On Wednesday evening  last week we had our first open community meeting.  We started the evening with a rather lengthy presentation of who we are, what we are doing, and where we got to so far! We explained a little about our inspirations and explained our ‘model’ for Community Supported Education and the need we see for it in this time.

Then just in time we had a  break for tea and cake, and launched into ACTION. Some very brave individuals volunteered themselves to ‘host’ smaller discussions on what appear to be our biggest challenges at present. The outcome was a real sense of community, awareness of challenges we need to address, and some good plans and insights for our next steps.

Outcomes from the three working groups
1. SKILLS SKILLS SKILLS
Nick Reynolds kindly lead the SKILLS group, looking at how to encourage skill sharing, especially across generations. His very pro-active team quickly got  to work giving everyone pieces of card to share the skills they had to share and their contact details. Over 50 skills were listed from just those present in the room!

ASSIGNMENTS AND CHALLENGES
Gavin Eddy took up the next challenge, to look at what kind of CHALLENGES AND ASSIGNMENTS could be set that would really benefit Frome, while being really valuable learning experiences for participants. His team quickly established the importance of starting with some quick wins, and that all of them would have to be tangible and visible.

They also made some very insightful distinctions between

a. Physical challenges*

– Short term e.g. Edible garden in the old school house, up-cycling from the dump, and
– Long term e.g. Wood recycle centre like Bristol (contact Ben Moss) or Brighton who run a franchise network/model to support community wood recycling across the country

b. Intellectual challenges

– which they concluded would be more difficult to organise but much more rewarding and useful, as well as a better use of our resource of a diverse group of individuals. Initial ideas for such win-wins were ‘Revamping local businesses’ e.g. the Cafe in the park and the Health Food Shop, or running ‘Dragon’s Den’ and ‘The Apprentice’ style challenges

3. SPACES!
Peter Wheelhouse kicked off another very pressing discussion of obtaining empty SPACES, kindly offering to take some clear actions upon himself as Frome’s Economic Development Manager. His group also identified two main purposes these spaces could serve;
1. Communal space – for meeting and learning
2. Space for business incubation and activity

DIVERSITY OF FROME
Lastly, a very lively discussion was held by David Chandler about how to ensure the involvement of a truly DIVERSE Frome in this project. They came up with some challenging conclusions that our strength is also our weakness, can we really benefit everyone they asked? They also came up with some clear points to work on, identifying two distinct outputs of our work;

Material – e.g. communal spaces, projects and learning opportunities and
Non-material – e.g. inspiration, innovation and raised aspirations – which will require us to tell captivating stories and ensure that we are extremely visible in the Town.