It’s that time of year again. I join in the annual celebration of sustainability – Wirral Earth Fest. Sustainability has many aspects – environment, local economy, social enterprise, enlightenment, food, enjoyment but mostly community.Earth Fest is a symbol and a symptom of sustainability in the local communities – communities of interest, of action, of neighbourhoods and of interdependence and mutual nurturing.
The BreakDown or BreakOut is a European project under the Erasmus+ scheme, which in UK is directed through the University Centre, Shrewsbury of the University of Chester, for which I’ve been active. We’ve focussed on community actions in Wirral as our test-bed for BreakDown or BreakOut. This is because of the sheer riches of networks, interactions and community initiative there, which Wirral Earth Fest shows off very well. There will be a display at our stall of the work of BreakDown or BreakOut showing how local initiatives change lives and improve life chances through exploring passions and potentials, nurturing talent, boosting confidence, self-esteem & motivation and challenging & encouraging more enterprising approaches. Wirral is remarkable in the way it has these opportunities and provides models to interchange with BreakDown or BreakOut partners in Italy, Romania, Catalunya, Finland, Israel, France and beyond, as will be shown in the displays. But the Fest itself provides a bigger and more multilayered display of people improving their neighbourhoods and environments.
I’ll be talking about these projects, trees, orchards, landscapes, apples, cider and listening to conversations about those and more vital topics with wildlife volunteers on the 9th September in Heswall and again I’ll help Tree Warden and Pomona colleagues on our stall on the 10th at Earth Fest in St Bridget’s Field, Church Road, West Kirby. We have recycled and natural-materials crafts, spoon carving, music and dance as well as cider based drinks and pure fresh apple juice. The public is invited to bring surplus fruits from their gardens, orchards, local parks and wild areas (and from inattentive neighbours with accessible trees, as there is a certain amount of naughtiness and frivolity in the serious process of making the world a better place.)
The networks researched and enlivened by BreakDown or BreakOut spread out further, with some spin-off projects in health, traditional crafts and music: some of the participants in one of these spin-offs, Summer Music, will be there – as a result of links and friendships formed between the extended families taking part, with invitations to the families from the Kensington Life Bank Children’s Centre in Liverpool to join in and dance with some of the families from Cheshire & Wirral who are part of an African Drumming group playing at the Fest.
It is so rewarding and affirming when my interests in music, trees, dance, fruit, wood, creative and expressive arts and communities coincide with my work.
This is also the model that BreakDown or BreakOut uses, making connections between personal skills or passions with community needs, to revitalise and motivate people who are in unhappy places, being deskilled, unemployed or disregarded or are at cross-roads that feel more like dead-ends in their lives
and the EarthFest provides a good celebration for all the efforts made by our local communities as well as hopes, concerns and clearer thinking for the future.