Measuring a Wellbeing Economy in Wales

Measuring a Wellbeing Economy in Wales

Wellbeing Economy Wales is embarking on a volunteer-led project to create the Wales Wellbeing Economy Index – a visualisation of relevant and meaningful data that frames the wellbeing economy in a way that everyone can understand.  It’s part of a wider mission to broaden the understanding of (and engagement in) the idea of wellbeing economics in Wales. 

The intention is to create a set of indicators that measure and track the progress of the wellbeing economy at a local, constituency or regional level; and which is updated regularly, eg quarterly, so that it is useful and relatable for people.

At tonight’s monthly discussion forum, Stephen Priestnall from Wellbeing Economy Wales provided an introductory overview to the project, which is in its very early stages.  The team is inviting input, insight and involvement from the wider community across Wales – anyone who shares an interest in measuring, tracking and visualising “wellbeing economics” at a local or regional level, or who might have datasets or expertise to contribute.  Opening the project up for early feedback and reflection is part of WEW’s commitment to co-production and partnership working, and the team was incredibly grateful to all those who took an interest in the work and contributed their thoughts.

The current proposal is to seek data that measures five components of a wellbeing economy:

# Sustainable Private GDP
# Economic Cooperation
# Social & cultural wellbeing
# Environmental Wellbeing
# Value of public services provided

Participants queried who the measurements were intended for, and whether they would be useful, meaningful or engaging at a local or oganisational level, to inform decision-making or the focusing of changemaking work at the level of local communities.  The discussion also explored the difference between measuring “wellbeing” (like, for example, mental and physical wellbeing, which is perhaps subjective, qualitative, and hard to measure) versus measuring “wellbeing economics” – which is something we are all seeking to define and understand more clearly here in Wales!

Watch the recording – click here to view the full discussion via Zoom

Stephanie Howarth, Chief Statistician at the Welsh Government, also spoke at the meeting, and provided an overview of how Wellbeing is already being measured and tracked in Wales, through Wales’ Wellbeing Indicator Framework – a set of 46 indicators mapped to the seven wellbeing goals of the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.  Steph explained that the indicators in Wales were intended to “measure progress towards the Wales we want”, and to be:

# Short & Manageable;
# Coherent and fit well with other indicators;
# A measure for the whole of Wales;
# Resonant with the public

Making data meaningful for the public is agreed as the key challenge, and one of the ways Wales has sought to achieve this is through naming it’s indicators in ways that make sense to people – for example statistics relating simply to “healthy babies” rather than more technical definitions.  Stephanie’s team are currently inviting feedback and insight as part of an ongoing consultation about the Wellbeing Indicator Framework, asking what possible gaps there might be, and how the data could be made more useful.  Take a look at the blog to submit your comments:

https://shapingwalesfuture.blog.gov.wales/2021/06/29/national-indicators-what-has-the-pandemic-taught-us-about-how-we-measure-wellbeing/

One key reflection from tonight’s discussion was the importance of localised data, and the ability for communities and local decision-makers to be able to access and “drill down” on data for their local places.  There was a strong consensus in favour of interactive, filterable datasets that are accessible for ordinary people, and Steph agreed that this is an area worth investigating.  Stephen affirmed that the WEW project will seek to use and distribute its data on an open data platform, so that anyone can engage with it.  The aspiration is that the data be useable at a local level, so that we can interact and drill down, bringing communities together to discuss what the data means to them; what its implications are, and what it tells about needs, strengths and challenges.

There were a number of valuable contributions from colleagues across Wales, shining a light of different aspects of the question of measuring wellbeing.  Jonathan Richards, with colleagues, has done a lot of work around measuring the value of public services, and also reflected on some very useful work happening elsewhere, including in Birmingham

At Bronllys Well Being Park, colleagues have designed a comprehensive wellbeing survey, for which they are keen to partner and seek funding – looking at wellbeing through a psychometric lens.  And Barry Farrell noted that their survey work has identified 97 important indicators of well-being in 8 dimensions: Employment & Income, Housing & Environment, Food & Nutrition, Transport, Energy, Leisure, Community, and Physical & Mental Health.

