A week ago I helped organize the Lush Spring Prize final skill sharing event and awards ceremony, during which I met this year’s winning projects.
The first half of 2019’s Spring Prize event took place at Emerson College in East Sussex, which is surrounded by biodynamic and organic farms and demonstrates the regenerative practices embedded in parts of the English rural economy. The second half was held at RichMix in Shoreditch, an example of how social enterprises can play a role in regenerating social landscapes in urban communities. The event was designed to give members of winning projects the opportunity to share their stories, expertise and ideas in an inclusive and collaborative environment.
Spring prizes are awarded across four categories: Intentional, Young, Established and Influence; investing more than £200,000 in regenerative work – that which is healing damaged systems. 2019’s winning projects come from Southern and Eastern Africa, South America and Europe and work in a diverse range of fields including landscape restoration, food and farming, climate change mitigation and adaptation, protecting indigenous rights, empowering women and other marginalised groups. While projects have different focuses they all take holistic and regenerative approaches to solving the challenges they face, with many being led by members of the communities they are working in.
Examples of this year’s winning projects include:
YICE Uganda works with refugees in Bukompe refugee settlement and the neighbouring communities, seeking to provide smallholder farmers with access to regenerative agricultural training and flexible financial services to reduce hunger and poverty. Over 100 women farmers have been trained in Permaculture farming, and 20 Permaculture gardens have been established. Noah Ssempijja, founder and director of YICE Uganda spoke about why he set up the project: “I was raised by a single mother, also a refugee from Rwanda and spent my early years of my life in a refugee camp, thus Refugees and women issues are very close to my heart.”
INSO was founded in 1991 to support communities with regenerative social and ecological initiatives in the diverse state of Oaxaca, Mexico. Its flagship ‘Slow Water’ project aims to address the Central Valley’s watershed crisis, where the speed with which water flows impacts on both its communities and its ecosystems. INSO remains deeply connected to grass-roots culture, while its Oaxacan Water Forum has brought community stakeholders together with NGOs, the private sector, and governmental and academic institutions. It combines traditional wisdom and community organisation with modern knowledge and techniques. At its heart is a belief that we should view “nature and society as inseparable”.
For more information about 2019’s projects see springprize.org