Wednesday, 3 September 2008

A surprise around every corner: Mr A, The WI and the Sustainable Communities Act


I'm afraid I've done it again. I've only gone and surprised Mr A into another one of his looks.

I think you're getting to know THE look by now. It's a silent frown, which digs deep into his brow, giving the air of defeat or bemusement.

You'd think he'd be used to it by now after all these years...a life of adventure...with surprises around every corner...

"I've been offered a job in London."

"Let's get married in a zoo."

"Shall we have a baby?"....."er, and another?"

And when life got a bit quiet(er)...

"How about a Zero Waste Week?"

"I've set up a blog"

"Do you mind if I write a book?"

Apart from the recent visit to London at the weekend, Mr A's brow has been having a rest of late. Until last week that is...when in a casual tone of voice, I piped up....

"I'm thinking of joining the WI".

This time the imaginary piano stopped playing in the imaginary saloon. His brow shot up so quickly, his eyes almost popped out of his head. Then he looked at me and said.

"The WI?"

I simply replied


While silence reigned in his corner of the room, very fast babbling protruded from mine. I was tripping over my words in excitement, describing an amazing video I'd seen on the WI website and how much I admired its work.

The look remained throughout my monologue. I think on this occasion, it represented both bemusement and defeat.

So I thought I'd share the video that put fire in my belly, to see what you think. Here it is now. The title is...World Without Jam, (which comes in two parts as does this story).


So the day of reckoning finally came. The next WI meeting in my area was scheduled for this evening.

I almost ducked out. Not for a change of heart but for a change in health. It's not been the best of days. I've been attacked by a sore throat, with a virus that's gone straight to my head. I feel like I'm swallowing glass and my ears tickle so much I want to poke them with a stick.

So I was faced with a choice...tuck myself up in bed...or go to the WI.

Well, I guess it was the strength of the formidable name that got me back on my feet. And being a girl with an impulsive conviction, I set off into unchartered territory.

And I am pleased I did. Because not only did I receive a fabulous welcome, but I've also learned something new.... indeed it's a surprise that may be of interest to you.

During the meeting tonight, I came across a document circulated by an organisation called, which I'd never heard of before. The document was promoting the Sustainable Communities Act, which I've also never heard of before.

As you can guess, my heart started pounding with excitement...especially when I read the words...

"The Act sets up a new process where local communities and their local authorities (including county councils) can drive central government policy and action on reversing community decline and promoting local sustainability."

"The Act also requires central government to publish local spending reports which will be a breakdown of all public money spent (local and national) by local area. Local authorities (including county councils) then have the power to argue for a transfer of specific monies and function from central to local control. "

What this means is that if you are pushing for sustainable measures to be put in place in your community, you need to act pretty quickly and urge your council to "opt-in" to make their proposals to Central Government in October.

Councils that do opt in must set up citizens’ panels and ‘reach agreement’ with local people, regarding the proposals on promoting local sustainability that local authorities will submit to central government, e.g. defending Post Offices and other local services.

Well blow me down with a feather if I haven't tripped over a nugget of gold.

This looks very interesting indeed and if you are fighting for a local sustainable cause, this may be a route you could use. If you want to find out more about how the act can help your community, please contact Steve Shaw, who is the Local Works Co-ordinator. Email: Tel 020 7278 4443. Mob: 07788 646 933. More details are available at

So I think the WI has come up trumps.

I'm glad I went. I'll go back next month.

Who knows what excitement lies ahead?

I must admit, I already do.

I've seen the agenda and I've got a feeling, that when Mr A finds out, he might throw me another of his looks.



Mrs Green said...

Sounds wonderful - thank you for sharing your nugget of gold with us.

I know that the WI were responsible for a 'leave packaging at the till' campaign, a couple of years ago - they really do some fabby work.

Enjoy your meetings and jam and Jerusalem - are you going to pose topless for a calender one day? (You must watch 'The Calender Girls movie if you're wondering what on earth I'm on about. It really is wonderful)

Hope you feel better today xx

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Must say I agree with Mrs Green. The WI do wonderful work and are responsible for a great many campaigns that have helped to improve all of our lives.

Also wondered about the posing for a calendar and perhaps that's what sped through Mr A's mind at the moment of revelation! (and the movie is brilliant).

Glad you made the meeting and hope you are feeling well now.

A x

John Costigane said...

Hi Mrs A,

Joining the WI will give you the chance to showcase Zero Waste to a bigger audience.

I look forward to your YouTube contributions either individually or as part of a team.

Best of luck.


Tracey Smith said...

I do talks at the WI and they are an amazing bunch of ladies!

The 'tea' is always fabulous, the home-baked nosh is to die for and the knowledge of how to live sustainably is remarkable.

I love them and highly recommend joining up!


Welsh Girl said...

Great post today - I firmly believe that every little thing helps and their 'future video' should be shown on National Television at 25 past 9 every night for a week.

Go for it I say - Mr A will come round!


Hi Mrs G - The WI is indeed a true inspiration with their campaigns. Meeting was great but I think I pushed the boat out a bit too much and should have stayed in my bed. However I have no regrets. Met a local lady who knew all of the Calendar Girls, who were her ex-students. Small world eh. But you'll be pleased to know that there'll be no topless modelling around here

Hi Anne - they are great aren't they. I've just found out there's a spin of group too called WI-Lite...but doesn't sound like my kind of thing that. LOL, I wonder if it was the calendar that Mr A had on his mind, must ask him.

Hi John - not sure I'm brave enough to appear on you tube. I find great comfort this side of the camera as you can probably tell.

Hi Tracey - there were some home-made cakes there on Weds which were really delicious. I hope you get invited up to this neck of the woods to do a talk...why wait invite yourself as part of the book tour...pleeeeaaaaasse

Hi Welsh Girl - you're right. This stuff should be made more public, with greater awareness. I think Mr A is getting used to the idea...the next shock for him is that I'm gate-crashing one of his work conferences next week. Hee hee.

Thanks for your best wishes everyone. Have not been well these last few days and have been tucked at home with tonsillitis, which has left me in a shocking state of pain. Promise to be back soon. xxx

Anna-Lisa said...

Hi Mrs Average,

I have wanted to join the WI for ages. You have inspired me to check out where my nearest group is.

Hope you are feeling better.


Hi Anna-Lisa - thanks for popping by and supporting the idea of the WI. I am sure joining your local group will be a worthwhile and enjoyable experience. I'm glad to say that I'm on the mend, much to my relief. I'm a terrible patient. I'm not ill that often but get hit badly when I am. Phew. With that over, I am so happy to be back ;-D x

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