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Article: Report from Stroud Communiversity 2009; Going Green in Glastonbury...

Going Green in Glastonbury… all part of the new Green economy
Paul Lund, founder and director of the Sustainable Environment Company CIC, went to the Stroud Communiversity 2009 and found some new support for Glastonbury’s own green town mission…

The Bigger Picture a) Finding solutions for sustainable growth, building new greener local





economies and communities, is a sign of how today’s society has changed from the past. This first decade of the 21st Century marks the start of a revolution for a green sustainable future. ‘Act on C02,’ global warming, climate change, sustainability, local food, fair trade, are a few of the words or phrases every citizen is now familiar with. The previous 100 years saw the rise of oil and now we are seeing its downfall. The imperative is to cut the level of carbon dioxide emissions and reduce our dependency on all fossil fuels. This means that energy will need to come from new technologies and ‘clean’ renewable sources. Arguments still rage about carbon capture, sequestration, and using fossil fuels until they are exhausted. The future for a new world – and all its communities – also depends upon increased energy supplies, to cope with growing demands all over the world. Scientifically, ethically, morally, and economically this should be done without emitting carbon dioxide or polluting and damaging the environment any further. UK Government’s target (Climate Change Act 2008) is to cut 80% of our C02 (GHG emissions against 1990 levels) by 2050. Amid all of this, more solar energy reaches the Earth in any given hour than is used by the whole human population in any given year. Globally, climate change is forecast to increase desertification, change rainfall patterns, and create conditions which result in mass migration of populations from newly arid or low lying drowned countries. Population growth would be curtailed by adversity, and the global economy would collapse. Our future economic success in the UK, especially in food and energy supply, is increasingly seen in the way local and small scale can do better than global and large. The Sustainable Communities Act, 2007, gives legislative backing to a cooperative method of decision making at local level, empowering citizens and councils to work with each other to solve common problems or develop sustainable energy and food production. Communities know what needs fixing, where problems exist and how to overcome local difficulties, so now they have the mechanism, through this Act, to protect, enhance and develop adaptive, sustainable communities. All this adds up to a different way of doing things and new ways of cooperating between government, communities and business.

Background to Stroud’s Sustainable Development Stroud in Gloucestershire is a rural town, and like Glastonbury has achieved acclaim for its alternative way of doing things. It has a wide range of inspiring and innovative schemes, and among those most prominent is an award winning eco cohousing community at Springhill (not a ‘commune’ but independent owner-occupiers living on a unique estate), the first UK development of its kind. It was given ‘The Deputy Prime 1 | Page. Permission for publication or extract given when full reference to author and SEcoCIC included. Call 01458 833406

Article: Report from Stroud Communiversity 2009; Going Green in Glastonbury... Minister’s Award for making an “Outstanding contribution” to Sustainable Communities.’ Other big schemes include: community supported agriculture (supplying food to families all over the town) and Land for People (affordable housing) projects; a very popular, FARMA certified, weekly farmers market, winning UK Farmers Market of the Year 2008, run by the town’s own self promotion company – Made in Stroud Ltd; plus the very latest addition – Stroud’s new green-energy powered social enterprise centre 'The Exchange.' All these projects, and a diverse range of other initiatives, illustrates how Stroud is succeeding at being a self-reliant community and one which is actively being supported in its mission by social enterprise companies, skilled social entrepreneurs (they call them ‘community enablers’), and the backing and support of Green Stroud town councillors. Working at Community Level ‘Inspiring self reliant communities’ was the theme for the Stroud Communiversity 2009, held from 14th to 17th May, including the official opening of Stroud’s new centre for social enterprise, called The Exchange. Communiversity was the idea of Stroud Common Wealth Company Ltd, and organised in association with Transition Stroud. The organisers’ invitation, to share in Stroud’s second annual Communiversity, following last year’s inaugural event, was very warmly welcomed. Together with those of us active with greener lifestyles here in Glastonbury, I believe we all have a huge amount to share and learn about the ways our communities are doing and achieving similar things. Acquiring the necessary skills, knowledge and resources to develop adaptive communities is challenging, to say the least, especially as we go through financially difficult years ahead. But, what can really be achieved? What is practical and necessary? How can third-sector voluntary organizations collaborate with statutory and commercial sectors? Answering these questions and many more is best exemplified through the work of Stroud Communiversity – who are a growing body of experts and professionals whose research and teaching is pioneering a new school for local enterprise and sustainability. As a gathering for learning and sharing, it attracted sustainable community activists and researchers from as far away as Norway, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and throughout the South West who came together to find out how communities all over are responding to these challenging times. Communiversity delegates, or rather its scholars on this occasion – since most were combining their community work with research, study or teaching – were uniquely qualified to introduce their own examples through exchange of ideas and learning. In part the ethos of Communiversity concentrates careful thought about how the environment sustains communities, people, and vice versa. Themes of reconnecting people with nature, with the land, with producing local food plus whether money really remains the only focus for local trading were all discussed. We saw a range of examples in practice, and were inspired by the expertise and facilitation of Max Comfort, Molly Scott Cato, Martin Large and the rest of the Stroud Communiversity team. The first activity introduced was 'Walking the Land,' with us being guided through edge of town allotments and onto the Slad Valley Wildlife Way. This initiative, which attempts to reconnect hearts and minds with the land, began three years ago with the support of the Forestry Commission and Natural England. The aim is also to show how Stroud relates to its historic landscape and how in the past the town’s survival and success 2 | Page. Permission for publication or extract given when full reference to author and SEcoCIC included. Call 01458 833406

