Sharing the Load

Hands joining in a sense of community

There are many things that we as individuals can and must do in the global fight against Climate Change. However, it is clear that citizens working together can do so much more. In our communities we can be very powerful indeed. I believe that working together not only gets things done but supports us when we lose faith. It also gives us the courage to keep moving forward no matter how dark a situation looks.

To quote Helen Keller: “Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much”.

This certainly feels true. There are many examples out there of communities and groups working together in the fight against Climate Change. It is inspiring. At the same time it gives us the hope to believe that another life is possible. These groups are fighting to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the weather changes we already have. But simultaneously their members are fighting loneliness and feelings of insignificance. Human beings are sociable animals. We need to be with other human beings, and we need to be needed.

Here is a sample of some of the different types of communities out there. Communities that in their own way are making a huge contribution to the fight, not just against Climate Change but in the creation of a different vision. A vision of a new and better life. A life where we may possess less but where we are healthier and happier. At the same time we can take joy in being part of nature and in our family and friends.

The Transition Network

This was set up, initially as Transition Town Totnes by some friends in Totnes in England. Rob Hopkins, the author of a number of books, and one of those friends, describes how it started and what it hoped to achieve. He does this in a wonderful book which you must read called From What Is to What If (Unleashing the power of imagination to create the future we want). It had me overflowing with enthusiasm and possibility.

Transition is “The intentional act of shifting from high resource use, high carbon dioxide emissions, extractive business practices and fragmented communities to communities with a healthier culture, more resilient and diverse local economies, more connection and less loneliness, more biodiversity and more time, democracy and beauty.”

They have done these things in a very creative and imaginative way. Throughout the process the people of Totnes have got together as a community and talked of their vision. They talked too of how they would like their future to be, thus involving locals in decisions about their lives.

“It’s an approach that has spread now to over 48 countries, in thousands of groups: in towns, villages, cities, universities, schools. Around the world, there are 23 Transition Hubs that support and connect Transition groups in their country/region and connect internationally.” 

For more information and inspiration have a look at their website:

Communities for Future

This was inspired by the Fridays for Future climate strikes by young people in which they demand action on the climate emergency. Its goal is to inspire and support citizens to take action in their communities.

This is a Europe-wide organisation that has helped communities in many different fields. For example: a farmers’ market in Ireland, an eco-village in Sweden that wanted to make their own bio-gas, a community in Finland that wanted to buy communal land, an energy co-operative in Portugal and so on. It seems a wonderful example to me of just how much is going on and how many people are committed to making a different world. Have a look at their website:

Healthy Food

A box of organic food marked "Farmer's Market"

Community Gardening

According to this website around 15 percent of the world’s food is now grown in urban areas. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), urban farms already supply food to about 700 million residents of cities, representing about a quarter of the world’s urban population. By 2030, 60 percent of people in developing countries will likely live in cities.

My favourite project is the 100% cycle-powered compost recycling project in Texas. Here organic waste is recycled to local farms thus strengthening the local food system and the soil. For something closer to home in the UK have a look at Incredible Edible or Veg on the Edge in Saltaire.

All these projects increase the amount of healthy food grown and made available in towns and cities, often using unwanted land. Many of them also run educational projects for young or unemployed people, and of course have a social aspect binding people together.

Renewable Energy Communities

The world of renewables is changing incredibly fast. Not only in developed countries but as indicated here by Professor Mathews of MacQuarrie Graduate School in Australia, developing countries such as China and India and others “are approaching renewables as part of the industrialisation process itself.” In other words, they are using renewables to speed up their industrial development. and they are doing it amazingly fast.

Less developed countries often move directly from having very little available energy straight to renewable energy. This allows them to avoid the use of more expensive and destructive fossil fuels. Of course, this usually requires a lot of external funding to help with the adaption, but what is being done is very successful. Clearly these situations are not community-oriented but it is very encouraging to see the success of renewable energy and its rapid adoption.

There is not yet a lot of information available on community generation in developing countries . However in developed countries it is an important part of their plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the near future. In fact, clean-energy communities are helping to fight the global energy challenge. Communities all over Europe are getting together to produce and consume their own energy. They are leading the way in moving away from large, centralised power plants to much smaller and community-led power production. This gives those communities more autonomy and reliability in their power choices while cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Similar communities are growing in America and Australia.

There are also tiny communities sharing renewable energy, perhaps starting with solar panels on somebody’s barn and then branching out. People are realising what is possible and saving money and emissions at the same time.

Re-introducing Beavers

A happy beaver in a pond

Rewilding Communities

The Global Rewilding Alliance defines rewilding as “Healing the planet by initiating processes that aim to recover the natural beauty, diversity and resilience of earth. For example, providing more clean water and stable soil by the replanting of trees.

David Attenborough emphasizes its importance.

“To restore stability to our planet, we must restore its biodiversity, the very thing that we’ve removed. It’s the only way out of this crisis we’ve created – we must rewild the world.” ~ Sir David Attenborough, “A life on our planet”

This is perhaps a different type of community – a community with nature that allows it to heal, and for the wildlife we share the planet with to thrive. It comes in many different forms and is becoming increasingly important. It can range from the re-introduction of beavers, wolves and bison, to allowing our fishing stocks to recover naturally. It can mean replanting ancient forests, shutting deer and cattle out of existing forests and wild areas to allow plants to grow but it can also mean thinking about our cities and how we can allow nature to thrive within them.

George Monbiot has written a lovely book about rewilding called Feral. It is worth reading.

Making a Contribution

It is my intention in writing these blogs to create a community of hope. A community where we get together in large enough numbers to be able to make the politicians hear us.

Hope is not something that you have. Hope is something that you create, with your actions” – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in conversation with Greta Thunberg

How Can You Help?

Please help me firstly by talking about this with your family and friends, and thinking about how you might become involved in the fight against Climate Change. Is there a community near you that cares about the future? Could you join them?

Secondly, if you find my blog useful will you pass it on to others? Thank you.

(The photographs above are respectively by Hannah Busing, Shelley Pauls and Francesco Ungaro on Unsplash.)

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