Fwd: FierySpirits and resilient communities


Richard Moore

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From: “Carnegie UK Trust” <•••@••.•••>
Date: 30 November 2009 17:51:13 GMT
To: “Richard Moore” <•••@••.•••>
Subject: FierySpirits NewsBurst November/December 2009

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FierySpirits NewsBurst
   Fell Farmers Cumbria P5010152 IMG_2774       
November 2009: ‘fiery’ events this month included
Carnegie Convention (Kendal), Ceiliuradh (Tipperary), 
Stronger Communities: Wealthier and Fairer Scotland (Stirling) &
IACD Asset-Based Approaches Seminar (London)

December 2009: watch out for
Sustainable and Resilient Rural Communities Conference (Devon) 

Dear Richard Moore

Welcome to NewsBurst, a snap shot summary of what has been happening this month, and what is coming up soon – capturing current activity and the ever diverse directions of Fiery Spirits.com. STOP PRESS: Did you attend the Kendal Convention? Take our online evaluation survey now, and/or add a comment to Daniel’s post-convention blog.
Guest Editorial: Lars Stenberg, Sensory Trust
I was out last night at the pub with some friends from a small rural town in Australia and the conversation kept returning to the difficulty of attracting and keeping professionals in their town. It seemed that doctors, dentists, lawyers and teachers came and went with astonishing rapidity, and while no one was lamenting the loss of lawyers, there was general agreement that it was hard for a community to function without the others. A round trip of 200km was felt to be excessive for a dental check-up.
Mention community and suddenly everyone’s an expert. In other areas of work this might be a frustration, but one of the great things about community work is that everyone is an expert. Everyone has an opinion, often a strongly held one, and balancing these opinions is one of the skills of community engagement. I didn’t even try.
The reasons for the high turnover of professionals were kicked around as the evening wore on. Some mentioned “remoteness” as an issue: too far from the lattes, exhibitions and theatres of Melbourne. Some mentioned education: the local rural high school was too appallingly “feral” for professionals’ children accustomed to private schooling and music scholarships rather than fist fights in the classroom.
Someone else mentioned the culture of small towns. How hard it was for an “incomer” to be accepted. How in order to live in such a community you had to work hard to become part of it… often with the feeling that only your grandchildren will truly succeed at being accepted. On the one hand incoming professionals were used to living in cities where the community fabric was loose, where a range of behaviours, cultures and lifestyles was accommodated and tolerated to varying degrees and where there was little or no need to work to “fit in”. On the other, small and remote communities often have a strong single culture which admits of little diversity… which is a polite way of summing up the accusations of bigotry, racism and intolerance that were flying around the table last night.

Having just read the excellent Manifesto for Rural Communities, it was interesting to have this exposition of the Dark Side of cultural capital play out. Cultural capital, “Shaping how we see the world, what we take for granted and what we value (language, rituals and traditions)” as the manifesto puts it, is one of the seven categories of assets that the Carnegie UK Trust uses as part of its asset-based approach to community development. There is mention elsewhere in the manifesto of the difficulties of defining assets as 100% good. Cultural assets, it seems, are no different.
One of the assets of many “remote and peripheral” communities is a strong sense of community identity. The Dark Side of this sense of identity I’ve already mentioned above, but when focused and channelled it is often a powerful asset for transformation, as many examples here on Fiery Spirits show.
 I wonder, however, whether all mono-cultural (for want of a better word) communities are more resilientthan multicultural ones. I’m thinking of communities that have, or had, a strong culture built around a primary industry like mining and fishing. The loss of the industry was much more than a loss of jobs; it was a loss of culture, of identity. Would a multi-cultural community successfully absorb more of the shock of such a change? There’s been some debate on the semantics of “resilience” here on the ning, but if it means the ability to adapt to change and challenge then is the multicultural, diverse community the more resilient? Questions, questions.
Research by the Home Office back in 2006 suggested that multicultural communities were less “happy” than those with less diversity. The headlines tell us that we tend to trust people who are “like us” more so than people who aren’t. However, digging deeper into the research we have to question what “like us” means. Is it skin colour, or shared experience? Income bracket or geography? Faith? Language? Football team? All of the above?
Whatever elements unite or divide us, it is evident that cultural assets are as riddled with disagreement as any other set of assets. One man’s fish is another man’s poisson. Perhaps though the debate around cultural capital can inform how we look at other assets. Trevor Philips, chair of the Commission for Racial Equality, talked of the strength of “bonding social capital” that binds similar people into groups, and of the importance of building “bridging social capital” to build strong links between those different groups and these two types of social capital are recognised in the Manifesto.  Perhaps this way of subdividing social capital into complementary, or even opposing, assets can help us to understand and evaluate other capitals or assets in a similar way.
The Manifesto, subtitled Inspiring Community Innovation, is based on a wealth or real-life experiences in rural communities. It recognises the importance of social capital and it emphasises that “greater regard needs to be given to the intangible assets of a rural area – above all the skills and talents of local people”, and it recognises the difficulties newcomers face in joining established communities and offers suggestions on how some of these issues can be overcome.
If you haven’t read the Manifesto for Rural Communities, download one now – and watch the launch video.

