General ramblings

Sometimes, blips are good…

January 14, 2013

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

lightbulb

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 communityCome 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.

WI logo

  • 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.

Many people cited Totnes in Devon, as the shining light here. You can check out Transition Town Totnes, or the Transition Network for more information.

  • 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

facebook

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:

“The Greening Campaign is a structured programme with Three Phases for you and your community to work through, offering:
  • Information and guidance packs
  • Dedicated support team
  • Links with other groups
  • Training days
  • Events”
  • Sharing networks or Freecycle/Freegle Groups

Freecycle and Freegle are a fantastic concept.

freecycle_logo

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.

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16 Comments

  • Reply a cheerful living adventure January 16, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    Excellent list of things to do!

    I’m not a member of our local WI, but they run a little cafe and market on a Saturday morning which I’m often found in, scoffing cakes (of course). It’s great!

    I am part of our tiny little local transition group though (we have a little community garden, and got some funding from the council to build planters for people to grow veg in their front gardens), and also part of the city-wide transition group (which puts on ‘transition cafes’ (I like cafes) for people from all kinds of different groups to get together and chat.

    Absolutely agree that if you want something cheery to happen, start making it happen – chances are there’s loads of other people waiting to join you, just feeling like they can’t start something on their own! Great to read about all the things people are doing 🙂

    • Reply Jen January 16, 2013 at 11:06 pm

      Thanks Jenny. I like cafes too. ALthough they have slightly lost their appeal now with 2 Smalls in tow….
      Just need to start small I think, and get some idea of interest from other people, and take it from there.
      Will keep you updated!

  • Reply Smallfarmfuture January 15, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Thanks for the mention Jen. Great that you’re pulling all the ideas and resources together as a resource.
    I agree with all the comments encouraging small scale action on your doorstep. In the end that is how things change …. and it feels good! ):

    • Reply Jen January 15, 2013 at 12:45 pm

      No prob. Thanks so much for all the encouragement 🙂

  • Reply catfletcher January 14, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    hit send too quick….nice blog btw!

    • Reply Jen January 14, 2013 at 10:20 pm

      Thankyou! Glad you like it. As you said “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. I am trying in my own little corner of blogland 🙂

  • Reply catfletcher January 14, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    I am that woman who furnished her house for free 🙂 and have done so for over 3o years…..there is way too much stuff in the world, so it is pretty easy to find good household things for free or for a small sum. Freegle groups are all over the UK for those who have stuff to clear out and don’t want to throw it away…find someone local who can make use of your unwanted goods-everything is free. Freegle groups are run by local volunteers.
    http://www.ilovefreegle.org/groups/

    Be the change you wish to see in the world!

    • Reply Jen January 14, 2013 at 10:19 pm

      Oh wow! Make Do and Mend royalty!! How exciting 🙂 Totally inspirational stuff, loved it. As you say, Freegle and Freecycle are fantastic resources. I never seem to quite get to the best stuff in time in my local groups, but I keep trying!! Congratulations, and what a great way to make people think about what they are buying.

  • Reply For Bella and Will January 14, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    What a great list and how exciting about the feedback you are getting!
    Very excited for you, I just wish I was back in Hereford which is a lot more active on the sustainability front than West London 🙂

    • Reply Jen January 14, 2013 at 10:01 pm

      Surely West London should be leading the way in Eco-cool!! Thanks for reading Catherine 🙂

  • Reply Terena Plowright January 14, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Hi there, I am from the Greening Campaign which you mention above. I can send you a free support book and also 2 free DVD’s to help kick the butt of your community. The idea is to have fun, laugh, and tackle some real local and worldwide problems. Just think if every community changes the area within its boundary to becoming a more sustainable place – then every community across the world will have changed. It really is as simple as that – change where you live. Please let me know if I can help you in any way my email address is terena@greening-campaign.co.uk or if you want to email me for a free pack (well . . . . £1 postage helps with costs please) please go ahead. Also if you want to meet other likeminded people who are preparing their community for change, we will shortly be running a series of free conferences across the country so follow the website for announcements within the next month!! http://www.greening-campaign.co.uk. Finally, smile, it sounds stupid, but it draws people to you and that is the start of conversation! All the best – Terena

    • Reply Jen January 14, 2013 at 8:36 pm

      Hi Terena That all sounds fab! I will e-mail you 🙂 Thanks again

  • Reply Jo aka Kiwijo January 14, 2013 at 9:55 am

    There are some fabulous ideas here Jen, as you say, take baby steps, after all even the biggest oak tree was once an acorn.
    :o)

    • Reply Jen January 14, 2013 at 10:29 am

      Thanks Jo. Baby steps indeed-need to work on this 🙂

  • Reply vivjm January 14, 2013 at 8:50 am

    Ah, good to see you return with such a positive post & lots of good ideas here!
    I meant to email you to apologise for my comment on your post before, cos reading it back, I thought I sounded rather negative – which wasn’t what I meant!!

    • Reply Jen January 14, 2013 at 10:28 am

      Thankyou! Did you make any progress in the end with things that you were trying to change?

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