What Next? – Planning Our Future

Back in the early summer of 2020 Sustaining Dunbar spoke with lots of local groups, many working at the sharp end of helping people to cope with the pandemic. We asked if it would be useful to work together and plan for the future. Most said ‘yes’ and the  What If Project began.

The project focussed on engaging and listening, sharing stories and turning ideas into action and has grown in numbers and strength. Members include local fishermen, artists, volunteer gardeners, enthusiastic chefs, poets who work in local grocers, members of various churches and more. Representing a diverse network, working together to build a strong and resilient community.

With a powerful foundation in place the time came to consider ‘What Next?’ with our partner networks. So we set out on a journey to reflect and review the What If, What Is and What next?

What If? – The first part of our journey was to re-visit the What If Project. What we know is that we have an enormous band of likeminded and enthusiastic people, sharing skills, knowledge and expertise and working in collaboration with a genuine desire to make a difference to the lives of people in our community. The What If Network now has over 30 partner organisations and continues to grow.

What Is? – The second part of our journey was to analyse and collate what is happening in our community. The findings were both astonishing and heart-warming! People are working individually and collectively to deliver an extensive and exciting range of projects and activities, from seedling swaps to tree planting and growing food to cooking demonstrations, supporting healthier eating, reducing isolation and improving mental health, managing loss of biodiversity, and so much more!

What Next? – The final phase of our journey was to meet with the What if Network Partners to ensure we had a clear understanding of the What If aspirations and discuss our priorities for What Next.

Through a process of partner conversations with a network of people who want to make a tangible difference and deliver positive outcomes we are now ready to develop our What Next Action Plan. A plan to guide our recovery from the pandemic and help the area be home to thriving people, where nature flourishes, and where we live, work and play in ways that respect the wellbeing of all people and the whole planet. We hope to be able to publish this plan by the end of June.

An enormous thank you to all who have taken the time to share your work and your hopes for the future. Together we can make a difference!

Yvonne Wemyss, Community Engagement Manager, Sustaining Dunbar