Waterloo Festival – rethinking the future

What will your community look like in 30 years’ time? It is a question that is always worth asking because it focuses the mind on the specifics of your home and the community immediately around it. I live at Waterloo, not far from the Coin Street community on the south bank of the Thames, so it was a joy to join with others in the area to speculate on the future shape of our bit of London. However, many of the conclusions are equally applicable to Manchester, or Dorset. We all want clean air, homes free from flooding and roads not jammed with cars.

Sometimes it is difficult to see how our area could escape the big economic impacts of a changing world, with rising rents, unaffordable housing and the closure of small shops. It is possible, but it does require a different way of thinking and organising. Community Land Trusts build homes woth common ownership rules that keep prices reasonable in perpetuity.  Community pubs and shops, or planning rules that foster local businesses and projects, rather than the chains make an area unique, and it’s more likely to keep money circulating in the area. Road closures that prioritise walking and cycling, rather than through traffic, can also create spaces for the community to use and benefit those local businesses.

Finally, you can think global, but act local. Start with the home, offices and buildings in your area by making them carbon positive – so they produce more energy than they consume. Fill your garden or balcony with plants. If you can, plant a tree. It helps clean the air and plants just make people feel good. Never doubt that we can turn things around and make our own community, along with the planet, a happier place to be.

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