Q&A with Emma about importance of community…
Emma: Community is at the heart of Tribewanted, but what does it mean to you?
Ben: It means looking out for each other and learning about how to live in a certain way. It means what comes naturally to most of us but we don’t necessarily focus on or make time for. It means leave no trace, getting off-grid, off-line and indulging in nature, ideas, health, good food and creativity.
Emma: How do you work with local communities in Tribewanted locations to ensure that their interests are at the heart of the project?
Ben: It’s a partnership, both in Sierra Leone and Italy. We’re dependent on each other – for jobs, for food, education, for development. We try to let the local culture lead the way we operate. We meet regularly in open forums.
Emma: Why is it important for Tribewanted communities to be 100% sustainable?
Ben: Sustainability as a word has been twisted and regurgitated in so many different ways. Our goal is to show that living within our means, sharing success and failure, and being closer to nature – wherever we are in the world – is better for ourselves, our communities and society. We want to kick-start livelihoods and experiences that last because they prioritise the well-being of the people involved (local team and visitors). To achieve that we need to make sure that we make a financial profit, create and sustain jobs, and protect and enhance the local environment and biodiversity as much as we can. If we do, we can flourish – as an organisation, as individuals and as a way of living.
Emma: What can tribe members learn about ‘community living’ from spending time on the projects? Can this be incorporated into their own lives?
Ben: This is what we really want to develop. The feedback we get is that people are often inspired by their experience, especially around food (importance of local and seasonal), waste (composting), water (catchment and re-use) and local cultural traditions. Our plan is to develop an incentive model that help members ‘earn’ Tribe Credits through green actions and therefore get more time staying at our communities. To build this model will take quite a few more members to join…
Emma: When Tribewanted first started, it was pre-facebook in the UK (!) How have the developments in social networks affected the tribe?
Ben: Big-time. It was almost easier pre-facebook, definitely simpler. Now your story and content is competing with so much noise. Standing out and connecting with people takes a lot of effort and creative thinking, but when it clicks it’s great. We’re working hard at our social media and love feedback.
Emma: How will the new Community Interest Company (CIC) model enhance the community aspect of Tribewanted?
Ben: The idea is that it will give our members and communities a leadership stake in the organisation, not through shares, but being able to vote on where we go next, how we spend surpluses and by building Tribe Credit. With momentum it can become a genuinely sustainable finance growth model and we can start to partner with communities all over the world.
Emma: What role does community have to play in our future as a world?
Ben: Big question Emma! Clearly cross-cultural or global communities are going to be crucial in tackling the big challenges this century. Without real collaboration between start-up networks, big organisations and governments we can’t change things like over-fishing, deforestation or un-fair trade. What most of us probably miss in our day to day lives is that connection to projects, people and ideas where we feel like we can take on these challenges and improve our own well-being. Personally what matters is that we act, and act positively. That’s what we’ve been trying to do at Tribewanted for the last few years and if we can get the CIC model to click, we’ll be able to scale our actions and adventures as a community which would then become really exciting.
What do you think?