Charlotte du Cann came at Place to B during COP21 in Paris last December. She brought with her, from her home in coastal Suffolk, a beautiful Street Map spotting all the nice green places and projects that are now happening in Britain. Now, she and her co-author Mark Watson transform this first map to launch a new collaborative publication called The Grassroots Directory (with Unbound Books).
“We’re aiming to showcase some of the most exciting community-led projects in the UK and build a strong cultural network between them“, declare Charlotte and Mark. “Everything in our Grassroots Directory map is happening now in Britain. You might not find these projects all in one place, but in many and varied locations. We have put all the elements in the map together from citywide projects, neighbourhood initiatives and street groups; from enterprises that are changing the look and feel of villages, market towns and bioregions all over the country“.
Concretely, The Grassroots Directory is an A-Z guide featuring more than 200 enterprises and co-operative ventures in grassroots Britain, travelling from Allotments to Zero waste and everywhere in-between. “Follow us as we join the dots between repair cafes, local currencies, seeds swaps, urban farms and find out where they are, what makes them tick, and even how to set one up in your own hometown“, suggest the authors.
The Directory was inspired by many years documenting community projects, including in the national grassroots newspaper Transition Free Press. “We felt that the speedy nature of on-line and print media meant that the stories about these collaborative future-thinking enterprises didn’t always reach the places they could have given time. So we decided to produce a ‘bumper annual’ in the form of an A-Z guide, so they could have a longer – and hopefully well thumbed – shelf life” explains Charlotte.
The idea came to them about a year ago and they managed to source some funding to produce a promotional ‘Street Map’ which would show the kind of projects they wanted to include. “We approached Unbound Books because we wanted the book to be produced by a ‘community-supported’ publisher (where readers back the book before it is printed). We began preparing the crowdfunding and other publicity at the beginning of this year. We hope to finish the research, writing and design by September and for the book to be printed in Spring 2017“.
You can have a look at the following video to understand the project better :
In the future, they do not exclude the possibility to work on an online application. Though, “this is an A-Z of grassroots Britain, but it could equally be international, an A-Z of grassroots France or Spain, or the US. These stories are being placed in a book format because the attention paid to print is stronger and longer than on-line. We didn’t just want to create an information-based website. Our intent is to inspire people with the wide breadth of community-led projects that exist and the connections they create in places. You might come across these stories in the general media but they are often portrayed as single pop-up events, or as the work of one or two people. The Directory will act as a hold-all for a number of these projects, so readers can appreciate their collective spirit and the vibrant culture that underpins them”.