12 easy steps to community-led regeneration (Part I)
Get angry. Preferably in a pub with friends, gesticulate and say ‘and another thing..!’ a lot and accidentally buy too many rounds of cider.
Repeat step 1 until it becomes unbearable; decide to do something about it! Collect like minded people (preferably with transferable skills like lawyers, architects, accountancy, fund raising etc. but failing that ‘grafters’ who’s company you enjoy will do) and set up a Social Enterprise.
Put your collected expertise into gear and apply for funding to begin your venture. Win funding.
Hold as many workshops as humanly possible to work out the town's shared priorities. Use so many post its and small coloured stickers that you begin to hate their very existence, do not communicate this but make a note to self to invent something that doesn’t fall off wallpaper. Use questionnaires, videos, comment cards, school fetes and everything you can conceive of to ask as many people as possible.
Feel the fear of collating all this info, and then slowly and painstakingly count it, weigh it and watch as the priorities emerge. Get a bit excited.
Formulate a plan. Feel pleased and slightly relieved that it’s a good plan.
Hold 32,897 meetings because you love them, while simultaneously business planning your plan to make sure it can be viable even in a recession or in 5 consecutive years of rain.
Deal with sulking husband, ill children and a lost dog.
Find champions for your plan who are going to speak more eloquently and charmingly and irresistibly about these plans than you could ever hope to.
Realise that negotiations about community land purchase are more complicated and difficult that you could have ever imagined and that resolution will take time, luck, skill and patience.
Put all your work: support from landowners, business planning, beautiful architect’s drawings, costings and financial forecasts into the most kick ass funding bid ever imagined. Win funding.
Hold a very large party and indulge in robot dancing (you’ve earned it!)
I’d like to say we are at stage 12, but in truth stage 8 is involving some serious negotiations, only appeased by the prospect of stage 9 (trying not to think about stage 10). And as difficult as the final few stages look, it’s still not as difficult as stages 2-11 seemed sitting in that pub. Anything is possible, and Watchet deserves to have a strong, vibrant, community led future.
If you haven't seen already, here are our 4 proposed schemes for Watchet (click here)
Image: Punte Pite, Chile. Teresa Moller