Does this change anything?

Last Monday I was asked to facilitate a discussion between the 70 or so people who had watched Naomi Klein’s film “This Changes Everything” hosted by Wiveliscombe Action on Climate.

The film makes the link between climate change and capitalism, essentially saying that the economic system has to change if we are to have any chance of addressing climate chaos. The New York Times described Klein’s book by the same name as “the most momentous and contentious environmental book since Silent Spring” so its clearly to be taken seriously.  But does it really change anything?

In leading the post-film discussion it was clear that we were amongst friends – everyone there was concerned about climate change, shocked by the impact of big industry on local communities and sympathetic to the general message that change was needed.

But one of the down-sides of getting older is that you see the same things coming round time and again. Another film, another talk, another group of people saying that something has to change. But what really changes?

In the 30 years since I first got involved in the environmental movement there has been much to celebrate.  The environment is now of mainstream concern, recycling is the norm, there is no lead in petrol, the concept of environmental justice is understood, river water quality is way better, the ozone layer is repairing itself, the car is no longer king, and so on. The voice of ordinary people has had some part to play in that.

But s*** still happens and seemingly on an ever-greater scale. Communities and environments are still being destroyed, governments back-pedal on the progress of their predecessors, climate treaties get ignored, the rich get richer and so on. And all this despite countless films, marches, letters, blogs and angst.  So what’s the point?

In the discussion I tried to get people to look at Klein’s argument from different points of view – to take a dialiectic approach.  In that way I hoped we’d come up with a more robust response to the film than just lots of nodding and hand-wringing. It drew out some interesting observations and a diversity of responses. But I still went away feeling that nothing had really changed; just a tendency to expect others to agree with us and then change what they do, but little appetite for more.

Some people (not necessarily those in the room last Monday) advocate a complete overthrow of our economic system, the ruling class and corporate power. But that sort of radical upheavel generally brings with it many unintended consequences. Other people propose nudges. One person who was present at the film talked about influencers in society – the people who will push us past the tipping point at which major change happens. People in the arts often take on that role, to greater or lesser effect, but sports people less so (although they probably have the greater reach). But still I wonder.

Are we just on the wrong trajectory? Is everything just stacked up against regard for the environment and communities as the powerful exploit all in pursuit of more wealth, more power, more consumption? Or is there something, some as yet unidentified thing, that we the little people (and little companies) can do that really would change everything.  If there is, please let me know!

And a final thought: Imagine the impact if David and Victoria Beckham traded in all their properties for a passivhaus, swapped their gas guzzlers for an electric car and went on a global pilgramage to persuade decision makers to address climate change. That might change something!


Local groups get £5,000 from Radstock & Westfield Big Local

Radstock and Westfield Big Local Dragons Den winnersTen community groups, charities and good causes have shared £5,000 thanks to the Big Local Radstock and Westfield Dragons’ Den event.

The event was attended by 130 local people and guests.  Seventeen groups had 90 seconds to pitch their ideas, asking for up to £500. Each group was the quizzed by the three dragons: Debbie Ladds from Local Trust, Suzanne Norbury from the Somerset Guardian and Owen Stephens from the Rotary. Local residents were then asked to vote for their favourites.

Breast cancer survivor, Helen Adams, was given overwhelming backing from voters after she was joined by her young children to tell her story and why she wanted to see a Coppafeel day held in Radstock.

Radstock Museum received funding to restore the clock on the front of the museum and pay for a museum café makeover.

A Circus Fun Giant Picnic which will bring together families in Clandown for a Sunday get-together. Performances at Radstock’s Victoria Hall will be more illuminating from now on thanks to funding towards new lighting and young actors from Confessions of the Youth Theatre Company will be making drama accessible to more children by offering affordable sessions.

Mums and babies are also in for a treat when the NCT Baby Cinema comes to offer screening that welcome babies.

Football Friends, a group of young players from Tyning, were given cash to help buy sports and storage equipment to bring together youngsters looking to play the game together while would-be musicians will have a chance to learn guitar thanks to free taster lessons.

Regular Zumba classes will be hosted by charity SWALLOW to give its members with learning difficulties the chance to enjoy the exercise classes.

2MD Regeneration’s role in Big Local

Julian is a Local Trust Rep. Since 2012 he has provided support and guidance to the Radstock and Westfield Big Local Partnership.

Stogursey Victory Hall plans get thumbs up

Stogursey Victory Hall

The people of Stogursey have approved proposals to refurbish and improve the Victory Hall.

Throughout 2015 the Victory Hall Committee has been working with Stogursey Parish Council, West Somerset Council, 2MD Regeneration and Vivid Regeneration to work out how best to improve the 60 year old hall.  After much consultation with local people, groups and businesses the Committee has agreed on three major steps:

  • The old youth centre will be demolished
  • The existing Victory Hall will be refurbished and extended to include a new youth centre, an additional function room, a new and larger kitchen and new toilets.
  • The existing all weather sports pitch will be covered and be extended with new changing rooms.

Chris Ford, Chair of the Victory Hall Committee, said “The Victory Hall has served us well but times move on and the requirements we have of the building have changed. The sports facilities in particular need to be improved and young people also deserve better. The proposals will help provide a 21st century facility for Stogursey and ensure we are a healthy and vibrant community.”

How we worked with local people in Stogursey

In early 2015 we carried out an in-depth consultation with local people.  By recruiting  and training a team of community researchers we were able to door-knock every household in the parish.  Stogursey community researchersWe asked people which community facilities they used, what they used the Victory Hall for, what new facilities they would like and whether they wanted to get involved.
Together with visits to local groups we were able to get 315 responses, representing 23% of the parish population.

The responses informed the proposed designs, along with one-to -one meetings and workshops with local stakeholders, including the operators of other community facilities in the village.

Stogursey consultation cartoonIn the summer we consulted again, this time on the proposed designs.  We delivered a leaflet to every household in the parish, put the proposals on-line, produced a disply and held a number of meetings and drop-in events around the village.  Of the people who responded, over 90% gave their support to the proposals.

Next steps for Stogursey Victory Hall

The next step will be to apply for funding for the works, estimated at £2.5m.  2MD Regeneration and Vivid Regeneration will be retained to work on the fundraising and the process of securing planning permission.

More details including the scheme designs are at