White Dog and The White Dog Army
Wonderful World Wednesday
White Dog has a favorite saying that The White Dog Army uses as its motto:” I may not be able to do everything, but I can do something!” It embodies our belief that a whole bunch of “somethings” amount to making a difference; to successfully creating a wonderful world. Of course, in order for the WD plan to move the mountains necessary to change the world we must rely on others with similar convictions doing their part. Together, nothing is impossible... is the way we see it.
In these tough times it seems the idea of community is being rediscovered...although in THIS blogging family the principals of community have never been out of vogue. Still, it is amazing to see people, failed by the system and its leaders, connecting with each other to form a new system, based on old-fashioned values. Yorkshire in England is leading the way with a new spirit of community that is truly for and by the people. Simply and with care. Check out the wonderful world they are building together:
Free food, caring and sharing: new spirit of community in Yorkshire
Hebden Bridge and Todmorden are leading a grassroots movement
which people say is delivering quality of life
There is an extraordinary sign on the outside of a well-tended West Yorkshire vegetable garden: "Help yourself."
In the same town this summer, people will be helping themselves to sweetcorn growing around the police station. Compost and watering cans seized in drug farm raids find use in the local gardens. And come the autumn a trip to see a local doctor will be a pick-your-own free-for-all as the health centre's grounds have been turned into orchards.
Meanwhile, commuters can snip fresh herbs from the beds and pots outside the railway station. It's all kept weeded by an army of local people who give up an hour or so on the occasional Sunday.
With 40 volunteer beekeepers just trained, there will soon be honey for all. Anyone inspired to start their own vegetable patch can borrow a community tool library at the community-run allotments.
In the next village, things have been taken even further. The local community is attempting to take over a pub and have already taken over the cinema, the theatre and even the town hall.
In a fold of the wet hills of Yorkshire, the communities of Hebden Bridge and Todmorden are at the vanguard of a movement that is picking up momentum across a UK disillusioned with corporate business, government and cuts. It is neither hippy nor New Age, but is made up of ordinary people, old and young, from both affluent homes and social housing.
Call it a sharing revolution. "Community empowerment, social enterprise, co-operative, it has various titles, but it's quietly getting huge," said Mike Perry of the Plunkett Foundation, a thriving national organisation supporting such enterprises nationwide. "I don't think it's about the recession as such in financial terms; it's more that it's made people think about what's important to them.
"It starts with food, then it's taking over a shop that's closing. Then it's getting fired up about broadband and renewable energy, taking over infrastructure of their community. We're at the start of what could be a significant movement."
And it's not just in the countryside; there are many web schemes across the UK where people can arrange to swap or give away items to others in their area. Tool libraries and bike sharing are growing. In London, Streetbank.com has begun organising people to share everything from a lawnmower to a DVD with others within a mile's radius. Some 3,000 people have signed up in its first few months. DIY retailer B&Q has a pilot scheme in Reading on tool sharing, to ease the environmental damage caused by millions of people buying power tools they may use only once or twice.
Mary Clear, owner of the "help yourself" sign in Todmorden, is overwhelmed with the success of the innovations she has pioneered in her Incredible Edible project, which she set up with her friend, Pam Warhurst, after the banking crisis. Thirty other towns have followed suit. "It was a reaction to the lack of leadership nationally and locally," she said. "We wanted to make our own behavioural shift, to bring people together. Everyone eats, yet food is such a marker of social injustice, so we started guerrilla gardening."
The energetic grandmother of 10 lives a frugal life after being made redundant in the public service cuts. "We've no offices, no staff, no money. I'm not against supermarkets or bankers; it's about kindness and social justice.
"Me and Pam are women of a certain age, we've not got balaclavas, it's just about not being afraid to step forward in your community and do it." Like the WDA says, "You CAN do SOMETHING!"