Do you ever feel like trying to create real progress on sustainability is like wading through treacle, uphill and blindfolded?
It’s of the most frustrating things about the major challenges we face: they’re systemic. There’s no single enemy, clearly defined problem or silver bullet solution. Problems like climate change arise as a side-effect of a complex interplay between individuals, business, society and state. In these complex systems, it’s impossible to cause significant change directly. The only way is to create the environment in which change happens; an altered context that changes the relationships between key actors.
I’m by no means the first to realise that, of course. It’s the reason we see excellent network organisations supporting Birmingham’s green community, such as the council’s Making Birmingham Greener initiative, Sustainability West Midlands’ brand new Green Communities Network and the Green Drinks evenings Malcolm Currie has been running for donkey’s years. At a wider level, Climate KIC does a great job of connecting Birmingham’s low-carbon innovators with others across the region and the EU. And social enterprise organisations UnLtd, i-se and SEWM connect together the city’s socially-minded entrepreneurs. All these organisations realise how crucial relationships are to tackling society’s biggest challenges.
So if there’s all this great work going on already, why does Birmingham need an Impact Hub? The answer is all about relationships: change the relationships, you change the system. By creating a physical space for working together every day and holding events, Impact Hub Birmingham will strengthen trust relationships between the city’s change makers, from a wide variety of backgrounds. Nowhere else do poets work alongside politicians, entrepreneurs next to educators, filmmakers with farmers. Nowhere else has such a rich melting pot of diverse talents, united by a common goal of building a better Birmingham.
That’s why I can’t wait for the Impact Hub to open its doors, because I know what a transformative, catalytic effect it will have on Birmingham’s green community. I’m excited by the people I’ve met who are involved in the Hub and will be calling it home. It’s inspiring what’s been achieved already in attracting such a vibrant and diverse community, signing a lease on an amazing space and gaining official “Impact Hub” status.
There’s just one hurdle left to cross: we need to transform an empty space in Digbeth into the inspiring workspace that Birmingham’s changemaker community deserves. All of the work so far has been powered by volunteers and paid for out of the founder’s own pockets. Now we’re turning to our wider community to raise £50,000 for locally made furniture, LED lighting, wifi, printers and the other essentials we need to open the Hub.
The response so far has been amazing and we’re well over half way there, but we’ve only got a few days to raise the rest of the cash — our crowfunding campaign ends on January 10th and if we don’t hit the target, we won’t get a penny!
So if you agree that Birmingham’s green community needs a Hub, please pledge what you can. Even better, come have a look around the space, grab a membership at the reduced “founder member” rate and join me in our new home.