You may recall I had a momentary blip. Or a bit of a rant.
I wasn’t even going to publish it, I just needed to get it all off my chest, and out of my head, onto paper (or computer screen) but I’m so glad I did. The response has been so encouraging, and so positive. Loads of really useful ideas and links on how to give my town a ‘bit of a kick up the backside’!
For my own benefit really, but also in case anyone else is thinking of having a go too, I am going to amalgamate all the ideas and links into one place, right here!
(I started trying to do all of this as one big post, but it got huge and out of hand and waaay too long. So I’m going to summarise here, and then visit each point in more detail over the coming weeks, if anyone is interested!)
- Hold an interest meeting
To gauge the level of interest (unsurprisingly!), to engage the townspeople, and to gather ideas
Juliet from Small Farm Future left this brilliant comment:
“Don’t underestimate how many people share your feelings and views about the world. My hubby and another farmer (both in 50s) had many talks on state of the world, climate change etc and wondered if there were others in our village thinking the same. They sent out a simple invite. It said,
A good life needs a good community Come and join us for a meal to talk about our village in the future.
50 people turned out. Okay so there was free food! They cooked shepherd’s pie made with locally sourced food (much of it donated). That was March last year. Since then, they’ve managed to pretty much secure some council land & funding for allotments in the village and there are plans to set up a fuel club and other ideas that all came from that community meal.”
How great is that?!
- Pop-up shop/workshops
Ideas for a use included:
-Made in ________ (insert name of town here) retail space. Showcasing all the fantastic artists and crafters in and around the town
-Workshops-craft classes, upcycling workshops, make do and mend workshops, kids workshops/craft parties
-Shop/space for the community to come and share their ideas. It could incorporate a ‘give and take’ table, and/or a book swap table, to draw people in for a browse, and you could then engage people/ask them for ideas of what they wanted from the town
- Start a W.I
The Women’s Institute is very successfully shrugging off it’s old image of elderly ladies knitting and making jam, and is actively encouraging women to start up new, vibrant W.Is in their area (or joining an existing one). More information can be found on their website.
- An arts or craft community centre
- Become a Transition Town
My (admittedly fairly limited) understanding of this is that as a town, you commit to creating initiatives that rebuild resilience and reduce CO2 emissions.
- Local Markets
Taking a stall at a local market to engage people, or holding a new market in the town itself.
This year, Love your Local Market are running a campaign for a fortnight in May, to showcase local markets of all types throughout the UK. This would be a great opportunity to put on a new market in the town showcasing all the local artisans and producers.
- Set up a community Facebook page
This is a fantastic idea from Abi at Ecoisland, over on the Isle of Wight:
“we have one for the Isle of Wight and it gets used a lot, from helping the people who got stuck in their cars during the Isle of Wight Festival to helping someone find a reliable handyman. It will give you a chance to start putting your ideas out there and seeing how well they are received, you will also probably meet other people with similar views to your own that might want to help you. We also have an Isle of wight debate page for debating Isle of Wight issues. Links to both are here and here. Our apprentice, Rosie uses them both a lot and it has led her to meet lots of people, get more involved with the community and led to ideas such as setting up a community supermarket. ”
Another example of how social media can be used for good!
- The Greening Campaign
This was suggested by Michael at Start UK (who are themsleves, a fantastic organisation, working hard to “make sustainable living simple”)
This is what they say on their website:
- Information and guidance packs
- Dedicated support team
- Links with other groups
- Training days
- Sharing networks or Freecycle/Freegle Groups
For those of you who haven’t come across it before, you can get rid of all your old stuff that is cluttering up your house, without having to leave the comfort of your own home (people who want it come and collect) or you can get stuff for free! There was an article in The Daily Mail recently about a woman who managed to furnish her whole house for free!
- Action for Market Towns
Jamie at AMT tweeted me loads of really helpful information. There aim is to “promote vibrant and viable small towns”, and there is loads of great stuff on their website here.
- Community Area Partnerships
Check out your local one. They basically aim to bring communities together, to find out what they want, and how best they can help to provide it. This is the link to the Wiltshire one, I am sure there must be similar organisations nationwide.
So thankyou everyone, for such an amazing, and inspiring response. Everyone was so positive and although they cautioned that progress might be slow, and painful at times, everyone emphasised that it is important to “be the change you want to see”.
Sometimes, it is apathy that is the problem, but sometimes, I think people are a bit scared off, thinking they haven’t got the time, or the energy, or any ideas.I think it needs to be made open, and inviting to all sectors of the community, and focus on ‘baby steps’.
Apologies for the length of this post, and congratulations if you got this far! This was supposed to be the edited down version…I will, as I said, try and visit each of these areas in more detail of the coming weeks.
It would be great to here if you are doing trying to do anything similar in your area.