Article: Report from Stroud Communiversity 2009; Going Green in Glastonbury... depended upon its farming and forestry. The accent was on how to immerse oneself in the living landscape, to see, hear and smell the places we often take for granted or overlook. Revealing these connections was Richard Keating of ‘Walking the Land,’ and Kel Portman of Stroud Valley Artspace. They encourage artistic freedom to sketch, write descriptively and photograph during their walks, focusing on observation, listening and hearing. This is a tool that leaders can use to help show people their place in the landscape, and in so doing encourage more care and love for our heritage and countryside. We experienced this further when tracing the steps of the late Laurie Lee, author of "Cider with Rosie," led by Martin Large, publisher and community enabler. So much of what we are doing begins with reconnecting people who have lost their sense of place with nature. This is increasingly needed because modern society lives predominantly in a man-made world out of touch with how the ecosystem and environment ultimately sustains all life on the planet. Nature’s fragility against man’s relentless influence needs to be fully appreciated… and this is a key part to understanding sustainable communities.
“At first it looks haphazard, ram-shackled, un-kempt, but look again and you see carefully laid out rows sprouting cool green shoots, foliage of all descriptions and eco-shades. Vigor and growth is regimented into plots and strips; random small sheds housing the home guard. I saw lettuce in the box, ready to eat, and happy smiling people next to broad beans, their blue-green leaves among fluty pale flowers, the prospect of pods to come. I saw early runners, not people but stalks twisting and climbing their bamboo canes like snakes. It would take a small land army to do this work, but here families collect and share. They prove the spirit of self reliance is not lost; they work hard and grow fast. Their children know where peas come from and they know the smart taste of exuberant rhubarb, fresh from its crowded composted mound.”

My personal inspiration, whilst touring the Stroud Allotment space! Growers and Farmers Contract with Consumers Stroud Communiversity's next theme was - producing wholesome local food which supported the economy and gave people new skills - reconnecting growers with consumers. Community supported agriculture (CSA) was described by Nick Weir, a CSA consultant. He is in great demand all over, helping establish new CSAs which are spreading successfully across the country. CSA is driven by need and people wanting choice in how to buy local fresh vegetables or meat, rather than buy from the supermarkets - who are seen to be failing small scale growers, farmers and local economies. Members of the CSA schemes are consumers, like you or me, who contract with the enterprise to take regular supplies or buy a share in the harvest. They can also take part by helping directly and can be rewarded for their time in the form of produce. Stroud's MP, David Drew, a member of the DEFRA select committee’s inquiry into the future of food production in this country, told the Communiversity that the supermarkets were worried about their future as these emerging new models of how to produce and supply fresh food locally, together with web networks setting up exchanges and supplies across the wider market place, were rapidly taking off. As in Somerset, Gloucestershire's county farms are at risk of being sold and lost, which has prompted calls for a policy to encourage county farms and all appropriate vacant land to be taken over by CSA schemes. Mr. Drew also talked about the extremely urgent situation with climate change which was already altering the way food is being grown, and will increasingly influence us 3 | Page. Permission for publication or extract given when full reference to author and SEcoCIC included. Call 01458 833406