Resilience: a series of premium Podcasts
Resilience, a subject that has been generating a lot of interest at events and on Fieryspirits.com, creating conversations and in-depth discussions through theresilience inquiry group. View these video summaries of key recent Resilience events that capture a range of reactions and responses to this topic. And watch out for the ‘Christmas’ episode – summing up a fascinating conversation by 40 Kendal Convention participants:  

1) Sense of Place ‘conversation starter’: event participants give their ‘take’ on what resilience is all about
2) Power and Place: a panel gives their view on resilience building in response to an audience question
3) Resilience Seminar, Dunfermline invited 20 attendees to ‘map the territory’ of resilience thinking – catch up with their initial responses
4) Ceiliuradh: Creating The Resilient Rural Community

A bunch of beaming Blogs
Zero Carbon Britain –  The next steps
Paul Allen writes “We are all are becoming increasingly aware that on numerous fronts, the consequences of the past 150 years of fossil fuel driven industrialisation are simultaneously coming home to roost. The most recent scientific evidence on both climate security and energy security reveals a situation more urgent than had been expected, even by those who have been following it closely for decades.” Until January 2010, Fiery Spirits exclusively hosts draft copies of CAT’s new ‘Zero Carbon Britain II’ report. To read and offer feedback, join Paul’s Zero Carbon Britain ThinkTanks group.

Monbiot: If Nothing Else, Save Farming
Did you know you can now post links to online material really easily? Go to ‘my page’ and you’ll see the option. This is exactly what Bridget Kirlow did when she linked to George Monbiot’s latest piece from theGuardian 16th November 2009: If Nothing Else, Save Farming. Nick followed up by posting the article as a blog which has generated some interesting comments…: “It’s probably too late to prepare for peak oil, but we can at least try to salvage food production.I don’t know when global oil supplies will start to decline. I do know that another resource has already peaked and gone into freefall: the credibility of the body that’s meant to assess them. Last week two whistleblowers from the International Energy Agency alleged that it has deliberately upgraded its estimate of the world’s oil supplies in order not to frighten the markets(1). Three days later, a paper published by researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden showed that the IEA’s forecasts must be wrong, because it assumes a rate of extraction that appears to be impossible(2). The agency’s assessment of the state of global oil supplies is beginning to look as reliable as Mr Greenspan’s blandishments about the health of the financial markets.”

Phew! That was some convention!!!
Pete White writes “Here I am back at my desk in none-too-sunny Dalbeattie in SW Scotland. In spite of everything by way of weather and the firm bump back into my working routine I find myself still buzzing as I recall the convention and reflect upon the people I met and the words, emotions and ideas shared with such good humour in Kendal. Words are inadequate to express my sincere appreciation for all the effort and contributions that made it all possible and so very worthwhile.” Coming soon to Fieryspirits.com: presentations and thought provoking videos reflecting the key content of the Kendal Convention. 

A flutter of fabulous ‘foodie’ films
Ceiliuradh 2009Inspiriational and passionate surprise speaker at Tipperary-Ceiliuradh
Peter Ward is a force in Irish Food. Invited to let participants at Tipperary Institute’s 2009 Ceiluradh know about the politics of the local food they eat during the evening, he weaves together powerful stories to challenge the status quo to be able to genuinely support the local food movement.

Building the Local Food Movement -Scottish Food Relocalisation Gathering, Dunbar, 24/25th October 2009

A coalition of grassroots groups who are all working towards a sustainable Scotland met in Dunbar to launch a Scottish local food movement. Videos and reports from the weekend are now available online – see especially:

New Discussion: Eco-Innovation Parks: everything you needed to know!
John Ferguson reports on his round-the-world tour of eco-innovation parks studying the emergent status of new industrial ecologies and the role of eco parks in developing sustainable waste management, renewable energy, sustainable food production and the clean technology sector.

Welcome to new Members:

Building the Local Food Movement -Scottish Food Relocalisation Gathering, Dunbar, 24/25th October 2009


Events coming soon…..
Future events in a variety of locations with a diverse focus, each offering opportunities for Fiery Spirits to continue conversations, refresh, remind and reflect and to teach and tell stories. 

December 4 


Top Tip: Mind like a sieve? With one click, export event details to your computer or iphone calendar! Click below the event listing to export event details.  

Reminder: Blogs and Groups
Blogs continue to be the place to share news, and Group hosts focus work on specific outcomes (such as planning events, hosting inquiries, running seminars or writing publications together). 

Welcoming new members … who needs an invitation?
This newsletter puts you in touch with the latest action on the FierySpirits site – it’s a good way to find out what you’ve missed, and what’s coming up in the next month. Share it with others you think might like to join FierySpirits – or invite them direct.  Once they join, drop them a welcome note on their profile page. They should read the 2009 Rural Programme guide for an overview.

Poems for December: 
Leaves  by Elsie N. Brady

How silently they tumble down
And come to rest upon the ground
To lay a carpet, rich and rare,
Beneath the trees without a care,
Content to sleep, thier work well donw,
Colors gleaming in the sun.

At other times, they wildy fly
until they nearly reach the sky.
Twisting, turning through the air
Till all the trees stand stark and bare. 
Exhauseted, drop to earth below
To wait, like children, for the snow.

Winter Rain…
by Abby Wall

This rain is winter rain,
It spits and sprays like an angry cat,
As it lands lightly on the empty playground,

This rain is winter rains,
Cold and clinging to the thin fabrics,
Each droplet shining dully and roughly,

This rain is winter rain,
It drifts almost gracefully down through its own fog,
Taunting the shivering trees

below, and above,

This rain is winter rain,
Even the bird’s flinch fearfully and cringe,
As they fly through this endless grey curtain,

This rain is winter rain,
Drippng from everywhere, clouding everything,
A cruel, stinging scream in every drop,
This rain is winter rain…

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