Greener Together

The community development folk at Sostenga, in co-operation with Co-operativesUK, have produced a new resource for greening up your act – The Greener Together Toolkit to complement their website.

What I particularly like is the focus on making collective action accessible to newcomers, on proactively involving them, and on assuming that they may have skills and insights to offer a group. Refreshing.

It’s a topic we’ve posted on before:

Communicating Climate Change

Chris Rose of Campaign Strategy has drawn our attention to Earthscan’s latest Earthcast – a “free live interactive web event”. This one’s on Communicating Climate Change and will help you to:

  • Learn behaviour change strategies for encouraging sustainable lifestyles and communities
  • Learn effective communications strategies for engaging the public with climate change – (and why looking for generic messages about climate change is probably a waste of time)
  • Learn about the different roles the public can play in tackling climate change

Where? Online When? Thursday 11th November at 5pm GMT. Registration’s free

Preparing for a Crude Awakening

Another day, another journey to London… this time to run a workshop to help people prepare for A Crude Awakening, October 16th’s mass action against oil. Numbers were low and it took a while for enough people to gather to run the session (on holding space creatively with everyday equipment such as bicycle locks) effectively, but run it we did.

At the end of the session, I was asked to give an impromptu interview about some of the techniques covered in the workshop. I hope it gives you a flavour of what we used the time for:

As always the focus was on safe, well-supported and effective action. All too often actions and action-training focus on ‘frontline’ activist roles and forget the vital support roles. That’s all well and good until you find yourself with both arms ‘locked’ into an arm tube and no-one there to help you eat, drink, stay safe from traffic and so on….

If you couldn’t make this chance to prepare for the action, there is another opportunity in Manchester. Alternatively, at the very least check out the following links for ideas on holding space effectively:

For working effectively with others and for possible legal implications look at

Campaign courses at CAT

An old friend emailed with details of two campaigning courses at Centre for Alternative Technology this autumn, which she’s involved in teaching. They might be right for your  organisations or your local group:

PEOPLE POWER! Campaigning Skills That Make A Difference

Fri 5th November to Sun 7th November 2010

Are  you:

  • Part of a group trying to stop an open cast coal mine,  influence
  • government policy, or get better food in your school?
  • Thinking of running a campaign?
  • Trying to stop cuts to an important  local service?

The course focuses  on building grassroots, community support for specific issues and  campaigns. Topics covered include: Strategic and tactical thinking,  Developing and delivering your campaign message, Building a volunteer  base, Lobbying and negotiating with your target, Using traditional and social media.

CLIMATE CRISIS! Exploring ideas, solutions and action.

Tues 9th November to Sun 14th November 2010

  • Want to learn more about the urgent environmental issues of our  times?
  • Want to engage with practitioners who are at the  forefront of
  • developing solutions?
  • Want to tap into cutting  edge, radical teaching and research with one of the UK’s most respected  universities and the UK’s leading ecocentre?

The module will be delivered  by staff from the University of Leeds and CAT and will involve a mix of  lectures, seminars, evening reading groups, debates and films, student  led presentations, guest speakers and site tours and a social on  Saturday evening.

Footpaths – Community Carbon Reduction: training the facilitators

The Footpath project Handbook- for facilitators and participants alike

This weekend myself and Emily Hodgkinson (process worker, facilitator and Transition Leicester stalwart) co-facilitated a day and a half training for facilitators at Leicester’s Eco House. More specifically facilitators of the Transition Leicester Footpaths: Community Carbon Reduction project, which I’ve blogged about before.

The group of 12 was made up of some people already experienced in facilitation and others completely new to it. The agenda was part orientation to the project, part orientation to working in groups and part practice of the core skills of facilitation. The excitement for me was getting to see, and work with, Emily’s approach. I was aware of process work, but not really familiar with it.

One activity that extended the active listening that’s at the heart of most facilitation training I’ve delivered we called ‘Weather reporting’. That is sensing and then naming the state of the group – the mood, the energy, the vibe – call it what you will. Making groups aware of their collective energy, especially when it’s low or negative, has the power to transform it, or at very least allow them to do some conscious work to improve it. Participants raised weather cards whenever they thought it appropriate to comment on the groups ‘weather’.

We also looked at groups as a collective entity using imagery and story. We explored rank and privilege in groups. And of course we gave participants the opportunity to prepare sessions from the Handbook and deliver them to each other for peer feedback and support. The quality of the delivery was impressive. Finally we looked at 2 complimentary approaches for understanding and dealing with ‘problem’ people and ‘nightmare’ scenarios.

The evaluations were positive. Transition Leicester’s evaluation form used both scoring and space for comments. Over 90% of participants said that the training had lived up to their expectations ‘well’. No-one scored the training ‘poorly’, but sadly there was one person scored it ‘neither well nor poorly’. One too many.

Unsurprisingly the participant practice sessions were most frequently named as ‘particularly useful’. The session on rank and privilege was seen as ‘least useful’. I suspect that’s because it was more theoretical, and needed to be grounded in application, but time was short…

We’ve scheduled 2 follow-up drop-in sessions, one in October and one in November. Those will be the real test of the weekend’s work as participants will have facilitated 2 or 3 meetings of their Footpaths group by then. Let’s see what they bring us to help them troubleshoot….

Islam and climate change – book launch!

Over the years I’ve worked with London Islamic Network for the Environment a couple of times.

They’re now known as  Wisdom In Nature and have just produced a 20 page booklet: Islam & Climate Change: A Call to Heal

Peace to you,

We are delighted to announce the launch of the online version of our long-awaited colour booklet: Islam & Climate Change ~ A Call to Heal. It is available to download for free from our website

From a small team of faith-inspired community activists… This picture guide outlines an Islamic perspective on one of the most pressing challenges of our time. In simple language and with pictures, it introduces the following themes:

Disturbance of the Natural Order; A Call to the Fitrah; Unnatural Disasters; Islam: A Religion of Harmony; Fulfilling our Role as Khalifah; A Revival towards Wholeness; The Power of Many.

Climate Change is a signal that humankind has lost its course. By drawing on spiritual wisdom, we can respond to this call – this call to heal. This booklet was produced by a team of community activists to educate, cultivate reflection and inspire holistic action to help build a fairer and more sustainable world for all.

Just do it!

Here’s one for the film buffs and direct action junkies amongst you. Coming soon, but not to cinemas:  Just do it, a documentary to inspire action on climate change. This film needs your help, as this isn’t going to be distributed along the normal commercial lines. So here’s the trailer to give you a taste followed by 3 ways you can help in the filmmakers words:

1. JOIN our facebook page and invite your mates – through strong online networks we hope to be able to both fund and distribute the film without mega bucks or big billboards.

2. DONATE to the film – without your help, this film can’t be made. We’re making it because we believe that this is a story which needs to be told. Do you? Whether it’s a tenner or a grand, your contribution is essential and hugely appreciated.

3. PASS IT ON – Got mailing lists? A blog? Twitter? A friend with a blog? Spread the word – the more people bigging it up, the more people will be inspired to take action.