Ellie Harwood, from the Child Poverty Action Group and the Anti-Poverty Coalition said that they have collected a lot of data on child poverty, but that is has been a challenge to get people to use the data they produce.  Her insight was that data becomes most meaningful and actionable when it is provided at a local level, for example by ward – where it feels real and tangible. 

Meanwhile, David Llewellyn from the NHS in Wales advised that they are creating a local wellbeing index intended to stimulate and provoke enhanced community discussions, “such that we can support and co-produce with communities to support wellbeing. It’s still in development but we would be very happy to learn from others”.  

The meeting also reflected on WHY measuring and tracking wellbeing data feels IMPORTANT, and what our ultimate purpose should be as we seek to create and distribute new KPIs.  We heard powerful insights about the importance of good data for determining what is required for change and how to improve things, as well as the power of data to inform community conversations and drive innovation. 

All too often, data is used retrospectively to prove that something has worked and secure future funding – but perhaps our core focus should be on finding and distributing data that inspires us to action – that motivates and empowers us on an individual level, to play our part in making change.  As Vicki Moller commented, “Data has to mean something to locals and lead to action… or so what!?”

What we measure, as a society, also reflects what we value – and perhaps in seeking to find effective measures for the wellbeing of people and the planet we will be able to more strongly advocate for those shared values, and change the culture of society in that direction.  Seeking alternatives to narrow economic evaluations like GVA and GDP is important work if we are to change what we really value, and what we invest in, as a society.  And “wellbeing economics” perhaps provides a new way for Wales to define our own agenda, distinct from those in Westminster, and to build on the achievement of Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and take it forward to better implementation and delivery.

Wellbeing Economy Wales is a volunteer-led organisation, part of the global Wellbeing Economy Alliance, working to make the vision of a “wellbeing economy” more visible, more credible and more meaningful, here in Wales.  As a founding member, 4theRegion helps to host the monthly Wellbeing Economy Discussion Forum on the second Thursday of each month.

Register via Eventbrite for upcoming events or contact dawn@4theregion.org.uk for info.

Decarbonising Homes – A Collective Learning Journey is Needed

Decarbonising Homes – A Collective Learning Journey is Needed

A Greener Local Supply Chain – Learning Journey

Wales has set ambitious targets to decarbonise housing over the next decades, but there are enormous challenges.  Not least is the need to development the skills and competence of the wider SME market in Wales, in terms of retrofit green skills.  Huge opportunities existing for small businesses in the construction sector, if they can get a grip of what’s needed to transform the way homes use energy, heat and materials.  Great career opportunities also exist for all those who are looking for an exciting growth sector in which to contribute.

In partnership with Wyn Pritchard from the Optimised Retrofit Programme, and with our members, Coastal Housing, Family Housing and Pobl Housing Group, 4theRegion has designed a project to begin to unlock some of these opportunities for the benefit of our region.  We have envisioned a collective learning journey that engages “the whole system” in thinking about the challenges and opportunities that exist and are emerging.  We are ideally placed, between us, to connect businesses, developments, residents and training providers, together with the major housing associations as key buyers/clients in that supply chain.  With a trifecta focus on Partnership Working, Community Engagement and Business Engagement, we need to:

  • Raise awareness among businesses and SMEs of new bizdev opportunities
  • Promote opportunities for training, career development
  • Involve people and bring them with us in understanding new technologies and what they would like to see
  • Break down silos between all pieces of the puzzle
  • Share best practice, learning from those who are already doing great work in this sector

As in everything we do, 4theRegion believes fundamentally that we need to involve everyone in the process of transformation, expecting wisdom, leadership, ideas and talent to emerge from any/every part of the whole system.  We have yet to identify the project funding to take this proposal forward, but encourage interested partners to get in touch to further the discussion.

Contact dawn@4theregion.org.uk

Roundtable Report – Swansea High Street Property

Roundtable Report – Swansea High Street Property

SWANSEA HIGH STREET PROPERTY ROUNDTABLE
MONDAY 11TH NOVEMBER 2019
COASTAL HOUSING, URBAN VILLAGE, SWANSEA

On Monday 11th November 2019 4theRegion convened a meeting of key property sector professionals with interests in high street and city centre property.  Our goal was to explore some of the challenges and opportunities relating to vacant space in the city, and share updates on what’s happening to property throughout the city.

