The Grassroots Directory is a new format source book that will list some of the most innovative, practical and exciting community-led projects in the UK. Sharp-looking and handy, this volume aims to showcase over 200 enterprises, spaces and co-operative ventures which are helping to build a more sustainable and fairer society.
It was inspired by many years documenting community projects, including in Transition Free Press. We – that’s the Directory ed team – felt that the speedy nature of on-line and printed media meant that the stories about them didn’t always reach the places they could have given time. So we decided to produce the Directory as a ‘bumper annual’, so they could have a longer – and hopefully well thumbed – ‘shelf life’!
Each entry to the Directory will contain a main project that places the subject in focus and explains how local grassroots action and involvement matters. It will then profile other projects engaged in the same activity and show how readers and communities can take part.
With its real-life testimonies and hands-on approach, the Directory is looking to to inspire everyone with the tools and knowledge to take part in local and community work for the future. Whether an energy scheme or cycle path, a low carbon group or micro-brewery, what makes all of these projects unique is that they are owned and run by the community for the community.
To launch the project we have created a Grassroots Diretory Street Map, brilliantly drawn by our illustrator Laura Bernard to show how it works and fits together.
Everything in our Grassroots Directory map is happening now in Britain. You might not find these projects all in one place, but in many and varied locations. We have put all the elements in the map together from citywide projects, neighbourhood initiatives and street groups; from enterprises that are changing the look and feel of villages, market towns and bio-regions all over the country.
The Directory will be ‘joining the dots’ not only to reveal a colourful pattern of projects across the UK, but also to highlight the friendly and cohesive nature of grassroots culture. At its heart is the sharing of good ideas and practical information.
We report on these community projects because we feel there needs to be a narrative that reflects many of the positive and democratic changes taking place across the UK (and elsewhere). Many of these locally-based responses are ways of addressing difficult global issues, from crises within the environment to the economy. They show how change through involvement is possible and how it can include everyone.
Because there is nothing like real experience when it comes to telling a good story.
The directory will follow an A-Z format for quick and easy reference, and there will be a full place index at the back too. Looking for a co-operative bakery in Liverpool? No problem! Look under Bakeries at the front, or Liverpool at the back. (Answer: the wonderful Homebaked in Anfield that is also home to a Neighbourhood Land Trust).
There will be several categories or ‘streams’ within the book that group the projects together such as ENERGY or CULTURE. ACTION will give information on how to organise local pressure groups. FOOD will share best practice to start up a community garden or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Each of the main projects will also detail some of the joys (and challenges) of working in community or co-operative groups.
Whatever their size or vision, all grassroots projects create a new social infrastructure. Getting involved and connected brings everyone’s skills and knowledge to the fore, whether this is leading a foraging walk, or giving advice at a ‘reskilling’ event, or organising a hydro project in the local river. They create new relationships and public spaces for people to enjoy, as well as bring meaning and a feeling of belonging into everyone’s lives.
We want The Grassroots Directory to be full of possibilities for people looking towards a future that is fairer, more Earth-friendly, and – yes – more fun to!
How to get involved
We’re looking to find the most dynamic and representative projects in grassroots Britain and we would like your help. If you know of any folk making great things happen in your neighbourhood, do get in touch.
If you would like to suggest a project write us an email and include:
– the name and location of the project
– a person we can speak with and if possible a phone number or email
If you are involved in the project yourself do add a short description (50 words) along with your contact details.
Please send to us at The Grassroots Directory: firstname.lastname@example.org You can also go onto our website to find the details: www.grassrootsdirectory.org
We aim to sell the Directory via our website and through community groups across the UK. Keep a look out for our Street Maps at the UK Transition Network Conference (info desk) and Permaculture Convergence (bookshop) this month as well as other outlets.
We plan to publish the first edition of the Directory in 2016. To pay for the book’s design, editing and printing we will be running a crowdfunding campaign later this year.
Crowdfunding is a new approach to publishing where books are produced with their future readers’ backing. You can take part in this exciting co-operative venture by pre-paying for a book and becoming a supporter of the project.
We will be promoting the crowdfunding campaign this autumn. So do follow us on Facebook, or Twitter (@grassrootsmap), or join our mailing list at: email@example.com
Thank you everyone!
The Grassroots Directory team
Illustrations by Laura Barnard