Monday, July 6, 2020

The power of neighbourhood assemblies and emergency declarations


As readers would know, I have suggested that extended family groups could be one of the underestimated agents of change in response to the climate and ecological emergencies (www.familyclimateemergency.net).  As one family member is very often a member of another family, were both to hold assemblies and the declare emergencies, family networks working towards net zero carbon could cover the planet.

An alternative affinity group could be a ‘neighbourhood’.  Many of the effective measures to reduce carbon extend beyond the family/household into the local area.  Calling neighbourhood assemblies, making neighbourhood declarations and moving groups of (say) 100 households towards net zero carbon could be replicated across the globe. There would be overlaps in interests and areas/spaces being shared.

In middle class suburban England (where high consumption and carbon emissions are the norm) will have to experience significant behavioural changes  and, as with families, there is much to be said for doing it together.

Fences could be removed/relocated to provide spaces for growing food, recreation and getting together. Guest accommodation could be found within the existing houses or built, together with a common houses for catering and meeting (the origin of the public house).  Home-working could move towards neighbourhood working if existing or new spaces were found for shared offices, workshops, stores, food processing (and cafes). Cars (electric of course), other vehicles and tools could be shared as could books and games.  The sharing economy (inc mutual credit systems - see www.lowimpact.org) could grow out of the assembly and declaration to achieve net zero carbon. Not all neighbours would join, in but there could be a Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) as the project developed and flourished.  Some of the changes would require planning permission, and the engagement of the planning system and the local development plans could even help in the dissemination of the low carbon practices.

Planning for neighbourhood action would be a productive use of time spent on ‘probation’ and ensuring that the emergence from ‘lockdown’ is a green recovery whatever the Government might be suggesting and promoting.

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