Kindling's long term vision is to create a rural base within 50 miles of Manchester which will include a farm, Eco-housing, a Social Enterprise Hub and a Centre for Social Change. There, building on our existing projects, we aim to create models for:
While there has been a marked long-term decline in political party membership, voting levels and public trust in politicians in general, recent years have also seen the largest public demonstrations in British history over issues ranging from trade justice and war to rural poverty and farming. These mass demonstrations are just the most visible indicator of the many hundreds of thousands of people across the country demanding a voice in how the world around them is run. On a daily basis all around the UK people are: fighting road building projects or library closures; setting up community gardens or housing co-ops; resisting foreign military intervention or corporate destruction of the environment.
While we are constantly inspired by the passionate people around us we feel that such active participation can be limited by the following factors:
For individuals: balancing social change work (which is usually voluntary) with other (paid) work and family commitments; a lack of financial security in terms of affordable housing and provision for old age; a lack of training provision; a feeling of isolation and/or burn-out due to lack of support structures and networks.
For organisations: lack of experience of funding, management, technical and legal issues; ill-defined decision making processes which result in 'invisible hierarchies' and/or inter-personal conflict; lack of visioning spaces outside of daily experience.
For social movements: the lack of a sense of continuity and progress; and a space for strategic discussion and forward planning.
The Kindling Trust will create an exciting and challenging environment, where activists from a range of backgrounds exchange experiences and cross-pollinate ideas; a space for strategic vision and inspiration.
• Establish a Centre for Social Change that provides networking opportunities, capacity building, conflict resolution, and supports people working towards social change.
• We already run a bi-annual Commerical Organic Horticulture course as well as one off events such as ‘Making Food Fair’ and ‘Global Crisis, Organic Response. Building on these, we will offer a programme of residential courses and events, bringing people together to share information, to learn and develop strategies for ecological and social change.
• Support campaigners from the Global South through fund raising events and networking opportunities for visiting activists and human rights defenders – e.g. organising meetings with visitors brought to the UK by groups such as War on Want and WDM.
• Develop an influential profile by working with activists to build upon and strengthen a unified voice for progressive movements. Identifying areas of common agreement for strategic alliance, while challenging each other with our differences. We are already working with the progressive food sector in Manchester through setting up and co-ordinating FeedingManchester, and work with national movements such as the Land Workers Alliance and UK Food Sovereignty Movement.
• Provide exciting volunteering opportunities for people from a wide range of backgrounds, in a supportive environment. This must be a two way process, enabling people to develop skills and to share their knowledge and experience with others.