Meeting Roundup

Exciting Times for Swansea City Centre

Phil Holmes, head of Regeneration at Swansea Council, described the exciting time that Swansea is currently experiencing, with the biggest investments in the city centre since the second world war, happening now.  The regeneration of the Kingsway, the new arena and public park, the new bridge over Oystermouth Road, and the St Davids scheme, are all being led by Swansea Council but are levering in private sector investment, with upgrades to old buildings and new projects being developed throughout the city in response.

Swansea Council has been working with Natural Resources Wales on a new green infrastructure strategy for the city, and it’s encouraging to hear that this is now a key priority for the Council, and for major partners including Coastal Housing and Pobl Group.  Swansea Council also have a range of property improvement grants available to landlords, and this has been effective in a number of examples. Regeneration Swansea is also providing support in encouraging employers into the city centre.

A number of commercial letting agents also attended the meeting, from RJ Chartered Surveys, BP2 Properties, and Threshold, and talked about the importance of landlords being prepared to invest in older properties to create spaces that the market wants.  With a bit of investment, and the creation of high quality smaller spaces (1000 – 2000 sq ft), experts felt that space in the city centre is highly lettable and very much in demand. Conversely, it was felt that the dilapidated state of some of what is available, and the earning potential of Swansea property, means some landlords are unwilling to invest and happy to sit on empty properties rather than get them up to standard.

The Needs of Small and Micro Businesses

An interesting discussion centred around the needs of small and micro businesses in the city, for whom the challenge is finding access to space on easy terms, at low cost, in attractive and vibrant locations where they feel part of a supportive cluster.  That doesn’t necessarily mean refurbished spaces – it was pointed out that new businesses need old buildings, and can make effective use of them without much investment. Stacey Adamiec of 10C Consultancy noted that some of the properties considered “unlettable” by agents and landlords, might not actually be unlettable, but that it could be a matter of connecting small creative businesses with the right amenable landlords, for mutual benefit.  Stacey perceives that there’s a gap in understanding about the needs and opportunities of letting space to creative industry businesses, and that it can be made financially attractive for landlords with the right mix of tenants.

The meeting agreed that helping small businesses to be successful involves not just access to the right spaces in the city, but also access to an ecosystem of support – from other businesses nearby, and from “connectors”.  That’s why clustering can work, and why more needs to be done to encourage networking and relationships among businesses in the city centre. Sharing skills and expertise is a low cost way for businesses to upskill and develop.  Initiatives like the Pop-up Business School are popular, but what happens to these budding entrepreneurs at the end of the course? How can we capture these opportunities to keep creative entrepreneurs in the city centre?

Major Employers

Another discussion centred on the decision by larger employers about whether to locate in the city centre, or in one of the peripheral business parks.  Swansea Council is working on attracting major employers into the city to increase footfall (“Watch this space!”) and everyone agreed that this is the right strategy – as long as it doesn’t negatively impact the economy of secondary districts.  Many employers are keen to be within the city centre, if they can find the right space. Members of the meeting expressed their dismay at the decision by Pobl Housing Group to move out of the city centre to Swansea Enterprise Park, taking with them 200 jobs and vacating a prime building on the newly redeveloped Kingsway.  And contributors noted the many benefits to staff of being located in the city – including the ability to meet colleagues and friends in town, to run errands and use local businesses. “We need to promote the benefits of working in the centre of Swansea vs the business parks around the city.”

Why Some Spaces Won’t Let?

In response to claims that there is plenty of demand for space from small and large businesses in the city, some contributors disagreed.  Examples were provided of ostensibly highly lettable spaces that were proving hard to let in the city centre, for example on Princess Way, where it was pointed out that there are already a range of recently refurbished, modern and attractive smaller spaces available, at £8 or £9 per square foot.  

