BORO Doughnut: DE in Middlesbrough

Bottom up practical steps taken to form a community action group and alliances to Downscale DE in a town

Time for ACTION!
The online course on Doughnut Economics with Kate @Ubiquity University has inspired me to take action to downscale the doughnut in the town I live in, Middlesbrough.  Middlesbrough is an industrial town in the North East of England.  Post industrial decline (steel) made this place one of the most deprived area, and once it was voted the worst place to live in the UK.  Most DE Social Foundation indicators show below national average, except for Social Support.  There are over 800 voluntary sector organisations so there is a huge potential to make Middlesbrough a thriving town if we organise and collaborate with all the key agencies.  Our DE vision is aligned, but there are vertical and horizontal silos,  and we know that what we need is a systems change.  However, knowledge is not meaningful if not applied and taken action.  I decided to make contribution to this community by organising integration, even small step at a time.
First Step
Contact as many people as possible and start a conversation about the Doughnut vision.  I moved to Middlesbrough August 2018, so didn't know many people.  I wrote many letters, personalising the template to match the organisation/person I was writing to, started chatting to anyone I met (shop assistant, someone at dance social/bus stop/park etc), and I still do.  One of the first people I met was Andy McDonald MP.  I presented my case using Powerpoint slides.  As with the letters, I have amended the content to suit the meetings with university, museum, councillors etc.  Every time I met people, they have pointed me to more people to contact, and they themselves spread the word about Boro Doughnut. 
Listen to Advice
I cannot thank all the people who gave me numerous advice and encouragement to keep going.   One advice from Amjid Khazir (Media Cultured CIC) was to create a brochure to explain what BoroDoughnut want to achieve so that people can understand and want to join.  I am giving you a link here for you to edit on Canva, so you can create your own to localise for your town, but please use your own Canva account to edit. Leonora and Rob from DEAL have been so supportive and they have given us many practical points to follow.  A media lecturer I met advised we need simple consistent messaging in various social media platforms to get on top of searches.  KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) is the key.

Editable leaflet template to match your town

Three fold leaflet

Start Boro Doughnut Meetings
First Meeting @ Barefoot Kitchen CIC

First Meeting

First Meeting

We meet once a month and so far we had 5 official meetings.  Members come and go, some structured activities and some organic discussions.   Meeting minutes example is added here. 

BoroDoughnut email account and WhatsApp Group chat are set up and many meetings in between to develop constitution so that BoroDoughnut can be an official charitable entity.
We are still compiling City Portraits but we have a visual:
Middlesbrough Doughnut current state June 2022)

Grassroots organisations and individuals are very keen and numbers of allies are developing.  However, a volunteer group member left stating 'we're the grassroots and don't want to be dealing with strategies.  City portraits: there's no need for it, they can just walk around the street, you can see poverty.  I don't have time for this, what we do is look after people on the ground, doing the actual helping.'  Of course, Boro Doughnut will be doing the practical ground work activities in the future after getting established with funding. They are just too busy with containment and don't have the headspace or time to be dealing with root cause analysis etc.  Motivating members to take actions in between meetings also has been difficult.  We have tried creating shared specific action plans, etc. but as this is all voluntary, nobody can hold anyone to account for the progress of projects.  Many are reserved and do not want to be proactive/assertive and approach strangers etc. It is very different from private business sector, so I would like to learn more about this.  The worst group were the key agencies including policy makers; they are very unreliable.  They show interest but do not take action.  Many empty promises, some rude and ignore you all of the sudden.  They have One Planet Living and Green Strategy so our goals are aligned but they only cherry pick some initiatives for photo ops and implementation is not managed.  We need networking with other DEAL members to learn how to engage these people with power, how to challenge their mindset to be regenerative and distributive etc.
What's next?
We plan to collaborate with LocalMotion project teams who are working on community wellbeing and wealth building.  We will be listening to diverse voices, co-learn systems change and urge policy makers put this to reality.  We will be organising Climate Urgency Doughnut Event.  We will be creating a case study narrative of successful solutions (e.g. increasing biodiversity, promoting intergenerational/cultural mingling space) so that policy makers can make evidence-based decision making to horizontally deploy the solution across the area.  Once we are officially established, we can start fund raising and increase public engagement and promote DE living.  Small incremental steps but all towards the vision of Thriving Middlesbrough.  We welcome advice from you all, so please get in touch!




