Who could have imagined how different the world would feel as we come to the end of March? Our lives have all been turned upside down. So here we are sharing a few ups and downs over the last month with a little extra nod to the upsides as we find new ways forward.
The past few weeks have reminded us how grassroots care, creativity and connection can bend and adjust to real challenges and shows the strength of a different kind of leadership from our communities up – upside down leadership in very upside down times.
Community businesses and social enterprises are created by communities and grow from local need. We’ve been inspired to see how local organisations like Memory Matters and Age UK are adjusting their activities in really meaningful ways led by the needs of their communities, and welcome all the work POP+ are doing to connect the sector up. We will get through this together.
So, it’s been a different kind of Spring!
It might feel that things have stopped or disappeared, and certainly everyone at Team Nudge has had some ups and downs the last few weeks as we are sure many of you have… but just like the start of the Spring, when we really look, there are so many lovely things that add up to feeling like things will be OK…
At Union Corner hand sewn hearts magically appeared on the garden railings, the Timebanks new planter was filled with flowers and strawberries, a new path has gone down – no more puddles! The Scrapstore and Art & Energy created a gorgeous new solar sign and they have new jazzy graphics on their van as part of our Creative Civic Change activity, and Paul from Flameworks has transformed a Clipper beer barrel into a stove to make our outdoor spaces cosy.
Not forgetting lots of special things that are quietly getting ready, just like bulbs getting ready to flower, they will bring joy as soon as we are out and about together again – many things to look forward to.
When times are tough we find more love
As more local people are struggling financially and are feeling isolated, our volunteers running Soup at Union Corner responded by wanting to increase their opening to five days, and worked out a way that people can safely collect free food on their daily walk. Supportive local companies including Aldi and Lush have provided essentials to include in lunch packages for people to take home. They are for anyone who needs a tasty lunch and a bit of a treat.
We’ve also been chatting to local people on our List of Love, checking in with them for a chat and collecting essentials they need, and making sure we pay people who had been booked in to do events or work for us as swiftly as we can.
Earlier in the month we were noting down things for this blog that don’t feel right now, but also it doesn’t feel right not to mention some of them as they are evidence of the strong foundations and connections that are so important right now…
We were full steam ahead on creating space – literally, as Wendy knocked walls down at The Plot! We made space for new creativity on the street including Tom’s stunning Multiversal canopy, which is in The Plot waiting to have its special moment, and celebrating the 400×400 project by Plymouth Design Forum. We created spaces for others to step forward and make things happen – the University of Plymouth in the greenhouse at The Plot, and welcoming new organisations planning to move in and bring the space alive.
Other organisations made space for us to have our voice heard. Wendy went up to meet Nesta in London, and Power to Change asked Hannah to join them on a panel at Stronger Things, hosted by the National Local Government Network where we shared learning and thoughts about how communities can make change happen. These opportunities remind us of where we came from, what we’ve achieved and how much we want to help remove barriers to enable more good things to happen in communities.
We’ve taken our time to connect with what others are doing, including the Food Bank, local groups, the University of Plymouth and POP+ to work out what’s possible and useful at this time. We are taking it week by week but here are a couple of things to look out for.
We loved listening to RIOs new webinars last week and there are more to come. It gave us a lot of hints and tips to think about personally and for Nudge. They talk about social distancing and that really we should be call it physical distancing. We can still be social, perhaps from our windows and balconies, but more and more it is happening on-line. Our community around Union Street should be in a better position to do that soon, as we are working with Plymouth University and local company Outerstage to create a wi-fi net between our buildings, providing free wi-fi to our community – it’s work in progress but watch this space!
Alan is busy on a special edition of the Stonehouse Voice – coming through your door very soon with local stories and news. We will also be keeping you updated on social media and getting busy with our windows for you to enjoy on your daily walk.
We hope you all stay safe and healthy.
Love from Hannah, Wendy and all at Team Nudge xx