Article: Report from Stroud Communiversity 2009; Going Green in Glastonbury... here in North West Europe. More southern European countries will find it difficult to manage their needs, he said, and we will become a more important supplier, growing food for our partner nations. Government is seriously concerned about food shortages, or food security, and believes our own set-aside farmland and gardens will all be needed in support of a new national food growing strategy. New outlets – or food hubs – for distribution and sale of local produce are being tried. This means more farmers or producers markets, farm shops, plus extending the use of post offices, village halls, churches, and schools to facilitate produce sales. These will all play their part in helping more self-reliance and put the consumer back in-touch with the growers. Communal cooking events were also described as popular and provided skill share and confidence building to try out local and new ingredients. A sense of community was coming back to parts of Stroud where it had been lost and people were recognizing the fun social side to preparing food and holding a community meal, say once a month. Allotment cultivation and home grown vegetables are coming back into fashion nationally, showing a revival after more than 40 years of decline. This is sparked in no small way by the interest in celebrity chefs and healthy living through eating better, but is now also driven by the need for families to save money by subsidizing their grocery bills. Long waiting lists for civic growing spaces in Stroud means more land is urgently needed to let people grow more of their own food and exchange with others to diversify their choice in meals. The same is true for Glastonbury and towns everywhere, as demand rises but there is little allotment space available, many of these open spaces having been sold for housing throughout their decline. Growers are also pickling and preserving to extend availability beyond the fruitful seasons. These supplies are popular for barter with small scale growers who have different fresh produce for exchange. It all proves we can manage without flying in outof-season fruit and veg from around the world. Allowing out of season "fresh" fruit to be flown in by supermarkets is costing consumers and the planet dearly, but quintessentially it’s taking away the delight of our English grown produce at its most abundant and most flavour-full time. The Stroud community food projects have made the town a focus for these new kinds of food delivery mechanisms, and the town is keen to show rural communities all over the country how to take up similar ideas, discussing the economic and practical benefits for people and the environment This image of home growing and bottling might seem to some retrograde, or a step back to past times or more frugal living, but the stark reality is that we may not have a choice as climate change is hastening its effects on world agriculture and this will soon impact on all of us. Add that to a population growth that cannot be sustained, extreme weather, mass migrations, plus the need to rapidly find new ways of producing clean energy and by-products that we previously sourced from oil and petrochemicals and an unfolding scenario is apparent. Communities Sharing Best Practice Participant Nick Wilding, from the Carnegie UK Trust, facilitates a network – the Rural Community of Practice – which is bringing together the leaders and practitioners involved in building the new resilient rural communities of the future. He was able to link in fellow Communiversity participants to the Trust’s partnership of Rural Pioneers – headed by four prominent organisations, including the Eden Trust and Centre for Alternative Technology, who are leading the way on sustainability. 4 | Page. Permission for publication or extract given when full reference to author and SEcoCIC included. Call 01458 833406

Article: Report from Stroud Communiversity 2009; Going Green in Glastonbury... Ireland’s Tipperary Institute is one of the other four Carnegie UK Trust Pioneer collaborators, who are active in the ‘social, environmental and economic aspects of development as a key to sustainability.’ Communiversity Participant, Catherine Corcoran, from the Institute, had new perspectives to share from Ireland, and was very interested in how Glastonbury is developing its projects, as the Green Capital of Somerset. Glastonbury will benefit through strong links and direct support from the Rural Pioneers, especially in taking forward our own vision of a centre for environmental sustainability and technologies. In so doing Glastonbury leaders are invited to join the Carnegie “Fiery Spirits,” becoming part of the national movement of progressive rural communities with strong visions to survive and thrive the pressures of new economic and climate conditions. It was fascinating to hear how the Eden Project is developing and their regional coordinator, Amelie Trolle, gave me an insight into how the tourist attraction does far more work behind the scenes in attracting and supporting local enterprise. The Eden Surf Board is just one example of how eco-sustainability ideals are working to benefit the economy and making the ‘Eden’ brand go further. Dr Julie Newton and Dr Alex Franklin, Communiversity participants from the BRASS Research Centre (Business, Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability & Society) at Cardiff University have spent the last year exploring the role of skills and knowledge in building and maintaining sustainable communities. A key finding from this research, which took place in Stroud, was the importance of processes of learning. BRASS is now looking at ways to expand on the research both in Stroud, and in the European context. Their report and findings can be found by going to their web site. We here in Glastonbury have also been taking the lead by encouraging sustainability among other communities in Somerset. Volunteers, Transition groups and social enterprise companies are influencing the shape of things to come. More can and must be done. Glastonbury may have little opportunity to develop its own award winning new eco housing scheme, within the confines of the Local Development Framework, but new green housing refurbishment programmes could raise the town’s eco credentials if done imaginatively and with cross-sector partnerships, and government funding applied across private, tenanted and social housing properties. More initiatives for local food production, growing spaces and new food distribution methods could be started. In both these areas, Transition groups are active here, but need to coordinate effort on a larger scale or become part of a partnership that can move forward with plans and council support. A wide range of other sustainable community measures are possible, but popular community and political support is necessary to carry them forward. New jobs and public-to-third-sector contracts will take Glastonbury’s green town mission further forward to the next level; however greater consensus and understanding of the benefits to tourism, the community and environment needs to be appreciated. To help advance some of these opportunities, a conference is being planned, for later this year in Glastonbury. It will focus on new social enterprise and ethical business opportunities, with the aim of supporting people, the environment and local economies in Somerset. Some of Somerset’s new enterprise solutions could come in the form of more locally produced food, food processing, marketing, sales and carbon-neutral distribution. Examples from Stroud will be seen if Glastonbury delegates take up an 5 | Page. Permission for publication or extract given when full reference to author and SEcoCIC included. Call 01458 833406

