Organise a Playing Out scheme or a street party now and bring sustainability to your street!

Street parties are fabulous aren’t they? Bunting, tables of people in the middle of the road, food and entertainment, laughter and music. As for Playing Out schemes, sessions might have less of a fanfare but, short and regular, they can be easier to organise and a sturdy foundation for the community on your road. They get children out in the fresh air and neighbours out onto the street to meet each other – while passing round a packet of custard creams.

With the Big Lunch in early June every year and the Great Get Together later in the same month, street parties are still a big thing and not just for royal occasions. More and more parties are being held simply so neighbours can enjoy each other’s company. This year there is even the big VE Day celebration which is a perfect excuse for a party. 

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Meanwhile, Sustainable St Albans and St Albans District Council have now made it possible for residents to apply to close their road more regularly than just a one-off party – up to 8 times per year for the purposes of play and community building through the new Playing Out Scheme introduced this January.

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Free information sessions

Sustainable St Albans’ Playing Out project and volunteer group, Our Street Party, are organising a whole series of information sessions this March. Free to attend and no need to book, they are the perfect chance to find out all about how to organise a one-off street party or a regular Playing Out road closure scheme in your road. More details at the bottom of this article.

How do road closures bring sustainability to a street?

You might be wondering how street parties and Playing Out sessions are relevant to sustainability. Surely they are just about people sitting in the (fingers-crossed!) sunshine, enjoying a cup of tea or a barbecue? Yet it’s true – by organising a road closure on your street, you could actually be doing your bit for sustainability! One look at the Bioregional One Planet Living list of the ten areas of sustainability (below) and you start to realise that these types of community events tick an awful lot of boxes. 

Health & happiness as well as Culture & Community are the obvious ones. It’s not hard to see how pulling residents together on the street outside creates a community – one where cultures mingle, isolation is reduced and all the positives of a good neighbourhood can be strengthened. All those children running around in the fresh air has got to be healthy too!

Yet there are more. Getting to know your neighbours equates to becoming a part of the community. And doing that makes people care about where they live. People have more interest in Equity and local economy when they find out their neighbour runs a local business or charitable organisation. They resolve to shop locally when they hear another business is shutting on the high street. They organise a meal out in a local restaurant with new people they have met.

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And how about Local and Sustainable Food? We all love to talk about our gardens!  We can swap tips with neighbours about growing tomatoes, inspiring each other (or commiserating!). Encouraging one another to grow our own, hearing about local growing projects such as Food Smiles and Incredible Edibles, sharing our knowledge about local food sources – all this is natural conversation between neighbours on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

As for Land Use and Wildlife, there is so much to enjoy in your immediate neighbourhood. From discussions about sightings of garden birds, to plans for Hedgehog Highways (see Wilderhood Watch St Albans), it’s incredible what can come out of such community building events. Residents spend more time in their neighbourhood and see it in a different light – and suddenly there is a proposal to turn a patch of wasteland into a community orchard. 

Of course, Sustainable Transport has to be on the list. From an environmental point of view, children playing on the street immediately outside their house is better than driving to the park. Children learn to ride their bikes right outside their own front door. Before you know it, the parents get bikes and a whole family uses bikes instead of cars for local journeys. 

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From neighbours organising a litter pick (Zero Waste) to sharing information about solar panels (Zero Carbon), there is just no arguing that community building is an important foundation for getting people to care about the environment in the first place.

Organise an event on your street this Summer!

So if you want to do your bit for sustainability but don’t know where to start, why not start with your own neighbours? Get them out onto the street to meet each other and build a community. Who knows what small changes in sustainability your street party might make to your neighbours’ lives – and the ripple effect those might have.

Find out more

To find out more about Playing Out, visit our Playing Out St Albans District webpage.

Watch our new video:

To find out more about Street Parties, visit www.ourstreetparty.org.

Free information sessions March 2020

2020 Twitter Playing Out Information Session copy

Street Parties*: Mon 2 March, 7.00pm The Beech House, St Albans.
Playing Out: Mon 2 March, 8.00pm The Beech House, St Albans.

Street Parties*: Friday 6 March, 10am. The Harpenden Arms, Harpenden.
Playing Out: Friday 6 March, 11am. The Harpenden Arms, Harpenden.

Playing Out: Mon 9 March, 10.30am at The Enchanted Tea Rooms, 71 High St, Redbourn, AL3 7LW.

Playing Out: Tuesday 10th March, 8pm in the St Stephen Suite (upstairs), St Stephen Parish Centre, Station Road, Bricket Wood, St Albans, AL2 3PJ.

Playing Out: Mon 16 March, 10.30am, at Caledon Community Centre, Caledon Road, London Colney, AL2 1PU.

