Sad news arrives that Totterdown community activist/whirlwind Kate Pollard died in hospital in Sydney on January 2nd after a long fight against cancer. Kate died with her family in Australia, which is where she wanted to be.
Kate will be well known to many people in Totterdown – where she made her home – as well as in many other communities across Bristol. Through a long community work career Kate battled daily against injustice alongside other ordinary Bristolians making those small differences that we often take for granted but that really matter.
In Totterdown, Kate’s kindness, common sense, empathy and organisational skills allied to an extraordinary ability to persuade and cajole the people around her to stop watching the telly and actually do something will be sorely missed.
Even up until Christmas, despite a debilitating illness and all the way from Australia, Kate was still contacting Totterdown residents, using those persuasive skills to make sure the things that neeeded doing were going to be done.
Towards the end of 2006 Kate published her book, Totterdown Rising. The full title of the book is revealing : Totterdown Rising: The Story of a Community Enduring and Surviving a Planning Disaster.
It was typically Kate that a book about a community that was deliberately split in half and decimated to make way for a road that was never built, was not about a community beaten into submission by a hopeless council’s misguided obsession with the motor car but a story of how people rebuilt their community and reinvented that special Spirit of Totterdown right there in the face of uncaring and misguided government.
Kate was no victim; she stood on her own two feet. And she understood that people and communities had to stand on their own two feet too. You should never just be the passive and convenient victims of the grand schemes of those in power. Communities and their people, regardless of circumstance, can always rise again and fight for another, better day.
In a time when every two-bit political careerist and calculating bureaucrat perfectly understands the financial value and political utility of ‘the community’ to their own plans and their business partners’ profits, Kate understood and could communicate the real value of our communities here in Bristol – they’re our places to live, work, love, learn, laugh, cry, organise, manage, fight, win, endure, survive and sadly, die.
Friends of Kate in Totterdown will be organising a bash in a few months time with music and dancing and revelry to celebrate Kate’s life. If you knew Kate and want to be involved, email the Blogger and your details will be passed on.