Article: Report from Stroud Communiversity 2009; Going Green in Glastonbury... offer of a tour of their projects. It is also hoped the conference will establish a three green town partnership, between Glastonbury, Stroud and Totnes in Devon joining forces to share experience and ideas. New greener jobs can be created in many sectors, especially as demand rises and new subsidies support this growth. Glastonbury has the added benefit and encouragement of many environmentally skilled and motivated people living and working here, who want to be involved. The town also has a long standing association with local green festivals and their practice in eco-sustainability, which makes this area ideally suited to launching new businesses linked to these existing influences. In Conclusion There was a great sense of cooperation and energy from everyone at this year’s Communiversity, and a feeling we were all connecting and sharing, not only for those few days but for the long-term. What Communiversity does very well is to show how people are inspired into action and how building sustainable communities depend increasingly upon a complex range of interconnected issues. We saw and discussed: a) How connecting producers with consumers, providers with customers, people with nature, reveals surprising outcomes with social and economic benefits b) Why local production and supply of food is moving up the political agenda on food security grounds c) Where farmers and families are joining forces directly to share the harvest, produce and profit, supporting each other and keeping the local economy alive d) Why distributing produce through food hubs in post offices and schools makes economic sense e) Why eco-standard cohousing development, with solar photovoltaic roof tiles, efficient surface water drainage and a residents’ calendar of social events is so good for the environment and people f) How measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change impacts brings communities together and inspires invention g) How arts and culture, tourism and recreation, social enterprise and ethical trading is supporting self reliant communities, producing worthwhile, satisfying employment, comfortable incomes and “common wealth” with happiness In viewing and examining a range of factors which affect the cohesion of our communities we were shown what practical, creative and innovative solutions are both needed and will support the growth and development of resilient local economies. We know that communities and society will have to change and develop new methods, designs, systems or return to old practices, just in order to make the technical and cultural break-through necessary in the next three decades for humans to survive this century. It was certainly extremely useful to be part of Stroud Communiversity 2009 and form a network to continue the process. Just making new contacts and exchanging views alone was valuable, but sharing in the collective experience from a range of practitioners and academics was well worth the time spent at this Communiversity. Paul Lund.
Acknowledgements My thanks go to Dr Alex Franklin, Dr Julie Newton, Nick Weir and Nick Wilding, for verifying my description or contributing to the text concerning their part in Stroud Communiversity 2009.

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Article: Report from Stroud Communiversity 2009; Going Green in Glastonbury...
Also, my thanks go to Max Comfort for the opportunity to take part in this Communiversity, and for making suggestions with reference to produce preservation and transportation. References: 1) Carnegie UK Trust, Nick Wilding – Facilitator, Rural Community of Practice. 2) Community Farm Land Action Research Project, 3) Community Supported Agriculture, Nick Weir - ‘f3 – Making Local and Sustainable Food Happen’ at ‘F3 is a Community Interest Company which has been advising government agencies, local organizations and producers on real solutions to local and sustainable food and farming since 1999.’ 4) Gloucestershire Land for People, pioneering community land trust, 5) Social Enterprise Centre, Stroud (Gloucestershire), 6) Stroud Community Agriculture, 7) Stroud Communiversity at Stroud Common Wealth Company Ltd and The Exchange, Stroud. 8) Stroud Farmers Market, run by Made in Stroud Ltd, 9) Stroud Food Hub, 10)Stroud Springhill Co-housing scheme, 11)Stroud Valleys’ Artspace, Kel Portman, 12)Sustainable Communities research at Cardiff University, Centre for Business, Relationships, Accountability, Sustainability,& Society (BRASS) 13)The Sustainable Environment Company CIC, SEco, (Somerset) is a Community Interest Company, established in Glastonbury in 2006. contact Paul Lund at 14)‘Walking the Land,’ Richard Keating,

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