General ramblings

A momentary blip…

January 9, 2013

Feeling very depressed and demoralised 🙁

Just had a meeting with a really amazing, lovely, inspiring guy who lives in my town about how we get it back up on it’s feet, and prevent it from becoming a clone town. He has loads of really great ideas, and agreed with lots of my really great ideas (well I think they are really great anyway..!) BUT how do we implement them?

He has been active in the politics of the town (in an apolitical way, if that makes any sense) for over 20 years, and says that he is consistently met with apathy and a lack of people who want to stand up and take on the challenges of trying to change things.

This is so depressing. My town is a typical Wiltshire market town. Once upon a time, it would have been a thriving bustling town, with a real community and lots of local businesses. And now, it has lost it’s soul. It is rapidly becoming one of the ‘clone towns’ we all profess to detest so much, but if everyone hates them so much, why aren’t people trying to do more to stop it?

I just want to live somewhere that there is a community-in the truest sense of the word. Somewhere vibrant and alive with artisans and crafters and independent shops, and workshops, and and and….

How can this be achieved? If this guy has been trying for 20+yrs to do something, and not managed it, then is there any point me even trying..?

It could be so great. We could be a sustainable town. We could have a community hub with a craft cafe and workshops, and a meeting space for people, young and old alike, who want to learn new skills, and meet new people, and a retail area for local crafts, and an Upcycle Exchange…. How amazing would that be?!

But I am depressed already at the apparent lack of support of the rest of the town. Although I don’t know for sure that this is the case. There must be other people out there who feel like me? Mustn’t there? And if there are, how do we engage them, and empower them, and get them on board?

I am overwhelmed at the enormity of trying to change something that might not want to be changed.

And don’t even get me started on Climate Change…

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37 Comments

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  • Reply Blossom Fair January 14, 2013 at 7:37 am

    Hi,

    I’ve just read your post and wondered if you’d heard of Dan Thompson AKA @artistsmakers on Twitter.

    I’m not sure but he may be able to help you or atleast give you some advice.

    Amanda
    Blossom Fair

    • Reply Jen January 14, 2013 at 10:27 am

      Hi Amanda. I am following him on Twitter! Thanks for the suggestion, and thanks for reading 🙂

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  • Reply Sam Taylor January 11, 2013 at 11:05 am

    Jen – don’t interpret lack of action as total lack of enthusiasm – people are super busy – work full time, family etc and have to prioritise, I know you know this but just saying people in your area maybe do care but never get round to stuff……
    Plus I think you do have to try and (hate the phrase) think outside the box a bit. Not everyone has any interest in crafts. I confess I would rather stick a crochet needle in my eye than use it to crochet (sorry) and I have no interest at all in making anything. Sewing up wounds is my only form of needlework. BUT (it is a big but) I support everything you do and recycle and try my best. So I guess what I am saying is I would never join a WI that focused on crafts, but I might if it also had other things to offer.
    Plus I think it is like nursing clinics in a practice – they need one crazy keen never give up type person to take the knocks and not give up! I support you even with my lack of craftiness!

    • Reply Jen January 11, 2013 at 1:39 pm

      Thanks Sam. You are totally right, and I was talking about this to a friend earlier. Sometimes people get put off thinking it will be a huge time commitment, or that they wouldn’t be able to do anything to help. It has to be made non-threatening and acheivable for busy people.
      I hear what you are saying about the WI and crafts-what sorts of things would you be interested in? Crafts don’t have to be the traditional knitting/sewing/crocheting. You could have demo’s of tarting up furniture, even basic upholstery. Basic clothes mending-eg sewing on buttons and hemming, bake repair and maintenance, grow your own veg talks, bread baking….. Throw me some ideas!!

      • Reply Clair January 12, 2013 at 3:38 pm

        Some ideas which might appeal to non-crafters a book swap (bring in a book you’ve enjoyed and pass to the person to your side for them in a month or so get together again talk about the books and either return to owner or pass on again) could be any sort of book, cooking, home maintenance, history, novel. Seen in this weeks Wiltshire Times improvisation workshops which is something totally different. Planned walks, wine tasting sessions, guest speakers, basic car maintenance even an evening of budgeting a skill which is often overlooked and not taught but is a valuable thing to know how to do (work on % so no one has to divulge income) varying with crafting (willow working, jewellery making, card making, patchwork etc) might get people to join and keep coming back.

        • Reply Jen January 12, 2013 at 3:41 pm

          Wow Clair, some really great ideas! Thankyou so much.

  • Reply kimroper2010 January 11, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Take a look at Totnes Devon. This town is packed with active crafters/makers and proactive residents. I believe that all the shops are independent. It’s a really inspirational town and there’s lots of advice (by them) on how to create this elsewhere.

    • Reply Jen January 11, 2013 at 1:35 pm

      Thanks Kim. I think they have been on the news this week too. I will check them out 🙂

  • Reply Smallfarmfuture January 10, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Don’t underestimate how many people share your feelings and views about the world.