    Nadia Nath-Varma


    Desire to learn more about regenerative circular global economies . Looking for like minded people to work with.

    Barbara Griffin

    Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire United Kingdom

    Sunday 23 October attended the launch event for BoroDounghnut at MIMA. I hope to be able to contribute aspects of my work.

    Tracey Lloyd

    Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

    Contribute to improving organisational responses to social issues and enhance the power of small organisations to be changemakers.

    Rob Couch

    Milton Keynes, England, United Kingdom

    I’m learning everyday as we paint our first city portrait of Milton Keynes…

    Moze Jacobs

    Rossbrin, West Cork, Munster, Ireland

    Doughnut Economics - The best idea ever but needs to be 'translated' to local circumstances and that is what we are working on.

    Catherine Weetman over 1 year ago

    Excellent article  @Emi Imai - and it was good to meet you this week at CEC Tees Valley :-)  Your article bringa some of the many challenges to the surface, I guess the one that worries me most is the lack of commitment from local policymakers... are they signing up to One Planet Living and Green Strategy, Climate Emergency etc just to tick a box? Probably :-(  

    I wonder if there is a way to help them see that Doughnut policies and action could solve some of their other problems, too (eg less spent on social care, refuse collection etc etc)?

    1 0
    Lindsay Ibbotson over 1 year ago

    Hi Emi. I'm way behind you in terms of thinking about economics, but have come across Kate Raworth's book recently, and find that it chimes with the work I have been doing in Teesside from a music education point of view.
    I have led research, joint funded by the Education Endowment Foundation, (EEF), and the Royal Society for the Arts, (RSA), on the impact of daily participatory music activities on the development outcomes of young children, and have been working on effective ways to deliver music CPD for primary teachers, as many lack the confidence to lead songs and musical games in the classroom. (The EEF published the results last September, showing that children gained as much as 3 months reading advantage over one year of daily music, in comparison with children who had not had the intervention. We published another paper looking at the effects of the training for the participating teachers: Ibbotson, L.; See, B.H. Delivering Music Education Training for Non-Specialist Teachers through Effective Partnership: A Kodály-Inspired Intervention to Improve Young Children’s Development Outcomes. Educ. Sci. 2021, 11, 433.
    I'm a Fellow of the RSA, and have used musical ideas about children's sense of their own voice in events based on political discussions on the value of democracy. 
    I am currently working with Durham University, and Music Education Services, including Tees Valley, to change the way that music is delivered to trainee teachers, to improve access to all children, rather than those lucky enough to have private lessons. 
    I'd be interested to chat about how any of this might feed into your Doughnut group.

    2 0
    Rowan McLaughlin almost 2 years ago

    Hi! I live in Saltburn and would love to collaborate

    2 0
    Rowan McLaughlin almost 2 years ago

    Hi! I live in Saltburn and would love to link up with the Boro doughnut group please! Can't seem to find a way to contact you? Great work.

    1 1
    Emi Imai almost 2 years ago

    Hi Rowan!!  I have just found your message!!  I am so sorry for the late reply.  Yes, I am so excited to link up with you.  My number is 07565909980 and I have a BoroDoughnut email:
    Please get in touch and we can meet soon.  :) 

    0 0
    Rob Couch almost 2 years ago

    All thanks to Boro Doughnut colleagues, your approach, reflections and honesty are very much appreciated and really helping to inform the development of our Doughnut thinking in Milton Keynes. With best wishes, Rob Couch

    1 1
    Emi Imai almost 2 years ago

    Hi Rob, I have just read your kind comment, sorry for the late reply.  Thank you so much.  I am looking forward to learning from your journey too! I hope we can help each other  :)

    0 0

    Join the DEAL Community!

    Get inspired, connect with others and become part of the movement. No matter how big or small your contribution is, you’re welcome to join!