It started over dinner.
A conversation with friends in the wake of Trump and Brexit.
"I want to do the right thing, but I don't always know what that is. And I don't have time. I've got a job, a social life, young kids. Just tell me what to do and I'll do it".
So I started working on an email. It was called One Small Step. It would tell you what to do to help people, planet, and place. One simple action that would take less than five minutes, but which would set the ball rolling.
I was read to launch it, when my wife lost the waters around one of our twins. She was only 16 weeks pregnant.
We went into our own form of lockdown (this was in 2017), and our world shrunk to what was on our doorstep. She had to avoid getting any kind of infection, so we avoided going into shops, stopped taking public transport, socially distanced from family and friends.
We came to rely on deliveries. Groceries, milk, vegetables.
And somehow the pregnancy continued.
Our daughters were born 10 weeks later.
It was half an hour before their third trimester should have started. For the next six months, neonatal intensive care was our whole world.
Thanks to our incredible NHS, both of our daughters survived and thrived, but the one who lost her waters still suffers from chronic lung disease.
I learned about
And it was a success. Our readers loved it, we heard stories of people giving up their cars, switching from flying to rail for holidays, switching to green energy, getting veg box deliveries.
But there was still some friction.
"I've signed up for all of those subscriptions you recommended… but now I spend all of my time managing them."
Then the pandemic happened.
All of the actions went out the window. Noone was flying any more. Everyone was getting veg boxes all of a sudden, or couldn't get them because they'd run out.
So I started a COVID-19 edition. We highlight simple ways to help. Join a mutual aid group. Report your symptoms. Volunteer. Support local businesses…
The air seems cleaner. We start to breathe a little more easily.
I log in to LinkedIn. A post from a friend. She's set up dealdelivers.com for the community where she lives - does anyone want to set up their own, local version?
So dulwichdelivers.com is born.
All of a sudden the thing spreads like wildfire throug local WhatsApp groups. The alliterative name is great, but soon we have businesses from Brockley, Brixton, Deptford, Gipsy Hill…
10,000 visitors pass through out doors, clicking through listings from over 140 independent businesses.
I use the site myself, getting beer, flour, sourdough starter, charcoal, even local saké delivered, one local toyshop delivering a record 35 minutes after ordering.
This feels like a better way of doing things.
But for a lot of businesses it's a struggle. Minimum spends have to be put in place. Diesel vans start filling the roads.