About 18 months ago I attended a talk given by one of the key players in the transformation of the West Yorkshire town of Todmorden into 'Incredible Edible Todmorden'.
Paul Clarke shared how the people of Todmorden had embraced the ideas of a few willful locals to 'reinvent our place, in mad times', by initiating a wide range of food-growing and self-sufficiency projects, from planting herb beds on the train station platforms, to a major land development and management project on the edge of town, 'for growing, study and learning'.
Todmorden has, in Clarke's words, turned from 'ego-centric to eco-centric'. The former industry town is now flourishing once more. Check out http://www.incredible-edible-todmorden.co.uk/ for much more insight!
Last Saturday (8th Oct), a dozen or so friends from our Meeting spent a fruitful day exploring Britain Yearly Meeting's commitment to becoming a low-carbon sustainable community. What emerged out of this day of digging and sifting was a handful of healthy-looking seeds for our Meeting to consider planting, together.
Food is a unifying element of life - 'a universal connector', as Paul Clarke said in his talk of a year and a half ago. The visioning exercises friends embraced last Saturday led us to see food - growing it, cooking it, learning about it and eating it - as a means of helping tend our community toward becoming low-carbon and sustainable; toward 'the conviviality of self-reliance'.
Over the coming weeks, the Living Witness Project Sheffield Support Group will conduct a brief survey to help our Meeting at large to discern what actions we all might like to take in order to build on the strong and exciting visions that emerged from Saturday's session.
We've thought of 3 simple questions: Who in our Meeting grows food? Who would like to learn how to? And who would support a Sheffield Quakers food growing and trading project (by whatever means appropriate to each individual and family in our Meeting)?
So, look out for the questionnaire, as well as the next LWP Sheffield update in next month's SQN, which will give more details of many of the seeds that are sprouting in our Meeting.