The Eco-Community is All of Us

Building sustainability into community life will take a real shift in how we do things; but, just like weight-loss diets, it will only work for most of us if it’s something we find enjoyable and actually want to do.
It’s been very interesting to see how everyone has responded (on- and off-line) to recent postings here on Eco issues.
I started with a piece on ‘allotments for all’, wandered through some thoughts on Tesco and the other superstores, and have so far ended up with ideas around building communities in which sustainable living becomes part of the common, shared experience. (All these postings are listed below, if you want to have another look.)
The theme which is emerging for me is that we (literally) can’t afford to make sustainability into a ‘do it because it’s good for you’ exercise. It’s too important for that. And evidence elsewhere (e.g. with weight-loss diets) shows that people simply won’t carry on doing what they should unless they really believe it’s for the best and, critically, it fits into their pattern/s of living.
So, we can get a little way with house-to-house collections (Liverpool does these too; and it still has almost the lowest recycling turnover of any place around), and we can indeed troop up to Tesco or wherever with our recycle bags, when we go shopping (one lot of petrol, two missions). But some people don’t have cars, though they may have babies, or no job, or boring, isolated days…..
Fitting the practice to the people
This is why the ‘little but often’ approach might work for certain folk. It’s nice to have places to go, especially if in a good cause (i.e. recycling and community-building, in this case); and it’s nice to have things to grow, as people would if they had back-yard allotments – which is of course also where the green waste would be composted.
I strongly suspect – though we’d need much more evidence to be sure – that giving people reasons to get out and about, even if only to recycle stuff and meet up with neighbours (see Eco-Inclusion), would help to develop local relationships, and thus the community as a whole. In some ways, it’s like parents waiting at the school gates – but in this case it can be everyone, not just carers of small children.
And, if previous experience serves me right, meeting up informally but for a purpose also gives everyone in a locality reason to become more invoved in their community, and to make this more of a reality in terms of common interests and ambitions for the future.
A new sort of community?
Get people to relax and talk to each other, and you never know where it will take them (or you). Giving them an excellent reason to do this (recycling) adds impetus to the process.
I’m trying to think out new ways to connect, which also take account of eco-considerations – without adding further rules and constraints to people’s everyday lives.
It would be impossible to persuade everyone to give up cars and all the other things we’ve grown to think of as essential for our lives; but adding a bit of community spirit might ‘include in’ more, and more varied, people of all kinds to the very necessary task of tryng to sustain the eco-communities in which we, everyone of us, have to live.

Posted on November 20, 2005, in Equality, Diversity And Inclusion, Liverpool And Merseyside, Politics, Policies And Process, Regeneration, Renewal And Resilience, Sustainability As If People Mattered. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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