#Start with Local – Change the world one neighbourhood at a time
Imagine if you could change the world – dealing with societies big problems – one neighbourhood at a time. That’s what Start with Local is all about. It was born out a desire to make the world a better place, but with a very effective starting point – local.
We’re all too aware that the world we find ourselves in presents a unique set of challenges – rampant climate change, our environment under threat, social isolation, a cash-crisis in local government, the slow decline in our local high-streets, a growing disengagement from the democratic process, and the extra strain of population growth to name but a few.
But, what can I do?
People feel that they are not listened to, that they can’t even influence the parking bay or empty tree pit outside their own home. They describe their council as ‘them’ and have no trust in local government. The easiest thing to do is to retreat inward, and disconnect, and then occasionally complain. And then when it comes to the more global issues, like climate change, or plastic in our oceans, or democracy being rolled-back, we feel even more helpless. What’s the point – nothing I do will make a difference?
Change starts with you
If you can change the way people think and act locally, and when I say that I mean in their immediate neighbourhood, then you’ve got the basis for changing the world.
Change one neighbourhood, change many neighbourhoods.
If we make our focus at a hyperlocal level, then you’d be surprised just how much change we can create. If you energise your street to hold a Christmas party, or gorilla-plant trees in your empty tree pits or shut your road to traffic for a few hours to let your children play outside, or team up to deal with crime. If you energise your neighbourhood with a campaign to save the local pond or set up a Friends Group to look after a local park. With all these things people start seeing that they can have an impact – they can make a difference. And not only that, but they find they enjoy being an active member of their local community.
These small wins start to turn into bigger wins. And one community energises the next community and so you have a movement. We’re seeing this all over. People fed up with a lack of investment in their parks and greenspaces are getting together to do something about it. People are getting together to clean up their local beaches. This changes minds, the way they vote, the decisions they make – it all adds up. Children see what their parents are doing – and the impact rolls down to the next generation.
We’re at a tipping-point where the value of grassroots movements and the role of the community is now more recognised. There is obviously a strong place for top-down change emulating from policy, campaigning, and various programmes – we’re not dismissing these – but equally there is huge potential for change driven from bottom-up, neighbourhood by neighbourhood change. If you own the change, then it’s change that lasts.
Start with Local
We want to develop ideas into tangible solutions for problems we all have in all our neighbourhoods. If we can get something working in one neighbourhood, we can take it to scale nationally neighbourhood by neighbourhood, town by town.
For example, we know that our local parks are under threat, and we see that communities are coming together to help improve these parks, so we’re working to find a powerful way to support each of these friends’ groups.
We see councils struggling financially to replace street-trees – so we’re looking to work with a handful of councils to develop a simple programme, which will make their tree budget go a lot further and involve the local community in this process.
We’d like to see corporates engaging more meaningfully at a local level, and we’re happy to help them devise and refine community engagement programmes that really deliver a tangible benefit. A coffee shop isn’t a community centre just because there’s community a noticeboard – but it could become a centre for a community if the coffeeshop chain developed a hyperlocal mindset. And then everyone’s a winner.
If you’re interested in working with us in then do get in touch at Simeon@startwithlocal.org.uk