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Planet Shaftesbury’s Autumn Programme 2022 – a Review.

Following a summer lull, the Autumn Programme was intended to build on the May ’22 school event: Shaftesbury 2030 and also to roughly coincide with the ‘Great Big Green Week’, a nationwide celebration of action on climate change. Looked at from an insider and partial contributor’s point of view, here’s how it went.

It began with a Shaftesbury Climate Response display in the library, scheduled from 12th to 17th September. Initial discussion with regard to how to pitch the display gave consideration to the cost of living/fuel supply crisis then enveloping our country (and many others). How could the focus on climate breakdown/biodiversity loss/pollution be maintained, when so many people were facing the more immediate problem of whether to heat or eat this coming winter? The eventual pitch: ‘Cost of Living: what can I do and save the planet too?’ was, I think, a strong response to this potential dilemma. Posters on specific themes such as ‘Energy Use’ and ‘Food’ were designed and displayed (and can still be seen elsewhere on this website), along with a survey, designed to help us highlight where additional information and support could most usefully be provided.

Unfortunately, with the death of Queen Elizabeth II, and the requirement for a book of condolence to be available in the library, the display was moved from its central position and thus became less likely to be noticed. In addition, short-staffed as so many libraries now are, the library was forced to close for a couple of the intended days. Fair play to them, ‘though, they offered another week for the display and subsequently told us they thought it had gone well, particularly the final Saturday during which Planet Shaftesbury members came in to talk to the public and provide some activities for children. 16 surveys were completed, giving us the beginnings of some ideas how people are finding ways to cut costs while considering the planetary situation.

In association with the display, members of the public were invited to join Planet Shaftesbury at a Town Hall meeting on the 15th, but proved conspicuous by their absence. Nevertheless, those of us who were there had a useful session, so –despite the setbacks – the first event proved well worth the effort that went into it.

There was a better turn-out for the film show on the 22nd, ‘Kiss the Ground’ an American made documentary promoting regenerative agriculture, some 35 people attending, and participating in a lively discussion led by ffinlo Costain. At this point there was a definite feeling of ‘picking up steam’. The following week’s workshop, exploring an electric car club for Shaftesbury, attracted considerably fewer. I wonder whether, in our publicity (and certainly in my stumbling attempt to explain the concept to the Community Choir the night before) we might have done a better job of getting the concept on offer across. Perhaps it might take some time for the desirability of individual car ownership to be successfully challenged. At least we were able to draw some conclusions from this meeting, there is further work to be done in estimating the level of potential local interest, and there are some intermediate alternative ideas we could investigate. Thanks are owed to Gustavo Montes de Oca of Tisbury Car Club and our speakers from Bridport for sharing their experiences at this session.

The next event, a talk on ‘The Right Light at Night’ given by Steve Tonkin, the Cranborne Chase AONB Dark Skies Advisor on 6th October, proved a pick-me-up and an eye-opener. Some 25 people enjoyed food for thought on the subject of our lighting at night – so much of it wasteful, inappropriate or downright unnecessary. (If you want to think about the lighting in and around your own property, I’ll reproduce an introductory leaflet below.) Many of those attending were new to Planet Shaftesbury, reviving our sense that at least some of this was building on the impact of the May event.

Another 30 folk took time out, on October 8th, to visit houses participating in the Dorset Greener Homes event. Visitors found out how they could make changes, in some cases hi-tech but more often through lo-tech lifestyles. It would be great to see this event expanding in years to come, it’s about sharing ideas and conversation rather than trying to impress anyone with gadgetry.

And there the programme ended, and in total with a similar number of participants from the public-at-large as came to the May event. It’s Planet Shaftesbury’s hope that bit-by-bit it can build its impact in Shaftesbury and increase the numbers participating in the various projects that constitute the network. A lot of work by a relatively small number of people went into getting this particular show on the road. We live in hope that the idea that we all need to be actively involved in efforts to ‘save the planet’ will spread and there will be many more people participating in and running events to come.

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