A story of communication and collaboration across the communities of Middlesbrough

Part One - Getting Started

BORO Doughnut
The Boro Doughnut has been a story of communication and collaboration from its beginnings. We started by writing letters to various community members in October 2021 to share the Doughnut vision and ask for people's expert advice. This process has linked us together as a network community.

Sharing the Vision of Downscaling the Doughnut
Many emails were written with links to DEAL. Some led to meetings and presentations, and
these resulted in getting more contacts who might share our values. You can see how we
took the very first step in our first story, here. Our logo and brochure were created and we were set to go as an entity albeit to be official.

Monthly Meetings
Initially, we had various venues until we got the support from John Atkinson, Middlesbrough Voluntary Development Agency. We now have monthly meetings there. The OWL equipment allows personal and virtual hybrid meetings. We attempted some workshop style activities but needed something more. As the meetings developed, so too did our contact with LocalMotion Middlesbrough and this gave us an opportunity to organise our launch event using their funding.

Launch Event Organisation
Two months of intense organisation took place for this event. The level of collaboration was phenomenal. Our constitution was written, a FB page and group (Middlesbrough Community Action NOW) were created. We also dealt with aspects of promotion, scheduling, logistics, media, IT, resources, confirmation of participants etc. Most of our problems related to people not keeping to their words, but there were always others who lifted us up. The sense of community started to take shape.

Launch Event
Read the full story of our launch event here. Some of the participants from this public event, which attracted about a hundred people, have now joined our group as active members. It gave us the momentum we needed to get active. Nevertheless, the actual registration as a CIC and opening a bank account etc. in order to function as an official organisation took months and months to complete...

Forest/ Eco School Open Afternoon
Follow up from the launch event was important. Rebecca from Harrow Gate Primary hosted an open afternoon to promote Forest/Eco Schools. There is a demand from the public, but the response from school leaders was zero. Some were upset that the school emails were not bcc'd. Time and capacity also proved to be the issue. Still, through this activity, we had donation Of plants, and made links with Hazel, a horticulture specialist. We will carry on engaging teachers who can lead their schools, and local politicians who wish to support this initiative.

Part Two - Chain Reactions

This second part of our story shows you the chain reaction of taking actions on the grassroots level: Act, Meet, Discuss, Formulate joint Ideas, Plan, Collaborate and keep repeating this cycle.

Litter Picking
We went to join litter picking sessions organised by Middlesbrough Community Champions. We started to talk to the residents, and made appointments with stakeholders to grasp the current actual state. It was evident that litter was just a symptom of the problem: waste management systems, including recycling, bulk items collection provisions and communications. Research is still ongoing, and we plan to have a workshop with policy makers once we put together the evidence of problem analysis, and feasible recommendations of solutions.

Participate in Other Community Group Events
As we participate in various events - Circular economy, Permaculture Workshop, Climate Action Middlesbrough Forum, Community Connectors, Health Champions network etc., we begin to get to know a group of people who share the same goal of a 'Thriving Middlesbrough' Usually from a causal conversation, ideas of collaboration start to flourish. The key is to organise, create an action plan and make it happen.

Promotion of Benchmark Solutions by Other Organisations
As a network group, it is vital for us to nurture our relationships with other organisations. We promote their cause and support where possible. Taking helpful action builds trust However, some members do not keep appointments/commitments and this is one of our challenges - How do we hold volunteers' promises to account?

Edible Forest Garden
David Scriven, leader for Climate Action Middlesbrough was there in many of these events and decided to come to our waste management meeting. From there, he has recommended us to look after an abandoned Council owned permaculture site, and got permission from the Council. We swiftly formed an action group and started making plans. We had delays waiting for historical data and soil testing but learnt that through our monthly meetings, we bring up the subject and keep acting upon it. We now have a set event to listen to the voices of local residents to see how they can get involved. It is important for us to deal with all our activities following the Doughnut/permaculture principles.

University Collaboration
Meeting university staff through the above activities, we have been invited to give a talk to Business Enterprise in Practice students our journey so far. We gave them our current problems as a newly formed organisation, and these themes became the module projects: Website, Social Media, Funding, Volunteers, Governance & Accountabilities and Waste Management. As in any group work, there were doers who excelled at taking actions and they created fantastic websites, social media content, policies and went into engaging the community. We have learnt so much from them and plan to continue our collaborations.

Part Three - What We're Developing

This final part of our story shows you what we are developing. If you think you can give us advice or would like to collaborate, please get in touch! We will continue following our Strapline: COMMUNITY -- CONNECT  -- ACTION!

Community Engagement
We have an action group who are working to develop community engagement. We had a stumbling block of registering as a CIC and opening a business bank account. Without these, we cannot apply for funding. Everything takes a long time as we all have other commitments such as earning a living! But the group is very positive. We have established that although frustrating at times, we all need to understand that we have a shared Vision, and we just need to respond to people's inability to meet their promises in a Doughnut way; We all have circumstances so need to be compassionate and be supportive - we do this by effective and kind communication.

School Engagement
Rumana Yasmin, publisher of children's books, and Stuart Duckett, sustainable design architect, are making links with primary and secondary schools to spread the importance of involvement in regenerative efforts. Rumana will be using poetry to capture their imagination. They will be introducing the concept of Doughnut Economics and encourage them to engage in our Edible Forest Garden. We hope this will lead to more schools to become Forest / Eco Schools.

City Portrait
Sharif, MSc student and chairperson of Environment Research Society at Teesside University and Tristan, Geo Engineer, are collecting Ecological data. We also have a conversation with Teesside Uni for further collaboration opportunities. For Social data, we intend to use qualitative data from community and school engagements as well as quantitative data from various statistics. Meanwhile, we are exploring the creative ways to publish our findings. We are confident that the networking will result in creative collaborations by the time the data is ready.

Regional, Global and Arts Collaborations
We have made connections With Yorkshire Wide collaboration groups: Knaresborough, Wakefield, Sheffield and Hull. We plan to join the International Donut Day Festival as well as learn from other Doughnut cities such as Leeds, Oxford etc. We continue to develop relationship With various local artists, musicians, poets, dancers, chefs and creative organisations. We believe in the power of arts in bringing people together - intergenerational/cultural/gender/ethnicity - and communicating the Doughnut Economics vision in fun and inspiring ways.

Get in touch if you would like to collaborate. Let's keep linking the Doughnut Rings!





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