Nov 15th. 2012

The universality of community action

By Amy Lee, senior strategist at Wolff Olins New York, on behalf of
The Honey Club

This time few weeks ago New York was in the midst of one of the worst storms the city has experienced. Many people lost power, property, livelihoods and, in the most heartbreaking cases, loved ones.

The hardship is far from over. But in its wake has been an outpouring of community spirit: people donating food and blankets, volunteering to fix wires and clear rubbish, offering support of all kinds to people in their neighbourhood – whether they knew them before or not.

That may seem like a strange introduction to the launch of a website for a bee-friendly social enterprise, but bear with me. Yesterday we launched the fully formed Honey Club website: a year after we officially kicked off the enterprise with our ‘Welcome Event’ in London last November. The Honey Club is underpinned by two key ideas:

The first is caring for bees – they are a crucial part of our ecosystem, responsible for pollinating around a third of all we eat in Europe and vast amounts in the States, and a potent symbol of the our symbiotic relationship with nature.

The second is connecting with your community – as the world’s population migrates to or builds cities around them (heading towards 75% urbanization by 2050), it’s often easy to forget that we still exist within communities and we can all benefit from each other, however transient or isolated we may feel.

The website tells the story of how the Honey Club has pursued these objectives in London over the last year – from bee keeping on the roof above the Regents Canal, to guerilla gardening behind St Pancras – and the plans for the future (including franchising the model to create a new Honey Club in Angel).
So, what does this have to do with Sandy? The link is not local, but universal.

Like the recent plummet in bee populations, the tropical storm has raised important questions about our ongoing damage to the environment and what consequences that may have for our lives, and our weather systems.
It has also revealed what people can achieve when they combine their efforts, emotions and resources. Whether it’s by sharing skills with young people through a Honey Club workshop in Kings Cross, or helping a neighbour clear out their flood damaged home in New Jersey, community proves to be an enduring source of strength and a motivating force for action.

The Honey Club is looking forward to its second year of hands-on bee-caring community action. Check out our new website (created by the brilliant Adam Rodgers at Remote Location) for more information and get in touch if you’d like to find a way to take part.