17 (ish) tips for Incredible Edible Activists

Posted by Nick June 2009

Getting things done locally can be a slow frustrating process; here are some top tips that I have learnt at my auntie’s knee!

1) Apply the thin end of the wedge, You may have 16 things you want to get done, drop 15 for now and concentrate on one small, simple, possibly inadequate, but doable issue.

2) Ask for the earth not the moon, Make sure what your asking for is within the askees power. Magic is not possible.

3) Don’t devote all of your time/energy on winning over politicians. local governments consist of a few hundred elected officials and many thousand officers. Go figure who makes the majority of the decisions!

4) Don’t overstate your case, be calm reasonable, measured and friendly. Your passion is a driver but it’s often counterproductive to allow it to show (this is England after all!).
There are lots of bonkers people out there that make a career out of harassing council officers who have no choice but to respond professionally. Do try not to appear too mad!

5) Find a friend, an insider in the council is worth their weight in quality compost! Look in community engagement/community safety teams; any department prefixed by the word community is worth a try. Gardening is a key tool for community cohesion specialists.

6) Learn the language. Local government officers have a secret code that contains the directives they must fulfill. Finding the form of words to couch your request is the key. Find an off duty council officer who is a gardener to help you with this.

7) Parish councils may add support to your case but their hands are tied and for most things its the city/county level where decisions are made.

8) Don’t be a lone voice, find others who share your aims, prefferably in an area that has problems, Deprivation, minorities, disabled, children, etc, these all have targets attached for local authorities

9) Lighten their load. Show the council that what you plan to do reduces their work load and costs, and that its sustainable, the community will run it for ever!

10) Harness institutions. Councils like handing things over to bodies, church groups charities etc. If necessary become a body, community association, local food group etc, you will find help with constitutions, insurance etc on this site.

11) Kill em with kindness, your appreciation for the smallest most pathetic step in the right direction should be rewarded with a truckload of appreciation and national press coverage. Stroke the dogs belly and it will be your friend for life.

12) Smother your enemies with love, they can’t oppose you because you are so dam nice to em!

13) Work on establishing precidents. With a few notable exceptions, all but the most senior council officers are apprehensive of doing the wrong thing and are most comfortable following what’s been done before.

14) Work in partnership. A partnership between your group and others including the council has a special resonance with the local authority mindset.

15) Carrot not stick. Show em the rewards for doing what you want, positive aprobation is a rare and treasured thing for the beurocrats, they will come back for more. Threats don’t often work.

16) Get the press on your side, they love a campaign and green issues are hot just now. Get loads of faces in the picture. Write the piece yourself. Make it positive, mention several organizations working together.

17) Link in with other issues, healthy eating, exercise, digging as a sport, education etc

17a) Be patient but persistent, the wheels grind slowly, but they do grind.

17b) Be reliable and safe. Do what you say your going to do and don’t wash your smalls in public, be a safe hand for council officers to work with, in time they will begin to trust you.

17c) The article Newstart magazine (link in media pages on this IET website) should impress council officers especially those involved in regeneration, use it. In fact use all the media links, media aprobration oils the wheels somethink lovely!

17d) Be lucky and think HUGE!

Nick
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17 tips 2.pdf

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