We wondered whether this is proof positive that it’s the “vibe” of a business district that determines its desirability.  Companies want to be in places like TechHub because its a community, a cluster of likeminded people with an ecosystem of support.  Businesses want to be in Bristol because it’s a creative, vibrant city that people want to work in. At 4theRegion our goal is to make Swansea City Centre (starting with the High Street) somewhere that more people want to be, and feel they belong, specifically by developing an ecosystem of creativity, culture, inclusion, opportunity and the right mindset about the city centre.  Successfully achieving a vibrant and creative city centre will attract large and small businesses back in; landlords need to be able to provide the right spaces, and increasing demand will make further investment financially attractive.

Nurturing the Creative Economy

Colleagues from Coastal Housing noted that while their primary role is providing housing, they have worked hard to nurture Swansea’s creative quarter on the High Street, and have long supported organisations like Volcano and Elysium with favourable lease agreements.  The challenge is for organisations to use these agreements as a stepping stone and not rely on them indefinitely. They have paved the way and created a strong foundation for the High Street with the success of the Urban Village (phase 1), and the hope is that we can collectively build on this progress.  Coastal are continuing to redevelop a number of city centre sites, and colleagues reflected on the importance of early engagement with the community to help shape their proposals for specific buildings.

Next Actions

  • Share more knowledge about different types of tenancies, like Meanwhile Leases and Tenancies at Will, which can offer mutually beneficial solutions to both landlords and occupiers.  Get legal and tax advice on the pros and cons of different scenarios to understand why landlords may not consider such short term / flexible / low rent tenancies.
  • Showcase examples where these flexible tenancies have worked well.
  • Engage more disengaged landlords who are sitting on vacant properties.  Why? How can we help?
  • Develop a shared sense of purpose among landlords and agents about getting spaces filled, in creative ways if need be, to help create vibrancy and life in the city centre.
  • Can 4theRegion use vacant shop windows as space to promote the creative sector and create a sense of identity in the City Centre?

Ideas

  • Establish a business club or more opportunities for networking among businesses, create a cluster, bring people together, develop the eco-system.
  • Involve private sector landlords in the conversation about green infrastructure in the city centre.
  • Explore ideas for bridging the gap between potential occupiers and commercial letting agents / landlords.
  • Make Swansea somewhere people want to be, and commercial success for property owners will follow.

Would you like to be involved in this conversation?

4theRegion would like to thank everyone who attended this initial meeting for their insights and contributions, which were incredibly useful in helping us understand the challenges and opportunities in the city centre.  We invite others to get in touch if you would like to be included in future meetings on this topic, and we would also like to encourage readers to register for our upcoming City Centre Conference on 31st March 2020.

Keep in Touch with this Conversation

Email zoe@4theRegion.com with the subject line “City Centre Property” if you would like to be notified of future events and projects.  Also please make you are subscribed to the 4theRegion newsletter!

So, what actually is the Foundational Economy?

So, what actually is the Foundational Economy?

Sometime in 2018, the Welsh Government started talking about something called “the Foundational Economy“, and then in February 2019 they launched something called “the Foundational Economy Challenge Fund”… This week, the first of the projects to have been successfully awarded money from this fund have been announced, so we thought you might be wondering, what exactly is the foundational economy?!

The Foundational Economy refers to the parts of the (Welsh) economy that are here, in Wales, because PEOPLE are here.  It’s the parts of the economy that aren’t based on the comings and goings of global capital, but rather, the fundamental things that we need, buy, use and rely on in the ordinary course of living our daily lives here in Wales.  Things like housing, basic services, food, energy, travel, healthcare, and all the other things we use, day-to-day.  I guess things like clothing, haircuts, weddings, football clubs, banking, furniture, toiletries, car servicing, local builders, childcare, social care, someone to fix our boiler when it breaks down… all these things are foundational to our lives, they are the parts of the economy that can’t be relocated out of Wales, and therefore, at least in theory, they are the most resilient parts of our economy. 

Resilience is important, in a fast changing world.  Whether we’re talking about the massive economic and societal shocks that the climate crisis will bring; or the flight of international business and the uncertainty brought on by Brexit; or the rapid rise of technology and automation…  There are many things we can’t control, which are set to have massive impacts on our region and on Wales as a whole, over the coming years.

So that’s why the shift in focus from obsessing about inward investment and global exporting, to investing instead (or, as well) in the strength of our Foundational Economy, is so timely and so vital.  At 4theRegion we really welcome this new emphasis on the homegrown economy – the parts of the economy that are most real to most people in this region, and the parts of the economy that we have the power to develop, build, control, maintain – even in a fast changing world.

