Building the community of the future

Image credit: Greening Steyning

What would the community of the future look like? How would we live, how would we work, how would we travel and shop? Can we carry on as we are, or do we have to change?

Many of us are considering these questions, especially since the pandemic when we have been forced to slow down and think about what matters most to us. The community of the future needs to provide a safe, healthy and happy environment for every resident, and it also needs to provide solutions for the biggest challenge we have ever faced, the climate crisis.

So the question now becomes: how can we build a safe, happy, healthy and green community for the future? Every decision we make as individuals, families and neigbourhoods needs to address the elephant in the room: climate change or rather climate breakdown, as that is exactly what it is. We have had a relatively stable climate for 10,000 years that has allowed our civilisation to flourish. In the space of a few hundred years we have put this in jeopardy, as our stable climate is beginning to break down.

We have until 2030 to reduce our carbon emissions, or face devastating climate collapse with disastrous consequences for humanity as a whole. It is not just up to governments to make policy, or businesses to develop new technology. This alone is not going to save us. We need to change our individual lifestyles, and it is so much easier and more enjoyable when we are supported by our friends and neighbours.

Steyning climate march 2019. Photo credit: Shona Campbell 

I have only lived in Steyning for two years and, for the first time since my childhood, I feel that I belong. Whether it be our local neighbourhood WhatsApp groups, my friends in Greening Steyning or seeing so many walkers appreciating our nature – I have felt uplifted and energised by the people around me. It seems that we are at our very best when we connect with each other and find a common purpose. I feel strongly that if we can maintain this spirit, we can build a wonderful community for the future.

You and I have critical roles in this endeavour. By ourselves, this is very tough; but by working together we can achieve extraordinary transformation.

Here in Steyning, Bramber and Upper Beeding, we have decided to take action. We have created action groups for transport, biodiversity, energy and lifestyle to establish many local projects such as a repair cafe, traffic speed reduction, increasing recycling facilities, mapping our biodiversity and protecting green spaces. We have nearly 100 volunteers and we are growing all the time.

We encourage other towns and villages in Sussex to do the same as us. It is wonderful to meet and work with other residents who share your values and concerns. There is a great feeling of camaraderie, purpose and fulfilment. Many studies have demonstrated the extensive benefits of volunteering and when we unite to protect our precious countryside, and reduce our carbon emissions, we feel good by doing good.

Here in our corner of Sussex, we have tapped into a deep desire to make our community and lifestyles greener. Despite the lockdown we have increased our supporters from 700 to over 1,000 in the last 12 months. We are building a genuine movement of concerned residents, businesses, churches, clubs and societies. We have many partnerships with local organisations and are finding common ground and shared goals in our cause.

You can find out more about our projects, people and vision on 27 April 2021 at 7.30pm, when we will hold our biggest and most important event, and we invite you to join us online.

Whether you want to volunteer or start a project in your own community, you will be inspired by what a committed group of residents can achieve when we have the vision and the determination to act. You will hear from a wide range of local speakers, about what we are doing to improve our community and how you can join our rapidly growing movement. Our MP, Andrew Griffith, and well-known author Isabella Tree from the Knepp Estate will be speaking about national, regional and local initiatives.  

We want to make Steyning, Bramber and Upper Beeding one of the greenest, healthiest and happiest communities in the UK by 2030. We want to build the community of the future that our residents want and the planet needs!

Find out more and register for the event at

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