We all have many ‘hats’ that we wear. We all play multiple and varied roles within our personal lives, families and social network, work, and community.
A cool little activity is to have a think about the different roles you have in your communities and networks. Where are you connected? Where are your skills and/or relationships strongest? Where can you build your skills and/or relationships?
In groups (so we could build on each other’s ideas), we explored two ideas:
- What does active citizenship look like?
- What makes communities resilient, inclusive, diverse, fun, and healthy?
Here are the ideas we had:
Some initiatives and ideas that we can participate in to help make our communities fun and resilient are further discussed below.
Swap and Share Tables
Swap and share tables are a super way to share surplus, exchange goods we no longer need, re-use and recycle items, and get the community talking.
There is one at my work and about 3 years ago I set one up outside where I lived at the time. Within the last 3 years I have seen or heard of at least another half dozen that have cropped up around the city.
Some are modestly sized (one is made from a converted shopping basket), some are large (one place even transformed their whole garage into a free shop). Some only share garden surplus, others are exclusively for books. Some have anything and everything!
There is great environmental and social value in fostering swapping and sharing cultures. They encourage the use and re-use of items that might otherwise be discarded, which is good for the environment as it reduces waste and strain on resources. And is good for communities as it encourages them to be better connected.
Shira Golding wrote a great post about how to organise swap and share events.
Other resources that are related include The Freecycle Network, which is a global sharing network which you sign up to (for free) and you can share, gift and receive items for free in your local community.
Another way to be active (even if it is a bit subversive) for your community is to engage in guerrilla gardening. Why? Because guerrilla gardening offers free food for the community, makes places productive or more attractive, engages us with nature, and encourages biodiversity.
Guerrilla Gardening is the act of transforming under-utilised public space to make it productive of beautiful. For example, in Kirikiriroa Hamilton (where I live), outside most homes there are grassy berms owned by the council. They are a monoculture with no productive value and limited aesthetic value. So… we transformed ours into a productive community veggie patch, and it continues to attract people several years down the track.
There are some tips, tricks and etiquette when it comes to guerrilla gardening. They are summed up will in this short videoclip:
Guerrilla gardening is one of several ways to help create more edible cities, alongside developing community gardens, and finding ways to share produce (for example by encouraging fruit trees in your section to overhang into public space, so that passersby can pick them.
These kinds of activities encourage foraging, and there are a growing number of resources that support a foraging culture, for example:
- www.fallingfruit.org maps fruit and nut trees across the world that can be harvested by the public.
- your city might have a more detailed foraging map available – just Google it!
- there are a growing number of local guides, blogs and people keen to share knowledge about foraging in your area. (For New Zealanders, here is a good place to start.)
- Keep an eye/ear out for local Crop Swap events taking place in your neighbourhood.
TimeBanking is based on the principle that everyone has valuable skills to offer (even if they are not recognised as valuable by the financial system), and works by using time as a currency (as opposed to money). By giving and receiving help to/from people in our neighbourhood, we build strong networks and are engaged in our community.
It is a pay-it-forward system where I do something for someone, except instead of being a one-way flow of giving, it is reciprocated by members of the community in turn doing things for me. So when I do something for someone, I earn time credits (1 hour = 1 time credit), which I can then spend when someone does something for me.
I love TimeBanking because it is a complementary currency that not only acknowledges the value of all people, but is more equitable in the distribution of its currency.
If there is no TimeBank in your region, there are a number of resources available online to help you set one up in your area, including this great little booklet by Lyttelton TimeBank.
If you are interested in going beyond just TimeBanking and seeking to incorporate other alternative economies into your way of living, I suggest checking out the Mutual Aid Network. This is a global movement which offers ideas and resources to incorporate different kinds of co-operative networks into your life and lifestyle, such as cooperative saving pools, cooperative ownership, mutual credit, and more.
They even have a Posh-terity Budgeting Spreadsheet, which helps you record assets and exchanges in different currencies (not just money).
Civil defence, or civil protection, is an effort to protect the citizens of a state (generally non-combatants) from military attacks and natural disasters.
Disaster preparedness is an essential part of creating resilient communities. It is very important to have a plan ready in case of emergency. If you do not already have a plan for what you and your family will do in case of emergency, take a look at this resource which helps you make a plan. It is also important to have all the supplies and resources you need to get through an emergency situation.
Even though this is long, I hope it has been interesting. Living in Aotearoa New Zealand, I believe there is another important element to creating communities that are diverse, inclusive and resilient, and that is te ao Māori – the Māori world (including te reo, tikanga, marae, waahi tapu and more). I have written a separate post about that.