    My hubbie 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.

    Once it got started, others came forward with ideas, help, contacts. It takes time but don’t give up. There are so many inspiring stories of people taking action. People like you! You’re a shining example of walking the tallk and you will attract like minds and inspire others to action.

    Juliet

    • Reply Jen January 10, 2013 at 7:23 pm

      Thankyou so much Juliet. What a great idea-I could definitely do something similar. Only problem-how did they know how many to cater for..?!I love your blog, and your farm-it is a frequent daydream of mine to have a smallholding. So strange that you used to live round here too-small world!

      • Reply Juliet Fay January 10, 2013 at 7:57 pm

        They put phone numbers on the invite and mostly people phoned to say they were coming.
        Small world indeed. (:

        • Reply Jen January 10, 2013 at 8:43 pm

          Good idea! Why I couldn’t think of that I’m not entirely sure..! Did you host it at yours, or a local village hall etc?

  • Reply roxyboots January 10, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Very inspiring! I wish you the best of luck.

    • Reply Jen January 10, 2013 at 7:24 pm

      Thankyou. Lots of plans now, just need to try and action some 🙂

  • Reply Claire January 10, 2013 at 11:45 am

    I second what Catherine and other commenters have said – you are such a positive example to others around you and even just by posting this and showing that you care, that is a great first step to get the ball rolling. I went through a very similar situation a couple of years ago and felt totally useless and demoralised. Rather than aiming for doing it ALL, it sounds like you’ve got some great ideas of where you could start to make a difference – and remember, there are bound to be LOTS of people who completely agree with you, they just aren’t as brave as you in stepping forward and agreeing to DO something. Start with something that will make a positive difference to your life… a community crafty type hub sounds fantastic. If you’re happy to organise people and keep a little momentum going, I reckon you’ll be able to make some great progress with a small group of people helping you very willingly. That will get your ‘snowball’ rolling downhill. Good luck with your project, whichever element gets taken forward!

    Sometimes, all people need is a leader to follow. It sounds as though you’re the perfect candidate 😀
    Claire x

    • Reply Jen January 10, 2013 at 11:54 am

      Thanks Claire. You are right. I want to do it all, and I want to do it now. And I can’t understand why other people wouldn’t want to get involved. I think we are all very good at moaning about things, but then expect someone else to come along and change things for us. I need to break it down into chunks and start taking little steps, and see what happens..!

  • Reply Jo aka Kiwijo January 10, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Do you have a town market? Could you (or one of your friends) take a stall for a few weeks and promote what you are doing, handing out leaflets, talking about your Make Do and Mend Year. show some pics about what youve made and see if you can generate some interest that way, and selling some bits to cover your stall rent? You never know what might grow from that.
    How about a meeting shared with some other local folks (eg a rep from the Freecycle community) where you spend a couple of hours talking to the local public with a cuppa and a biscuit.
    Lastly, I read a blog about a lady last year who got a group of friends together and made heaps of fabric bags, then they went to the local Supermarket and gave these away to people in exchange for their plastic ones. This caught on in a big way (but I cant for the life of me find the blog!!!) and there are people doing it all over the country! Why not have a go at something like that – you could then explain why you are doing it to people and generate interest that way.
    ;o)

    • Reply Jen January 10, 2013 at 11:52 am

      We do have a market Jo, but as with so many town markets it is slowly declining, and seems only to be frequented by the older generation.
      I think I am going to try and hold an ‘interest’ meeting to see if there are other people around who want to get involved, and then take it from there.
      Thanks for your supportive comments, and great ideas-the fabric bags sound great!

  • Reply Dorathy Quinn January 10, 2013 at 9:28 am

    One person can make a difference but not by doing it it all! You will have people and groups willing to help, you just need to find them.
    Mum’s with young children who have moved to find somewhere safe to bring up their families, Older people who need local shops etc .
    You need something to start you up though. Have you got a community magazine? Our village has one and it is full of activities, which you would not realise went on, without it. Just four copies a year, and funded by all the local shops and businesses. Written and distributed by volunteers.
    Look into becoming a Transition Town, get the local paper involved. Have you got a local Freegle group? Ideal for getting to meet local people, who are like minded. A walking group? My husband did not like walking, but now would not miss his weekly three mile walk, with a chat and a cup of tea after.

