Photo: Brie Logan
This was probably Planet Shaftesbury’s most ambitious and complex event so far undertaken, and credit to Karen, Rachel, Annie, Diana and Ed for weaving the whole thing together. Also, of course, to Alex More – our contact at Shaftesbury School – and everyone else involved. With eight different twenty minute talks, a variety of short films on climate/biodiversity issues, a shared meal for over a hundred people and a final panel discussion it was by no means certain that it would all run smoothly. That it did was a testament to the organisers.
Such was the set-up that one had to choose just two of the talks in the early part of the evening. As a volunteer on the night, I had to stay in one room to introduce the speakers, but found both talks well worth attending. Jocelyn Elson-Riggins’ presentation on whales, their poo and how both are a vital factor in both ocean and planetary ecology, was filled with some sometimes quite astonishing factual details. Our Richard Ecclestone updated us on the latest manifestations of climate breakdown and humanity’s still woefully inadequate efforts to prevent the worst of this ongoing disaster, but then cheered us with a comprehensive list of how we – as individuals and communities – can still have a positive effect on the situation.
Over the shared meal we were all encouraged to work together in groups to discuss issues so-far raised and devise questions for the panel discussion. This took place over the last hour of the event and gave us all a taste of topics we’d missed in the talks we’d not attended. It was the point where we might have outlined some of the serious choices we, in every generation, will have to make if Sustainable Development Goals are to be reached by 2030. It was the point where we might have begun to consider what we, in the Shaftesbury area, will have to be doing very differently by 2030. It was the point where, in the words of our Planet Shaftesbury blurb, we hoped to ‘start the conversation’. Did we?
My feelings are mixed. It’s nice to think that a substantial number of people appear to have enjoyed the evening, found it interesting, perhaps even stimulating. But the real test of its success still lies ahead of us. How many of those who came and who were not already involved with activities under the Planet Shaftesbury umbrella are now prepared to make the kind of changes that were discussed? How many are now discussing with family, friends and colleagues the ways in which so much must change by 2030 (and continue changing beyond that date)? Are we, as a local community, any closer to having a comprehensive picture of what must be achieved in the next seven or eight years? These and similar questions are currently reverberating in my head.
Whatever my uncertainties, time will tell. We at least made a number of people aware of ways in which the conversation might continue at a number of Planet Shaftesbury related events over the next few months. Seeds were sewn, ideas presented. How they will grow and develop is perhaps a little more now in the hands of our community. Perhaps we have started the conversation. Let’s see if it continues.
I would be interested to read the thoughts and reflections of others who were present that Thursday night. Feel free to add them in the ‘comments’ box below.