Just do stuff, then share your stories
I've been so busy doing stuff that I've only just managed to finish reading Rob Hopkins new book 'The Power of Just Doing Stuff'. To be fair I only got it less than a fortnight ago and there has been lots of veg gardening, elderflower collecting, cycling, rhubarb ketchup making to keep me occupied since then. It has been an enjoyable companion though and an inspiring read. I found it much more accessible than the other Transition books I have read and would happily recommend it to someone who isn't at all involved in Transition.
But anyway, this isn't really a book review. One of my favourite things about the book is the examples of all of the wonderful inspiring things that people are doing all over the world. It really makes you feel like things are changing, like you are part of something bigger, a global shift towards a more community orientated society. So I would like to share with you a couple of examples of projects I have come across where people 'just doing stuff' have had amazing results.
The first is not officially a Transition project, but it is definitely a true example of the ethos. It is the wonderful Locavore in Glasgow. It was started by the amazing and dynamic Reuben Chesters, who decided that our area of Glasgow (I used to live there) really needed better access to local food and so he got a small amount of funding and bought a shop! Just like that. With the good will of friends, transitioners and locals and an awful lot of Reuben's hard work, dedication and enthusiasm the shop was cleaned, decorated, fitted out and started to make truly local food accessible to the residents of Shawlands. Unfortunately for me I left Glasgow just as it was finding it's feet, but it has since gone from strength to strength with regular foraging and cooking workshops, weekly socials, veg boxes delivered by bicycle, yummy local catering for events, setting up community growing spaces on some of Glasgow's many train stations and in the central courts of the many tenement blocks, getting together a group of young people into a Community Green Team to help locals to make their gardens more edible, oh yes and they have just bought a second, bigger shop in another area of the southside! I only left just over a year ago!! It is truly amazing and inspiring and wonderfully tasty. They have such an open attitude, trying to get as many people involved as possible. They must have employed at least 10 local people at various points so far and it must be creating a huge buzz and sense of empowerment in the area. It is very DIY and grassroots too, there were some herbs growing in an upturned sombrerro for a while! I think you can just see it in the window in the photo.
I think one of the things that I have learnt from Locavore, despite it being hugely successful, is to not be scared of failure. Reuben did such an amazing thing to just do it, I'm pretty sure if he had sat down and thought it all through beforehand he probably would have decided not to risk it! But look how incredible it is now. So what are you waiting for?
The second project was actually one I think is hopefully an indicator of where the future of local authorities might lie. Rob asks in the closing thoughts how local authorities are going to support localisation without taking over or swamping it with bureaucracy. Shropshire County Council recently decided that they wanted to support and trying and initiate Incredible Edible Projects across the county. They actually employed someone part time to offer support and to do the initial bringing people together to talk about it. It is interesting how the response has been different in different places. In Oswestry there was a huge first meeting with loads of enthusiasm and the community have really taken it on. In Shrewsbury, where the council offices are based, there has been interest and the Transition group are kind of involved, but quite a lot of the actual action has been the council environment team organising it in their spare time as they are passionate about it! It is a hard balance to strike. The town council have amazingly said that people can go and plant what they want on council land, just let them know afterwards so they don't mow it! I have been really surprised that this hasn't generated much more enthusiasm and projects starting. I just wanted to share some of my observations of what has happened when a council has decided to get involved, anyone else got experiences to share?
I was just about to suggest that maybe we should have a place to share all of these amazing stories and then I realised that this is exactly what this blog is all about!! So if you have a story to share of when you have Just Done Stuff. Then please let us know and we can include it on this blog, because the world needs to know about all the amazing things that are going on in our communities!
Photos: The first locavore shop complete with planted up lampshade and sombrerro in the window and guttering beds down the wall next to the door (Locavore), the locavore specials board it makes me very hungry! (Locavore) and the Incredible Edible Shropshire logo.