The message from this year’s CAG Devon SkillShare event, Community ReBoot, came loud and clear: give more, share more, no matter how small and whatever you do – and don’t forget to offer cake!
Pioneering new community engagement approaches
We heard from Harry Deacon, co-founder of Cultivate Cornwall and Tex, two organisations that have taken great leaps and strides to tackle not only social exclusion, but food and period poverty as well as the huge environmental impact of waste, in particular textile waste.
Through Tex, Harry and his team have pioneered a business model based on accepting surplus or waste textiles from businesses and finding new and innovative ways to upcycle these, bringing the community together in the process. This creative entrepreneurial approach came into its own when the epidemic hit early this year and Cultivate pivoted to redistributing surplus food to communities in need practically overnight.
It was truly inspiring to hear how Harry and his team at Cultivate and Tex support their communities in so many different ways. But one lesson stood out from Harry’s talk, it was one underlying theme to all their endeavours – listening to the community and responding to their needs. Sometimes the community activities we pursue are those that feel natural or that we’re interested in and we must remember that we must equally listen to our communities and react to their needs as much as possible too.
Rethinking our relationship with stuff
Next up came Mirella Ferraz from ShareShed, run by the Network of Wellbeing. One statistic jumped out – on average, a drill is used for just 13 minutes in its whole life. If ever there were an argument for sharing, it was captured in that one fact! Buying more stuff means more money wasted, more space cluttered and not necessarily a more enriched life. And that’s without considering the environmental consequences of ever-increasing consumption.
Mirella pointed out how we need to rethink our relationship with stuff, a point our CAG Devon repair cafes are already addressing by working hard to extend the life of our every day stuff. It looks like a ‘library of things’ is on the agenda for many of our groups. Keep an eye on our events calendar – we are setting a focused ‘how to set up a library of things Q&A’ session with Mirella in January 2021.
A #2Minute revolution – the power of micro action
Claire Giner from The 2 Minute Foundation had participants jogging and star jumping on the spot to show how much can be achieved in so little time, when we all work together, even for a matter of minutes.
Known for #2MinuteBeachClean, Claire shared some of its other ventures including #2MinuteLitterPick and #2MinuteStreetClean taking the beach cleaning endeavour inland. Claire also explained about the ‘Happy Hormones’ of cleaning our beaches and streets – the joy of giving back to the community and doing something positive, the physical endeavour and sharing an activity with other like-minded people. We’ll take those happy hormones any day!
6,000 trees, schools, seeds and successful crowd-funders
Last to present was Franny Armstrong, documentary film maker and member of our very own CAG Devon group, Tiverton Tree Team, part of Sustainable Tiverton. Only days later, Franny was crowned as one of the 100 UK leading environmentalists by Futerra’s Solitaire Townsend on Forbes.
As well as sharing how the Tiverton team smashed their target to plant 1,000 trees in the local community, reaching 6,000 at their last count, Franny impressed home the importance and power of bringing together people who care about a cause. Whether it’s a crowd funder (Franny practically invented crowd funding and has just smashed a £40,000 target for Rivercide) or championing net zero targets within the local community, she impressed on us how much can be achieved with passion and commitment and reaching out to people in the right places.
But if there was one thing all four of our fantastic speakers (and all of our participants) agreed on as a critical success factor to keeping the community engaged, it was the power of cake! So if there’s one key take-away – get baking folks. The Great British Bake-Off has nothing on our community action groups!
Thanks again to our fantastic speakers. We wholeheartedly look forward to next year and hope that we’ll be able to get together in person next time.
Watch the Q and A session with the speakers below.