Last Saturday we threw open the virtual doors of our new online climate action community – and we’d love to have you join us.
A little over three years ago, Becca and I sat down to plan for the next steps of our National Lottery funded programme providing sustainable living skills in Cardiff. Something interesting had struck us about the feedback we were getting from our workshops – people were coming along to learn skills like bike maintenance or food growing but most of the comments we were hearing weren’t about the skills themselves, but about the value of chatting and connecting with others, and to be in a space where it felt okay to care about climate change and the natural world.
We’ve always been really lucky in that sense – we’ve been working together for almost ten years and during that time we’ve been able to chatter endlessly to each other about the climate movement at almost any hour of the day. But even so we understand the feeling of isolation that caring deeply about this stuff can bring, the feeling that you’re shouldering it all alone. As the Green Squirrel community has grown, we have benefitted constantly from that sense of mutual support, of being around others all pulling in the same direction, and we decided that community and connection needed to be the legacy of our workshop programme.
It has taken three years to turn that idea into reality. During that time we’ve attended protests, taken part in direct action, wrestled with carbon reductions in our own lives, and tried to learn everything there is to learn about how social change happens. During that time I was lucky to spend two years working part time for the Centre from Climate Change and Social Transformations, where I was able to learn from sociologists, environmental psychologists, and climate communicators. A lot has changed in three years, with climate concern sky-rocketing as climate impacts become more apparent, here and across the world. Our of all of these experiences came three key things that we wanted to work to change.
Most people – at an individual and community level – are currently unable to turn their environmental and climate concern into meaningful action due to a range of barriers.
The prevailing image of ‘citizen activism’ is very narrow, leading most people to conclude that it’s not something they could realistically get involved with.
‘Individual lifestyle change’ and ‘collective action’ are constantly pitted against each other rather than going hand in hand.
(If you’re interested in more about the principles underpinning our work then you can check out our Theory of Change here)
So we started talking about building the kind of community that we wanted to be part of – and while we expect The Something Club to be changed and improved by the community as it grows, we hope that what we’ve created is a starting point.
Last week we held our official launch party, and were delighted to be joined by over thirty new and familiar faces. We heard from three speakers, women with extraordinary but very different stories of climate action.
Anshu is the cofounder of DabbaDrop, a unique planet-minded takeaway offering zero waste curries delivered by bike.
She explained how they’ve rejected the trend for ‘on-demand’ takeaway ordering to both reduce food waste and build a sense of community and connection.
It was great to hear how a values-driven business can achieve so much in such a short space of time – since launching three years ago they have saved over 117,736 plastic containers from being used and made over 30,000kms of emission-free deliveries!
Sue is a retired Anglican priest and member of Christian Climate Action. She has made headlines for her multiple arrests taking part in direct action with XR and Insulate Britain to try and urge the government to act on climate change. Sue discussed how both her faith and the solidarity of her climate action community help her keep going.
Sue has an upcoming court date for a protest in London in 2019, and explained that although she may not be imprisoned for that action, she and other protestors do expect to be sentenced to prison for their part in Insulate Britain protests.
Alex is the founder and project coordinator of The Lost Woods – an incredible and ambitious project that began with 50,000 children in Glasgow growing acorns, and has developed into the planting of a 13 hectare Children’s Woodland in the city.
Alex, and everyone involved in the project, are volunteers, and what they’ve achieved is truly inspirational.
She explained that the project began with ‘a dandelion seed of an idea’ when she was reading a bedtime story to her children and learned about Wangari Maathai, founder of the green belt movement. From Alex’s story we learned that thinking big, and having an idea that too simple and powerful to ignore, can make great things happened. Given that we did this right in the middle of COP26, and these are three people with very busy lives, we’re very grateful that we had the chance to learn from them.
Three very different stories but all underpinned by someone saying ‘here’s a problem – but I can so something about it.’ Each speaker also emphasised the need for a supporting community – and that’s where we hope the Something Club can offer a helping hand.
So now we've launched - what next?
We’ve got some fantastic events coming for the rest of the month (check out the programme), and we’d love for you to get involved.
By joining as a paying member you help us keep the community running and ensure that all speakers can be paid fairly. An individual membership costs £8/ month (or £6.70/ month if you choose to pay annually) and, with our Buy One Give One model, your paying membership also provides a free membership for someone who would find the cost a barrier.
Team memberships for organisations are also available – and these also create free memberships for others.
If the monthly cost is not an option for you, or you’re part of a community organisation with members who would like to join, then please do get in touch for a chat. Everyone is welcome in the Something Club.
Finally, you can also buy a membership as a gift – choose from a one month (perfect for Secret Santa), three month or six month subscription.
We’d like to finish up this post with a heartfelt thank you to The Fore for helping fund the development of this project, and all of our community members who have generously helped us plan, launch, and spread the word.