The present is already so uncertain that most of us don’t want to consider the future: but surely the pressures and changes we face now are likely to continue, and increase? The aim of the Seeding our Future project is to evolve and share ways that individuals, communities and front-line public services in the UK can grow their resilience skills and wisdom to thrive and adapt to meet future pressures positively. A distinctive aspect of our approach is using contact with Nature as a catalyst, helping people to open to new viewpoints and learn from the resilience of ecosystems.
The overall aim of Seeding our Future is to work as a pioneer and catalyst: identifying new issues, and creating or gathering processes to help our client groups to face them. We aim to do this by running pilot projects, achieving proof of concept, and then sharing our experience through train the trainer programmes or online resources to encourage others to use them. Seeding our Future (SOF) is a non-profit project, started in 2017. The founder and main funder is Alan Heeks, a social entrepreneur and writer (see www.naturalhappiness.net). Alan has been exploring resilience for many years: he has led numerous workshops on this theme, and set up Hazel Hill Wood, a 70-acre conservation woodland and residential centre showing how to learn resilience from natural ecosystems (see www.hazelhill.org.uk). Two of the main models we draw from are Alan’s Natural Happiness approach, and the Deep Adaptation framework created by Jem Bendell: see more in Resources.
We currently have four active programmes: two of these, Future Conversations and Front-Line Futures, have completed successful pilot programmes and are available for bookings from new clients groups and partner organisations.
A. Future Conversations: The aim of this project is to offer knowhow and facilitation to help members and organisers in local communities to explore the upsides and downsides of the next 10-20 years, including impacts from climate change, and raise their skills and confidence to enjoy the years ahead, drawing on natural resilience, deep ecology and other methods. The format is a series of facilitated conversations, covering individual/family issues, global concerns especially climate change, and community needs. In 2019 we completed successful pilot programmes of 6-8 sessions in three locations: South London, Nottingham, and Clydeside. We can now offer programmes for individuals or groups, online or in person: for more info, see Future Conversations.
B. Front-Line Futures: The capacity of front-line public services is crucial to everyone’s wellbeing: these include the NHS, local authority functions, and parts of the voluntary sector. Currently we are seeing a severe upturn in burnout and staff turnover in many areas, alongside rising demand and shrinking resources.
In 2018-19 we ran six pilot residential workshops at Hazel Hill, including residential workshops at Hazel Hill Wood on resilience for health professionals including hospital doctors, GP’s, mental health professionals and managers, led by a joint team from Hazel Hill Trust and Westminster Centre for Resilience. Evaluation results have been very positive. This work is now being led by Hazel Hill Trust, who welcome approaches from specific groups or organisations of health professionals. For more information on programmes and progress, see http://www.hazelhill.org.uk/woodland-resilience-immersions/.
C. Food Security – General: Climate change is already impacting food supplies, and is forecast to create much greater disruption in the years ahead, both in the UK and across the world. However, future weather patterns in the UK bring opportunities as well as threats. With adaptive cultivation methods, changes in crops, and support from consumers, the UK could increase its food security and reduce its vulnerability to imported supplies. Seeding our Future has commissioned research to explore these issues. The report on Growing through Climate Change is now available as a free download and we can offer briefing sessions on how local communities and professional producers can apply the findings. For more info, see Food Security – General.
D. Bridport Community – Food Security: As we look toward uncertain futures, amidst an increasingly uncertain present, local communities can play a major role in resilience and adaptation. Seeding our Future’s founder, Alan Heeks, is working with a small team in his hometown, Bridport, inviting local organisations and individuals to explore how this community of 15,000 people in West Dorset could adapt to the growing impacts of climate change. This work is focussing on food security, with a number of initiatives underway, including Allotment Ambassadors to advise home growers, a ‘food hub’ to offer affordable cookery classes, information resources and more, support for local food poverty projects, and support to increase local production.
For more info see Bridport Community.
Partners are a central element of our strategy for this project, and we welcome approaches from other potential partner organisations. Those already involved include:
- Westminster Centre for Resilience: A leading expert in resilience research and training for public and private sectors, and strengths in evaluation of such work: part of Westminster University, London.
- Hazel Hill Trust: Alan Heeks is the founder and a Trustee of this registered charity which runs Hazel Hill Wood, a 70-acre conservation woodland and education centre near Salisbury, and which has proved a valuable setting for resilience programmes.
- Schumacher Institute: This non-profit think tank and research network headquartered in Bristol, has many years’ experience in exploring futures issues.
- Hawkwood College: Centre for Future Thinking: Have supported the project by hosting events and providing contacts.
- Bridport Local Food Group: organises the annual Food Festival and a range of other initiatives in the sector.
- Transition Town Bridport: The local branch of Transition Network.
- The Surefoot Effect: this Community Interest Company, based in Stirling, works to equip people, communities and organisations with skills for resilience and sustainability and is working with Seeding our Future to deliver Future Conversations: www.surefoot-effect.com.
We welcome approaches from special partners for all of our projects.