Because the trouble is, the foundational economy has been hollowed out over recent decades.  How many of our “foundational” needs are in fact being met from “within the region”, or within Wales?  With the rise of massive supermarkets (and their takeover of even our “local” shops), and the dominance of global megacorporations like Amazon, and the trend towards online shopping, and the preference for chain stores and brand names… how many of our daily needs are actually being met by local businesses and organisations?  How many of our jobs are provided and sustained locally?  And how much of our “day to day”, ordinary spending is actually being retained in our “foundational economy”?  When we spend our money with external companies, that money is lost from our local and regional economy, save perhaps for a few local jobs (increasingly vulnerable to automation).

A hollowed out foundational economy doesn’t offer any regional resilience.  And doesn’t provide many jobs.  And that’s why it’s so important to reinvest and rebuild our foundational economy: so that it can provide local, sustainable jobs for local people, and so that we have access to the fundamental services and supplies we need, here in this region, whatever might happen in the wider economy.

Presumably, ministers in the Welsh Government are thinking the same thing.  And so in February 2019, a new funding programme was launched, which is quite different to anything we’ve been aware of before: 

The Foundational Economy Challenge Fund.

Announced by Economy Minister Ken Skates, “The Foundational Economy Challenge Fund aims to test new ways of nurturing and growing the everyday parts of Wales’ economy, and is part of the Welsh Government’s work to reach out to those communities across Wales who are feeling disengaged and left behind…. The fund offers applicants up to £100,000 to reverse the deterioration of employment conditions, stop the leakage of money from Wales’ communities and reduce the environmental cost of extended supply chains. It will also work to ensure that lessons learnt are shared across Wales.”

We’ve talked about what the Foundational Economy is, but what, then, is a “Challenge Fund”?  Maybe we’re a bit geeky, but I have to admit to be being really quite excited about the concept of a Challenge Fund, and I’d love to tell you what I understand it to be.

Whereas most government funding seems to me to be always focused on, well, funding government, or maybe funding universities, and “research”, or councils or infrastructure or big centralised projects… what we absolutely love about this Challenge Fund is that it presented an open invitation to virtually anyone with a good idea, to bid for money – up to £100k – to try something new, something related to rebuilding and developing the Foundational Economy.  It was a relatively simple application process, and you didn’t have to be a university department, with match funding, FOR ONCE!

At 4theRegion, we’re passionate proponents of the idea that the answers to our region’s problems are to be found right here in the region, and that the wisdom we’re seeking is among us – if we would only care to look.  We’re fed up with the idea that only academic professors ever have good ideas, or only local councils know what communities need, or only major companies can create wealth, or only external consultants have the right answers…  So we absolutely love the “challenge fund” ethos, which throws the challenge out there, “to the people”, and invites anyone with a good idea, to make an application.  Talk about crowdsourcing wisdom… we love it!

As a result, our understanding is that the fund was massively oversubscribed!  For a few weeks over the summer, everyone and their dog seemed to be going for it!  But isn’t that brilliant?  Think how many brilliant, new, grassroots, practical ideas must have been contained within those hundreds of applications from across Wales!  Think what wisdom must have been surfaced, simply by putting up a bit of money and asking the question, “How do you think we could develop our foundational economy?  What would you like to try?”  Of course, there will undoubtedly have been a load of silly ideas too, and it must have been quite a job to work through all the applications, but I reckon it must have been a really exciting job, with some tough decisions.

Clearly, there were more good ideas than anyone expected, because ministers announced this week that the fund (which had already been doubled from an initial £1.5m to £3m back in May) has now been further increased by an additional £million.  So that’s almost £4m to be shared out in tranches of up to £100,000 – which means over 40 projects will be supported.  It remains to be seen how risk averse the funders will have been, and we’ll certainly be interested to see how much of the £4m will be channeled through universities and local authorities… 

But the early signs are good, with the first three projects announced this week demonstrating a good mix of size and type of organisation, and some really exciting ideas to be trialed and implemented – in our region!

