Seeding our Future

Resilience and wisdom to stay GROW THROUGH the years ahead

The present is already so uncertain  that most of us don’t want to consider the future: but surely the pressures and changes we face now are likely to continue, and increase?  The aim of the Seeding our Future project is to evolve and share ways that individuals, communities and public service providers in the UK can grow their resilience skills and wisdom to thrive and adapt to meet future pressures positively.  A distinctive aspect of our approach is using contact with Nature as a catalyst, helping people to open to new viewpoints and learn from the resilience of ecosystems. 

The overall aims of Seeding our Future is to work as a pioneer and catalyst: identifying new issues, and creating or gathering processes to help our client groups to face them. We aim to do this by running pilot projects, achieving proof of concept and then sharing our experience through train the trainer programmes or online resources to encourage others to use them. Seeding our Future (SOF) is a non-profit project, started in 2017.  The founder and main funder is Alan Heeks, a social entrepreneur and writer (see www.naturalhappiness.net).  Alan has been exploring resilience for many years: he has led numerous workshops on this theme, and set up Hazel Hill Wood, a 70-acre conservation woodland and residential centreshowing how to learn resilience from natural ecosystems (see www.hazelhill.org.uk). 

Pilot programmes

During 2020 we have five active programmes: some are at an early, formative stage, and others are ready for roll out and adoption by others:

A. Future Conversations:  The aim of this project is to offer knowhow and facilitation to help members and organisers in disadvantaged communities to explore the upsides and downsides of the next 10-20 years, including impacts from climate change, and raise their skills and confidence to enjoy the years ahead, drawing on natural resilience, deep ecology and other methods. The format is a series of facilitated conversations, covering individual/family issues, global concerns especially climate change, and community needs. In 2019 we completed successful pilot programmes of 6-8 sessions in three locations: South London, Nottingham, and Clydeside. For more info, see FUTURE CONVERSATIONS

B. Food Security: Climate change is already impacting food supplies, and is forecast to create much greater disruption in the years ahead, both in the UK and across the world. However, future weather patterns in the UK bring opportunities as well as threats. With adaptive cultivation methods, changes in crops, and support from consumers, the UK could increase its food security and reduce its vulnerability to imported supplies. Seeding our Future has commissioned research to explore these issues. The report on Growing through Climate Change is now available as a free download and we can offer briefing sessions on how local communities and professional producers can apply the findings. For more info, see Food Security. 

C. Bridport Community: As we look toward uncertain futures, amidst an increasingly uncertain present, local communities can play a major role in resilience and adaptation.  Seeding our Future’s founder, Alan Heeks, is working with a small team in his hometown, Bridport, inviting local organisations and individuals to explore how this community of 15,000 people in West Dorset could adapt to the growing impacts of climate change. Given limited resources, the SoF team are focusing on two priorities: 
Food Security: Exploring how local producers, consumers, and distributors can cooperate and innovate to strengthen the local food economy, in particular its resilience to climate change. 
Mental Wellbeing: Liaise with existing local organisations to understand wellbeing needs relating to the climate crisis, and offer resources drawing on SoF projects elsewhere. For more info see Bridport Community.

D. Front-Line Futures: The capacity of front-line public services is crucial to everyone’s wellbeing: these include the NHS, local authority functions, and parts of the voluntary sector. Currently we are seeing a severe upturn in burnout and staff turnover in many areas, alongside rising demand and shrinking resources. 

In 2018-19 we ran six pilot programmes, including residential workshops at Hazel Hill Wood on resilience for health professionals including hospital doctors, GP’s, mental health professionals  and managers, led by a joint team from Hazel Hill Trust and Westminster Centre for Resilience. Evaluation results have been very positive.  This work is now being led by Hazel Hill Trust, who have grant funding for some further pilots in 2020-2021, and welcome approaches from specific groups or organisations of health professionals. For more information on programmes and progress, see http://www.hazelhill.org.uk/woodland-resilience-immersions/  

E: Business and Climate Change: This is a new project where we aim to start pilot programmes in early 2020. The mounting climate crisis will call for radical change from businesses, and will bring a host of new pressures and disruptions. Our aim is to help provide the different mindsets and processes to enable constructive adaptation: see more here

F: Deep Adaptation: This innovative set of responses to the climate crisis was initiated by Professor Jem Bendell, and SoF draws on it for much of our work. Alan Heeks has developed and co-led a number of workshops on aspects of Deep Adaptation, some of them online. For more information, see the Resilient Futures section of Alan’s main website www.naturalhappiness.net 

Partner Organisations

Partners are a central element of our strategy for this project, and we welcome approaches from other potential partner organisations.  Those already involved include: 

  • Westminster Centre for Resilience: A leading expert in resilience research and training for public and private sectors, and strengths in evaluation of such work: part of Westminster University, London. 
  • Hazel Hill Trust: Alan Heeks is the founder and a Trustee of this registered charity which runs Hazel Hill Wood, a 70-acre conservation woodland and education centre near Salisbury, and which has proved a valuable setting for resilience programmes. 
  • Schumacher Institute: This non-profit think tank and research network headquartered in Bristol, has many years’ experience in exploring futures issues. 
  • Hawkwood College: Centre for Future Thinking: Have supported the project by hosting events and providing contacts.  

We welcome approaches from special partners for all of our projects.

Contact information: If you are interested in help, partnership, or staying informed, contact Alan Heeks using the contact form or tel 07976 602787 


NEXT: Future Conversations

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