*Street Parties information sessions are run by Our Street Party.

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Ver Players donate £1500 to Sustainable St Albans

Did you see this wonderful news in the Herts Ad: the Ver Players donated £1500 to Sustainable St Albans from their annual charity concert! It is a huge donation that will make a significant impact on the work that we can do locally – we are so grateful to all the musicians – and their supporters – for thinking of us.

They held a really exciting concert for their annual fund-raiser – and its fantastic to see that local musicians can garner such support from around the district – great music and a brilliant atmosphere.

Sustainable St Albans is a charity, and we are run by volunteers – both the six people on the trustee group, and the committed volunteers who work all the year round to provide the Open Food Gardens, the Thermal Imaging Camera sessions, Our Planet, Our Future events, talks and films in the Harpenden area, and the exciting new Playing Out project – where streets can close the road for a day to allow residents to meet and chat, and children to play outside. And, of course the volunteers who make up the SustFest working group, and all the volunteers who help us with running events and stalls.

Fabulous news – Ver Valley chose to gift the proceeds from their charity night to Sustainable St Albans – first time ever that our environmental charity has been selected in this way by a local group – and we hope to do them, and you the local community, proud!

 

Climate Emergency declaration 55 – 0 at St Albans District Council

Climate Emergency report back Wed 9th Oct- see you there!

St Albans District Council is holding a full council meeting at 7pm Wed 9th October 2019  at the council offices, St Albans – they will be reporting back on the Climate Emergency work. Anyone who is interested is welcome to attend this meeting. You may want to attend so that the council sees that you are concerned and interested in the progress of their work on this.


InJuly 2019 St Albans District Council  declared a Climate Emergency with all party agreement voting 55 votes to 0 in favour.

Read the minutes and council motion agreed here

Sustainable St Albans and St Albans Friends of the Earth jointly organised the 1700 strong petition, which was distributed during the 2019 Sustainability Festival, also organised by the two groups.

Members of Sustainable St Albans, and St Albans Friends of the Earth, joined environmental groups and supporters outside the council offices before the council debate. Groups included Extinction Rebellion St Albans, St Albans Labour Party, and St Albans Green Party.

Catherine Ross, chair of the 2019 Sustainabilty Festival and trustee of Sustainable St Albans presented the petition along with Mimi Spiliopoulou,  a 17 year old member of Extinction Rebellion St Albans.

Catherine Ross said:

“It is a brilliant result – and so positive that there was cross-party agreement in favour of declaring the Climate Emergency in our district. I just want to thank all of the residents, councillors and officers who helped to make this happen – and to say that Sustainable St Albans will help in any way we can as the council goes forward in developing an action plan. Now the work begins.”

Catherine and Mimi presenting the petition at the council

 120 1st tier councils across the UK have declared a Climate Emergency. 70 of these, like St Albans District Council, have set a target date of 2030 to go carbon neutral. For information on other councils see https://climateemergency.uk/

Single Use Plastic Ban

On the same evening the council also agreed a motion put forward by Cllr Mary Maynard to ban the use of single use plastic in Council offices and work towards banning its use in facilities licensed by the Council and at events on Council property or supported by the council. This follows the setting up of a new Plastic Free Harpenden group, which joins Plastic Free St Albans in calling for a reduction in the use of single use plastic across the district.

Gail Jackson, trustee of Sustainable St Albans which partners Plastic Free St Albans said

“This was a remarkable, and historic night for the district with two major motions supporting environmental sustainability. Over 5,000 people took part in the events during the fourth Sustainabilty Festival and these concerned residents must now feel that their voices have been heard.”

 Christelle Garcia from Plastic Free St Albans said

“It’s fantastic that the council is supporting the reduction of single use plastics in such a practical way that should see quite an impact in the district. Local businesses have already been very pro-active on this issue and this motion will provide a huge boost to the movement to remove these unnecessary plastics from our everyday lives.”

Sustainable St Albans will be following the council’s progress closely and we will keep you all up to date!

Facebook: @sustainablestalbans

Twitter: @sustainablesta

How to grow food in a small garden

Come along – be inspired and visit one of our lovely unique FREE Open Food Gardens on Sunday 23 June.

The annual programme is run by local residents – across St Albans, Harpenden and the villages – who are passionate about growing food.

It has been running for over nine years – with hundreds of people coming along to visit the gardens, and being inspired to grow their own food. New for this year – each garden has identified a theme which runs through the garden.

Seedlings are sometimes on offer.  Now included are local allotments, and FoodSmiles community food growing spaces and gardens in Harpenden and St Albans. If you are lucky, you may even get a cuppa and cake.

