Project Evaluation – Capturing the Whole Picture of Community Action

lfwcompassIt’s a common question – how to capture the bigger picture of community action, especially in a Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) project where much of the emphasis is on
carbon savings. How can the myriad benefits, which lead to a strengthening of resilience against shocks such as economic downturn and climate change, be assessed? These can include a sense of shared purpose, skills development and personal improvement, supporting the local economy, biodiversity and positive links to other communities – in addition to the required carbon saving.

SCCAN associate member, Climae Futures, has recently undertaken an evaluation for Local Food Works (LFW), an initiative led by Falkland Centre for Stewardship, whose activities include a regular food market, workshops, vegetable & fruit growing and community meals.

As well as a complete carbon assessment for the purposes of CCF reporting, a survey of participants was undertaken to capture the fuller benefits of activities. These results were considered with reference to a ‘resilience compass’, developed by Nick Wilding and others in 2011 – as discussed here.
This considers four dimensions of community resilience:

  1. Healthy and Engaged People: including physical and psychological well-being, strong and healthy personal relationships, connection to nature, learning and sharing new skills
  2. Creating a More Localised Economy Within Ecological Limits: creating meaningful locally based livelihoods that are less dependent on fossil fuels, positively stewarding the local environment and resources
  3. Cross-Community Links: external networking, links and partnerships with groups in other communities
  4. Building a Creative, Inclusive Culture: social inclusion, social justice/equity and openness to creating/exploring different/novel ways of working, support for social and technical innovation

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A very good survey response by the LFW participants showed that food is a great way to bring people together and integrate within and across the community (see figure). LFW has offered something for much of the community and provided a focus for integration. It scores well against all four dimensions of the compass, which shows a rounded approach, helping to build resilience for the community.

This evaluation report is helping to inform future initiatives and funding applications, report to project participants and inform residents and the wider Fife community.

Climate Futures is a specialist consultancy, which has worked with communities in Scotland, Europe and Africa, including six CCF-funded communities, to evaluate progress, deliver sustainability and improve resilience. Its team is passionate about community-led initiatives, and has founded, run, supported and researched a number of community sustainability projects.