    • Reply Jen January 10, 2013 at 9:37 am

      Thanks Doroty. Some great ideas. I am going to write to the local paper, and am going to a community planning meeting at the end of the month. I am a member of the local Freecycle group, so may post on there to see if there is any interest. I think a Transition Town would be great-need to look into the logistics. THanks for your support and ideas 🙂

  • Reply vivjm January 10, 2013 at 8:31 am

    Oh, I totally understand where you’re coming from. A few years ago, I tried to get transition town rolling in my market town & the lack of enthusiasm was totally demoralising :-(. It seems that the main block to making our towns better isn’t that people are against the idea, just a general sense of apathy. That was my experience anyway.
    I love your idea of a community hub, that would be smashing.
    I hear your pain & send you some hopeful vibes across the interwebs x
    And don’t underestimate the positive impact you are having by setting such a wonderful example to other people either. It’s becoming a bit of a cliche, but as Gandhi said we must be the change we want to see…and you are being that change, and that HAS to be a good & inspiring thing. Keep your chin up!

  • Reply Phiona Richards January 10, 2013 at 7:50 am

    Where I live, Corby, which frequently hits the headlines. After nearly 30 years of living here without a shop to buy wool or craft materials, no workshops to inspire. there was somewhere for dance and theatre but nowhere for visual arts. We also had a reasonable to poor library. I am pleased to say over the past few years the town has taken an upsurgence.

    Part of the town centre has been rebuilt. We have a new centre for dance and theatre in which the library moved into. Unfortunately it is now quite pitiful as it is basically a walkway to go and pay your council rent. On the positive, last year, the local artists lead by a few strong people have taken over the old library location and turned it into a gallery, workshops and studios. It has been hard going and it is run on a shoestring and volunteers. A good majority of the studios which are quite basic are filled now and there is a cycle of exhibition and workshops coming into play.

    It all takes time and unfortunately it is a slow process. Don’t give up, think of it as a snowball rolling down a hill.

    • Reply Jen January 10, 2013 at 8:01 am

      Wise words Phiona. Thankyou for the encouragement. I am too impatient, and want it all to change NOW!!

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  • Reply Susan Broadhurst January 10, 2013 at 12:18 am

    I think people can be selfish nowdays they havent had to suffering bombing orbrstions etc and buy everything from tesco so they just keep buying and throwing away cos its just easy rather then sort there rubbish and reuse what they can. I cant talk about with some people I get right on my soapbox!! People are ignorant unless it actually affects nowdays. All we can do is our share and hopefully influence others to make a change, keep going others will help you spread the word . I always love a good recycling idea boyfriend thinks im a hoarder lol.

    • Reply Jen January 10, 2013 at 7:09 am

      You are right Susan. We each have to do what we can, talk about it and hope it starts to trickle down and influence others.

  • Reply Susan Broadhurst January 9, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    Maybe the key is to make people realise how it will affect them if they dont start reusing or recycling? No ones council tax has gone up in ages and if we dont meet the governments targets for recycling and lower co2 emissions there is gonna be a massive fine! Where will they get that money? Increased council tax? Every council is cutting services due to lack of funding. People have no idea how they are ruining this country. Maybe we need to build on old landfield sites and put the new site right next to them? That would paint a nice picture. Sorry rant over I understand your frustrations surely we should all care about our environment?

    • Reply Jen January 9, 2013 at 11:42 pm

      Absolutely Susan. I don’t understand why people can;t see that there the world does NOT have unlimited resources. We are starting to run out. Of gas and oil, and other raw materials. And climate change IS a reality. I don’t know if maybe now that we actually starting to see the effects of it, and it actually starting to impact on people’s lives, if they will actually start to do something. It scares me. A lot.

  • Reply For Bella and Will January 9, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    Oh gosh, you sound just like me, I had a similar blip early last year and felt so depressed about the futility of all my efforts and my caring. I have since thought long and hard about this and decided that I love what I do, making, baking, growing etc that I wouldn’t want to stop anyway, even if I am thought of as being a bit odd 😉

    What I do know is that even my small efforts at home have made a difference. I have had friends ask me to help them sew or for baking advice.

    Just remember that you are making a difference, in the short time you have been doing your challenge you have come so far. And, there are others like us out there, not many but there are.

    And …..UNLESS…..

    • Reply Jen January 9, 2013 at 11:36 pm

      Thanks Catherine. Wise words. You are all so lovely 🙂

  • Reply Sew Scrumptious January 9, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    Great ideas. Think positive! Change some small things to start with. A pop up shop maybe selling local crafts/art? In Bristol they have started doing this a lot in empty shops. They get a small collective of artists/crafters together. Many landlords are glad of even a nominal rent if a unit is empty. Start a local WI. My friend started one in her local village. She really caused a stir by booking a lap dancing teacher to come in for the first meeting! I bet there are loads of like minded people around. Sorry about my rambling. I’m putting off doing all the things I should be doing by commenting on blogs!!

    • Reply Jen January 9, 2013 at 11:38 pm

      Thanks Lou. Starting a WI is on my list, I am just being thwarted by them not getting back to me-grrrrr! Hadn’t thought about lap dancers though….I also keep thinking about a Pop-up, but it would need staffing, and I am home with the Smalls. I think the main problem is that I am not very good at baby steps! I want to dive straight in and DO IT ALL!! And there just aren’t enough hours in the day too…

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