These events are friendly, informal events. Wander around for  20 minutes, stay an hour and chat to the gardener, talk to the flowers, share ideas with other visitors – its up to you!


Sun June 23rd 3 – 5pm. Theme: raised beds

23 Gresford Close, St Albans AL4 OUB

This is a small garden, found in St Albans, near to Oaklands College. It has been excellently organised to make incredible use of the 10 square metres . This Open Food Garden event will certainly give you ideas about how to pack in the most food growing in small spaces – while maintaining a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere to enjoy the outdoors.

Food is grown in both the back and front gardens. In the south facing front garden there is a mixture of fruit, vegetables and herbs, growbags for tomatoes. The multi-purpose back garden, which also incorporates shaded seating areas, planting to attract wildlife and a small pond, is about 10 metres square. It includes three raised beds where vegetables, minarette fruit trees, soft fruit trained on fences and herbs are grown.

There are several water butts and compost bin. The house has solar panels.IMG_5353


Friendly, fun and informal -you are invited to have a look round, even get a cup of tea and cake if you are lucky! You are welcome to talk to the plants, chat to the gardener or other visitors. Come on your own or bring a neighbour! See what fruit and vegetables can be grown at home! Get tips and advice on designing your vegetable plot and how to deal with critters!

The events are free but we do welcome a suggested £2 donation to Sustainable St Albans charity to help cover the costs.  Volunteers are always needed for the programme especially to help on the day showing visitors in. If you are interested in helping by volunteering on the day, please get in touch and email us click here

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What makes our city sustainable?

Place is such an important factor in identity. When you meet someone, your first question is most likely ‘Where are you from?’ The pride that may (or may not) come from the answer given is what I work to foster in St Albans. As #SustFest19 will tell you, sustainability is not just about reduce/reuse/recycle. While important, elements around community cohesion, mental wellbeing and business viability all contribute to a city’s sustainability.


Gin & Jazz 2018 Stephanie Belton (3)

Credit: Stephanie Belton 2018

Today’s blog is written by Helen Burridge, Business Manager of St Albans Bid – which is sponsoring the #SustFest19 St Albans Market Takeover on Sunday 19th May.


St Albans businesses care deeply about the viability of this city. The economic confidence of the community, the visitors, the employees and the residents will translate into economic prosperity for its businesses. Three years ago, the businesses in St Albans voted to become a Business Improvement District, paying a small contribution into a pot that collectively makes a significant contributor to events, public realm, safety and marketing of the City. The BID can also help to represent those businesses in various discussions with the public and private sectors on a local, regional and national level.

As the BID Manager of St Albans BID it’s my job to make sure that the investment made by the BID Members makes the city a great place to live, work and do business, both now and in the future, and of course a large part of that work then becomes looking at ways to make the city more sustainable, in the many and various ways that that covers.

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While I will acknowledge the ongoing wailing and gnashing of teeth about the ‘death of the high street’ in fact, there is an argument to say that this change in retail is actually the death throes of consumerism itself. A change from ‘want/have’ economics to ‘need/consider’ economics: the desperate and hysterical consumption of the 80s and 90s now looks decidedly distasteful and is being replaced by a borrow/reuse/packaging free/fewer-better kind of purchasing.

TimeTurn 2018 Credit Stephanie Belton (42)

Credit: Stephanie Belton

St Albans as a City is well placed to survive this change in consumer behaviour. The self-selecting curation of our retail businesses (you will find an audience if your product is good) is continuing to be demonstrated by reliable, quality local (and national) brands weathering the current climate and providing confident, good-news stories about customer experience, quality product and curated taste-making. On the internet, endless choice is overwhelming. In St Albans you will find a quality offer, selected by informed businesses, helping you to make reasoned decisions about where you shop, where you eat and where you socialise.

small bid logo picture - 19.12.2017In the wider community there are many and various entrepreneurial and disruptive businesses considering these changes in consumer behaviour and working to appeal to a considered and engaged local population. Can you eat vegan or vegetarian? Can you buy locally grown or locally made products? Can you go plastic-free, or packaging-free? Can you travel in a way that is more kind to the environment while still being relevant to what you need to get through your day? There are so many options and it can be overwhelming to know where to start to live a more sustainable life.

With this in mind, St Albans BID is delighted to sponsor the St Albans Market Takeover on Sunday 19 May. Bringing together like-minded businesses to prevent the many and various ways that small interventions by individuals can make a collective difference will help to show that actually these changes are not that insurmountable.

St Albans BID supports the Market Takeover because it’s the right thing to do, but also because the day will be fun, engaging, illuminating and most importantly, it will encourage and support enough individuals to make small changes that will, collectively make a large impact. Just like BID. Looking forward to seeing you there!

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