Over the last year, members of the Pi Studio have been working with an inspiring community group in the north of England called Incredible Edible Todmorden (IET). IET campaigns for and grows local food on public land throughout the town of Todmorden, everywhere from roadside verges to the supermarket car parks. The genius of IET is their use of the simple, universal language of food to engage and educate inhabitants of Todmorden in the much larger issues of climate change and sustainability. Key member Nick Green sums up the IET approach brilliantly below:
The ethos is not about me me me. It is about us us us, thru the shared medium of food and towards a sustainable, survivable future.
We need strong communities to weather the tough times that we believe are coming. We need to re invent the collective skills of community. People that can rise to the challenges of the future without waiting for “the powers that be” to do the thinking and acting for us.
For that we need to take risks, to learn to ,not always, ask permission, to step out of comfort zones risking embarrassment or worse in order to do what we know is right and necessary.
Initiative taking, leading by doing, generosity and sharing, these are keystones.
The Pi Studio have engaged with IET to help realise their ambitious plan boost the town’s economy through a Green Route which will link two half’s of the town, currently bisected by a busy road. We’re exploring how design can help these community groups and, more importantly, what design needs to learn from their activities.
We attended evening of talks hosted by IET at the local theatre in Todmorden chaired by Matthew Taylor CEO of the RSA. Speakers included Pam Warhurst and Mary Clear of IET and a keynote by Professor Tim Lang. Matthew Taylor’s summary really captured the spirit of IET and perhaps the approach we all need to take in these difficult times:
There is an emotion that we have, that you have to hope to act. I’ve always believed that is the wrong way round. You have to act to hope. Its acting that gives you hope and its people in this town in the face of this massive global food crisis who didn’t just think were going to get upset about it or petition about it, they said we are going to do something about it in our own back yard.
In true IET style the local high school with help form the RSA was enlisted to make this great video covering the talks.