Just recently I wrote the following email to everyone on our mailing explaining that I was going to be resigning from the role I have taken on over the last 3 years or so. It is a role one asked me to take on and I haven’t been paid for it so it might seem an little odd to resign. But I know that things are not going to get done that were being done, or at least not in the same way, and I wanted to explain, in advance, why that would be. I also wanted to explain a little about the hopes I had in terms of building on what we had learnt and why I thought that something worth doing. I was not saying that it is all over just that it will have to change as the current state of affairs was no longer sustainable for me. No one can keep going without being resourced and something was going to give. It was very nearly me and it would not serve anyone or anything for me to have sacrificed myself.
So my idea is to step down and do nothing for at least a month but think and reflect and see what emerges. It may ‘all’ stop. I don’t think so. Too many people have given so much that I seriously doubt that. But if it does then this has been nothing but my dream and if so deserves not to carry on. If something continues that depends equally on others. I hope that whatever it is it will be something that I can and want to be part of. Something that I can contribute to only from my heart not out of a sense of responsibility or duty. Something that gives me the framework and support I need to give and connects me to likeminded people. I will need that and them to give me the encouragement and support to give to my community and my environment in a more sustainable way. I will have to feel my way to that and I trust that I will. After all what other way is there, in the times in which we are, to live?
You will be aware that over the last 3 years we have been developing a local network around Newsham Park. Behind it was the idea that working together with a bit of support from grant funders and mainstream services we could liberate ourselves as individuals and as a community to take better care of ourselves. This is work whose efficacy is inarguable and well evidenced. It has a resulted in people coming forward to lead and participate in a whole range of activities including gardening, yoga, philosophising and walking. 100s haven taken part in community wide activities aimed at improving our local environment and work to ensure that we take a far greater responsibly in acting positively in it. This has included litter picks, wild life projects, and the planting of 100s of trees and 1000s of plants and bulbs. All out of the generosity of our own hearts and, with the honourable exception of our Yoga teacher (who inspired by others is now gifting a lesson in meditation once a month for a year) no one has received a penny for any park activity.
Whilst this is very admirable, and we intend to share the data on the extraordinary and impressive levels of volunteering from a community often written off as lawless and down trodden, it is unsustainable. All organisations to be effective and accountable need work to be done in the background to make sure that this is possible. For the last three years that has been done by me. I am no longer in a position to sustain this level of input. We have been able to get some resources for kit and for trees and planting and some small projects. However we have failed in our attempts to get any funding for the activities, such as communication, one to one support, management, marketing, recruiting and partnership work which keep everything else working. Up till now everything that makes us look like a professional well run organisation such as our marketing and our website page has been donated by individuals. We have had no similar luck securing such relationships with organisations. Even where we have found people who value our practice, passion and values, we have been unable to develop any sustainable partnership arrangements which secure any degree of non-monetary resource (referrals, green waste collection, shared space etc). Over the last three years, every time we have thought we had such an arrangement, it has melted away after a couple of months following another reorganisation or round of redundancies. Whether our failure is the sign of the times or a failure to communicate effectively, the true value of what it is we have achieved here is hard to judge but the situation now is that the status quo is unsustainable.
We are, however, down but not out. Although I am in effect stepping down from the full time role (albeit a job for which I was never appointed and never paid), that effort and investment has resulted in a whole network of local people who are determined that, albeit in a new form, the work we have started here will go on. They feel that it is too valuable to let go and that by working together can find a way to make things work.
So here’s the plan. We intend to spend February thinking about the way forward and will let you know the outcome of those discussions and deliberations at the end of February. During this time if you want to come back to us with any suggestions we would welcome that so please email and someone will get back to you- . During the month those who we have supported to initiate activities in the park – the green gym on a Saturday for example and the Chi Gung, will go ahead as usual and the webpage www.treehouseliverpool.co.uk will be accurate in terms of what is on as will be our face book page https://www.facebook.com/treehouseliverpool/ There will be however no posters, leaflets, messages, or calendars in the park publicising events and (for the first time in three years) NO gardening during the month. We also ask you to understand and forgive any delay in responding.
I would personally like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have helped me and this endeavour over the past three years. I have met some amazing people who have been professional, kind, generous, insightful and supportive and I thank you. However the people I have met who have impressed me the most have been people, in HMP Walton as well as here locally, who have had the least by way of money or status. But it will be their stories and perceptions, capacity and generosity which will stay with me the longest.