Updated: Jan 8
This last meeting of 2021 followed meetings where we'd talked about ways of being more of a 'presence' in the town, considered the UN climate talks (COP26) from different perspectives, and identified some of the themes and activities we'd like to take into 2022. There was a motivating buzz in the air... and there was also the emergence of a new, highly transmissable, Covid variant just as many of us were making mid-winter / Christmas / New Year plans to reconnect with family members (some vulnerable). In the event there were just a few of us to start a conversation about how our various ideas may influence activity through 2022. The discussions were very productive and I've indicated the main outcomes below for those unable to be there. However, there's more to do if we're to use the website to support us through a period when getting together in-person is likely to remain problematic and I've addressed this at the bottom of the blog... Meanwhile, what emerged in December?
New 'Projects' on the Website
Ed Bersey will add topics or themes raised at this meeting to our project pages. Anyone interested in finding out more, joining a discussion, setting up a public talk or initiating an event will be able to connect with others by using the appropriate contact details. The new projects will include:
Farming Futures: Covers a broad range of topics/activities and what happens in 2022 (see below) will depend on who gets involved. Natalie Bourchier, an organiser of the Artemis Festival (https://www.artemisfestival.co.uk/ - now postponed till 2023), has volunteered to be a contact person for related activities.
Water: One possibility is an early summer ‘pilgrimage’ connecting communities along River Stour; others could be talks about water companies, water quality and pollutants including use of lead shot. Contacts still to be agreed but will be added to the website asap.
Sustainable Living & Circularity: Understanding the challenges of aiming for zero waste. Could we facilitate connections between local businesses who're facing up to the challenge, offer information to local households, set up a repair cafe? Contact person: Georgie Faulkner-Bryant (of Myrtle & Marigold - zero waste refills and This is Alfred's Green Show).
Collaborating with Shaftesbury School: A win:win? The school has asked for Planet Shaftesbury support with a major event in June 2022. The school has also agreed that we can arrange to use their large hall for well-distanced public events that could not be accommodated in the Town Hall.
Tree Festival 2022: For those wanting to play a part in making the 2nd festival even better than the first.
Recognising local speakers as a 'Resource'
During the meeting it became clear just how well-resourced we are in the Shaftesbury area. Details of locally available speakers along with their special areas of expertise, as well as locals with valuable experience to share, can be added to our website. Our growing speaker list includes Robin Walter (Forester & author of 'Living with Trees'), ffinlo Costain (climate, nature & food security; offering a citizen's assembly on ecological resilience), Jocelyn Elson-Riggins (ocean ecology & whales as ecosystem engineers - Jocelyn is a 'whale poo ambassador'!) and Sarah Watt (sustainability professional who guided our November review of COP26). It's work in progress but is likely to be drawn on by others (eg. Shaftesbury School, Artemis Festival) as well as a resource for Planet Shaftesbury's hosted events.
An incomplete outline for the year ahead emerged from discussion during the meeting. It includes events organised by others as well as public events that might be prompted by Planet Shaftesbury.
JANUARY / FEBRUARY
Talks in Geneva (12-28th January) will pave the way for the UN conference on biodiversity that happens in China in April/May.
Dorset Climate Action Network & Dorset CPRE will launch campaign for a re-think of the Local Plan on 12th January. Aim is to secure a more sustainable level of development within a plan that's integrated with Dorset's strategic response to the climate & ecological emergency. Planet Shaftesbury is among the alliance of organisations supporting this campaign.
Shaftesbury community tree planting programme (Year 2 of 5-year plan) from 8th January onwards (Covid / weather dependent)
Additional tree planting through to end Feb (publicise the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative linked to platinum jubilee)
New Year’s Sustainability Resolutions – an engaging event (probably film) during January with discussion tables (volunteers needed to speak about their experience). Venue - Shaftesbury School who will also promote it alongside Planet Shaftesbury. (Collaboration with Shaftesbury School as potential project for website.)
