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Somebody somewhere should do something about this sometime

“They should do something about this!”

 “Why doesn’t somebody sort this out?”

If I’d had a pound for each time I heard these two comments, I’d have a nicely stocked piggy bank.

Usually the speaker means by “they” and “somebody” anybody but them. Anybody who supposedly has the position/power/influence/time (insert whichever one you recognise) which they themselves feel they haven’t got. It’s either up to the head of department, the council, the government or God, but it’s not something they themselves could take care of. If you suggest that, maybe, they could, you’re likely to get a horrified reply stating something along the lines of: “I couldn’t do that!” or “That’s not my job!” or more often “I haven’t got the time...”

Volunteer Sharon and customerYet here we have a little book, stuffed full with success stories about what happens when ordinary people decide that they can and will be part of the solution. When Rob Hopkins named his latest offering “The Power of just Doing Stuff”, he wasn’t exaggerating the effect of individuals and communities taking charge of their fates. Being one the lucky beneficiaries of the services of our very own brand new community shop and cafe, I can tell you that the power is awesome!

Shelves well stocked with local produceJust this morning I delivered Siop Cynfelyn’s order of salad bags and other locally grown veggies and again the busy, joyful atmosphere there brought a smile to my face, as it does each time I go there. In a rural area such as ours, a local shop plays a vital role. It’s not just a place to get a pint of milk, half a dozen eggs and a paper (although it’s mighty handy not to have to drive ten miles to get essentials), a shop like this is a place where local people can feel they are a community, working together to do something good. The commitment to local produce means that it’s not just one large supplier who benefits from the trade, but lots of locals are able to sell something from their gardens, such as flowers or some gooseberries and herbs, whatever is in season and plentiful. And it is wonderful to know that, if there was a product I would like to be able to buy here on a regular basis, it is very likely that, if I asked, it would appear on the shelves, because this is my shop, our shop and I’ve got a say.

Rob and the cupcakesThanks to the enormous efforts of a few dedicated people, the fantastic input of a bigger core group of volunteers and the contributions of many more, our community is now stronger, happier and more connected. These were people who, when the original shop closed in 2010, decided that somebody should do something about the situation and so they did. They were not especially qualified or experienced or time-rich, but each brought their own skills and energy to the project. They made sure that the wider community was involved from the start by organising surveys and info events. They raised funds, by hook and by crook and stood strong in the belief that they were going to pull this off. And now each time I go and deliver my produce, buy a coffee or a pint of milk, it feels like a little celebration, a triumph, success in the face of austerity. You don’t get that at Tesco’s.

No waste-vegetable rescue centreThis is very much what “doing Transition” means to me: it’s creating vibrant, positive change by the community for that community. It’s not sitting around moaning about how bad things are and waiting for “somebody” to sort it out. It’s about people empowering themselves and taking charge, doing great things and then discovering that there are many unexpected benefits to the process they never could’ve imagined. In “The Power of Just Doing Stuff”, Rob Hopkins has revisited the core of Transition: it’s all about coming together as a community and discovering in the process of making your neighbourhood more resilient the power and joy of community.

Get it. Do it. Now!


Photo's: Volunteer Sharon and customer/Well stocked shelves with local produce/Volunteer Rob and the cupcakes/No waste+creativity=tasty bit of fun

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