In our monthly ‘Food in the city’ meetups, we learn about real-life projects and the tangible work of our speakers & participants. This month we focused on building community around innovative ideas and sustainable action. We were glad to have some local and international changemakers on the call to share with us their process and tips for success. Their projects engage locals in climate action, highlight local changemakers, make space for community to be and grow food together, as well as contemplate the use of local currencies. Read on to learn more!
First we heard from Chris who shared about the LocalChampions.de platform – a digital space to promote, connect and support businesses in the community who are sourcing their products locally. The database has food, clothes and other businesses listed, with many different search functions to help one find exactly what they are searching for, or simply explore what their local neighborhood has to offer. The goal of this platform is to promote a more local economy, not only through promotion of local business but also through the integration of a local currency backed by the blockchain. Users would get rewarded for adding new businesses to the site and for purchasing products from those listed. Ideally, rewards would be backed by the city government who would provide incentives (e.g. money back) to users that choose local products over those from elsewhere. If you are interested in this concept, please get in touch with Chris at email@example.com for more info and to see how you could collaborate!
Growing from the heart
Next we heard from Lauren, founder of Climate Action Community, a growing community of local residents who are overcoming eco-anxiety by “learning, being, & doing” climate actions together. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of the climate crisis, Lauren and other CAC members are focusing on few issues at once, taking action where they can, and maintaining healthy routines. They meet weekly, invite guest speakers to build their knowledge base and then do actions relevant to the topics they are learning. Lauren explained the concept with the analogy of a mushroom: what CAC is doing is kind of like mycelium as it builds up the roots and stems that will ultimately uphold the fruiting bodies of the fungi – or in other words, CAC is working to build the connections necessary for relationships to grow and flourish. As CAC grows, Lauren reminded us that letting go of your idea of what your community initiative was supposed to be and allowing it grow through the many hands that will shape it over time may be a challenge, but it is also liberating, and a necessary part of allowing space for community to grow. Check out CAC’s Instagram to stay up to date with all their activities and join the next one if you can!
Michel from Ubuntu Eco Center followed with a description of his local community: a community of plants and nature, which he is consistently figuring out how to live together with. Michel runs a 7.2 hectare ecological farm in Frankfurt Oder around which a human community and clientele bases is forming, little by little. Michel shared that in order to grow and be an integral part of the local community, small family farmers like himself need the support of networkers. Farm work is hard work as we know, leaving very little time for the outreach and connection needed to maintain and build a strong community. And to serve a city like Berlin? Aggregators like e.g. Tiny Farms are needed. Larry from Schaefer Global, an aquaponics company in Virginia. USA, jumped in with some comments about the power of cooperative structures in sharing and managing resources, including human resources in the form of exponential skill-sharing.
Michel also shared with us Ubuntu’s local currency initiative, the Ubuntu crypto voucher which is cased on the value of staple items such as potatoes, rather than the Euro or Dollar. He was very positive about the practicality of implementing such a local currency in his town and the benefit such systems could bring to the development of community around practices such as sustainable agriculture and local food. Read more about regional currencies here and if you are interested in connecting with Michel, get in touch with him through their website!
Urban Farms and New Cities!
Last but definitely not least we heard from Teddy, co-founder of InnoP, an Oslo-based company repurposing plastic waste for design and architecture. Teddy is also part of an NPO focused on women in tech and runs a sustainability initiative called Sooo Magazine with whom she hosts regularly and highly popular Clubhouse chats (If you use Clubhouse, make sure to get in touch with Teddy there!). At this meetup, however, Teddy shared with us InnoP’s current project: a vertical farming dome made from recycled materials and set for developing within a community space just outside the city. The idea is to have these domes replicated in other parts of the city, much like what the Kiezfarm aims to do in Berlin.
In our final discussion round we also heard a bit from Sophia Sundberg, CEO of Barkarby Science and part of the team responsible for building a new city outside Stockholm that will be aligned with SDGs. The location is an old airport so much of the work is to regenerate the land and restore it to an ecological setting fit for livelihoods. Follow the links shared here to know more or get in touch with Sophia directly!
See you in the Fall!
Thanks so much to everyone who could join us! Food in the City will be taking a short summer break and be back again in September with more local food community space and dialogue. We aim to host you again in person at our Kiezfarm in Charlottenburg Berlin but, due to popular demand, we will also work out a concept for a hybrid event, so as not to loose the valuable insights from around the world we have been fortunate to have during the last year of holding these meetups virtually. Stay tuned and see you all again soon!!
This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)