Communities Living Sustainably (CLS) in Dorset ran with Big Lottery funding from 2013 to 2016, as a partnership managed by Dorset County Council, da21, and Dorset Community Action. It worked with a large number of local partner organisations and sub-contractors to implement activities on food, energy, woodlands, lifestyles, schools and climate change adaptation, in the area around Bridport and Dorchester.
The project had several outcomes, including knowing how to live more sustainably, making greener choices, supporting the green economy and trying out new approaches. To achieve these outcomes, the project was sub-divided into several ‘strands’, two of which da21 hosted – local food and greener choices.
Changing behaviour around food is an extremely pressing and urgent issues. CLS raised awareness about a range of food issues and started new conversations about the need to shift towards sustainable food production and sustainable diets. The project provided an opportunity for local stakeholders to work together more closely on food issues, bringing people together who otherwise might never have coincided. There is still much to do, but seeds have been sown, and a solid basis created from which further work can now be done.
The greener choices strand sought to increase the number of people embracing environmentally sound behaviour through improved awareness of how to limit their impact on the environment, skills training and peer support. The strand worked on issues around energy, water, transport and waste, bringing together people working in those fields to weave a coherent message about the environment as a whole.
The end of project evaluation showed that CLS’s many achievements were due to a combination of the technical expertise of its staff with playing a strong role as a facilitator and catalyst, promoting interaction, dialogue and cooperation between local stakeholders. It gave project partners a sense of joint identity and solidarity with other related initiatives in West Dorset; it convened organisations that would otherwise not have had cause to work together; and it enabled some organisations to reach audiences they would not have been able to on their own, reaching beyond the circle of ‘green people’ already committed to sustainability issues.