Aimee Parker has been working with three communities in Wales to imagine and plan for ‘Better Futures’ as part of the Better Futures Wales project. Here she describes using the futures methodology with Aber Food Surplus.
Aber Food Surplus are a community based organization based in Aberystwyth. They are taking action to reduce food waste in the area by redistributing surplus food amongst the community.
Heather McClure, founder of Aber Food Surplus, invited people from the community to participate in the visioning workshops which took place in December 2020 / January 2021. There were 22 participants representing a wide range of community groups and organizations across Aberystwyth.
THE FUTURE AS A JOURNEY
As an ice-breaker in workshop one participants were asked to think of the future as a journey and to consider what vehicle they would use and what the journey would look like. There was definitely a theme of slow travel, of enjoying the surroundings and an acceptance of bumps in the road. Togetherness and people featured in a lot of the journeys as did food and sharing.
The participants broke into smaller groups and used futures wheels to ‘dream big’. For more information on the methodology and the process please read my blog on methodology.
The conversations emerging from the dreaming big exercise were rich and uplifting and painted a picture of a future with an active and informed community. Learning came out as a theme across all groups, largely opportunities for informal and community learning.
The community had a vision of shared spaces, of working together in spaces and places. The community are passionate about their environment and want to see wildlife thriving and their food system working well.
They want to work towards a world where people enjoy the environment rather than worry about it. They want opportunities to build their local economy, to provide jobs and benefit local people.
TURNING DREAMS INTO REALITY
The next session (workshop two) looked at how this dreaming could be translated into action and what steps the community of Aberystwyth could take together to start turning their dreams into reality.
The focus of these conversations were:
- developing a shared ‘hub’ Space
- developing a circular food system
- promoting wellbeing systems, and
- creating resilient funds for local investment.
The three horizons method enabled the groups to consider where they are now and how it differs from where they would like to get to. As part of this conversation the groups were encouraged to consider what positive change is already happening in their community.
They were also asked to consider what would have the most impact, who would need to be involved and what ‘good’ would look like in five years’ time.
THE JOURNEY COUNTINUES
Heather was very enthusiastic about the project and felt that it had been a valuable opportunity for the community, importantly she said that it was interesting to see how big the picture had become through the process.
They do however see this as the beginning of the process and emphasised the need to bring many people along with them. This is crucial for the success of the development of the vision.
It was a pleasure to work with the community in Aberystwyth, to understand more about their visions and aspirations. Heather from Aber Food Surplus has achieved so much in the few years since the organisation was established and is truly inspiring. We wish them all the very best for the future and hope that their vision and dreams are realised!
MORE ABOUT THE BETTER FUTURES WALES PROJECT
We are keen to see this project have a wider impact and have developed this series of blogs as well as podcasts, vlogs and a toolkit, all of which can be found here.