The Big Lunch – engaging with neighbours

At a Transition Poole meeting in 2010, a small group of us met to talk about the importance of talking with neighbours. It’s a way to build that community resilience so that everyone can meet their needs with much less work and energy by

* sharing resources (e.g., tools, food, knowledge)
* conviviality (e.g., friendship, celebrations, support)
* and so much more.

Within our group there was, on the one hand, a great sense of urgency about the importance of developing a sense of community and the sharing of resources in order to transition as quickly as possible to a low energy culture. This can also be daunting — where to start?!

At the same time, there was a notion that moving slowly and gently with neighbours might be more effective at developing a sense of trust out of which other things (sharing tools, wildlife gardening or who knows!) could evolve.

One couple from  our group started organising for — a shared lunch eating local food with the neighbours and getting to know each other. They didn’t know any of their neighbours before they started and already have made meaningful connections by working together to organise the event before even sitting down at the lunch table.

There were three Big Lunch events in different parts of Poole in 2010 – follow this link for a quick summary.

Two sites so far in Poole, both organised by Transitioners – why not create an event with your neighbours ?

Other options include little lunches — summer is a great time to invite (1 or 2 or more) neighbours around for a BBQ in the garden, a park or on the beach! These neighbours might be so enjoy it so much that they invite some of their neighbours around creating a ripple effect. There’s no need to bring up peak oil or climate change before eating — it’s easier to talk about those frightening subjects with someone you trust, someone you know you share some common ground with.
Sharing food and drink, talking about the sunshine, tv or other little things can be a way to slowly build that trust, to find that common ground. Little lunches can be less about recruiting for Transition and more about building connections — a little transition in itself.

Another idea, a medium lunch, came from a speaker at the Poole Agenda 21 AGM, Laurie Michaelis of among other projects. He talked about making up postcards with tick boxes to find out from the neighbours what kinds of gentle environmental issues they might like to talk about with other neighbours (wildlife gardening, composting, growing vegetables, etc) and then invited interested folk around for drinks & nibbles to have those discussions.

Finally, one person pointed out that talking with neighbours could include both immediate neighbours and folk in the area you already know are “green”. Would you like to meet up outside of Transition meetings with other folk in your area (or outside it!) for a picnic or a pub quiz, a walk on the beach or a cup of tea in town?


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