Last week I was delighted to have the opportunity to attend CLS in Dorset’s celebration event, looking back at the project’s achievements over the past three years.
Attendees received a warm welcome to Bridport Arts Centre and had the chance to peruse displays relating to the key themes. As I have only come into the CLS world fairly recently, it was great to get under the skin of the project and I was genuinely impressed by how much great work has gone on; in really interesting areas like eco-schools, community woodlands, local food, climate adaptation and community renewable energy. Not to mention the poetry and the board game set in Dorchester!
A short video was screened presenting the highlights of the projects and featuring a number of local participants reflecting on the impact of different activities, and the project evaluator gave a first presentation of his findings in very entertaining fashion. The big name on the bill was eco-megastar Rob Hopkins, part of Transition Towns, who gave a positive and inspirational talk, presenting reasons to be cheerful and placing the CLS project as part of a bigger movement of localisation that is growing all the time. Rob also gave the award to the winners of the project’s BIG Ideas Challenge – Lyme Youth Theatre for their sustainable musical Bedbug.
True to the principles of CLS in Dorset, food was provided by local social enterprise Kitchen Collective, and it was delicious, locally sourced and healthy. The evening was brought to a close by Bridport band Hot Java. One of my favourite parts of the night was the soapbox section – when anyone in the audience was given the chance to come and stand on an actual soapbox and talk about anything they were passionate about for one minute. As well as showcasing all the brilliant community initiatives that are going on in Bridport and Dorchester, it demonstrated how far CLS has reached with its work and support.
If there was one theme emerging it was networks and partnerships, and the most valuable parts of the night were not the presentations but the conversations that were going on between different people and organisations. The event was to look back over the achievements of the project but it also looked forward to a new phase. CLS in Dorset will not continue as it has, but the work done and the relationships developed do not disappear. This is the legacy of the project and I’m sure that those involved will find ways to continue their good work. It was a wonderful night and everyone involved thoroughly deserved their night of celebration.
Post by Roxanne Green, Programmes Officer at Groundwork UK