Totnes Declares a Climate Emergency- What Next?
On July 13th 2019 in Totnes, an event was held which brought together local groups and members of the public to ask how best to respond to local government ‘climate emergency’ declarations.
Our town, district and county councils have now all declared climate emergencies, to varying degrees of urgency, and are now trying to figure out what that actually means in practice. In that context, the purpose of the day was to convene a community conversation to begin the process of fleshing out what an appropriate response to the emergency might look like.
The day was co-presented by Transition Town Totnes, Extinction Rebellion Totnes & Area, Encounters Arts, Caring Town Totnes, Bridgetown Alive!, Fridays for Future and others. Around 150 people attended, some from Southampton, Paris and even California to find out how one might run such an event (we have actually written up a blow-by-blow account of how we organised and delivered the day to help others- see here)
After some ice-breaking exercises, attendees heard from a series of 'provocateurs' who spoke about different perspectives of the environmental and social challenges we currently face, and how these could be addressed. Speakers included:
- Anna Lopez (School striker with Fridays for Future)
- Saif Ali (founder of Integr8 UK- a social enterprise promoting cultural connection)
- Ash Ghadiali (co-editor of the radical Red Pepper magazine)
- Toni Spencer (facilitator and coach specialising in deep ecology and inner resilience)
- Robin Webster (Senior Climate Engagement Strategist at Climate Outreach)
- Dr Nick Paling (Westcountry Rivers Trust)
- Harriet Bell (Community Resilience in Food and Farming Manager, Dartington Hall Trust)
- Johnny Gowdy (Director for renewable energy non-profit Regen)
- Dr Alice Mosely (Lecturer in Politics at the University of Exeter)
After a lunch break, the participants gathered around tables representing fifteen different themes, each held by a facilitator. The groups explored a series of questions through the lens of their theme that helped them visualize a positive future and the steps needed to get there. Key points were then fed back to the wider group.
Each group was given a big sheet of cardboard, where a summary of their discussions was glued. At the end of the day, the sheets were bound together to create a book, which makes up the first draft of the 'People's Climate and Ecological Emergency Plan for Totnes'. The day finished with some reflections from the group, followed by live music and a well-deserved drink!
We hope this is the start of something big and that we can carry on this vital community conversation. Watch this space to see what happens next. If you would like to know how to run your own Climate Emergency community event we have written a step-by-step account of the day which you can adapt to your own needs!