We hear from Imogen Terry, a University of Edinburgh student and one of the founders of Unearthed Edinburgh on why community action and socially responsible living is important to students.
The vision for prosperity, our ability to thrive, has been coupled with the idea of continuous growth as we have progressed down deeper into our consumer capitalist economy. The need for more material goods has developed from the idea that our ability to flourish comes from the amount that we have or the quality of what we consume.
To an extent this is true, there are still 2 billion people in the world without basic supplies of food, water, and shelter and hence the vision for our world will always have to incorporate these undeniable material dimensions.
However, it can be argued that stuff on its own does not allow us to flourish and sometimes relying on material products as a means of achieving happiness can even impede flourishing on an individual level and also on a grander scale.
To do well is, arguably, our ability to be compassionate, to contribute to society, to have a sense of belonging and trust in the community, to help create a social world and find a credible place within it. In short, our ability to participate meaningfully in the life of society. Prosperity, then, can only be conceived as a condition that includes obligations and responsibilities to others.
We are encouraged to view the world myopically. For example, rainforest deforestation is a long way from here, extreme poverty is someone else’s problem. To see the world through this narrow scope is to undermine not only our own humanity but also the prospects for fair and lasting prosperity.
We need to rebuild prosperity from the bottom up. Transcend the material constraints to explore our ability to participate in the life of our local community. This may seem daunting, but the opportunities to do this are all around us. There are ways to build a community of citizens brought together in a common venture to improve the wellbeing of ourselves and for others.
What is Unearthed Edinburgh?
Unearthed Edinburgh is a new website that makes it easy to delve into this new idea of prosperity as it connects students to a wide variety of charities that are based in and around the city.
We want to bring those very distant issues into the foreground of our minds by placing these issues closer to home.
However, we also understand that sometimes making a commitment whilst at University can be very daunting, especially if you haven’t had a chance to explore and get a feel for a charity, it’s harder to make that commitment. Unearthed Edinburgh has incorporated this potential barrier into the structure of the website to help ease students into the world of volunteering.
The website is laid out as follows:
Firstly, we have a section that is entirely dedicated to Events that charities are holding over the course of the semester. These can range from a meet and greet evenings, talks, conferences, festivals, film screenings, fundraising events, anything that a student can attend to get to know a bit more about the charity and get involved with a community beyond the campus.
Secondly, we have a section that introduces opportunities to dip a toe into volunteering with a charity. These one-offs are for those students who maybe have a very busy schedule and can’t commit regularly or for those who would like to volunteer for a variety of different charities during their time at uni. One-offs can include things like litter picks, workshops, fundraising, signing a petition and everything in between.
Thirdly, we have our volunteering section. Charities will advertise the roles that they have available here. We have a great selection that tries to cut across different sectors, from homelessness to conservation, working with children to volunteering in charity shops. This is a section that we hope to build up over time as we become more established.
We want to build Unearthed upon a strong community foundation. Therefore, we are asking students to help us dig deep and bring charities to our attention so that they can be featured on the website. We also have a contact form for anyone who wants help starting and advertising their own event, fundraisers even help to build up their own charities.
The idea of establishing a gradual path towards volunteering is with the hope of establishing lasting prosperity within a community. We believe that work is more than just livelihood, it’s part of our participation in the life of society, which we feel would be more long-lasting if students had the opportunity to not only jump into something amazing, but if they had the chance to find their feet and build up compassion and dedication towards something greater than ourselves.
Prosperity is a shared endeavour. The roots of this idea are broad and deep and its foundations already exist, inside each of us.
Find out more about Unearthed here.