Building a caring community

Bristol University’s Cabot Institute for the Environment is at the forefront of improving the way we live in our world and enabling us to tackle the challenges facing our environment.

I went to the Cabot Institute’s annual lecture on whether we can thrive as an urban species. One speaker said our cities are running on fossilised sunshine and the more they expand, the more fossil fuels they use.

This isn’t just down to the usual increase in petrol-fuelled vehicles. It’s in the cement needed to build all the new houses and the nitrogen fertiliser farmers use to feed our growing populations. He said that because we’re so reliant on fossilised sunshine, technical fixes alone won’t be enough. We’re going to need “massive and radical social and political change.”

Another speaker said we should build more “care-ful” communities in towns and cities; places where people and organisations work collaboratively to care for ourselves, our neighbours and our environment. Putting care at the heart of communities emphasises our connections and not our differences; something that struck me as an important message for our times.

She said we should recognise what others do to care for our communities– and not just people, but places like allotments and skate parks. What can we learn about care from the things that those places give us?

She challenged us to respond to the radical changes going on in towns and cities (such as rising inequality) by embracing diversity, creativity and learning – including with people who are not like us, or with whom we might normally disagree. It’s in these (sometimes difficult) interactions that we can build the knowledge and emotional capacity to care for each other and our planet.

Finally, she asked: what do you do to care for your community? I think we’re pretty good at being caring in Keynsham, but I’d like to throw the question out to you. Why not tell us on Twitter (@TransitionKsham) or Facebook (

This article was first published in the Keynsham Voice – November 2019

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