Saturday 15 January 2011

Norwich Co-operative Communities

Norwich Co-operative Communities is a shiny new project borne out of an idea by Jackie Luckman of Shepway, Essex, called Shepway Co-operative Communities & Environment Welfare Club. Jackie started a Facebook group and invited others around the country to start one for their own area, building a network of networks, not so unlike the Transition movement.

I quickly became excited by this idea and jumped at the chance to instigate something for Norwich. Having previously worked in mental health and employment & training, I have seen how very well-intentioned and hard-working organisations do the best they can for the people or groups they aim to help, with extremely stretched resources. However I often also wondered why they didn't work together more.

We could take an example from ants. They use the soil surface to leave pheromone trails that can be followed by other ants. In species that forage in groups, a forager that finds food marks a trail on the way back to the colony; this trail is followed by other ants who then reinforce the trail when they head back with food to the colony. A lesson to us all, though we already know that two heads are better than one, a problem shared is a problem halved and 'No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main'. The ants, it seems, had it figured out long ago.

Earlier this week I launched a new online forum (go to, which will be one way for organisations (or indeed, any local groups, businesses or individuals who want to make connections) to communicate their ideas, ask for and offer help with a range of things, limited only by what people want and what people can offer. To me, that seems a very broad spectrum indeed, as it could encompass health, well-being, the environment, the arts, crafts, recycling, sustainability, growing, disability, youth, community, talks and demonstrations and so much more. The online method is a mere starting point, how wonderful if it were to become so much more 'real', with its members actually meeting with each other, talking and collaborating.

The site is now up in beta, please do join and suggest it to anyone you think may find it interesting or useful. Feedback and suggestions very welcome and please do tell me if you do have any issues so I can try to correct them. Currently the site piggy-backs on the server for my Wombling website and I shall move the site over to a dedicated server as it develops and grows.

No more island loneliness.

Eco Treedweller

Sources: Goldy Sunset by ryandws, 'No Man is an Island' John Donne.


  1. Looks like the projects are all coming on strong! You'll find more ideas and projects on facebook, creative community co op, Feelgood (for free), and S.P.I.D.E.R. (Supporting.Promoting.Independence.Disabilities.Enterprise.& rehabilitation)
    Thanks for the support, co operative motion, in communities during depression will certainly upgrade the services, support and welfare stakes!

  2. Your driving to the dump and a notice you see,
    A give & Take Centre, Is that the place you should be?
    Apparently my scrap can be put to good use?
    to send it to landfill is environmental abuse?

    Now ive broken wardrobes, but still good for shelves,
    more things that are broken, but they could mend it themselves?
    These items are old but could still have a life,
    facilitating mobility, or reducing some strife?

    So I took all my scrap, they said what they could use,
    They offered a percentage of value, I had nothing to lose?
    I could spend these tokens, on variety of things,
    a collection of service, to community this brings.

    I went inside and there were smiling faces,
    there were mixtures of people of colour and races,
    of partial impairment, and single parents too,
    a drop in centre of difference, I asked what they do?

    We take all these bits and we therapeutically restore,
    but its not just as simple as fixing a door!
    There are those of us here who cannot get employment,
    or gainful occupation, for enterprising enjoyment.

    We lacked the facility, cant commit to set times,
    some lacked the mobility, and I thought of mine?
    Would this be the place I might find something to replace,
    the things in my life I could call a disgrace.

    The drawers that wont open, the shelves hurt my back,
    im falling over the floors for the storage I lack!
    I asked they said yes, theres help in this place,
    Weve a recyling team, that can help you with space!

    If you'll offer your service we'll train you to fix,
    scrap, health and function, in classes quite mixed!
    But its holistic vision, is a therapy centre,
    on alternative, skills share, would you like to enter?

    He took me around, there was fixing and mending,
    turning scrap into functional items, for auction sending,
    Here I could spend the rewards that Id earnt,
    value the skills that otherwise wouldnt be learnt!?

    There was a social environment, lots of thought going on,
    We have storage solutions, and teams going strong,
    intersupportive, creative, lets now go make a change,
    in the lives of some people, who life in disarrange?

    The centre developed, it did training courses for strength,
    ascociation of empathy, was supportive to help you 'go the length'
    because those that teach, and those that would learn,
    could self tailor themselves and help each other in turn!.

    Legislation and health laws are zealously unproductive,
    if they prevent such a centre for being productive.
    If welfare is crumbling, and the funds are not there,
    alternative community economy will give dividends to share!!?