture could be acknowledged publicly. 

If you want to get a picture of Merlita’s experiences have a look at her website:

and if you want to see the similarities and connections between Jamaica and the UK here’s a great book: ‘Pieces of The Past: A Stroll Down Jamaica’s Memory Lane’ by Rebecca Tortello 

You can also order this book from independent bookshop Five Leaves

PIeces of The Past A Stroll Down Jamaicas Memory Lane

Merlita made me realise though, that when more people become aware that we all benefit from the success of more people, more of the time the whole city feels different. I realised this as we sat in Asda, Hyson Green for a coffee, afterwards. She knew everyone and this local knowledge helps retailers like Asda, Hyson Green,  which has a real sense of great local responsiveness, the ranges are wider, the prices more competitive. There are some amazing independent businesses and services in Hyson Green and I expect that Asda would be the first to accept that this has really helped them establish themselves. All good relationships are two way. 

Because she works as part of a team in everything she does she raises our expectations of a better city. It’s like she has hyper developed peripheral cultural vision. She makes you want to see more even if it’s not always great she makes you realise it’s your responsibility and it’s not that bad to get on to the job…..get it done…

Good people like Merlita are like artists: they join the dots, fill the spaces, pick up the litter, see beyond the smell, the noise, the wrongs, the waffle. They’re parents, workers, they’re in the community and they also stand slightly outside making sure everyone gets access just in case someone is forgotten. Seeing the detail (litter) and the big picture (opportunity for everyone), they make sense of the incomprehensible, making life worthwhile when everything seems to be falling away.

If anyone deserves a result in the election it’s us.

When the team behind the MP’s make the connections, link up people you think that’s possible. 

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