Last weekend saw the first Somerset Convergence day hosted by Sustainable Wells, bringing in people from many change-maker groups from all over Somerset, to meet together, network and 'converge'!
Themes and calls to Action:
~~~ Supporting the health and well-being of our human community, ourselves, our families and our fellow citizens regardless of race, class, creed or ability.
~~~ Realising we ARE nature, and that we need to change what we do to rejuvenate the earth, air, water, plant-life and animals around us.
~~~ Building and sustaining a resilient, strong, localised economy
Maddy Milnes, Sustainable Wells...
~~~ James Hansen declared in 1988 that it is 99% sure that global warming is caused by humanity. Published 23rd June- exactly 30 years ago! There is an article in the Guardian
~~~ While people are distracted by Brexit and Trump, environmental concerns slide way down the agenda. Meanwhile small groups are beginning to struggle and lose hope.
~~~ 20 years ago a cycle route was planned through Wells. but it never happened in spite of huge support. What a waste for those generations who missed that opportunity!
~~~ Avalon Community Energy- wouldn't believe how difficult it is to simply put solar panels on school roofs, even with the money and the support, there are so many hoops to jump through.
~~~ We need a broad movement to support the effects of climate change, we need to up our game into something faster and more significant. A 'Somerset Movement' will help in building resilient communities.
~~~ What do we want the world to look like in 10, 20, 30 years time? Let's combine forces!
Georgie Grant, Onion Collective
~~~ The Onion Collective is in Watchet, Somerset. They deliver business support to charities, do community development all over the country, funding, marketing, all sorts!
~~~ Began by asking everyone in the community what our town needed- took a few months. The priorities which came up were: more for visitors, more jobs, and more community facilities.
~~~ From the beginning this was a strong collaborative project, including the collective and the Town Council.
~~~ Successes are: Watchett Visitor Centre tourism hub; an ambitious culture enterprise development plan to create more jobs and is entirely transformative-- (very excited about this!); running community projects to empower people to create their own projects.
~~~ Ask yourself: what is the difference you want to make in the world? What are your personal motivations? What do you love about your work?
Peter Mcfadyen- Frome Town Council
~~~ He likes a phrase he learned in Scotland 'our democracy'- act as if you own the place!
~~~ 10 people were elected to the Town Council who were citizens of the town with no previous political experience. What made them successful is that they were happy to disagree but didn't want conflict for conflicts' sake, or conflict in the underlying ideology of what they were all trying to achieve.
~~~ With such little experience, they tore up the rules! Why because I've been elected would I assume I know everything? Talk to the people! And encourage people to run with their ideas...
~~~ we eneded up with a network of organisations, which is what a Town Council should be. The people of Frome approved and re-elected 17 people. Often asked- but there is no opposition? But those 17 people have a very wide range of views, there is conflict!
~~~ He wrote a book 'Flat Pack Democracy' about grassroots politics that bypasses the current system and aims to create a new paradigm.
Jenny Hartnoll, Health Connections Mendip
~~~ Many years ago Dr Helen Kingston persuaded her GP colleagues to employ community development workers to support patients by knowing what they deal with in their lives. This simple step changed the way the Mendips look at health.
~~~ Her directive to Jenny was 'do what's best for the patients', which ended up including 242 talking cafes a year, 639 community connectors from all walks of life, and 12,000 conversations a year signposting where help is...
~~~ The difference is this is not them saying 'this is what we think you need', nothing is commissioned, they go where the energy is- trust the community!
After these talks, we had many conversations in smaller groups about many issues.
~~~ I met people from Seed of Hope, a therapeutic growing project, and we discussed whether society causes mental illness and is there even any such thing?
~~~ We discussed planning and acting for long term climate change, celebrating what's already been done, building a plan, as the normal pattern for adaptation is clearly not working, and how local action can help. This is to be further discussed soon- see we are already converging!
~~~ I spoke about the importance of Nature Spirituality, and as I was the only person who mentioned spirituality, I got an eager audience! Again a lot more to be said, and I hope to do some talks or workshops in the future.
~~~ In a discussion with Juliette of the Healing Gardens, I learned that they are struggling to find gardeners. If anyone is interested or if you are business minded with a potential to help the situation, please get in touch via the website.
Productive and growing day, I look forward to the next one!