I am the RSA Heritage Ambassador for the town of Frome in Somerset, which is widely recognized as pioneering and socially progressive and in 2016 Ewan Jones FRSA and I started an event series exploring assets that people have already created, and what it is possible to create, in such a community. The events have attracted large audiences and are open to all. We are seeing new fellows join and old fellows re-engage.
The next event on Thursday 26 January 2017 features the internationally acclaimed author of the influential and wide-ranging 2015 research report “The Power of Music”, Professor Susan Hallam MBE, plus live funk, classical and traditional folk music. As with previous events, it will run from 6-9pm, with free entry, free refreshments, and home-cooked food available. If you are interested to attend, please sign up here, also join the Town Digital Hub emailing list. You are also welcome to join the RSA Frome community on Facebook which is just getting going and hopefully in due course will provide a forum for discussion outside of the events themselves.
Here is information about our events over the course of 2016 –
Our first event focused on using heritage assets to increase wellbeing, a theme closely aligned with the RSA’s Heritage, Identity and Place project, and the speakers described a wide range of such work carried out over the years. The first three speakers were from the RSA:
- Lou Matter (Regional Manager for the South West) spoke about RSA Fellowship
- Joanna Massie spoke about the RSA Heritage, Identity and Place project
- Keith Harrison-Broninski spoke about using heritage for wellness
The next group of speakers represented Frome Institutions that contribute to community assets:
- Peter Macfadyen spoke on behalf of Frome town council about sustainability
- Steve Macarthur spoke about music and the Frome Cultural Quarter
- Johannes Moeller spoke about Edventure Frome and the Welsh Mill Hub
- Annabelle Macfadyen described the Home in Frome project and the Community Threads Memory Quilt
The final group of speakers represented the Frome Society for Local Study:
- Julian Watson gave an overview of the society and its publications
- Richard Swann described how the Frome and District Civic Society saved the historic Trinity quarter
- Cliff Bawden introduced the Frome Town Heritage Walks
Our second event focused on community prosperity for the 21st century, a theme closely aligned with the RSA’s Economy, Enterprise and Manufacturing programme. The speakers described emerging mechanisms for locally based finance along with initiatives that are already successful:
- Tony Greenham (RSA Director of Economics, Enterprise and Manufacturing) described the Community Savings Bank Association and the Super ATM concept
- Kevin Redpath described the Glastonbury Last Bank Standing campaign
- Fiach Maguire described My Community Bank, a digital Credit Union
- Ted Fowler described how Bristol & Bath Regional Capital is generating local investment in public benefit projects
- Chris Crookall-Fallon from Mongoose Energy and Bath & West Community Energy explained how sustainable energy is reaping financial rewards for both investors and local communities
Many of the initiatives above triggered interest from civic leaders in Frome, which is a key purpose of the event series. For a community to thrive in the 21st century, it must create and maintain a living asset map, that provides the kind of cross-cutting community support necessary to address modern challenges to wellbeing. The RSA Frome events explore ways in which people are already doing this, and new ways in which they can start to do this. Come and join us!