As it's Marple carnival today thoughts inevitably turn to broader considerations about community cohesion; how a place like this not only functions successfully but also prospers. A key ingredient is an event like today's carnival - it's the mortar between the bricks.
But how is something like this communicated? And what role does a local media have in it? There is no coverage in this week's Stockport Express ahead of the event - there will be next week - and yet everyone is aware of it and talking about it. The bunting is out, the programmes are distributed, the posters are up and the Marple website has a big section on it. It's an event just made for the new wave of hyperlocal news services that are springing up.
At a meeting last week of a community group I'm involved in, we discussed how to communicate something we need communicating. Posters will be posted in relevant places, websites will be used and then someone suggested advertising in the local paper. I'm sure the same debate was had at the Marple Carnival committee.
Now, each week I dutifully buy the Stockport Express, just as I have bought the Hackney Gazette and the Lancaster Guardian in previous places I've lived. But it wouldn't help at all. We would waste effort begging the district reporter to cover the story, and an advert would be a waste of money.
It turns the arguments for hyperlocal news on their head. There's a debate on David Ottewell's blog here, sparked by a decision by Salford Council not to fund The Salford Star. Without going into the detail of that issue, it strikes me the debate seems to pivot around democracy, political accountability and public services. Because it is "a good thing" that journalists should do this, then so it follows that they should. Therefore the failure of other media to do this creates a hole which must be filled. Yet the very reason why local papers don't divert their resources to covering council meetings and committee meetings is an imbalance between the resource needed to do so and the rate of return of readers. In short, I'm not sure there is a demand for that level of engagement; certainly not enough to build a business on it.
Yet hyperlocal still excites me. Editorially, there are stories the print media don't cover. The reason? They just aren't close enough to the people they are writing about (and for) to realise that they matter. There is actually a more urgent appetite for hyperlocal discourse about the rather more mundane and lighter parts of life. Like a carnival, or a lacrosse tournament or where to get a birthday cake made.
I'm fairly sure that the two-fisted Salford Star approach wouldn't work here in Marple. And in reverse I do think a bit more of the soft stuff - with tweaks, with a good commercial manager and a broader editorial approach - it could thrive in Salford without having to go cap in hand to the council. It shouldn't come to that. But a sound commercial base, rooted in private community support and a strident pro local business stance may well give editor Steve Kingston the space and time to point out where the bad guys are hiding.
But it is also true that there is a massive commercial opportunity for hyperlocal media, especially in many of Greater Manchester's more identifiable communities. And the form that will take depends very much on the fabric of those communites and areas. One size will not fit all.