Friday, January 22, 2010

Community Research and Engagement

Community research and community engagement go hand in hand when trying to figure out what certain communities need and don’t need to become a more sustainable community. I think that community research has to be conducted prior to and during the process of community engagement. With community research you must do research that matters and makes sense by first figuring out what the community’s needs are and who, what and why the community needs these things. To form a strong backbone structure of the research of the community it is very important to find things such as local knowledge, partners, and groups to find out as much knowledge as you can about the community and get feedback on what needs to be done. After the research aspect is done, then I believe is when you can actually start planning and engaging in the community to implement different changes to better the community. The two major aspects that are needed in doing this are a good strategy and an ethical way of approaching the community and using proper tools and techniques to achieve the set goals. In class today we broke out into 3 different groups and came up with 3 different ways to keep communities interested in perusing different ways to make a community greener. Lots of new idea’s came up that I have never heard of before and was actually somewhat interested in such as a “welcome wagon”. A welcome wagon is for people that are new to the community and have just moved there and it is a way of promoting and introducing them to a greener community. This is done by going to meet the new people and brining them pamphlets, newsletters, maps, and other useful material that can show them where they can buy local products from farmers, eat at local restaurants that use local products, farmers market dates and times, ways to get involved in the community, where and how the transit systems work and it helps with engaging youth and elders as well. A few of the other example were to provide first time transit rides to help promote riding the bus instead of driving, as Colwood has a poor website a good idea would be to improve the local website to assist with anything people in the community might be interested about, have bulletin boards, newsletters and news papers throughout the community to inform people of events taking place, public meetings, online surveys, open house events and informal gatherings and events as a community group outreach. Implementing all of these ideas would be a key start for a turn in the right direction of a greener community. I know that not everyone in a community is going to be on board with the idea, but if you change the mind of at least one person and get them to ride a bus instead of drive, they will start passing on their knowledge and hopefully change the minds of 2 people. It is hard to change a whole community quickly, but the impact you make on one person could change the whole community over time and help in making a stronger and greener community. Now I ask, what will you do to help start the movement?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Transition Community Vs Citta Slow Community

A transition community is exactly what it sounds like; it is a community where people who are part of that community want to make a change for a more sustainable community. The first part to achieving this goal is to gather together a group of motivated individuals with the same concerns, and ask them, how our community can better ourselves to respond to peak oil and climate change. This group is the initial stage of starting a transition community. The following steps must be followed for best results of seeing a smooth transition. Step 1 is to make it real, this mean make everyone in the group realize the important of their day to day actions that can impact how a community can work together. Step 2 is to work with special interest groups such as local governments and municipalities and try to get them on board as well to make stricter policies and laws. Step 3 is include everyone in the community from youth to elders, if everyone in the community feels important they will feel like they’re word as just as important as anyone else’s. Step 4 is to attend to inner and outer transition groups to seek others opinions and ideas to have a different view on how to carry out tasks. Step 5 is build and holds positive visions for the future, which is best said by staying positive and stick to the goals at hand no matter what. Step 6 is let it go where it wants to go, this means implementing such things as using bike trails more frequently, planting more trees, and hold local farmers markets. The municipality of Colwood in Victoria, B.C. where I reside, is not presently a community that is starting to make a transition that I am aware of. Through working with the municipality of Colwood in the upcoming months of our sustainability class I am hoping that our cohort can make a change for the better and provide Colwood with an initial plan to start making a transition to be sustainable. Citta slow community is a concept that I have never heard of or been aware of until a presentation that I witnessed today, that was actually very interesting. Citta slow is essentially a way for a community to be self sustainable, by means of living on foods and materials that are grown locally by farmers or made locally by individuals. A citta slow community, is a community that has stricter regulations about building policies, codes, and what kind of establishments can be built such as not allowing big companies or fast food restaurants such as Costco’s, Wal-Marts, Macdonald’s and Tim Horton’s to be established. These communities strictly want to run on local products only. The idea is to take the community back in time and try to establish everything that was native to the land before the community was made. This includes native species of trees, grasses, fish, animals, and plants. As I am a resident of Colwood, I am not aware of my community trying to implement anything like this, but an example we learnt of today was the community of Cowichan on Vancouver Island. A local farmer of this community opened a bakery in town. Lots of people from this community supported this farmers business because it was all locally grown and they were on board for supporting local products. Another local dairy farmer saw that the community was supporting the local food a lot and thought to himself, why sell my cheese on my farm when I can open up my own cheese shop beside the bakery, due to the community coming together and supporting the locals. To me, this shows how a community can come together and make a difference on a smaller scale, and hopefully other communities can cease the opportunity and make a difference by becoming a more sustainable community. Both of these different ways of approaching change in a community are great ideas and I hope that when we work with the municipality of Colwood that our cohort can help implement a start to a more sustainable community.