THE GATHERING - November 6th & 7th 2021

The Community Climate Gathering was held at Birchwood High School on 6th and 7th November 2021. More than 80 people from Bishop’s Stortford and the surrounding villages took part over the weekend to answer the question: what can we do together to fight climate change and to improve our environment?

The Gathering was organised by the Bishop’s Stortford Climate Group and was funded by the Community Fund of the National Lottery, the Friends of the Earth Climate Fund and East Herts District Council.

 

Day 1: Where are we and where do we want to be?

 

We talked about:

  • Things about our community that make us feel proud

  • The future that we want to see in Bishop’s Stortford

  • The things we need to pay attention to, to help us get there.

This graphic captures the heart of the conversations:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2: What do we need to do?

We talked about the actions we are willing to take to move us towards the future we want.

To begin with we brainstormed all the actions that people in the group would like to see. Key themes that emerged were:

Energy

  • At home: energy assessments, reducing demand, information sharing and advice about renewable energy

  • At community level: crowdfunding community renewables, community heat networks, community energy group

  • In new builds: press for higher standards, use our influence and (if needed) direct action

  • A heat decarbonisation plan for the whole town

 

Biodiversity

  • Green areas, wild spaces and green corridors

  • Make more of the river as a green corridor

  • Ensuring access for all

  • Wilder gardens (= carbon sinks.)

  • Cleaning up/ litter picking to protect biodiversity.

  • Pocket parks

  • Green roofs

 

Circular Economy

  • Repair café

  • Reuse options: Freecycle, Olio, charity shops etc.

  • Community recycling facilities, central location in Jackson Square

 

Single Use Plastics

  • Refill shop

  • Making different choices

  • ‘Single use plastic free’ town

  • Takeaways to avoid single use plastics

 

Engaging Businesses

  • Support for local businesses: buy local

  • Transport plans for employees

  • Vegan products

  • Single use plastics

 

Community Food Growing

  • Orchard

  • Allotments

  • Incredible Edibles: urban food growing in unused public spaces

  • Education: teaching people to grow food and use it

  • Links to food bank

 

Cycling

  • Investment in routes and bike parking

  • Repair and maintenance

  • Campaigning

  • Electric bike hire

 

Public Transport

  • More flexible public transport

  • More diverse / integrated public transport: trams, park and ride, better buses

  • Encouraging people to use public transport

 

Safer streets for cycling and walking

  • 20 mph zones

  • Planning for people not cars

  • Improve paths and share info about walking routes

  • Anti-idling campaign for clean air

 

Cars

  • Car-free spaces, streets, days

  • Pedestrianisation

  • Electric charging points

  • Green hydrogen filling station

  • Car sharing and lift sharing

  • Shopping delivery service

 

Communications

  • Engaging people who aren’t engaged

  • Reaching new people in the community

  • Sharing knowledge, info and resources

  • Eco-directory and vegan food map

  • Linking existing groups

  • Active community campaigns/ storytelling

  • Looking after ourselves/each other

 

Engaging Young People

  • Encouraging active travel / public transport to schools

  • Recycling in schools

  • Less meat on the menu in schools

  • Getting the message out to schools (assemblies)

  • Sustainability trail through town

  • Young Environmentalist Competition

  • Encourage young people to get involved in local decision-making – Young People’s Council

  • Youth projects: growing food, bee-keeping etc.

 

Supporting behaviour change: messages and campaigns

  • Meat and healthy food

  • Using our legs more, cars less

  • Waste especially single use plastics

  • Consumption

  • Food waste

  • You count

 

Engagement with local and national government

  • Voting

  • Lobbying

  • Standing for election

  • Protesting and direct action

  • Demanding information and transparency

 

Funding and finance

  • Community Finance Initiative to fund projects

  • Funding for eco start-up businesses

 

Ways of working

  • Learn from successes elsewhere.

  • Think about how proposals will affect the poorest/most vulnerable in our community.

  • Actions that don’t need politics to deliver are low-hanging fruit.

  • Stick with it – don’t give up half way through.

  • SMART objectives: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound.

  • Be respectful to others.

  • Aspirational goals

  • Ask those not on board: what are the barriers to change?

  • Adopt a ‘can do/will do’ attitude

  • Make small but permanent changes to work towards solutions

  • Commit

  • Re-establish the principles of transition towns

  • Small changes done by all = big global difference

  • ‘Rather than be defeated by the problem, be inspired by the creativity of the solutions

 

The key themes are included in this graphic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the final session of the day, small groups came together to select priority projects

Day one with extra circles.jpg
Day two.jpg

These projects will be led by separate working groups and co-ordinated by the Bishop’s Stortford Climate Group.

Next steps: Here are five ways you can get involved in the work of the Bishop’s Stortford Climate Group:

  1. Join a project, please contact us

  2. Sign up for our newsletter. This will add you to our mailing list so we can send you our monthly news and email you about specific projects/events.

  3. Join the conversation on our public-facing Facebook page, or join our Facebook discussion group

  4. Group members can also join Slack – an internal channel for communication around specific topics and workstreams. We’ll send you an invitation to this once we’ve made contact. 

  5. Come to our monthly meetings, normally held on the first Tuesday of each month. We are currently holding some meetings on-line and some face to face – check the Climate Group website for details of the next meeting.