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Climate Action: Curiosity and Connections

On 28th February 2023, we partnered with the RSA (Royal Society of Arts) for an evening of talks and discussion “Climate Action: Curiosity and Connection”.    The event followed from the RSA’s programme of “Curiosity and Connection” and Sustainable St Albans “Our Planet Our Future” discussion series of events.  This blog summarises some of the talks and discussions from that event.   

Fixing stuff! 

We heard from Philip le Riche, a volunteer with St Albans Fixers, an initiative run by volunteers from Sustainable St Albans. The group organises Repair Fairs around the district, mostly located at churches and community centres, based on the model from the ReStart project.  See the Facebook group or website for details of upcoming events and do get in touch with Philip if you would like to become a fixer with the group – if you’ve not used a screwdriver for a long time don’t worry, you’ll be partnered with a more experienced fixer.

Reducing your energy use – Thermal Imaging Camera experiences

Caroline Penn, volunteer with the Sustainable St Albans Thermal Imaging Camera project.  The project has been running since 2014 and has been hugely popular this winter, more than 100 people as well as several schools and community groups have borrowed the camera already this winter.  The audience was encouraged to book a place on an information session and join the Facebook group. Caroline explained what you could learn and also highlighted the resources we have to help residents reduce their energy use on our website and particularly the energy hacks booklet, written by volunteer and local author Judith Leary Joyce. 

Investing your money in Climate Positive projects

Cam Ross from Green Angel Syndicate spoke about how they use small groups of specialist members to make informed, collective decisions about investments. The 350-person group increases its climate impact with every investment, and with every new member joining.

Shopping sustainably and support local eco businesses with Harpenden Sustainability Markets 

Lesley Flowers talked about the community that has been developing around the Harpenden Sustainability Markets.  The market has seen local, often one person, eco-businesses hold their first stalls and then go on to grow their businesses and community of customers.  Stallholders have partnered with each other to distribute their products or use each other’s products.   The market is also becoming a hub for finding out about local climate related initiatives and free pitches are set aside for local community groups at each market.   The markets are run in partnership with Harpenden Town Council and are held on the third Sundays of alternate months (excluding January) and the next one is on 21st May 10-3pm on Harpenden Common.

Promoting your sustainability activities at the annual Sustainability Festivals

Jill Watson, chair of the SustFest group gave a brief overview of how community groups, businesses, schools, faith groups and many more groups and organisations can be part of the district’s  annual festival. Organisers can decide how they want to take part, organise their own event and then register it as part of the festival program. This year’s festival runs from 10-18th June. Any event that is within these dates and  has a sustainability theme can be registered. It is a great opportunity to share knowledge, find like minded people, change behaviours and take action! 

Promote biodiversity and community growing 

Sandridge Parish Councillor, Jenny Roberts, described the parish’s Community Growing Initiatives, in particular setting up the community garden outside Marshalswick Community Centre and the parish’s pollinator initiatives.  The initiatives have included a seed distribution and wildflower education evening “Paradise for Pollinators” and one for residents to pledge a piece of your garden or land from one square metre upwards, towards the collective target of planting a half acre of wildflower meadow!  See Spare a Square or contact Rebecca for further information 

Further speakers included

  • Chris Wilmott, FRSA, an “emerging artist”, who spoke of his own journey of climate discovery and of the intimate connection and dependency for ocean life of healthy forests; 
  • Prof. Satvinder Juss, FRSA, of Kings College, London gave an overview, growth and prognosis of the future of climate refugees; 
  • Catherine Ross, a former Trustee of SSA, gave a talk from her experience of Decarbonising the Church of England; 
  • Edward Carpenter, FRSA, provided an overview of the societal challenges required to address climate change and 
  • Patrick Hughes from Groundwork in the East of England about changing places. 

Sustainable St Albans is very grateful to the RSA for their support in hosting this event and for the opportunity to hold this event.  The RSA (Royal Society of Arts) is a global network of changemakers, uniting people and ideas for collective impact. They have been running a programme of “Curiosity and Connection” events locally, you can find out more about the RSA events here and how to become a member (known as a “Fellow”) of the RSA here.

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