Important does not need to be glamourous. Important can be practical. The Climate Action Workshop held in Chorlton on Thursday 23rdJanuary 2020 was a well-facilitated discussion of ward-level issues with a ‘sleeves rolled up’ focus on action that could be taken in the next year.
Ideas developed at this meeting built on those that emerged in June’s ‘Great Get Together’ and will inform Chorlton’s ward plan. The session was ably facilitated by Cllr Eve Holt, with assistance from officers (who will also be on duty at next week’s Chorlton Park meeting). The participants (majority white and grey, like the ward) were not talked at for long. Eve briefly foregrounded the place for emotions in wider discussions but made clear that the next two hours would concentrate on action. The majority of time was dedicated to table-based discussions around five themes: green space, housing and energy, transport, food, waste and recycling. The latter did not dominate.
The following struck me as important:
- There is a lot of knowledge here, especially around retrofit.
- This could be an example of a super-networked ward. Suggestions for putting neighbours in touch with each other and making one person in each street responsible for distributing information went down well.
- Save Ryebank Fields! No discussion of green space can ignore Ryebank. If this campaign is successful, local action in the ward will receive a huge boost. Those working on the campaign have ambitious plans to make it a ‘hub’ of climate action. It has a strong team on the ground; support from high-profile figures would not go amiss.
- It’s easier to come up with (more) ideas than to pin down next steps.
- Money, money, money – the workshop facilitators made multiple references to small funds. Chorlton’s Neighbourhood Investment Fund still has £7k left, and officers explained that it would be straightforward for residents’ association with a bank account to get a couple of hundred quid (for printing, planters etc.). This is all well and good but small fry compared with the larger sums that must be made available beyond the ward. It was encouraging to hear of bids for bigger grants afoot. Fingers crossed for success here soon, and that the message that an emergency needs resource then spreads across the city.