Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Tuesday 3rd March 09

a busy day... will update this on Wednesday to report on Carbon Detox and several other events.

It was indeed a busy day, although it had a slightly later start than I expected... Gill walked to school with our youngest before I got up.... nice! She then went on into town by bus and from there up to the other school to deliver something and from there to visit Ashley for lunch... so I had the morning to myself and I did a variety of jobs around the house.

At 1pm I was booked into a seminar at the Biology Department of the University of York, entitled 'How Can We Communicate Climate Change Better?'with George Marshall, who is performing his stand-up comedy 'Carbon Detox' tonight at the Theatre Royal. George has a fascinating and honourable 'history', including being one of the founders of Rising Tide and working for Greenpeace and the Rainforest Foundation, as well as the governments of Papua New Guinea and Germany! Then he joined Climate Outreach and Information Network (COIN) which amongst other things trains people in how to communicate about climate change, helping them with public speaking, interesting ways of getting complicated information over and the like.

So this seminar was packed, and I got a lot out of it, despite it being a one-day training packed into about an hour! We first looked at various messages used by advertising agencies to try to achieve change, and rated them as good or bad. Then looked at various parts of the process, including the message, the messenger, the medium, the audience and the action,all of which have to be considered when trying to get a message across. He showed us several adverts including Don't Mess With Texas and viral videos like Greg Craven (for instance....) and we discussed why they work and why others don't. One of the key factors is 'peer to peer' information... one of the reasons York Rotters has been successful.... people listen to their friends, family and workmates more than to experts or Governments.

That finished shortly before I had to go to school to pick up our youngest, so I went straight from there to school, feeling quite elated and happy. I had taken a load of paper plates from the seminar (there was some nosh available) to put as a carbon-rich layer in the compost bin I manage at school....but when I arrived, the bin I am currently filling had been moved and the contents disposed of, I know not where. I found the empty bin round the back of the school so I went to speak to the school secretary about what had happened. She told me that a Health and Safety person had said that composting wasn't allowed in schools, and had ordered it to be removed. I was furious, but remained polite as the messenger in this case should not be shot (just the H+S idiot). On the way home I was furiously composing a letter in my head to fire off to a number of people, but I couldn't do it immediately as I'd invited Richard around for 4pm so I had a nice chat and a cuppa with him instead.

Soon after he went, to close the shop, I had some tea and then cycled off to the Theatre Royal, stopping by at a friend's who'd asked me to pop in, as she needed to talk to me, and indeed she did have some very sad news to share, very upsetting. What a rollercoaster of a day.... already!

My role at the Theatre was to stand behind a table and sell books... George's Carbon Detox book, and Rob Hopkins' 'Transition Handbook' which is a must for Transitioneers. Gill was due to follow me down there by bus once our lovely babysitter Simon had arrived. She actually arrived about 10 minutes into the show, as the bus was late or something.

So, the long-awaited Carbon Detox stand-up-comedy show. Well, although I'm no a fan of this kind of thing, it was good.... it certainly helped me get my head around the subject just a little more. He has some great analogies and interesting ways of looking at the subject. He suggests that climate change is a bit like a rollercoaster that we're all on... some of us know it and are getting prepared, many others will suddenly wake up at the beginning of the ride and it may very well be scary. I liked his way of describing the average Brit's carbon footprint, using our friend Candy who volunteered, and asking her to take quite big strides across the stage.... two for heating, two and a half for food, various smaller steps for assorted car journeys, 6 strides for a flight to America etc etc, and then taking one and a half steps back for getting renewable electricity, three inches back for unplugging phone chargers and switching off standby buttons, quarter of an inch back for using re-usable bags... a great way to communicate the different impacts of our various behaviours and choices. Nice one George!

I had a cider in the interval, and got a beer for Gill and our friend Sarah, who is moving to Bristol at the weekend. We will miss her, as she is one of the lovliest people we know.

At the end of the show I raced out to get our book sales table ready for the inevitable rush, and George signed copies of his book (and at least one copy of Rob's book, hahaha!) I had a good chat with Verna about the nonsense which has happened at school, and chatted with another of my favourite people, Sam, who had two of her daughters with her.

Right at the end of the evening, George was in a tizzy as he'd lost his bike lock key.... I do hope he managed to find it!

I cycled home, getting in just before 11pm, and then managed to get my thoughts down in a polite email which I sent to the school, the lovely people at Green Thumbs Gang, several city Councillors, the sustainability officer, Verna who is on the board of governors, and others. The school HAS to get itself into the 21st Century and take on board what the Government has said they must do, which is to be a 'Beacon of Excellence in the centre of their community' re Sustainable Development... it's called ESD. (excellent links here) I didn't finish on the computer til nearly 4am.


James said...

Enjoyed Carbon Detox Last Night. Avoided the screaming with the Roller Coaster! Not as funny as I had hoped, but very easy to listen to, learned a lot.

Again, was going to say hello, but you appeared swamped with people.

Compost John said...

Arrrgh! James, please please can we meet up sometime? I would be very happy to meet you... and if I'm 'swamped' with people, just come and join them, and say hello, introduce yourself!. I'd love to be able to put a face to a name!

I'm glad you enjoyed Carbon Detox, and I didn't laugh that much but there again, I'm not surprised as I don't like stand up comedy much. But there were a few laughs around the auditorium, and yes, I think everyone will have gone away with something new or clarified.

Thanks for this comment... and if you ever want to come and say Hi, meet Gill and see my untidy but productive garden, just ask... we love having visitors and make people feel welcome.
yours, John

KJ said...

I'm disappointed in the school dumping the compost. Even if Health and Safety said to get rid, they could have contacted you to give you a chance of rescuing it. Did you find out where they emptied it?

I'm surprised also as many schools in my area are trying to earn green flag awards for becoming more "environmentally friendly".

Very disappointing!

Compost John said...

Hi KJ, I haven't spoken to or had contact with anyone at the school apart from the school secretary and then, last night, one of the Govenors. So I do not know if the material from the working heap has been disposed of, nor the nearly finished compost which was half-shovelled out.

And you are right, many schools DO compost... including many in the City of York area. This morning, the leader of the council rang me to say he'd got my email, and seemed incredulous as a school near him has compost heaps and this is part of their curriculum.

I have just received an email from him saying he's taking action... yay! Cheered me up somewhat!

Thanks for your supportive comment.

KJ said...

Thanks for the reply, John.

I will keep my fingers crossed that some of the previous compost can be recovered!

I did think though that maybe the school used H & S as an excuse to get rid of the compost - you know how some parents can be funny about some things. Maybe they complained it was unhyienic or something? I hope not.

Good luck with getting it up and running again. Keep us posted!