On the 20th April I presented at the Institute of Place Management Annual Conference in Manchester. It was an interesting and enjoyable event; details of what I said can be found in an earlier post on this blog.
There was a good Q&A session at the end of my presentation, but as often the way in such events, a coffee break beckoned. As people went in search of caffeine, I was approached by someone, brandishing a book. He gave it to me and said if interested then please read it, if not compost it. We had a quick chat about Burntisland in Fife where some of the ideas in the book had been followed up, most notably perhaps #fiverfest.
The book was Totally Locally and the Economics of Being Nice and the author and book giver was Chris Sands. Unfortunately we didn’t have much time to chat.
As I read the book on the train journey back north, it dawned on me that a lot was familiar, both ideas and places. Many of the suggestions and places were not new and were things I’d been aware of, and admired, for some while, and always meant to dig a little deeper into it (or had, as in Incredible Edible).
The book is not traditional in any sense and is more a collection of ideas, suggestions, examples and calls to action. It is coherent as a set of things – ‘a manifesto for (those)… who want to make their small town a little better’. It is great fun and makes a lot of sense, focusing on small things that can combine to make change reality. Totally Locally as an idea is not new, but seeing it all together made me realise the impact – which until then, I had only been seeing in parts elsewhere.
As if to demonstrate the interconnectedness of it all, the opening pieces include some background on Chris’s grandparents business – a cycle shop near Halifax. Given my age and my father’s rugby league career at the time, it is possible that I got my first bike/tricycle as a child from that shop. It is a small, local world and all the more interesting for that. This book suggests ways to keep interesting local places.
Somehow I missed the book when it appeared last June, but am really glad Chris thrust it into my hand the other week. Not for composting and not available from Amazon (for obvious reasons) – but you can get it here. It is worth it.