Hi, I'm Helen Osman, the founder of n21online.com. I am going to introduce myself to you in much the same way that I encourage businesses and groups to do on this website - to tell you about themselves and their stories.
I have lived in the area for over thirty years, firstly in Palmers Green and in Grange Park since 1987. My two daughters went to Grange Park Primary School and Palmers Green High School and have since flown the nest.
My background is marketing and business innovation, working for over thirty years in commercial sociology, marketing and business innovation; a rich and varied career, working with multi-national companies, in dozens of sectors, in different parts of the world. I took redundancy from the company I was working with in the City in 2008 and having some time on my hands, I began to think about how I could use the Internet to create a community portal, a source of useful information about the area I have now spent the largest part of my adult life, where my children were brought up, where I call home.
It started with a few ideas in powerpoint, which I took to a local web designer. n21online.com went live in December 2009 and I became a webmaster - a steep but fascinating learning curve. I am a great believer in the old adage that you are never too old to learn.
Over the past few years, n21online.com has grown rather large. I have met hundreds of people in the local area, have helped to set up new community and charity groups, given some marketing advice to a large number of small businesses, working with local schools and found myself unexpectedly campaigning against the likes of Network Rail, The Environment Agency and most recently Enfield Council's Mini Holland scheme.
The concept behind this website is very easy, it is a marketing platform for N21's assets - its people. I call it ABC for short.
C: Campaigning and Connecting
All three are vital to sustaining a local community.
So why would someone who has spent a career in innovation and social change be interested in such issues as local community and encouraging people to shop locally I am often asked? Because we all have to live somewhere and the majority of people reading this page and using this website are very lucky to live in this rather nice part of leafy North London, with good quality housing, schools and plenty of open spaces. Yet we can't be complacent. We may see the little independent shops and restaurants as adding an interesting backdrop to our lives, but if we don't use them they aren't going to survive. We are a little local economy, with hundred of people earning their living by providing goods and services to people in the local area, many of whom are based at home and difficult to find. If we can keep them in business then we will all benefit.
A no brainer?
It was been hard work but also rewarding running this rather large community portal. The best thing about it has been getting to know so many local people.