Watch this space, we’re awaiting more announcements with baited breath – not least because we at 4theRegion are part of a couple of bids, one of which is all about regional procurement and supply chain development!  So, keep your fingers crossed for us, and for all the other brilliant applicants from across South West Wales!  Exciting times, a worthy mission, and high hopes of new solutions to the challenges facing our Welsh and regional economy!

Dawn Lyle 10/10/2019

5G Rollout in the Well-Being Region

5G Rollout in the Well-Being Region

Now this is a difficult one, but I don’t think we should avoid discussion because it’s difficult.  All around the world, sensible and well-meaning people are coming together to share their fears about the potential health impacts of the roll-out of 5G technology. 

And meanwhile, all around the world, sensible and well-meaning people are coming together to debunk and deride what they regard as a conspiracy theory that 5G has negative health impacts.

We are in no position to take a side on this debate, but we have created this page to reflect on what we understand to be the position, locally and regionally, on this issue.  And also to make a case for transparency and discussion.  Bertrand Russell is credited with the following quote, which pretty much sums up our position on this topic:

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people are so full of doubts.”  Bertrand Russell

If anyone says they know FOR SURE that 5G is dangerous to public health, I think it’s fair enough to be skeptical.  But similarly, if anyone says they know FOR SURE that 5G is safe, then I think it’s fair to question that certainty.  Even though Public Health England declares it to be safe, I think it’s fair to allow space in your mind for the possibility that Public Health England might not have all the facts.  I know it’s shocking to think about, but it has been known, once or twice in history, for scientists to be wrong… On the other hand, “conspiracy theorists” have also been known, on occasion, to be wrong… (yes, really!)  It would be arrogant, unsafe and unwise for either side of this argument to take the position of absolute certainty.  As the ancient Confucius quote goes:

“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.”  Confucius

So here, if no-where else, we are creating space for conversation.  A conversation in which no-one is allowed to claim certainty, and in which people on both sides of the “argument” are expected to take the position that they might be wrong, or that they might later be proven to be so.

We will update this page over time.  As things stand at the moment, here follows our understanding of the regional position.

 

  • At the current time, both Welsh Govt and local councils are taking the position that if Public Health England says its safe, they would not seek to second guess the experts.
  • Within Welsh Govt and local authorities, the view is that 5G fears are unfounded and based on a misunderstanding of “microwave” technology.
  • Major media outlets including the BBC and the Guardian have concluded that 5G does not pose health risks.
  • Several people have filed Freedom of Information Requests asking local authorities and Welsh Government to clarify their position (see below)
  • Much of the recently installed IT infrastructure in Swansea City Centre is “5G ready”.
  • There is a City Deal project relating to Digital Infrastructure, which will seek to roll-out 5G access across the region.
  • As yet, none of the mobile or telecoms operators has “switched on” 5G service in our region.
  • 5G is not the same as superfast Fibre broadband.  We can have superfast internet without 5G.
  • 5G is not the same as rural broadband.  We can have rural broadband without 5G.
  • Self driving cars will not require 5G connectivity, this is a fallacy perpetuated by those who don’t understand the tech.

USEFUL LINKS

If you would like to add useful links or comment to this section, please email mail@4theRegion.com with your contributions.

Summary of Advice from Public Health England on Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields , Feb 2018

Public Health England responds to Freedom of Information request in November 2018

Public Health Wales response to Freedom of Information request in April 2019

Tonia Antoniazzi MP for Gower – Westminster Hall Debate 25th June 2019 – Electromagnetic Fields: Health Effects

Derision for Swansea & Gower MPs as they raised the issue of 5G dangers in a Westminster Hall debate, June 2019

5G Rollout and Health Concerns feature in “issues to pick up in Cabinet Q&A” in Swansea Council’s Agreed Scrutiny Work Programme for 2019/20.

Carmarthenshire Council have noted in a FOI Request response:  “Potential early access to 5G forms part of a digital infrastructure City Deal project planned for the Swansea Bay City Region as a whole. This project is in its business planning stages, with approval required from the Swansea Bay City Deal’s Joint Committee, the Welsh Government and the UK Government.”

Vodaphone has switched on 5G Network in seven UK cities, including Cardiff (BBC Article July 2019)

BBC Reality Check in May 2019 Reported:

Is 5G safe?

