Second SCP workshop
The second Sustainable Communities Programme workshop took place in Brussels on September 23rd and 24th 2019. It was supported by a small grant from FundAction, and timed to coincide with follow-up events to the European Day of Sustainable Communities and kick-off meeting for the Ecovillage transition in action project. It was attended by around 30 in-person participants.
The workshop began with a mapping exercise based on the Berkana Institute's two loops model, facilitated by Davie Philip. The model helps to locate a project's work in the bigger picture of transition. Another tool that can help to do that is the three horizons mapping.
Insights from Existing Initiatives
A fishbowl discussion began with reports from key actors in several existing cases of transformative regional initiatives: the Sustainable Neighbourhoods Programme, the Bioregional Learning Centre, the Living in Sustainable Villages project and Moray ecovillage development. Further discussion, also involving other participants, identified key challenges and success factors.
Key Patterns Observed
- Collaboration with local government is often key. Green parties can be important catalysts (as was the case in Freiburg)
- Participatory budgeting can be a great activator, and help make resources available
- The value of long-term continuity: for example, Sustainable Neighbourhoods in Brussels have been operating for ten years, enabled by working with local authorities
- The importance of stories of place - really sinking into where we are and the richness of relationships - and the art of building that understanding of place through listening
- The importance peer to peer inspiration
- The need for people with a clear sense of vision
- Concern about replicability in contexts beyond Northern Europe, where public funding (a key ingredient in all successful projects) might be less avalable
- Build on what’s there already: reaching out to networks that already exist, linking with people who already have strong social connections in places, working with established institutions (which may have originated for entirely different reasons)
- Moving beyond stereotypes, assumptions about people, and the social divisions they generate
- Going beyond normal structures: working within and across existing structures in unusual ways
- All about building relationships - and the time and respect needed to build them - from listening, and approaching people with humility and kindness