As part of my wider investigation into practices of commoning my recent research has involved working within my local community (Hastings, East Sussex, UK) and Transition Town group to design a festival of sustainable ideas called Sustainability on Sea festival. An act of commoning, collectively building social capital alongside new shared knowledge, the festival also acts as a platform for other commoning practices. This research explores how design practices can support, amplify and expand commoning practices. A local climate action network, or infrastructure, begins to be revealed around existing groups, businesses and members of the Transition Town group.
Design for commons and commoning needs a profound understanding of systems to be able to support a transition to a local carbon future. Visualising the Bioregional themes and festival events has revealed what’s happening in the town – where the town is weak and where it is strong. For a community that has high levels of deprivation, it is not surprising that larger, higher impact projects are not so apparent. What is apparent is the strength of the community itself and the wide-ranging activities already taking place, especially around local, sustainable food production, culture and land and nature.
Any future work requires a certain level of capacity, commitment and funding. This is not always easy to achieve e.g. there was no commitment from anyone in the team to deliver Car Free Day in 2020.
The festival has been a ‘live’ prototype – it’s planted a seed for the community to express how they feel about the climate crisis and enact ways to create change. Hopefully, the network can continue to develop relationships and work together. It is important not to lose the momentum built by the festival.
Some further questions I hope to explore in the future: An outcome of the festival is the amplification of the emerging ecosystem, however, it is still focussed mainly on human activities. Are the Bioregional themes useful? Do they integrate with ecology or are they human-centric? How can we view the ecosystem differently and build in more diversity?