MARCH / APRIL
Hedgehog talk, St Peter’s, 6th March by Mariko Whyte. Hedgehogs will be emerging from hibernation.
‘Reading the Land’ Book Festival, 11-13th March. Planet Shaftesbury has offered support in exchange for a half page in the programme, design & content tba.
XR April Rebellion
Earth Day (50th Anniversary) 22nd April
Shaftesbury Annual Town Meeting tba April? (Town Council liaison around response to CEE tba)
Farming futures. (Planet Shaftesbury project for website. Series of talks/events linked to farming & sustainability; farm visits, open farms network; connect with Kingston Maurward college for land-based studies; Agricultural shows) Assess in March preparing to participate in show in 23/24 April and later (August) G&S Show
UN Conference on Biodiversity (COP15), China, 28th April – 8th May
MAY / JUNE
Water. Possible early summer ‘pilgrimage’ connecting communities along River Stour. Could link to talks.
Summer, outdoor reflective meeting for Planet Shaftesbury community activists. Tba. Perhaps link to marking the Solstice.
Farming Futures further events …
Shaftesbury School hosts a major STEAM event over 2-days in June (one day for primary school children, one for secondary). Alex More has requested help in linking to speakers on Sustainability topics. Planet Shaftesbury to compile list of speakers/topics and make available on website/resources.
Regional conference for green groups - suggest June (PS, Greener Gillingham, Hawkers Farm, and villages ….venue & date tba, explore wider interest)
JULY / AUGUST
Open gardens – connect to Shaftesbury organisers and aim to open wildlife gardens. Diana to speak to Jenny Parker. Date? Could link to start of planning for Open Homes.
Shaftesbury Fringe – 22nd-24th July Offer poetry / play / film. Look for a positive climate film. Make the Arts a theme for July.
Gillingham & Shaftesbury Show 17th August Add to what was part of stand in 2021. Draw on the connections of Farming Futures project. Regenerative Agriculture stand; ‘Grow your own’ stand; Sustainable Garden (build connection with Showground much earlier in the year). Make Farming a theme for August.
SEPTEMBER - DECEMBER
Harvest Festival: & Forraging
Great Big Green Week (GBGW, Climate Coalition) 24th Sept – 2nd Oct.
Shaftesbury Tree Festival, late September, in conjunction with GBGW. Planning to start much earlier. Could establish a project on the website.
Open Greener Homes (arranged with Dorset CAN also coincides with GBGW, Tbc). Plan in advance.
Shaftesbury Carnival 1st October
COP27 in Egypt, 7-18th Nov
Tree planting – over the winter of 2022/23, stage 3 of 5-year plan
Mark the Solstice, change of the season, possible reflective gathering
Making a difference some personal reflections and a request
December's meeting provided inspiration as well as ideas for how we can use the website to help us connect and collaborate in making things happen in 2022. There's work still to do to frame descriptions of the new projects for the website: what's the objective and scope? what is offered to or expected from people making contact? who is the contact person(s)? how do they understand their role and what support do they need?
There's also work to do to obtain brief bio's and a description of the expertise or experience offered by prospective speakers, panelists, etc. Who is willing to be on our list? Do we have permission to give details online? How do they prefer to be contacted?
This work will take a little time - but less if I find people to share it with. Please rally round if admin is your thing.
When thinking about what was needed from the December meeting, the priority was to support our momentum through a period when Covid-cautiousness could inhibit large gatherings. However, this coincided with the turning of the year which might also, in different circumstances, have prompted a review of what we're doing and how we do it. Do we now want to initiate that? Planet Shaftesbury has been active for 3 years and many of us who've become part of the network would say that it's made a difference to our own lives: we've been empowered by connecting with more like-minded people. However, collectively, we'd like to make a much bigger, wider difference as we respond to aspects of the inter-linked nature & climate crises. I think it's time for an 'annual' review or AGM. What is the legacy of the past 3 years? Could we do better - and, if so, what do we need to do differently?
I'll be bringing the questions raised here to the Zoom meeting on Thursday, 6th Jan.