Analysis by BBC Reality Check

Some people have questioned whether there are health risks from 5G, but experts and regulators say there is no evidence of danger.  Similar fears were expressed around earlier mobile internet and wi-fi.  More than 200 scientists appealed to the EU to halt the roll out of 5G, saying that electromagnetic fields may be harmful to humans and the environment, and could increase cancer risks.  But the EU says exposure from 5G will be far below limits set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).  “There has been no evidence to suggest that electromagnetic waves from mobile phones and networks are bad for your health,” says Prof Malcolm Sperrin, Director of the Department of Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust.  He says a causal link between mobile phone use and cancer in humans is unproven.  5G technology is new but experts believe it poses no greater risk than earlier mobile systems.

 

 

We All Need An Inspiring Vision of the Future.  What’s Yours?

We All Need An Inspiring Vision of the Future. What’s Yours?

Sometimes I find myself watching my kids play, and I feel overwhelmed by fear.  Fear for the future, fear of what’s happening in our society and our environment, fear of what their lives will be like in the world they are inheriting.

Watching TV recently hasn’t helped.  Have you been following the BBC’s brave and excellent “Years and Years” drama?  If so, you’ll know what I mean when I say I’m terrified of the society we’re creating.  It’s a bleak and frightening vision.  And Hugh’s War on Plastic is – yet another – wake up call for what we’re doing to the environment.  He’s found plastic dumped overseas that clearly comes from the UK – plastic we thought we had sent for recycling…  With the Extinction Rebellion movement telling us we have 12 years to save the earth, and that the truth about climate change is much worse than we think…  Well, it all adds up to a lot of fear, and sometimes, a feeling of hopelessness.  What Can We Do?

At 4theRegion, we know there is something we can do for our kids’ futures, if we all work together, across this region, with a shared sense of purpose and a shared vision of what we want.  We believe in the power of people to change the world, and we’re working hard every day to remind people that the future of this region is in OUR hands.

We think what we need is an alternative vision – for the region, and ultimately, for the world.

An alternative to the frightening, hopeless images we are bombarded with.  An alternative to the continuing decline of society, the planet and the economy that plays out in the media – and in real life – every day.

When we have a clear vision of what we WANT, we feel inspired, empowered and determined.  When things feel hopeless, an inspiring vision gives us something to hold on to, something to work for, a reason to keep moving forward. 

I’ve experienced this myself recently.  By connecting with a vision of what I want, an alternative vision of the future as I would wish it to be, I’ve gone from feeling afraid and powerless to feeling inspired and empowered.  It takes a few minutes, and, believe me, it makes All the Difference.

What we need, is an INSPIRING, EMPOWERING vision of the future we WANT.

So today I’m launching a project to collate inspiring images of the future from people across this region.  I’d like to know WHAT YOU SEE, when you imagine life in South West Wales ten years from now, exactly as you would wish it to be.  Take a pen and paper, take 10 minutes, and sit down quietly to really imagine an alternative future.  Here’s the question I’d like you to answer:

Imagine you have woken up, 10 years from now, and everything is exactly as you WISH it could be.  Imagine picking up a copy of The Economist or some other magazine, to find that South West Wales is featured on the front cover, for the amazing transformation that has taken place in our region.  What are the headlines, what’s the article about, how does it describe the region in 2030, what’s different and what’s life like?

This is the question I sat down to answer on Tuesday night, and it unlocked some amazing, inspiring visions for me.  Visions that have got me excited about the future and more determined than ever to help make change happen.

I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours!

Email me at dawn@4theregion.com with your inspiring vision of the future – in whatever form that might take.  If we get a few of them, we’ll arrange an event to share them with others, and bring people together to envision the future we want for South West Wales.  Then we’ll set to work making them real. 

Are you IN?

Future Visions Call for Submissions
Send your submissions to dawn@4theRegion.com or by Whatsapp to 07789 226 457

P.S.  If you haven’t yet joined our community of changemakers, please do, because if you’re someone who’s still trying to make positive change happen, you need all the support you can get.  Be a changemaker.  Join the movement.  Click here to find out about our Membership options.